Original article published on Las Vegas Sun (LasVegasSun.com) available here
The Republican Party’s descent into lawlessness and corruption is accelerating at frightening speed, threatening to destroy the party and take the nation down with it.
This is a party whose congressional leaders either cheered or stood silent while the White House refused to respond to subpoenas related to the impeachment probe, thereby interfering with the constitutionally authorized powers of Congress to investigate possible wrongdoing in the executive branch. Those same leaders tried in vain to explain away evidence of an administration suborning foreign interference into U.S. politics, or simply ignored it.
The supposedly law-and-order party tramples on law enforcement and tries to cast doubt on the integrity of the FBI, CIA, Justice Department and congressional hearings. This is all done in service of a president who, like a mob boss, is so guilty his only remedy is to attack law enforcement.
This is the dark persona of today’s Republican Party as defined by the likes of Mitch McConnell and the commentators at Fox News. This leadership would tear down the constitutional powers conferred on different branches of government and erase the traditions that have girded our democracy.
They have dismantled the integrity of governmental institutions and undermined one of the foundations of a strong democracy — the constructive exchange of ideas — by attacking scientific facts and the very idea of truth. They’ve embraced voter suppression and gerrymandering in a naked attempt to game the electoral system.
No checks. No balances. No justice. No principles. No informed discourse. No legitimate elections.
The Republicans of 2019 believe only in the venal exertion of corrupt power and using the machinery of government in ways never seen in our nation’s history.
The GOP is allowing a situation where a president is so clearly unfit for office that he can’t distinguish the state from himself — Donald Trump labels any criticism of him as “treason” and un-American. Republicans should be terrified of where this leads. But instead, they are so frightened of being called a name by Trump that they duck and cover.
This desperately needs to stop. Republicans must start holding Trump accountable.
The president’s entire tenure in office has been one long exercise in trying to hide his actions and avoid transparency, and GOP leaders have been his willing handmaidens. But if Trump has nothing to hide, why does he hide so much? If his phone calls with leaders are “perfect,” why are they cloaked? If his tax returns are clean, why is he fighting tooth and nail to keep them under wraps?
And why is the GOP saying this behavior is acceptable? They are asking the public to mistrust the very institutions that try to protect us from lawlessness.
Meanwhile, Republicans’ refusal to bring Trump to heel — something they easily could accomplish if they would stop accommodating him and demand he behave — means the nation’s business has become mired in chaos. With Trump wielding unchecked power, the results include crippling trade wars and bizarre diplomacy in which friends are treated as enemies and vice versa. In the past three years, the U.S. has lurched from one insane episode to the next just because Republican leaders refuse to step in.
All the while, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News cheers them on, defends them from legitimate criticism, advises them and assists them in turning our national discourse into something crazier than talk radio.
The consequences of this are immense. The GOP is setting a standard for acceptable governmental behavior that, if not stopped, will lead the United States to becoming a banana republic.
If unchecked, the current course of the party puts the nation on a fast track back to tyranny. And if and when that happens, no one is ultimately safe. Look no further than the McCarthy era, when loyal Americans woke up one day to find themselves deemed communists amid trumped-up circumstances.
The same diseased way of thinking is spreading today in the GOP leadership, with Republicans averting their eyes as Trump, Vladimir Putin’s obedient lickspittle eager for instructions, degrades the nation and destroys American leadership around the world. This isn’t mere passivity, it’s complicity in allowing a foreign power to corrupt our government.
So now, the nation needs responsible Republicans to step up, speak out and help drive out the destructive forces within their party.
Some, like Mitt Romney and Bill Weld, are pushing back, which is commendable. But they and others need to do much, much more. They need to fight for the soul of a GOP tearing America’s fabric to bits, and rally the party to its higher purpose.
The same goes for congressional Republicans — think Jeff Flake and Bob Corker — who once took a stand but then slinked off after getting blasted by the extremists.
Then there are the untold numbers of GOP donors and members who realize that what’s happening is wrong. They too must fight, by withholding funds and votes until the party stands up for traditional American values.
Republican leaders like to claim it’s futile for them to step out of line, claiming the current mindset of party voters favors extremists.
But as the GOP grows increasingly corrupt and destructive, there are signs it’s losing support among its more centrist members. That’s particularly the case among suburban women, according to recent reports.
The reality is that the Republican Party is still home to many, many reasonable and responsible Americans who can see their party is headed the wrong direction.
They’re vital to the nation’s health, as they can stop the pandemic of lawlessness sweeping through their party.