Bring Back The Old Republican Party

In the old days, one could pretty much predict and describe the national Republican Party as that political force in America which opposed deficit spending, promoted smaller government and was pro-business.

Today, describing the Grand Old Party (GOP) it is not that easy. The party has coalesced around a new person and a new philosophy–Donald Trump and “Trumpism.”

I say that because I think that something more than Donald Trump is involved. “Trumpism” is a new form of grievance politics. It describes the angst of people being left behind, feeling left out of American society and afraid of the changes that lie ahead. As we now know, a lot of people feel that way.

Though I don’t like the divisiveness of “Trumpism,” what concerns me more is the hero worship associated with Trump himself. America has been down the road of fear and division politics before–namely, the nativist and fear politics of the old Whig Party of the 1850s which became known as the “Know Nothing” Party. But, that time around, there was no hero worship. There were experienced politicians involved, like Millard Fillmore who became President — but nothing like a charismatic leader demanding absolute loyalty and obedience.

This time we have a culture warrior from Queens, New York, with no governmental experience who ran for and won the Presidency, was subsequently defeated yet still demands absolute loyalty and fealty from his followers. It is this aspect of “Trumpism” which should concern the country.

We have had such politics before — not only in the 1850s but in the 1950s when, under then Senator Joseph McCarthy, people got scared that communists were secretly taking over the government from within. A lot of innocent people got hurt during those McCarthy hearings and witch-hunts. But, “adults in the room,” like President Eisenhower, finally stepped in and the fear and false charges of McCarthy were revealed for what they were — mostly lies.

I remember then as a kid trying to comprehend what was going on. A lot people believed McCarthy. Many “worshipped” him the way they now do Trump. I have often pondered on what would have happened if McCarthy had not been stopped.

I have similar feelings about Trump. His name is counter-intuitive because much of what he says has been “trumped-up,” made-up, untrue. Yet, out of fear, worry and angst–many follow him. Like most authoritarians, he cannot accept political defeat. He still alleges the election was stolen, though Biden won states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania which Trump himself narrowly won in 2016. Trump liked the results in 2016, but not so much in 2020. In politics there are winners and losers, and in 2020 Donald Trump was a loser. Swing voters in swing states had seen (and heard) enough and decided to send Joe Biden to the White House.

A sore loser is one thing. A truculent, bellicose, paranoid loser is another — and that is what we now have in Donald Trump. I hope that the Republican Party can find another candidate in 2024. We have seen the threats to our democracy that come when total focus on a personality supplants the common ideals and purposes which should motivate those running for high political office. It is a dangerous road which I hope we do not go down again.

Let’s bring back the old (or former) GOP. The country needs you now!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.


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