The “chattering classes” are debating whether the GOP will survive in its current iteration. A recent piece in the Washington Post suggests that defections from whatever the party has become are growing. The guest essay was signed by Charlie Dent, who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House from 2005 to 2018, Mary Peters, who was secretary of transportation under George W. Bush, Denver Riggleman, a former Congressman from Virginia, Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, and Christine Todd Whitman, who served as governor of New Jersey and head of the EPA.
They didn’t mince words.
Alongside dozens of prominent Republicans, ex-Republicans and independents, we are announcing “A Call for American Renewal,” a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP, and highlighting the urgent need for a new, common-sense coalition.
We urge fellow Americans to join us.
Our alliance includes former governors, members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, state officials, seasoned political strategists and grass-roots leaders dedicated to offering a hopeful, principles-based vision for the country — and ensuring that our votes have decisive impact in key elections across the United States.
We want to give voice to the millions of Americans who feel politically homeless and mobilize them to help chart a new path forward for our country.
It is time for a rebirth of the American cause, which we will pursue in partnership and loyal competition with others committed to the preservation of our Union.
The signatories charge that the Republican Party has been perverted by “fear, lies and self-interest,” and they decry the GOP attacks on the integrity of America’s elections.
They note the continuing exodus from the party, and describe today’s GOP as “a privileged third party, ranking behind independents and Democrats in voter registration.”
The essay also acknowledges that Republican legislators are working to impede voting rights across the country “as a last-ditch effort to retain power.” And they issue a threat:
“We will not wait forever for the GOP to clean up its act. If we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party.”
That means hastening the creation of an alternative: a political movement dedicated to our founding principles and divorced from the GOP’s obsessive cult of personality around a deeply flawed (and twice-impeached) man, whose favorability ratings are reportedly tanking in key swing districts around the country.
We will fight for honorable Republicans who stand up for truth and decency, such as Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, to name a few.
But we will not rely on the old partisan playbook. We intend to work across party lines with other Americans to oppose extremists and defend the republic wherever we can.
The essay announces the creation of a movement to work against “fear-mongers, conspiracy theorists and the opportunists who seek unbridled power.” They note that they are forming a “resistance of the rational against the radicals.”
We still hope for a healthy, thriving Republican Party, but we are no longer holding our breath.
Next month, we will convene a nationwide town hall open to all Americans and featuring current and former U.S. leaders who will lay out where we must go from here, how we can ensure a freer America and how all citizens can join the fight.
The writers do not explicitly threaten to start a new party, but it is difficult to read the essay without concluding that the planned “nationwide town hall” will consider that option very seriously.
If America didn’t need a minimum of two sane, adult parties–if the current GOP iteration didn’t pose such a threat–I’d say “Pass the popcorn and enjoy the show…” But the future of the Republic shouldn’t be mistaken for an entertaining soap opera.
In a two-party system, the health of both parties is critical.