A political revolution has happened, but not as Bernie Sanders imagined. By nominating Donald Trump as its standard bearer, the Republican Party has finalized its self-destruction as the Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Exit stage right: The GOP. In with the MUP: The Party of Mean and Ugly.
To say Republican convention speakers and delegates went over the top in their frothy, fitful, frenzied denunciations of Hillary Clinton would be an understatement. One ought not be surprised, though. The fault line between fire-breathing pitch-fork wielders and sane America didn’t suddenly surface in Cleveland. It’s the outcome of the creeping creepiness that has infested the party for three decades, reaching full measure since the election of Barack Obama.
The Republican Party’s 2016 platform offers a prescription to take America not back to a grand time or place but for a fundamental conversion of America into a theocratic, fascist state, one in which bedrock core values are not hope, freedom, and opportunity but fear, paranoia, and exclusion.
The cherished belief in equality as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal” and by Lincoln of “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” is given mere lip service.
“We continue to encourage equality for all citizens and access to the American Dream,” the platform claims. Hypocritically, it goes on to condemn marriage equality and calls for marriage to be the exclusive domain of “one man and one woman.”
Log Cabin Republican President Gregory T. Angelo calls the platform “the most anti-L.G.B.T. platform in the party’s 162-year history.” The New York Times labels it “the most extreme in memory.”
“Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster,” the NYT declares, “this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.
“Trump’s anti-Muslim phobia and fantasy wall across the Mexican border, retrograde positions that include making no exceptions for rape or women’s health in cases of abortion; requiring the Bible to be taught in public high schools; selling coal as a ‘clean’ energy source; demanding a return of federal lands to the states; insisting that legislators use religion as a guide in lawmaking; appointing ‘family values’ judges; barring female soldiers from combat; and rejecting the need for stronger gun controls — despite the mass shootings afflicting the nation every week.”
The platform, as does Trump, lies and defames. It falsely asserts Planned Parenthood “sell(s) fetal body parts.” It does not. Period.
The Republican Party is now a subsidiary of Trump Enterprises. Their brands are intertwined.
Despite that chilling reality, one must be careful not to broad-brush Republicans. Jeb Bush, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Governor John Kasich (R-OH), and a plethora of other prominent, principled Republicans have thus far declined to endorse Trump. Nor will all Trump voters agree with the platform on every issue.
Nonetheless, a party’s platform is a more than a listing of positions on issues; it is an essential expression of a party’s core values and principles, a proud “who we are” proclamation as Republicans/Democrats/Libertarians/Socialists, etc.
A platform speaks to the character of those who subscribe to it. It is a de facto testimonial about every candidate, from county commissioner to U.S. senator, of his/her values. Unless and until candidates unequivocally emancipate themselves from it by repudiating it, voters must assume the values and principles espoused in a party’s platform are those candidates hold in their hearts.
On occasion, I have the opportunity to converse with a prominent local Republican who has shared his sadness and disgust with what has happened to his party. He and I might disagree on issues, but he knows where my heart is, and I know where his is.
By 1850, the Whig Party imploded and from its ashes rose a once-great political party that was far ahead of the Democratic Party on great issues, from the eradication of slavery—Lincoln—to progressive measures—Teddy Roosevelt—for improving peoples’ lives and protecting our natural heritage.
One yearns for that party to reimagine itself and get back to its roots. One yearns to see more principled, courageous men and women who put country ahead of party stand up. The voters have a right to know where their hearts lie.