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Where Have All the Responsible Republicans Gone?

Heather Cox Richardson is a scholar on the history of the Republican Party. She writes about how it went from the anti-slavery party of Lincoln to what it has degenerated into today: An extremist faction. In her interview on Amanpour and Company by Michele Martin, Dr. Richardson offers a fascinating insight into the sad fall of a once noble party. Check it out Heather Cox Richardson on today’s GOP.

The bottom line is that the Republican Party is now one of destruction. Its leaders are rewarded for not cooperating with the Democrats and are rewarded for doing anything that could hurt the proper functioning of our country, our democracy. Kevin McCarthy was ousted because he dared to work with Democrats to keep the government from shutting down. As Dr. Cox Richardson notes, that is not how this government was intended to function.

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But why are the Republicans behaving so reprehensibly? How is it that a key element of America’s two-party system is not willing to play by the rules anymore? Watching this interview and reading her new book “Democracy Awaking,” may help us to understand.

Perhaps part of the answer is that playing by the rules of democracy is not something the Republican leadership seems willing to engage in anymore. It apparently doesn’t seem like a tenable route for them. They sense that the demographic shifts in America favor a much more diverse polity, that is traditionally more aligned with the Democratic Party. This shift is happening, to be sure. But instead of crafting ways to understand and appeal to the needs of this more diverse society, Republican leaders are choosing the reactionary route by stoking the xenophobic fears of the white rural population that feels threatened by people who don’t look like them. It is exactly this “Replacement Theory” that led a misguided young white man to hunt down and kill innocent black shoppers in a Buffalo, NY Tops Super Market.

Republicans, sensing they can’t win by playing by the rules, are deciding to throw out the rules that have guided us since the founding of the republic. It also doesn’t help that in parts of American society that have become overridden by toxic masculinity, there seems to be an appeal to the resolve of strongmen and their no-nonsense tough talk. But such talk and attitudes are much like junk food. It is very appealing and seems highly desirable in the moment, but you end up later regretting you ever consumed it.

Where have all the responsible Republicans gone? It is not possible that they have all disappeared from the face of the planet. No. They’re out there still. Perhaps they are embarrassed to step forth now because to do so would admit that they were oh so wrong about Trump and that they fell for his demagoguery. But they must step forth. For the sake of their country, they must. In the end, they will be forgiven for their folly. Narcissists are very good at tricking otherwise decent and trusting people.

One could reasonably wonder if the everyday Main Street Republicans even realize the extent to which their support for Trump and Trumpism is an existential threat to democracy as they know it. It is difficult to believe that Republicans across America truly wish to end democracy, yet Trump has been very clear that if elected he would effectively eliminate key aspects of rights laid out in the Constitution and systematically eliminate democratic institutions. People somehow don’t think he would really be that bad, would he? Of course he would! Please refer to:

Are Americans in Denial About The True Risks of Trumpism?

Gary Cottingham

Sep 20

Are Americans in Denial About The True Risks of Trumpism?

Yesterday I listened to a tremendous but bone-chilling podcast from The Lincoln Project. Reed Galen was interviewing NYU History and Italian Studies Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat on her research about the origin of fascist movements and how they arise in unsuspecting democracies. You can listen to it here:

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America needs a healthy two-party system. Maybe in the very long run, we could benefit even more from a healthy three-party system. That is NOT what we need in 2024. Not even close. But today we need a functioning Republican Party with responsible leaders. The point is that we need healthy debate in this country. But that debate can never be about whether we need democracy as the baseline of all we do. That can never be a subject for debate. There are many sides to many issues that require respectful discussion and understanding. That can only happen when two sides agree to ground rules of respectfulness and the fact that they are operating in an arena of democracy.


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