“Everything Trump Touches Dies” — Rick Wilson
And that includes Trump’s Republican Party. He is killing it with his own viral toxicity. He is even trying to kill America’s democratic republic and install himself as our Caesar, dictator for life.
With Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley’s anticipated objection to certify the Electoral College vote for Joe Biden in Congress on January 6, 2021, and the acquiescence of additional Republican Senators, the transmogrification of GOP to MAGA will be complete.
But there may be a silver lining to this cloud over democracy; there may yet be a cloud burst.
The Lincoln Project has an opportunity to become a new Lincoln Party. Hear me out. Normally, parties are built from the bottom up, but these are not normal times. The Lincoln Project already exists among the upper echelons of Never Trump Republicans and it has grass-roots appeal among the electorate as demonstrated by the popularity of their devastating anti-Trump ads.
LP Founders Rick Wilson, John Weaver, Jennifer Horn, Steve Schmidt, Ron Steslow, Reed Galen, Mike Madrid, and George Conway have the gravitas to be taken seriously. Suppose they founded the Lincoln Party and attracted more Never Trump Republicans and even a few Never Defund the Police Democrats. Suppose they founded this new party at the Congressional level enough to make the comfortable leadership of Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi uncomfortable. To be sure, several LP’ers have already flipped from Republican to Democrat, or to independent, refusing to further associate themselves with Trump’s Republican Party. But why then further the current duopoly whose flaws have been exposed by the outrages of the last four years and, worse, have laid bare the surprising fragility of our democratic republic? The Biden presidency may be the perfect opportunity for moderates to rise up [imagine moderates on the rise!] and disavow the extremism of both the right and the left.
Should such a faction band together in Congress — and all that’s needed is a very small faction indeed — then neither party would have a majority in either house. The two major parties would be forced to cooperate with the new party since they demonstrably cannot cooperate with each other. The Lincoln Party would decide for itself which party to caucus with and on whom to bestow new majority status. Their endorsements might be mercurial, dependent upon the power of the best ideas of what is good for the country and not upon slavish loyalty to iron-fisted party “leadership” or ideological “purity.” At the very least, a viable congressional third-party could be a check on the unchallenged power of either of the two dominant party’s majority regimes. It may even be the beginning of the end of the duopoly, the end to the perennial “lesser of two evils” choice.
The Lincoln Party would have the opportunity to demonstrate sorely missed political courage in the face of the obsequious obeisance and outright cowardice of the Republican Party today. What the populace sees of the Republican Party now is an empty husk of the once proud party of Lincoln — now the party of Trump. It has become a sham of sycophants. The cult of a conman. A national embarrassment and a disgrace forever skunked with the stench of Trump’s corruption.
This election has taught us many things which will be under analysis for many years to come. Among them are that the electorate has apparently decided they want divided government. At the top: Trump chaos out, Biden stability in. In Congress: A check on the executive branch and a balance in the legislative branch. But yet they’d like to get things done. After many years of disfunction, they’d like a functional government.
Learned, too, is a much more ominous lesson. Suppose some future far more competent Trump controls not only one party and the executive branch but the entire legislative branch: House of Representatives and the Senate; and by extension the judicial branch as well. That president would be completely unrestrained. Our precious Constitution would surely fail as an immovable object against such an irresistible force.
Any professional or even amateur student of our nation’s founding, of the Framing of our Constitution, knows that our country, our entire system of government is based upon compromise. That word has been so poisoned by our current partisan party politics that the default alternative has become stagnant disfunction. Our duopoly has rendered our self-governance a zero-sum game, winner-take-all, take-no-prisoners. Republican or Democrat; right or left; conservative or liberal. This is madness which can only end in even further division, or perhaps total dissolution.
A President Biden fortuitously sees his own legacy as one of transition, not of Trumpian transaction. A President Biden won’t be around to see the fruits of his legacy but he can certainly plant the seeds now. I do not know if Biden, or anyone else, foresees a viable third-party in our near future but clearly anyone can see that our two-party system is not only moribund but dangerous. It needs to be reimagined, reinvigorated. A third-party option may ironically bring cohesion to a badly broken system, but perhaps more importantly provide that failsafe valve against total government control by some future rogue president accompanied by an enabling political party.
Let Trump have his Republican Party, they deserve each other. Disinformation and lies have become intolerable; alternative facts are manufactured to obscure truth. Let the rest of us have a new opportunity to disavow deception and disfunction; to view our issues cleareyed and beyond jejune bumper sticker slogans. Let America, facing an increasingly complex future and diverse society, have more than just two choices.
Much has been written about third-parties in America. For various reasons [not the least of which is the Electoral College — but that deserves other, special considerations] none have been viable separate entities; they are as fleeting Davids only to be absorbed by one or the other Goliath. They remain chimeras, worse, their failures discourage any hope of systemic change and in fact encourage disenfranchisement. But there should be no reason why a new Lincoln Party established at the congressional level, given a four-year head start, would not have time to demonstrate its effectiveness, to electrify the electorate, stir the imagination to new possibilities. It may even evolve into a place of refuge for the disaffected and give voice to the vast American public who still believe and truly desire that, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, this nation “shall have a new birth of freedom…[a] government of the people, by the people, for the people… .”
A government not yet ready to perish from the earth.