As regular readers of this blog know, I was for 35 years an active member of a political party that no longer exists. I was a Republican. Virtually everyone I worked with in Republican politics during those years has now left the GOP, and none of us recognize what is left.
Recently, Steve Schmidt, the former GOP strategist who ran John McCain’s Presidential Campaign, predicted the demise of the cult that is today’s Republican Party.
The die is cast for the Republican Party. It will be destroyed on January 6th in much the same way the Whig party was destroyed by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The act unraveled the Missouri compromise and allowed for the westward expansion of slavery.
“The party could not survive its factionalism. There could be no more accommodation, compromise and partnership between pro-slavery and anti-slavery Whigs. A new political party was born, the Republican Party. That party will divide into irreconcilable factions on January 6th.
Schmidt’s choice of tomorrow–January 6th– followed the announcement that several Republican Senators plan to object to that chamber’s scheduled acceptance of November’s electoral votes (but before leakage of the taped conversation in which Trump tried to pressure the Georgia Secretary of State to fraudulently change that state’s vote total).
The poisonous fruit from four years of collaboration and complicity with Trump’s insanity, illiberalism and incompetence are ready for harvest.
It will kill the GOP because its pro-democracy faction and autocratic factions can no more exist together then could the Whig Party hold together the abolitionist with the slave master….Fascism has indeed come to America and as was once predicted. It is wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
The question, of course, is how many “pro-democracy” Republicans remain in today’s GOP.
Schmidt’s prediction of a split is buttressed by a lengthy critique issued by Senator Ben Sasse, aimed at dishonorable Senators like Hawley, Cruz and Braun. Sasse explained why he was refusing to participate in that project to overturn the election – and why he was urging his colleagues to reject what he called “this dangerous ploy.”
The letter is a quite long, and I urge readers to click through and read the whole thing. But here is a brief summary of the important points he raises:
- There is no factual or legal basis for the protest.
- There is no evidence of voter fraud significant enough to change the results. (Here, he includes a state-by-state analysis of claims and the lawsuits dismissing them.)
- The claims that Trump’s lawyers make in public don’t match the claims made to courts, because opponents of the results aren’t really conducting a legal challenge–they are fundraising. “Since Election Day, the president and his allied organizations have raised well over half a billion (billion!) dollars from supporters who have been led to believe that they’re contributing to a ferocious legal defense. But in reality, they’re mostly just giving the president and his allies a blank check that can go to their super-PACs, their next plane trip, their next campaign or project.”
- The Senators participating in this travesty do so despite knowing better. “When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will “look” to President Trump’s most ardent supporters.”
Sasse then points to the damage being done by “ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage.”
But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government…
All the clever arguments and rhetorical gymnastics in the world won’t change the fact that this January 6th effort is designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans simply because they voted for someone in a different party. We ought to be better than that. If we normalize this, we’re going to turn American politics into a Hatfields and McCoys endless blood feud – a house hopelessly divided.
Sasse has been one of the very few GOP lawmakers willing to “talk the talk” (although he has often proved unwilling to “walk the walk” with his votes.) Mitt Romney did criticize the arsonists for allowing ambition to eclipse principle, and Sen. Pat Toomey accused Cruz and Hawley– by name– of subverting American democracy. Even Tom Cotton and Liz Cheney have criticized the ploy, but I’m unaware of other current GOP officeholders who have done so.
Following disclosure of Trump’s stunning and illegal phone call, will any other Republican incumbents be willing to disavow the cowards, incompetents, would-be fascists and institutional arsonists who currently control the GOP?
I guess we’ll find out.