It would be easy to categorize this weekend's CPAC festival as the final degradation of the Republican Party, but since they show no signs of letting up, there will undoubtedly be greater depths to plumb in the months and years ahead. In a more stable world, this would all be funny—watching Ted Cruz cavort like a distracted marionette and listening to Ron Johnson emulate human speech, but the humor vanishes when we remember that we have but two significant political parties in this country and this is one of them. And though 2024 is some distance off, it's easy to envision a presidential election with Trump or someone even Trumpier as the "conservative" candidate.
Let's be honest, a Trump not so lazy nor nearly so ignorant would present a danger writ large to the democracy and to the republic. And as much damage as he did in his four years of grift, pardons, inhumanity, and nepotism—as much damage as he did while championing racism, homophobia, and anarchic behavior, Trump received 74 million votes last November. Are there 74 million idiots who can't see him for what he is? Of course not, but there are lots of Republicans for whom Democratic rule is anathema. They would vote for Mayor Quimby before settling for a Democrat, in much the same way I would prefer Quimby over Donald Trump.
We deserve better, so let’s have eight political parties as they currently have in Sweden. There the citizens can choose among Social Democrats, Sweden Democrats, the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Left Party, Christian Democrats, Liberals, and the Green Party. If that all seems skewed toward liberalism, it isn't: the Moderate and Centre Parties are both conservative, the latter being more right-wing nationalist. Incidentally, Sweden’s system of government—a constitutional monarchy—is almost as old as ours, though it underwent a major revision in 1975.
Maybe it's time for a major revision of our own, especially since we know now that a president cannot be charged with a crime while still in office nor charged with one after he leaves.
But revision would accomplish more than simply bringing a criminal president to justice. It would give a true voice to a country that prides itself on its democratic principles: Bernie's followers could vote for him and not have to settle, and even if he didn't win, there would be a proportionate number of members of his party in the new congress based on how many votes he garnered. The moderate Republicans (Kinzinger, Romney) and moderate Democrats (Manchin, Biden) would not have be yoked to the more extreme members of their parties, and they too would be represented. The Electoral College? Gone. An understanding of the word popular would finally be accepted, and the popular vote would be the sole determining factor.
Concomitantly, there would arise temporary, expedient, even permanent coalitions along with bargaining and compromise; legislation might actually be passed instead of languishing for years under the heavy-handed partisanship of someone as pigheaded as Mitch McConnell. It would be healthy for the country to witness AOC and Kevin McCarthy collaborating on some favorite issue, or to see John Cornyn and Chris Murphy doing the same. Strange bedfellows might return.
Of course there would be problems—no government is perfect—but we might very well maintain a center-moderate political philosophy without ostracizing or marginalizing those on the edges. And the chances of someone like Trump being elected in a government that welcomes the outsider but gravitates toward the middle would be highly unlikely.
Even the CPAC convention would no longer be necessary, though if they insist on continuing, they can move just a bit out of Orlando and set up shop at Disney World—a more appropriate venue for the goofy anyway.