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Republicans need to retake their party

Speaking as a political scientist and an independent voter, it seems to me that it’s time the Republicans took back their party. For a well-working democracy, there needs to be at least two major parties representing the divergent interests of their members. The current Republican national leadership has been destroying the party by being beholden to a small group of billionaires rather than the bulk of Republican voters. The leadership has relied on manipulating a shrinking base that soon will be unable to support it.

On a large number of issues the national GOP has acted against the views of the vast preponderance of Americans and a clear majority of Republicans. These include approaches to health care, the environment, handling the pandemic and maintaining the post office. The party has found some issues that do agree with some of the views of some of its members. It has represented the views of many evangelicals on some of their religious concerns, but has not supported their interests on others. The GOP has done as well as it has by excessive lying, dividing people against each other, voter suppression, and buying people off, even as the leadership has been bought out by very wealthy interests. The result has been that the vital interest of the country and of its citizens have been increasingly sacrificed so that wealthy interests could make more profits and pay less taxes.

The problem is not just Donald Trump. He is even more a symptom than he is a cause. Republican members of Congress continually put into legislation what powerful lobbyists want, rather than what the public or their constituents need. This is true in foreign as well as domestic policy, as indicated by the fact that there is some truth to the derogative nickname some Democrats give to the Senate Majority Floor Leader, of “Moscow Mitch.” Others have been co-opted as well. James Madison believed in the necessity of separation of church and state because he feared that political engagement by religious organizations in politics would corrupt them. A case can be made that that has occurred in a number of important instances.

Many in the leadership of the Republican Party call themselves conservatives, but they do not seem to be conserving anything because of their reliance on big money. For the most part, they are not conserving the environment, small businesses, small farms and ranches, and the opportunity of the American Dream for most. Technically, I think it more accurate to call them destructionists because they are intentionally weakening the power of government to act in the public interest, while undermining the democracy and the principles of the Constitution. They are also destructionists because of the results of their policies, which are undermining the economy and the wellbeing of most Americans, while greatly reducing the international standing, influence and security of the United States abroad.

I suggest that it is time that rank-and-file Republicans take their party back. Small businesses, which are the major innovators in the economy, and small farmers and ranchers, who are the better stewards of the land, their livestock, and through that the public health, along with numerous others need to be properly represented. The Democratic Party has its problems also, and also has leaders who are overly influenced by large corporate interests. But the Democratic Party is undergoing a movement to change that. It’s up to the Republicans, but I believe they need to do that. To be successful, that will require taking money out of politics, to move back from one dollar one vote to our tradition of one person one vote. Then we can return to the effective politics of respectful dialogue and compromise that characterizes a balanced and well-working democracy.

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