Wednesday, January 6 was one of the darkest days in modern political history. A group of domestic terrorists stormed the United States Capitol after being fed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. What is normally a ceremonial procedure (i.e. the certification of the Electoral College vote), turned into bloodshed, leaving 6 people dead—including two police officers.
Much of the blame for this invasion can be attributed to President Trump who, instead of conceding graciously, continued to spread the lie of his “landslide election victory.” Even some Republican Senators, most notably Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, took the initiative to rally their colleagues in order to challenge the vote in certain states, despite the fact that they knew that their challenge would not change anything. Looking at social media this past week I have seen posts from friends and acquaintances saying they “no longer identify as Republicans” after Wednesday’s events.
Yet what the Republican Party needs is not abandonment but rather reform.
Sure in the past five years, the Republican Party has seen some major changes. Moderate Republicans, such as Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, have given place to more “Trumpy” politicians, such as Josh Hawley and Tommy Tuberville, while politicians that were critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign, such as Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, warmed up to him throughout his presidency. Yet, voices of descent still exist.
Mitt Romeny was elected to the Senate in 2018, while Susan Collins won re-election overwhelmingly when all the polls were against her. The deep blue states of Vermont, Massachusetts and Maryland all have Republican Governors. For every Marjory Taylor Green, there is a Nancy Mace, for every Lauren Boebert there is a Peter Meijer, and for every Madison Cawthorn there is an Adam Kinzinger.
Leaving the Republican party to more “trumpy” candidates is not only a bad look for the country and the party but could also lead to a one-party system where there is no change of power.
Even though Trumpisim seemed convenient in 2017, its effects were deleterious in the long-term. Sure there are parts and policies of the Trump Administration that received strong approval from many Americans such as the 2017 tax-cuts, the renegotiation of NAFTA, Middle Eastern Policy and the first steps towards criminal justice reform. Yet, a lot of these policies are the product of the mainstream Republican handbook. As shown by the 2020 House election, Republicans won an extra ten seats while zero incumbents lost re-election.
The American people liked the Republican platform, but did not like Trump. And much of this legacy was whipped off on Wednesday.
Generations to come will hear “Donald Trump” and, instead of thinking of all the progress made these past four years, they will be thinking of chaos. Similarly, most people associate Richard Nixon with Watergate, not with putting the first man on the moon.
If we want Republicans to move forward, we need to get rid of Trumpism. There is no room for the badmouth antics, no room for “mean tweets,” and, above all, no room for uncomfortable lies.
At this point, it might be hard to return to the GOP of 2014, but Republicans need to capitalize on what ought to matter the most: policy.
Republicans need to build on their policy success, but also make avenues for new groups of voters. Let’s be honest. The “Trump base” was not going to vote for Republicans without Trump on the ticket, let alone now. Instead, Republicans should make sure to appeal to younger voters by addressing issues such as climate change and LGBTQ+ rights. Maybe, the National Republican Party could take some lessons from the three blue state Governors mentioned above. And when the time for the 2024 presidential primary comes up, Republican can take lessons from the Democrats in coalescing around a candidate that is the “least dangerous” (similarly to the way Democrats coalesced around Biden), and avoid the mistakes of the 2016 primaries.
Speaking of primaries, principled Republicans have the duty of kicking out candidates they deem to be “on the fringe,” similar to the way Steve King was kicked out in an Iowa primary.
For the next two years, America will be faced with a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and in the White House. This is no longer the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton or even of Barack Obama. Biden might be considered a moderate, yet the Democratic Party has continued to move to the left. Moderate incumbents lost their primary to “Justice Democrats.” Sitting members of Congress support the Defund the Police movement, while even moderate Joe Manchin indicated that he would be open to D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood.
The next two years should also act as a period of thought and reflection for national Republicans.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.