US President Donald Trump speaks to the UN General Assembly. Credit: United Nations COLOMBO, Nov 13 (IPS) – What happened to the Republican Party? Electing Donald Trump as a Republican candidate in 2016, winning elementary school after elementary school, and later tolerating his idiosyncrasies and unpredictably dangerous behaviors and political decisions was bad enough, even if tried to be seen as whims of the world digest democratic tradition.
But some Republican leaders who advocate Trump’s refusal to admit defeat are shocking, if not downright sycophantic, and the ultimate insult to the Grand Old Party. Notable exceptions include former President George W. Bush and Senator, as well as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who called President-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him and urged President Trump to admit defeat.
Former Republican presidents will bang their heads against the wall of democracy in disbelief when alive and, when dead, will turn in their graves when they hear Senate Republican leader Mitchel McConnell and some other Republican seniors tacitly or otherwise returning Trump’s claim with no evidence that the November 3rd election was a scam.
That cabal also included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told journalists that there would be a smooth transition to Trump’s second administration. Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr ordered the Justice Department’s electoral crime division to open an investigation into Trump’s electoral fraud claims, which prompted the division chief to resign in disgust.
According to a November 5 poll by Reuters and Ipsos, 30 percent of Republicans believed Trump’s claim he won the election – an indication of the extent to which Trumpism had penetrated Republican grassroots.
The party is today stripped of its sacred ideology, as highlighted in his immortal speech in Gettysburg during the Civil War under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, a martyr hero who gave his life for the abolition of slavery and upholding democracy.
Trump kidnapped the Republican Party and made it a party by and for henchmen and illiberal and irrational extremists, conservatives and racists.
Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, some concerned Republicans foresaw the threat to the party and the country if Trump were to be elected President of the United States. Then House Speaker Paul Ryan, a loyal Republican and a 2012 vice presidential nominee, devised a framework to protect the party from any harm that an opportunist and wildcard participant like Trump could cause. At a senior citizen convention, Ryan made a series of proposals known as “This is Trump’s vaccination schedule.”
In the kind of politics that Trump tries his hand at, principles have little place. As president, he became unruly, rejected democratic traditions and did not do what right-wing people believed was right. As a result, the Republican Party lost its identity and soul. Republican politicians began moving into Trump’s camp one by one.
All 51 Republican senators sided with Trump to thwart the House impeachment decision, despite evidence that he was obstructing the judiciary, violating compensation clauses, and undermining judicial independence.
If only two senators had abstained from voting, the Trump era could have ended in December last year, but Republican politicians backed him, despite the fact that he was the president’s biggest underdog in US history.
That Trump officials kept resigning or being fired in frustration for failing to carry out his irrational commandments only confirms the chaos associated with the billionaire businessman who became president. A White House source described the mayhem as a 12-year-old in an air traffic control tower at a busy airport.
The Republican Party, with its honorable Grand Old Party (GOP), is known for its historic achievements such as abolishing slavery and saving the Union. The party was founded on classical liberalism, which believes in freedom, liberty and equality. Free trade and free market activism, as advocated by Reagan ism, were part of party politics.
Although the country is politically divided along the lines of republican and democratic party membership, the two parties had agreed until Trump’s appearance that republicanism is democratic while democracy is rooted in republicanism. The two parties had their roots in a single Democratic Republican party founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1792.
Republicanism has its origins in the ancient Greco-Roman democratic tradition. The word republic is derived from the Latin word Res Public – which means the cause of the people. Rome was once a republic and has been for more than 500 years since the 5th century BC.
The excuses of those involved in the assassination attempt by Julius Caesar were that he had destroyed the constitutional republic and established himself as Rome’s first dictator for life.
In ancient Greece, Plato insisted that the ruler of the republic should become a philosopher or a philosopher should become a ruler in order to promote the well-being of people through knowledge. But Trump rejects science and knowledge-based governance and is widely known as a demagogue who acts on the fly, as demonstrated by his costly mistreatment of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Republican renegade does not respect the will of the people and does not work with President-elect Biden’s team to ensure a smooth transition, he poses several legal challenges to his rival’s victory.
In the meantime, his hardline supporters, his Proud Boys, whom he told during an election debate to step down and stand by, are flocking to Washington DC to hold a show of force tomorrow known as the Million MAGA March. It could even be a minor coup if the President’s measures to dismiss Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and appoint loyalists to key positions in the National Security Agency and the Pentagon were any indication. Similar upheavals are also expected from the CIA and FBI.
The march for Trump and the intransigence of the president raise fears of further chaos or even civil war, similar to what is often the case in weak democracies, where rulers care little or no democratic governance. The way Trump behaves makes him allies with dictators in crap countries to use his own words.
As the US drifts into uncertainty and into the darkest days of its democracy, hope for Americans may be in the unlikely possibility that his persistent behavior is just a face rescue exercise or narrative to claim he won the election but was its stripped of its second establishment term or what he and his supporters mockingly refer to as the deep state.
It is high time the Republican Party found its only position to resume principled politics and save itself from the shame of being mixed up with right-wing political parties that are destroying the democratic fabric of the countries in which they operate to have.
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