The upcoming retirement of so many members of the Republican Party raises a great number of questions. The foremost would be: why? Do they fear a massive shift as a result of the midterms? Is it purely a result of basic policy or ethical disagreements with the current administration? Is it something else entirely?
Fearing a shift toward a Democratically controlled Congress is certainly a possibility. Polls show the generic ballot gives the Democrats an 8.5-point edge as of November 1. But if history is any indicator the Democratic party is adept at losing what appears to be a sure thing.
It’s not a stretch to say there does not appear to be a clear long-term policy of the current administration, but Donald J. Trump would not be the first leader to put tactics before strategy.
Saying that the current rash of retirements is based on policy or even ethical considerations might be a factor but clearly not a driving force. A glimpse at Republican Senator Lindsey Graham should put that argument to rest. Before the 2016 election, Graham famously said, “The more you know about Donald Trump, the less likely you are to vote for him.” Less than two years down the road, he says, “If you don’t like me working with President Trump to make the world a better place, I don’t give a s—.”
There may be evidence to support a new question: is the Republican Party (GOP) forming a GNP? Yes, that would be the Grand New Party. With a record number of Republicans and more than a few Democrats having announced retirements, the question is: are they actually retiring? Or are they planning to launch an altogether new political party?
Formation of Republican Party
In 1854, the Republican Party was birthed out of a national crisis – the issue of slavery and the division created within the United States. For the most part, the new Republican Party consisted of Whig Party members who represented the new party’s commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and for some in leadership, the abolishment of slavery. Within four years the fresh-faced Republican Party had a president in the White House. And guess who? That’s right – Abraham Lincoln.
Fast forward 120 years and you find another Republican president riding into office on a wave of a new movement known as the Moral Majority, a political organization associated with the Republican Party and the Christian right.
The tenets of Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party could be distilled into smaller government, lower taxes, and less spending. And now, in 2018, you have to squint pretty hard to see even a fragment of Lincoln or Reagan’s Grand Old Party.
So why the mass exodus of Senators and Congress members, if it is not to strategize and shape a party that would actually represent the values that were once held in esteem by the GOP?
The list is too long to put here but with several young representatives and Senators and some veteran heavy hitters all “stepping away,” the thought that a new party is in the making is intriguing at least, and entirely possible at best. Add in the names of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, one time running mates for the presidency and, well, use your imagination.
The time is ripe for the United States to have a good old-fashioned Jeffersonian shake-up, “to,” as third President Thomas Jefferson wrote in the 1776 Declaration of Independence, “dissolve the political bands.” Jefferson was talking about declaring independence from England, but it could very well be contextualized to mean independence from the Republican Party as we know it.
With voter turnout hovering around 50 percent, activating voters for the midterm elections is the primary goal for both parties. The methods used are almost entirely divisive, so an attempt at swing votes is becoming more futile every day.
Trump played on activation and did so very successfully. He activated non-voters and successfully deactivated his opposition voters in one fell swoop. Imagine how a new party – a new American brand – would play out on social media channels, following on from the success of Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012.
Maybe this is conjecture. For some Republican’s it’s wishful thinking. For both parties, it’s a potential for a move towards reasonableness. If it’s not all those things, then perhaps it’s an opportunity to make some real change. And if our last presidential election taught us anything, it is that We, the People, are hungry for change.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.