I’ve recently had two questions rolling around in my head with no answers. Let’s lay them out here and see if you can help.
Question #1: Is the current Republican Party worth saving?
Question #2. Can a Conservative, viable Republican Party - a la pre-Donald Trump - be created?
Here’s my take so far: question #1, No. Question #2, Yes. Maybe.
Let’s deal with question one. Trump has turned what was, once, a respected political party into a cult. Some sane Republicans remain but their ranks are fewer. The followers - most of whom were probably Republicans or unaffiliated - seem to swallow whatever “wisdom” he throws their way as “gospel truth.” His “big lie” has become their mantra.
Despite the dishonesty, thievery and absurdities, Trump is - and will continue to be - a force to be reckoned with. What affect the likely indictment(s), for one crime or another, will have on his followers is an open question. I’d guess his impact will lessen.
What passes as the Republican Party, at the moment, seems captive to him. I’m certain there are many sane, responsible members of the GOP who want nothing to do with what’s called “the Trump wing” of the Republican Party. But, he IS the Republican Party.
The problem is, those folks who want to see change don’t seem able to wrest what’s left of the Party from his control. They have no alternative “core” or voice to rally around. Even the Chair of the Party is a Trumper, So, Trump’s voice is the only one heard. His behind-the-scenes influence goes unchecked. At the moment, the GOP seems to be the “Trump GOP.”
If we agree with this evidence - and much more - the answer to question #1 is probably “no.”
So, question two. “Can a viable Republican Party be created?” Possibly. But, to create it, it seems there would have to be a “Republican Two” or “Republican Lite” or - well, you come up with a new moniker.
Whatever it is, the second GOP would have to have a new core, a set of values more nearly aligned with the original. Someone - several someone’s - must come forward with a message acceptable to disaffected Republicans. A sound platform of issues around which others could join must be created. A rebirth of “Republicanism” seems necessary to save the Party from itself.
At the moment, I don’t know who has the gravitas to make a clear, clarion call. Some folks want former Secretary of State Colin Powell to step forward. Great. But Powell is 84-years-old. The likelihood he’d give up a well-earned retirement at that age is pretty slim.
There’s Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania who may lose his Senate seat in 2021, also several other GOP leaders who have national notoriety, but I can’t name very many. And, certainly, none who’ve remained active in leadership of the Party since Trump.
So, it would seem the answer to question two is “Maybe.”
We’re about 16 months away from the 2021 election. Not a lot of time to create the kind of second “GOP” necessary, with a viable core and new candidates with new messages. Not much time at all.
Give those two questions some thought. And, if you come up with some different ideas, I’d like to hear from you. We - you and I - are where the answers to these questions have to come from. It’s worth some time to give them some serious thought.