Clause 61: The Pushback Blog

Because ideas have consequences

Life after the Republican Party

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The Republican Party was founded in 1854 after the Whig party had begun to disintegrate (Abraham Lincoln, to name one prominent example, had gone to the House in 1847 as “and old line Whig, a disciple of Henry Clay.”). It was a radical party with strength in the North among opponents of slavery. Republicans also opposed the American Party, more commonly known as the Know-Nothing party, whose members refused to discuss slavery and were strongly nativist and anti-immigrant.

My, it has been a long and torturous road. Now the Republicans have descended into Know-Nothingism, following behind a man who does not let lack of comprehension get in his way. How did this happen?

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich, obtained from

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich, obtained from

I certainly understand the dissatisfaction with the Republican establishment. Have the Republicans stood up and demanded that Congress do its job, making laws that we can follow? No. Have they curbed the compulsion to buy votes? No, they just have different favored groups. Any demonstrated interest in making K-12 education do more to prepare our kids to be effective citizens and self-reliant economic agents? None I can see.

For a long time, we have thought we were stuck with this. There is actually a body of political science theory, most notably Duverger’s Law, that predicts that a political system such as ours will only have two major parties. Other theoretical work explains why the two parties will converge on one another’s positions in general elections, until the difference between them is simply window dressing.

Nevertheless, we do not need Republicans to be pale imitations of Democrats. If we wanted people who would get into office and spend like Democrats, we could vote for actual Democrats and get the real thing.

We used to be confident that the Republicans believed in personal responsibility. Last January, Sarah Palin blamed President Obama for her son’s PTSD and domestic violence arrest. I am not making light of PTSD or minimizing the reality of the damage experienced by people who have served in combat. But this comment was laughable.

Welcome to Opposite Year. Last year we had a field of 16 Republican presidential hopefuls. Now, we’re hopeless. The really big chunk has floated to the top. This is not just a fluke — more like a flounder.

Yes, there has been much to be dissatisfied about with the Republican Party in the past 28 years. But this is like using a flamethrower to get the termites out of your house. Yes, it works, in that you won’t have any more termites. You also won’t have any more house.

We have a presumptive Republican nominee who doesn’t answer questions directly, who changes his position multiple times in the same week, and who seems to really only listen to himself. He has been allowed to get away with this for months. People make excuses for him.

Back in 2013, the Republican Party initiated a period of self-examination. Was it time to stop alienating major demographic segments, such as Latinos and women? What happened to that? Self-examination has given way to self-destruction.

I am not saying that the Trump campaign is doomed — after everything that has happened this year, I can’t say that. But his campaign has called the question: are you going to go along with this? I am not.

You can make the argument that the Republican elected officials, such as Paul Ryan, have to accept the decisions of their primary voters. They got their offices and their clout through the ballot access that the Republican party has provided. However, you can also argue that this is the Profiles in Courage moment when extraordinary action is called for.

Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger. That’s what we do.
— Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb), quoted in Politico.

There is no such debate for the rest of us; we owe the Republican Party nothing. It is time to stand up and be counted. Include me out.



Written by srojak

June 16, 2016 at 8:20 pm

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