I have been a Republican my entire life and remain a proud one to this day. However, today’s Republican Party is only a distant memory of its former glory. The days in which statesmen like John McCain, Ronald Reagan and the Bushes were at the helm of the party are gone.
The change in rhetoric coming from the Republican Party is jaw dropping. For example, almost every time I log onto Twitter, I see prominent Republicans “owning the libs.” For some politicians, it appears to have become a part of their identity. Rather than publicizing their stances on policy issues and governing, they seem to prefer attacking an organization or individual solely to receive support from their base. Daily stunts like these, which are moving the party in the wrong direction, need to stop. There was once a time when the term “compassionate conservatism” reigned supreme in our party. What we now see coming from many of the party’s leaders could not be less compassionate and less conservative.
Being a Republican means believing in small government, fiscal responsibility, free markets, a strong national defense, the rule of law and traditional conservatism, just to name a few. However, many of these beliefs have become muddled. For example, in February 2019 the national debt reached its highest point. This should have alarmed Republicans across the nation. Instead, one heard nothing but silence.
The president, on multiple occasions, has gone beyond the bounds of the office of the presidency. For example, Trump claimed he could use his powers to “open up the states,” indicating that he is not a champion of small government. For a sitting president to make such a claim should be abhorrent to all Republicans who believe in states’ rights. The president recently accepted his nomination at the White House, which is a clear violation of political tradition. The Republican Party needs to do better by disavowing political stunts like this. The White House is for governing, not campaigning. These examples are just a snapshot of this administration’s blatant disregard for Republican values and beliefs. And what do you hear from Republicans? At best, nothing. At worst, a sketchy defense of these actions.
What we now see is a frightening rise of elected officials who claim to be Republicans. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example, who recently won a congressional Republican primary race in Georgia, comes to mind. Greene is on record for saying things like, “There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now.” She also says when you are sworn into office, it has to be on the Bible. That is false. This woman is not a real Republican. Outlandish comments like these would normally warrant the leader of the Republican Party not to endorse such a candidate. This was not the case. The Republican Party was nowhere to be found to reject such an endorsement. Greene is an embarrassment to the party, and Republicans everywhere should disavow her immediately.
If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you are sure to have heard of QAnon, a conspiracy group that believes President Trump is waging a war against deep state operatives. These claims are unfounded, and the FBI has labeled them as a domestic terrorist threat. Only a handful of Republicans have denounced this group. The president has said he believes these people “love our country.” A statement like this should call for swift backlash from all Republicans, but once again, we hear only silence.
The Republican Party used to be led by those whose primary interest was to serve the American people and represent our party in a principled way. The best example of this is John McCain, a man who had a distinguished military career and an even more distinguished political career. One of Senator McCain’s most famous moments was during a town hall forum when he was running for president. A woman stated she did not trust then-presidential candidate Barack Obama because “he’s an Arab.” McCain’s response was, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” This moment spoke to the nature of John McCain’s character, and why he embodied the best of what it means to be a Republican. McCain also understood what “country over party” meant. This can be seen through his long record of bipartisanship. The John McCains of the world are what Republicans desperately need today.
However, I still have hope for the Republican Party. There are senators like Mitt Romney who walked with protestors to say that Black lives matter and Ben Sasse who continues to speak against this administration. There are also reporters like Chris Wallace who remain strong in their convictions and organizations like Principles First, who champion conservative principles over partisan politics.
I believe Nov. 3 will be a day of reckoning for Republicans everywhere. I can only hope that this will give the party the opportunity to do some serious soul searching and ask: Is this really who we are?