My apologies to Emerson Lake & Palmer.
In 2012 when Barack Obama cleaned the Republican clocks for the second time in succession, the GOP went into crisis mode. They knew that without a platform that encompassed all Americans, they would never win another presidential election. Why they panicked when they had held the White House for 20 of the previous 36 years was baffling—maybe losing to a man of color was a bridge too far—or maybe their total inadequacy in capturing the popular vote over and over again seemed ominous. Whatever the cause, they were hell-bent on fashioning a new party that would appeal to the vast American middle—the moderates who prefer their progress mixed with just enough nostalgia to make them comfortable.
Like most of us.
But developing ideas takes time, hard work, and a genuine belief that there are ways to help the greatest number of people achieve the greatest measure of success, that there are ways to appeal to the greatest number of Americans on that one element they share: they’re Americans. Hard work and political philosophy—two facets of the so-called new Republican Party that neither their leaders nor their candidates could quite master.
So they dispensed with morality and humanity—and in some cases legality—and rallied behind the one man who epitomized the failings of the Republican Party—the failings of people in general. Lost and confused, they rallied behind the one man who encompassed the worst qualities of Republicanism—who in fact multiplied them. He was a wannabe aristocrat with idolatry for some ethereal past when while males ruled the world, but they put him up against a candidate with a bit too mucn baggage, then watched it all unfold.
No platform worked in 2016, none again in 2020. Fool me once...and all that, Trump lost.
Now however it seems that a Republican platform is evolving in spite of itself, and we saw it at work this week. In a vote to pass a bill desired by 70% or more of all citizens—the American Rescue Plan—not one Republican supported it.
The bill is not flawless. No piece of legislation is. But there is an opportunity here to end—or seriously diminish—childhood poverty, yet not one Republican senator voted for it. Businesses on the brink will get a second life, yet not one Republican senator supported it. Critics claim—and rightly so—that some people will receive stimulus checks they neither need nor want. But if they donate their windfall to a food bank, or just spend in a store that's been hurting for twelve months, where's the harm?
So maybe the Republicans do have a platform: obstruct everything. They learned it from Mitch McConnell who, ironically, is as much a part of Trumpian Republicanism as I am a part of the USTA. But welcome one and all to the new GOP. Check your souls at the door—you won’t need them here.