Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties. GOP conservatism is in intellectual decline.
Innocent lives have been lost and upended in the name of retrograde ideology masked as policy. Real people, families and business have been destroyed. Climate change denial comes with a high human cost. Standing apart from the national electric grid isn’t independence. It is a death wish by another name.
Alexander Stephens, vice-president of the breakaway states, summed up this attitude in 1861: “If Charleston harbor needs improvement, let the commerce of Charleston bear the burden. If the mouth of the Savannah River has to be cleared out, let the sea-going navigation which is benefited by it, bear the burden.”
Other than when it came to repelling Abraham Lincoln, the Confederacy was not a mutual assistance pact. Before this latest man-made debacle, Republicans were dreaming of drowning government in a bathtub. Hopefully, in Texas that may change.
An analysis of January voting records by The New York Times found that nearly 140,000 Republicans had quit the party in 25 states that had readily available data (19 states do not have registration by party). Voting experts said the data indicated a stronger-than-usual flight from a political party after a presidential election, as well as the potential start of a damaging period for G.O.P. registrations as voters recoil from the Capitol violence and its fallout.
About 19,000 Pennsylvanians have left the Republican Party since Jan 6. That’s a drop in the bucket for a state with more than 8.8 million registered voters, and almost 3.5 million Republicans. But it’s also an unusually high rate of defections: Almost two-thirds of the voters who have switched parties this year left the GOP, compared with a third or less typically.
The party is politically viable, but it is intellectually and morally bankrupt. Under Trump it became an apocalyptic personality cult. But you should know, as I’m sure you do, that there are many Republicans who want to change their party and make it a vehicle for conservative ideas...This is a struggle to create a Republican Party that is democratic and not authoritarian, patriotic and not nationalistic, conservative and not reactionary, benevolent and not belligerent, intellectually self-confident and not apocalyptic and dishonest.
Republicans will beat Trumpism not by confronting it directly but by focusing on policymaking, by becoming a regular party once again. As Senator Ben Sasse put it, it’s to make the Republican Party about more than one dude. You may have noticed that this week, Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton are teaming up on an effort to raise the minimum wage and enforce immigration laws, two plans to boost working class wages. That’s what there needs to be more of.
Will this work? Is the Republican Party salvageable? Nobody knows. Right now Republicans are rallying around Trump because they believe Democrats and the media are going after him. It’s pie in the sky to ask rank-and-file Republicans to denounce the man they’ve clung to. But, as has been observed, we Americans don’t solve our problems, we just leave them behind.