I have a confession to make. This piece is inspired by comments made on Steve Parks’ editorial on ex-president Trump’s second impeachment trial. The article itself was excellent, reflecting many of my own sentiments towards Trump. But it was comments on the article that moved me to write. I was amazed how angry Parks’ thoughtful observations made some of us. It reminded me of a rockfish just after it is pulled out of the water.
It would be folly to address individual comments or writers. That would only start yet another war of words—one ending with my being accused of a lifelong hatred for Trump and his family. Rather, I concluded that some people are not able to turn the page and acknowledge not only that Trump is finally history, but that that history is a low point in our national journey.
So, let me suggest to everyone who might be nostalgic for the Trump White House Show: Those who dwell in the past are destined to live in it. Translation: Enough already! Move on! If you think Biden and the Democratic Congress spend too much money, are opening immigration floodgates, or are trying to slow down global warming, you better turn the page. Biden is our president. He is trying to address our national crisis. Why not give him a chance? Stop worrying about how and why Trump was victimized and turn to how we can recover from the pandemic and economic crisis. And if you want to have a Republican party in the future, you better start thinking about what that party has to do to recover from the damage that Trump’s incompetence and treason caused.
Republicans face a fork in the road. In one direction, we find Ted Cruz, the disgraced Josh Hawley, giants like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz. (If you don’t know these last two, look them up, but have a stomach distress bag handy.) These party leaders are joined by Ivanka, who is thinking of running against Marco Rubio in Florida. Press reports indicate that some of her suggestions for last-minute pardons were motivated by her future fundraising needs. We even have a Texas State Representative, Kyle Biedermann, who has introduced a resolution in the Texas legislature for that state to hold a referendum on seceding from the Union. (If you look up Mr. Biedermann under Google Images, you can find him dressed up as “The Gay Hitler” at a fundraiser a decade ago. Apparently Biedermann thought that was funny.)
And let’s not forget our own contribution to today’s Republican party: The gun-toting Andy Harris. You know him. He’s the guy who just broke his term-limit promise.
On the other side of the fork is what I’ll call traditional, or sane, Republicans. Most people are OK with these Republicans even if they disagree with them on policy. Examples of this group included John McCain before he died, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Ben Sasse, Rob Portman, Liz Cheney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins. None of the living people on this list believe Trump or Trumpism was good for America. If the vote to convict Trump of treason at his upcoming trial were secret, all of the Senators on this list and several others would vote to convict.
My hope is that enough moderates, Republicans, former Republicans, Independents, and even some Democrats, will see sufficient value in having a sane, principles-based opposition party to rid the current GOP of racists, QAnon followers, and Trumpists. The Republican party is not irretrievably lost. It can rebuild, but that takes dumping Trump and his legacy.
And if the Democratic party goes too far left, that reformed Republican party could pick up Congressional seats in 2022 or even the Presidency in 2024. How would that happen? Once the current GOP is dead and Trump forgotten, the displaced voters, if they choose to vote, will have nowhere else to go. The policies that might result here might not be optimal, but civilized political debate is invaluable.
The new Republican party should be one that embraces science, supports honest and efficient government, supports world cooperation, and first and foremost, is not a personality cult. That aspect of the most recent Republican administration offers us an important lesson: Leader-worship is the enemy of truth.
One other thing that those angry about Trump being impeached twice need to hear. To those commenters on Steve Park’s editorial, please don’t ask again if I was hurt personally by Trump or his policies. I was. My risk of dying of COVID-19 is higher because of Trump. My pride in America was hurt by the racism that regularly flowed from Trump’s mouth and that was the foundation for his border policy. Part of the country became greedier, with the negatives of income disparity hurting our ability to act together as a country. And I don’t relish Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, Europeans and others asking me how the country could elect someone as bizarre and divisive as Trump. (Please note I did not include Russia on this list.)
As some of you may recall, I anticipated the defeat of Trump just as I currently anticipate that Trumpists will lose their grip on the GOP. I now predict that dark days lie ahead for Trump. The prosecutors are circling. The former president soon will be up to his eyeballs in criminal court. Given the extensiveness of Trump’s apparent crime-spree, he most likely will be in court for the rest of his life. Somebody preoccupied with litigation and worrying about the possibility of time behind bars is not likely to head a political movement. We are done with Trump.
When Joe Biden was sworn in on January 20, we got our government back. The period a bit before election day through Inauguration Day was the greatest period of jeopardy our democracy has faced in my lifetime. May we never go through that again.
Although some Trumpists will doubt me, I take no pleasure in what is happening to Trump now, or the even bigger problems he will soon face. I don’t care what happens to him, even if he manages to escape justice. My dog in this fight is the one that believes in limited government—the type supported not only by the checks and balances cited in the Constitution, but also through a viable, healthy, two-party system.
The rehabilitation or destruction of the current Republican party will help the country to cleanse itself of a bit of its racism and to reestablish respect for science and empathy as standards for our government. That appears to be happening. And it’s essential that it does.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant. For more than 30 years, he advised clients on federal education and social service policy.