With the apparent defection of Mitch McConnell from the Trump camp, the Republican Party finds itself in a major identity crisis. Is it the older, reliably worthless Democrat Party of twenty years ago, or is it the party of Donald Trump? Does it go along to get along, or does it actually stand for something?
No organized body can continue to exist without a clear purpose that its members value. If I look at a knife-making forum on Facebook, it’s populated by people who either make knives or might want to make knives. Trump fan forums exist because they admire the man, his accomplishments, or what he stands for in America. Those groups all have a purpose.
Democrats have a clear purpose. They want power. This has been their long march. Whatever power they accumulate has only been a stepping stone to more power. There appear to be no obstacles in their way. The Democrats can see clearly now how they can consolidate their hold over our lives in perpetuity. Only the uncertain resolve of Joe Manchin to preserve the filibuster prevents them from running roughshod over us.
But what purpose does the Republican Party serve? If there is one, it’s very difficult to see. Being “not-Democrats” doesn’t mean anything. Republicans were “not-Democrats” when John Kennedy was president. His economics would be repudiated now by every elected Democrat and many so-called Republicans. When my wife used to ask if the Republicans would get a particular thing done, I used to answer her that they can’t because they didn’t have both houses of Congress. Now I know they couldn’t do anything because they were subsea invertebrates.
Lindsay Graham did excellent work in getting Trump’s judges approved. But when he promised investigations into key Democrat malfeasance, it turned into hot air. Mitch McConnell also did yeoman work on the judges but got the vapors when anything might compromise his wife’s business interests in China or his bosom buddy Chuck Schumer’s ambitions. Neither one had any principles they thought were worth upholding. Power in D.C. is all that matters. Do we even need to discuss Pierre Delicto Romney? Did I say that Republicans are just Democrats twenty years behind the times?
The contrast between the parties could not be more clear. Democrats are devoted to the acquisition of power. This explains their party cohesiveness and lockstep voting. They all recognize that their leaders are adept at increasing power, and so will defer to them on tactics, recognizing the value of the overall strategy. Republicans are completely rudderless, with no concept of what they stand for. As a result, they never lead for more than a moment, rapidly surrendering the field to the Mongol horde sweeping down on them. “Fight” is a word that they simply do not understand.
Donald Trump changed all that. He came on the scene as a street fighter from Queens with a fierce devotion to America. His verbal style, counter-punching and disregard for incoming artillery inspired 73 million-plus Americans who voted for him the second time. While we may rightly suggest that Trump is rough, not ideologically pure, or for that matter halfway clear, there are a number of key features of his tenure that tell us what America wants and needs. If the Republican Party can adopt these as non-negotiable principles that any candidate must agree on, it may yet survive and thrive.
First and foremost is the Rule of Law. That means that every law must be understood in the way that those who wrote it understood it. For the Constitution, this means “textualism.” The “living Constitution” approach that changes its meaning at the whim of the day must be rejected. If a law must be changed, there are proper ways to make that change. Anything else is anarchy.
A second part of the Rule of Law is that it must be applied with an even hand. There cannot be two sets of law, where the privileged skate but the rest of us are bankrupted to defend against spiteful prosecutions. There cannot be an immigration law that is not enforced. We cannot allow criminals to destroy our cities while feckless prosecutors let miscreants go unprosecuted. And we cannot abide policies that seek to destroy our law enforcement professionals.
A third part of the Rule of Law is the Constitutional doctrine of Enumerated Powers. Congress gets away with handing out subsidies for “Green Energy” on the specious premise that it is “for the general welfare.” It regulates almost everything as “interstate commerce.” And it creates whole departments to “solve” problems that don’t exist. Our “Education” department buries local school boards with paper while shackling college students with debt that only serves to subsidize the university, not prepare the individual for employment. Medicaid was created to subsidize the medical industry at the expense of the taxpayer and only serves to raise the cost of medical care without improving health. The list is endless.
America is dying under the burden of Big Government. Trump’s regulatory axe was designed to reduce this load. Americans celebrated. Yet many Republicans propose more regulations, not fewer. They worship at the same altar as Democrats, just with fewer “Hallelujahs” and “Amens!” Fiscal sanity is completely missing.
This is just the start of the process. If the Republican Party will not recognize and codify the things that made America celebrate Donald Trump, it will go the way of the Whigs. Does anybody miss them? Given that the Lincoln Project and many never-Trumpers identify as Republicans, it’s doubtful that it can change course and become relevant again.
Such a failure will require the formation of a new party, to which the Congressional Freedom Caucus and a few senators like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz would belong. It would caucus with the remaining Republicans for the purpose of forming majorities to stop the radical Left. But it should adopt a firm statement of principles. Those would become the forever platform of the Party and must be followed by candidates and elected officials. Whether we call it the MAGA Party, the Constitution Party, or some other name is irrelevant. The failure of the Republican Party makes it essential.