Perilous Path Forward

Examining the political landscape today without cringing is becoming increasingly difficult. Headlines that have you wondering if The Onion has become America’s primary news source. That is not fair to The Onion, as they are not as absurd as American politics.

The Republican National Committee formally censured Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. The vote was held during the party’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City and received an overwhelming amount of support. The approved resolution condemns Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger for their participation in the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. The New York Times obtained a c opy of the resolution .

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A proposed resolution endorsing their removal from the House Republican caucus lacked sufficient support to proceed. It would have been symbolic unless House Republicans were foolish enough to attempt it.

“Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse , and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes, therefore, be it.”

-Resolution to Formally Censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger

To what end does this benefit the members of the Republican National Committee or Republicans in general? Where is the benefit to the caucus as a whole from censuring two genuinely interested individuals participating in the House Select Committee investigation of January 6th? The only gain is to appease one man who has the majority of the Republican Party in a vice grip.

It begs the question of whether it is worthwhile to defend one of, if not the most self-destructive individual, ever to hold political office? It is a legitimate and relevant question to ask. The potential upside is invisible. I am not naive and expect an eye-rolling response to this question from Donald Trump’s loyal supporters. What does he bring to the table that a more decent, eloquent, and strategic individual could not?

“Congratulations to the Republican National Committee (RNC) and its Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, on their great ruling in censuring Liz Cheney and Cryin’ Adam Kinzinger, two horrible RINOs who put themselves ahead of our Country.”

-Donald Trump

There was nothing decent, eloquent, or strategic praising the Republican National Committee’s actions. A trademark of Mr. Trump is his immaturity. Pandering to an already loyal base with dumbfounding off-the-cuff remarks is a political death knell. Remember every statement uttered or issued to even your closest allies risks exposure to the media. Twitter was his poison as it enabled political suicide at the click of a mouse. Politicians should pick and choose their words closely. Yes, the art of politics is a façade, but the goal is always to appeal to the majority of the electorate to win elections, not necessarily the most politically active. Mr. Trump either has no desire to or is ignorant of the basics of expanding his base.

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Politics is not for the thinned skinned either. Another feature of Mr. Trump on display daily. In response to Mr. Trump stating he would offer pardons to January 6th defendants, Sen. Lindsey Graham called it “inappropriate” in a CBS Face the Nation appearance . Trump wasted no time attacking Mr. Graham.

“Well, Lindsey Graham’s wrong. I mean, Lindsey’s a nice guy, but he’s a RINO.”

-Donal Trump in an interview with Newsmax.

Mr. Graham, who has been a loyal ally of Mr. Trump, stood by his original statement without mentioning Mr. Trump by name. Everyone who has expressed even the slightest disagreement with Mr. Trump is immediately labeled a Republican in name only. The list is considerable and ever-growing. I would argue Mr. Trump is a Republican in name only. He does not represent what the Republican Party once stood for. The typical name-calling and drivel we come to expect from Mr. Trump are embarrassing to anyone interested in seeing the Republican Party succeed. Retaking the mantle of the big tent party is the best path forward. Disagreement among Republicans is a strength, not a weakness. Respectful dialogue with Democrats is a strength and a necessity.

“The Republican Party, both in this state and nationally, is a broad party. There is room in our tent for many views; indeed, the divergence of views is one of our strengths. Let no one, however, interpret this to mean compromise of basic philosophy or that we will be all things to all people for political expediency.”

-Governor Ronald Reagan to California Republican Assembly – April 1, 1967

Then California Gov. Ronald Reagan suggested we cannot become the party of all people for the sake of political expediency but recognized disagreement and civil discourse as a strength. Under Trump’s leadership, no criticism of himself or any aspect of his supported agenda is acceptable.

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A basic set of principles guiding a party’s direction is appropriate messaging but not devotion to anyone’s proposal or idea because one man demands it. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s primary messaging has become the 2020 election was stolen, and any Republican who dares dispute his lies is labeled a RINO and subject to elementary school name-calling. Does he believe he is changing hearts and minds with his incoherent and false rhetoric? Do the majority of Republicans want Mr. Trump to lead the party? Do they understand how burdensome he is to their cause? He is a petulant child and an anchor weighing down Republicans. Republicans are missing an opportunity to capitalize on Democrats’ misfortunes. Democrats have their internal battle on the party’s direction, but one advantage they have is it is not a deity to one man.

Most, unfortunately not all, Republicans do not condone the events of January 6th; however, they consider the incident unworthy of further discussion or investigation. It would be fair to suggest the majority of the opposition is based on the potential negative impact on Republican electoral prospects. Some prominent Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, now welcome the investigation despite initial opposition. While comparisons to Pearl Harbor and September 11th, as Vice President Harris has made, are hyperbole and complete nonsense. January 6th is a stain on our country’s history, and it is due time that Republicans, at the very least, respect, even if they disagree, the meaningful work being pursued by the House Select Committee.

Image Credit: “Donald Trump”  by Gage Skidmore  is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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