If Donald Trump stays for much longer, the Republican party will need to split
“Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble,
And if I stay it will be double.”
The Clash lyrics rushed into my head as I watched the Georgia senate runoff election returns with dismay. If Trump had conceded when he lost in November, Georgia GOP incumbent senators would likely have won. With false allegations of election fraud in the air and conspiratorialist Trump supporters L. Lin Wood and Sidney Powell telling Republicans to boycott the election, it’s no wonder some did. The audio of Trump’s disgraceful call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger didn’t help either. GOP turnout floundered. Disgust and distrust have a way of inhibiting participation. Meanwhile, as I write this, a Trump mob has overtaken the nation’s capitol and stopped the Electoral College proceedings.
I voted for Trump the second time around for policy reasons I confess. I also once dropped a cookie on the floor, wiped the cat’s fur off it, and ate it because it was chocolate. Trump’s despicable actions since he lost the election have left a bad taste, however, and I can’t wait for him to leave the White House. The question for me is whether I should stay or whether I should leave the Republican Party. I’ve decided that if the Trump influence fades away over the next year, I will stay to help rebuild; otherwise, I will have to find another political home.
If demagoguery, loyalty tests, and alternative facts become a permanent feature after Trump returns home, it’s time to start a new party. There have only been a handful of major political parties in the U.S.
Rival factions — the Federalist Party and Democratic-Republican Party — emerged as George Washington left office. Later, during Andrew Jackson’s presidency, the latter party split into Democrats and National Republicans. The National Republicans renamed themselves after a British antimonarchist party, the Whigs, in a semantic gesture meant to imply Jackson ruled like a king. The Democratic Party began to fracture years later. By the time the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed in 1854, antislavery northern Democrats such as the Barnburners had bolted. Proslavery Whigs took their place and antislavery Whigs joined former Democrats from the North to form the Republican Party. We’ve had the two major parties ever since.
Too bad Whig sounds too much like wig otherwise we could resurrect it. Federalist Party sounds too stogy. We’ll need a brand consultant. Alternatively, hardcore Trump followers could leave and start their own party or a new religion perhaps. The remaining voters who support free enterprise, limited government, fiscal sanity, individual freedom and responsibility, rule of law, and the Constitution can rebuild the Republican Party and provide Americans a vibrant alternative to the proponents of the nanny state who will soon control both chambers and the White House.
It’s time to recognize the benefits of Trump’s presidency — namely good judges and deregulation — came at a high cost. Here in Colorado, substantial losses in elections and Republican voter registration over the past four years have finally convinced some Republicans that the Trump modus operandi is detrimental to the party. The recent election of Representative Hugh McKean to House minority leader suggests that this hard lesson is sinking in.
Republicans can be competitive again in this state with good ideas, ethical practices, positive messaging, investment, and hard work. Just ask Republican State Senator Kevin Priola of Brighton who retained his seat even as his county broke for Biden 56% to 40% and former Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican, and mayor of Aurora, the third-largest city in Colorado. Both are principled conservatives who respect people, democratic norms, and their elected offices.
Speaking of Coffman, remember the November 7, 2018, White House news conference when Trump sneered, “Too bad, Mike” after the congressman lost his House seat? I do. The mayor is too classy to say it but I’m not: “Too bad, Donald. Here, have a cookie and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Krista L. Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer.
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