When I’m confused about an issue I tend to use the New York Times Editorial Board as my litmus test – if they’re for it, I’m not. But as I watch the on-going public meltdown of the Republican Party’s old guard I have to admit that today’s NYT op-ed “Mitt Romney aims at Donald Trump, Hits GOP” makes a valid point – “It took the Trump-dominated Super Tuesday contests to awaken Republican leaders to the fact that the darkest elements of the party’s base, which many of them have embraced or exploited, are now threatening their party.”
However, I disagree with their assumption that the party’s problems are embodied in the rise of Donald Trump’s candidacy.
The fact is, the Republican Party’s identity crisis began years ago, and in my view, hit its nadir that cold October night in 2013 when Texas tea party freshman Ted Cruz forced a government shutdown crisis in some “all or nothing” attempt to defund Obamacare with absolutely no strategy to end it. In doing so, he did our country a major disservice – and lit the tinder of the building conflagration that threatens to consume the Republican Party.
Three years ago I watched several hours of Mr. Cruz’s 21-hour rambling floor speech during which he goaded his Republican colleagues as cowards who lacked the strength of character to stand up to Obama’s healthcare plan. In my view, Cruz’s argument then was just as disingenuous as his current transition from tea party firebrand to the voice of reason.
Like my father and grandfather before him, for many years I was a faithful Republican. Let’s face it – I’m a male over fifty, retired law enforcement officer who served in the military – if I don’t fit the archetypal demographic of the Grand Old Party, who does?
I may have been loyal to a fault, but I’m not suicidal, and when it became increasingly apparent that the good ship GOP was speeding toward the rocks while the self-described “Children of the Reagan Revolution” argued the course – I jumped. And apparently not a minute too soon.
The fact is Mr. Trump has hit a note that resonates with today’s disenfranchised moderate voter – those of us who have seen first-hand how “political correctness” and the rise of the professional victim in every segment of our society has eroded our national unity and weakened those institutions that once made the United States a beacon of freedom around the world.
Donald Trump speaks to those who form the weary backbone of a nation that have watched a once proud and reasonably unified people fragment into a mosaic of “self-identified” hyphenated American’s. He embodies our frustration over out-of-control entitlements and government hand-outs, undecipherable tax policies, attacks on our Second Amendment and the complete lack of a strong national defense strategy in an increasingly dangerous world. Perhaps most important – he talks like we do. In open, unabashed and unashamed terms Trump describes our collective goal of restoring the United States to prominence in a world that desperately needs our leadership and stability.
I hope Mr. Romney and the other completely detached remnants of the Republican establishment understand that when they embraced the fringe element – the “all or nothing conservatives” who place partisanship and fabricated “ideas and principles” above diversity of opinion and the need for honest debate – they damned a once great political party, or at least its founding principles, to the ash heap of history.