The Death of the Republican Party

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The Death of the Republican Party

One might celebrate the death of the Grand Old Party. But what the country is now witnessing on the right is nothing to celebrate. (Photo: AP)

I’m writing to you today to announce the death of the Republican Party. It is no longer a living, vital, animate organization. 

It died in 2016. RIP.

It has been replaced by warring tribes:

Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.

Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.

Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.

Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism. 

There's something in the air...

Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.

And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their wellbeing are Muslims, blacks, and Mexicans.

Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology – and its own candidate. 

What’s left is a lifeless shell called the Republican Party. But the Grand Old Party inside the shell is no more.

I, for one, regret its passing. Our nation needs political parties to connect up different groups of Americans, sift through prospective candidates, deliberate over priorities, identify common principles, and forge a platform.

The Republican Party used to do these things. Sometimes it did them easily, as when it came together behind William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt in 1900, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and Ronald Reagan in 1980. 

Sometimes it did them with difficulty, as when it strained to choose Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Mitt Romney in 2012. 

But there was always enough of a Republican Party to do these important tasks – to span the divides, give force and expression to a set of core beliefs, and come up with a candidate around whom Party regulars could enthusiastically rally.  

No longer. And that’s a huge problem for the rest of us.

Without a Republican Party, nothing stands between us and a veritable Star Wars barroom of self-proclaimed wanna-be’s. 

Without a Party, anyone runs who’s able to raise (or already possesses) the requisite money – even if he happens to be a pathological narcissist who has never before held public office, even if he’s a knave detested by all his Republican colleagues.  

Without a Republican Party, it’s just us and them. And one of them could even become the next President of the United States. 

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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