The GOP’s identity crisis
“Who are those guys?” asked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in a classic western about two bank robbers running from the law and followed by lawmen who never stopped chasing them. Today, the same question can be asked about the Republican Party going into the 2018 mid-term elections: “Who are these guys?”
Historically, the Republican Party has been known as the home of fiscal conservatives like the House Freedom Caucus or the Tea Party, current House members who have aligned themselves with small government and reduced spending.
Republicans have also been the party of free trade, and of global leadership, and the chief advocate for freedom and democracy around the globe. During earlier Republican administrations, it has been the party of optimism, following Reagan’s, “shining city on a hill,” and Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.”
Republicans have, in the past been strong advocates of education and science, supporters of NASA’s mission to the moon and of academic research.
But who are Republicans today?
Republicans recently passed into law a new budget that will create trillions of dollars of deficit during a period of economic prosperity, an economic decision that will multiply its damage when the country’s economy eventually cools. It is, by any measure, a form of fiscal insanity that cannot be sustained. This is not a party of conservatism, and it is not a party of fiscal constraint. If you are a Tea Party ember or a Freedom Caucus member and you voted for this bill, you will never again have the right to claim to be a conservative.
And as the Trump administration cancels trade treaties and ignites tariff wars with our allies and trading partners, the Republican Party is not to be confused with policies of free trade. Republicans sit on their hands while a fact free, TV-inspired, impulsive president drives up costs for Americans and alienates friends and allies alike with irrational trade policies created with all the thoughtfulness of a tweet.
Where once Republicans advocated science as a means of advancing national interests, the party now is the lone denier on the planet of climate change, and is in full retreat of alternative energy development, instead arguing coal is the energy of the future.
Perhaps, most importantly, where Republican presidents once led with optimism and hope, this Republican Party’s president leads with firings by tweet, personal attacks on members of Congress, denials of sexual liaisons, and defense of white supremacists.
So, what do Republicans claim in 2018 to ask voters to return them to office?
Healthcare? Hardly. While this is a key voter interest again, Republicans have only managed to increase individual health care costs with no long-term solution to rising costs.
Tax cuts? Virtually all polling reflects that more Americans oppose than support the tax cuts highly skewed to corporations and the rich.
Optimism? Given a president who evokes fear of invaders on our border, trade partners who are destroying America, a free press that he calls “fake news” and his daily rants against anyone who angers him, it is hardly a moment of the shining city on the hill. Instead, we find ourselves sucked into the daily mud that surrounds a White House and administration mired in corruption.
Whether it is making profit at his Washington, D.C. hotel or Mar-a-Lago in Florida, he is a president enriching his personal wealth using his position. And if Republicans do not reject this corruption, they deserve the wrath of voters across the nation.
Republicans in 2018 are afraid to run against the Presidents’ 40 percent base, but they also know it is not enough support to win re-election against a highly motivated majority of voters who are fed up.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were criminals on the run…so is the Trump administration. Republicans will pay at the polls for ignoring this.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.