Tag Archives: Lincoln project

Time For A New Center-Right Party?

So here is where we are. We have a sitting president pretending that he won an election he resoundingly lost, and nearly 90 percent of the GOP members in Congress refusing to challenge the assertion.

Top officials in 18 states and more than half of House Republicans supported a bonkers lawsuit trying to reverse the result of the election–even though a number of them owe their own seats to that same election.

Meanwhile, Proud Boys (a White Supremacist gang) prowl the streets of Washington and were actually invited into the White House by a deranged and dangerous almost-ex President.

To say that this is all insane behavior is to belabor the obvious. Even Trump ally Chris Christie has called the Texas lawsuit “absurd.”

Prior to the Presidential campaign, former GOP strategists and conservatives–including Rick Wilson, George Conway, Steve Schmidt, Reed Galen, Jennifer Horn, John Weaver, Ron Steslow, and Mike Madrid formed the Lincoln Project, “accountable to those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.” Wilson, Conway and Schmidt have been particularly vocal in repudiating the Trumpism that has radicalized and infantilized what remains of the GOP. There have been other groups of disaffected Republicans, like Republican Voters Against Trump, and large numbers of former Republican officeholders ( especially DOJ lawyers and military personnel) who have issued letters and statements pointing out that various Trump actions and statements weren’t simply wrong, but in violation of American values and the rule of law.

Ex-Republicans, including conservative “names” like Charlie Sykes and Bill Kristol, established the Bulwark, “a project of Defending Democracy Together Institute, a 501(c)(3) organization.” They are joined philosophically by media figures like Joe Scarborough, who was once a Republican Congressman.

These dissidents from Trumpism are largely drawn from what we might call the brains of the former GOP–strategists, political philosophers (and to be fair, a number of self-regarding blowhards. But still…)

Thoughtful people understand that America needs two responsible, adult political parties. That need is especially significant in a country that has only two major parties. When the political system works properly, both of those parties will be bigger “tents” than today’s GOP, but one will be generally more conservative and one generally more liberal.

People of good will who are focused on the common good will disagree about many things. They will bring different perspectives and life experiences to the nation’s problems. And in what should be an inevitable process of negotiation and compromise, broadly acceptable public policies will be hammered out.

That process is impossible when one party is a fundamentalist cult.

When one of only two political parties is dominated by people who believe that God is not only on their side, but has directed them not to negotiate, compromise or accept any reality other than their preferred one, government cannot function. And that is the alternative reality in which members of today’s GOP live.

As Michelle Goldberg wrote in the New York Times,

The postmodern blood libel of QAnon will have adherents in Congress. Kyle Rittenhouse, a young man charged with killing Black Lives Matter protesters, is a right-wing folk hero. The Republican Party has become more hostile to democracy than ever. Both the Trump and Bush presidencies concluded with America a smoking ruin. Only Trump has ensured that nearly half the country doesn’t see it.

As Paul Krugman observed in that same issue, the GOP has become hostile to the very idea that there’s an objective reality that might conflict with its political goals.

There are certainly similarly ideological, intransigent people among the Democrats–but they don’t control it, and they do not come close to being a majority of that party’s base.

Today, what remains of the GOP is a seething, angry mob. Scholars can research the roots of this devolution; psychiatrists and political psychologists can investigate the personality quirks that predict attraction to whatever it is that being a Republican these days represents. But what is abundantly clear–not just to Democrats and Independents, but to anti-Trump Republicans–is that the current iteration of the Grand Old Party is incapable of participating in governance.

Tantrums are not policy positions.

In my opinion (not that anyone is likely to ask for my opinion), if the United States is to return to a semblance of sanity, or to any adult version of governance, the principled conservatives who have exited the GOP need to form a new center-right party, and leave the current Republican Party to the howling, racist remnants that currently dominate it.



Evan McMullin Sums It Up

David Evan McMullin–for those of you who have forgotten his brief emergence during the 2016 Presidential campaign– is the former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer and former Republican who ran for President as an independent that year. He is currently the Executive Director of Standup Republic.

In the wake of the shameful vote by Republican Senators in which they refused to call witnesses or demand documents, McMullin’s tweets have been short, not sweet and very much to the point.

Immediately following the vote, he tweeted:

Republican leaders in Congress believe—and privately say—that they fear the country is quickly changing in ways that may soon deprive them of power, and that they must use the power they have now to delay it as long as possible, even by harming the Republic if necessary.

That was followed by other, equally pointed observations.

For anti-Trump Republicans—a small but electorally significant segment—it’s been uncomfortably possible to oppose Trump but remain affiliated with the party, looking instead to more reasonable Republican senators for leadership. The witness vote may mark the end of that for many…

In a single bogus impeachment trial, Senate Republicans will have made Trump’s pursuit of foreign backing and obstruction of Congress unimpeachable. It’s hard to ignore the fact that they benefit from both, especially at a time when they’re facing increasing electoral headwinds….

We’re watching extreme Republican partisanship dismantle the separation of powers.

McMullin also retweeted an eerily apt quotation from Alice in Wonderland, from someone named Stuart Stephens.

 Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

People tweeting responses to McMullin’s observations are primarily former Republicans who share his disgust and dismay, although there are a few comments from folks who clearly think the GOP hasn’t changed–that the party has merely stopped pretending to be something other than the disgraceful collection of sycophants and moral cowards who have made a joke of constitutional checks and balances.

America faces existential questions that won’t be answered until November–and only tentatively answered then.

How many other former Republicans will join the Evan McMullins, David Frums, Max Boots, George Conways and other “Never Trumpers” at the polls? How many genuine conservatives–i.e., those who are neither theocrats nor plutocrats– will join or contribute to the Lincoln Project

We keep seeing polls that show Trump with solid Republican support; what we don’t see is how many Republicans remain, given the steady shrinkage of the percentage of voters who still identify with the party. (To belabor the obvious, eighty percent of twenty-two or twenty-four percent isn’t the same as eighty percent of 35 or 40 percent.)

How likely is it that the Democrats will disband their usual circular firing squad and “vote blue, no matter who” in recognition that the future of the nation depends upon ousting the criminal conspiracy that is raping and polluting our country?

And how likely is it that enough “blue no matter who” voters–whether Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Independent or usually apathetic– will recognize the incredible importance of this election, and turn out in numbers sufficient to swamp the GOP’s predictable vote suppression tactics?

Because make no mistake: Evan McMullin is right when he says the remaining Republicans will use whatever means are at their disposal to cling to power–no matter the damage to America.