The Remarkable Transformation of an American Political Party

This piece appeared in newspapers at the very end of 2023.


Not so terribly long ago, the Endangered Species Act was passed unanimously. Now the Republicans are trying to undo that national commitment to avoid driving other creatures into extinction.

Likewise, renewing the Voting Rights Act was once accomplished automatically by both parties. But then the Republicans began to fight it.

Raising the debt ceiling was also something the two parties readily joined together to accomplish for decades — until the Republicans started using it to threaten to drive the nation into default if their demands were not met.

Again and again, the change in the Republican Party has moved the nation from consensus to conflict.

How can it happen that good people would support such a Party, whose insistence on conflict reveals such an ugly face?

Then there’s the man whom this Republican Party is on the verge of choosing as its standard bearer, a Leader who

· has successfully insisted that the Party support his Big Lie, proven false in countless ways.

· has been found by a jury, in a civil trial, to have committed what meets the common definition of rape.

· has been indicted 91 times, in different jurisdictions, by grand juries made up of regular American citizens, for some of the most serious crimes in American history.

(What does it say about the Republican base that the more the American system of justice proves the crime this Leader committed, abusing his presidential powers, and works to hold him accountable, the more fervently his supporters rally to him, eager to make him President again?)

Never before this era would the Republican Party have allowed people like Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and Marjorie Taylor Green to dominate the whole Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, its most extreme element calling the shots..

A Party in which things are so often just the opposite of what they claim to be.

· A “Party of Freedom” that the American majority thinks has wrongly taken away a freedom a vast number of American women think is important.

· A Party of “Law and Order” that does the bidding of an obvious criminal, siding against the American system of Law Enforcement.

· A Party that claims to want to “Make America Great Again” that has greatly diminished the stature and reputation of our nation in the world.

· A Party that claims to champion Christian values while acting directly contrary to Christian’s core moral teachings.

Regarding that last point – i.e. regarding the rampant problem of hypocrisy that plagues this “conservative” world — consider this bit of the history of the new Republican Speaker of the House – Mike Johnson.

Some years back, now-Speaker Mike Johnson declared that, “The ultimate goal of the enemy is silencing the Gospel.” The “enemy” he referred to was a non-Christian family who had sued to stop the public schools compelling their children to participate in Christian prayers.

But who is here is acting as the enemy of the Gospel?

Surely, Mike Johnson would not want his own children compelled to be subjected to Islamic prayers, or Hindu, or Buddhist.

Christianity’s Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

As one would not wish to be oppressed, so Christianity’s central moral teaching dictates that one will not oppress another.

Johnson’s willingness to impose his beliefs on people with different views, despite his not wanting to be treated that way himself, shows him in violation of Christianity’s core moral rule.

The Gospel would have the Christian treat that non-Christian family as the Christian would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. Instead, Johnson – doing the opposite — calls that family “the enemy,” and accuses them of attacking the Gospel.

When the Republican caucus finally found a new Speaker of the House, it is the man that brings that “Christian” spirit into the halls of power that the caucus unanimously chose.

Another illustration of the devolution of the Republican Party is to contrast the GOP of thirty years ago with today’s regarding the matter of “Good Character.”

Part of the identity of the Republican Party, and of Conservative America generally, is that it is the part of America that emphasizes the importance of Character.

It’s the opposite now.

The Republican Party has now become so morally degraded that integrity can get you kicked out of the Party.

Liz Cheney was fired from her position of House leadership for refusing to betray her sacred oath and serve Donald Trump instead, despite what was clear about Trump’s assault on the Constitution to overturn a legitimate American election. For her integrity, Cheney was then

kicked out of her congressional seat altogether in a primary where the base elected someone who’d abet Trump in his Lies and Crimes.

All Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his proven crimes against the Constitution sacrificed their seats.

. The Party no longer even postures as embodying anything positive. Various hatred and resentments abound. But one can find nothing that this Republican Party loves.

One can readily make a list of what this Republican Party is fighting against. But one looks in vain for some vision from this Party for how America can become ever-better, how the nation might move toward a better future.

“Owning the libs” is apparently a sufficient political strategy.

All this ugliness is staring everyone right in the face

What enables good people to support such a party?

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