I was never trained as a journalist. I have had columns in four different newspapers over the years but they have always been opinion columns. A common task assigned to junior scribes is the writing of obituaries for famous people well in advance of their demise. I never had to do that and today is my first attempt. The “article” is basically a fill in the blanks template so that an obit can be published soon after the final “chapter”. The template is then stored away and if necessary, periodically updated.
Today’s article is a template obituary for the Republican Party.
The Republican party effectively drew its last breath on [fill in the blank]. It passed after a long illness that commenced in 2009. It was born just prior to the Civil War basically as an anti-slavery party. In 1860 it elected one of its two great presidents in Abraham Lincoln who preserved the union and, in the process, brought an end to one of America’s original sins – slavery. Its other moment of glory was the election of its only other great president, Theodore Roosevelt, in 1900 to his own full term having ascended to the presidency in the wake of the assassination of William McKinley. TR, as he was known, ushered in the Progressive Era.
During the 20th century the two major parties effectively swapped positions on civil rights with the Republicans going all in with a racist strategy in an effort to capture the Southern vote (which they called the Southern Strategy) in the aftermath of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ironically the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never have passed without Republican support. (Both parties were very different in 1964!)
The first affliction the GOP couldn’t overcome was the takeover by the Tea Party after the 2008 election of Democrat Barack Obama, America’s first Black president. Masquerading as an anti-spending grassroots movement the Tea Party was funded by dark money who used the racists for their own purposes. By 2015 you didn’t have to be a racist to be a member of the GOP rank and file but it did help you fit in. Along came a totally unqualified candidate in Donald Trump who played to the racist base effectively. The GOP establishment stood aside and let him win the 2016 nomination and it was all downhill from there. The lunatics had taken over the once great political party.
Trump went on to be twice impeached, threaten the foreign alliances built over the prior 70 years, effectively increase the national debt by nearly $10 trillion (it was approximately $20 trillion when he took office) and left the nation in the grips of a pandemic where America faired by far the worst of any nation of compatible size or resources along with a host of other scandals. Trump lost the House for the GOP in 2018, it stayed in Democratic control after the 2020 election. In 2020 he was defeated and lost the Senate in the process. Trump took office with the Republicans in total control of DC and left it with them in control of nothing in the nation’s capital.
Trump never conceded his defeat, and in fact inspired an attack on the Capital Building in his last-ditch effort (while still in office) to stop the certification of the election. Months later he still insists that he actually won the election in a landslide, that it was rigged and maintains control over the elected officials in the GOP. To most American voters he is a laughingstock but to a sizeable minority, all of whom vote Republican, follow him he is a cult like hero.
In a move dictated by Trump from his hideout at Mar-a-Lago, in May of 2021 the House Republicans removed Liz Cheney from her leadership role for the “sin” of telling the truth. The few establishment Republicans who hadn’t left the Party in protest of Trump coalesced behind her and funded a third Party candidate in 2024. The Republican Party ran a Trump’s choice. Both lost giving Joe Biden a second term. In the process the Republicans lost more seats in Congress despite their best efforts at voter suppression and gerrymandering. Realizing the error of their ways those who survived the purge of the voters joined the new center-right party. It is philosophically similar to the pre–Tea Party Republican Party but without the obvious (anyway) racism.
Back to the body of the template:
In the words of conservative and former Republican Rick Wilson, “Everything Trump touches dies,” and he certainly touched the Republican Party.
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