If you ever entertained any notion that the Republican Party will endure in a democracy, tell me what you’re smoking, please.
First published: Oct 2022.
As an example, Georgia GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s most recent embarrassing issue to cope with is twofold:
- A woman claimed to have an affair with him and he paid for an abortion despite saying he is anti-choice no matter what. Walker denied both claims in strong terms, kinda.
- After his denials, the woman (unidentified by Daily Beast which broke the stories) said, in effect: Oh yea? Well, I also had his baby. Walker denied this too and leads questioners to believe he has no idea who the woman is.
(If I were advising Walker I would tell him: If the allegation is untrue, ask for a DNA test. That will prove who’s being honest here.)
It is only the most recent example of the Republican Party rather than seeking the truth, accepting his denials as facts. Now, maybe he’s correct about the abortion and the child. DNA would tell us.
The Republican Party’s response: We believe Herschel!!!
Translation: We really want the Senate majority and he is key to that goal.
There is a series of examples of the GOP’s drifting, uh, running away from its traditional views. The biggest one is former President Donald Trump’s claims that the last election was stolen from him. Most Republican elected officials – and GOP candidates for federal, state and local offices in November – either buy into that lie or say they do to stay in Trump’s good graces and not to alienate his base voters.
Polls show, too, that rank-and-file Republicans think the election was stolen. Trump's election fraud lie is real to a vast majority of Republicans, despite dozens of court cases (some decided by Trump-appointed judges) and recounts showing Biden did win.
Now, you may think that once Trump is gone, however that happens, from the political discussion, the party will return to the Republican Party of old – one whose policy positions you may have disagreed with but you felt was honestly reflecting those core beliefs.
Core beliefs have disappeared from the party. The only core belief is that Trump won the election and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. Trump and his troops have been so good at pushing that lie that 70% of Republicans have bought into it¹.
Some may find it hard to believe that democracy (lowercase) is at stake in the next election and the one after that. But, it is. All Trump-endorsed candidates this year support his lie about the election. Many candidates are running for governor or secretary of state, offices that, depending on your location, can affect the denial of legitimate election results.
Democracy truly is on the line and that’s not hyperbole.
If you study autocrats in history, their path to power is the same one Trump is travelling – he is the leader of a push toward destroying American institutions including free and fair elections.
Even if you never were concerned about the integrity of the Supreme Court, that belief has to be rattled, at least, now.
That belief is in question these days by many people after the court's reversal of the 50-year-old precedent of saying abortion is a choice that women can make.
It no longer is a choice and some states already have gone so far as to restrict abortion even more and impose penalties on medical professionals helping a woman through her decision – which may put her life at risk.
This is the America we live in and it can, and likely will be a more restrictive America over time. Not only is the right to choice in the past, but they are also banning books.
And no Republican leader is speaking out against those things. None. And you know damn well many of those leaders, in their hearts, don’t agree with banning abortion or books. But they do because they say nothing in opposition, fearful of Trump’s wrath and the base of voters he truly controls.
The Republican Party not only doesn’t exist today, and I don’t see how it comes back in the future. Among the leaders of the party are Florida Gov. (and potential presidential nominee) Ron DeSantis, Senate GOP election chairman Florida Sen. Rick Scott, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and, though he has no formal party role, Tucker Carlson of Fox television.
The phrase “craven politician” truly describes these “leaders.” They do not portend a return to traditional Republicanism in the future.
Indeed, they portend a further diminishing of the old Republican Party long after Trump disappears.
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.