It may not seem that way, but the Republican Party is like a drowning man fighting for his life. It doesn’t matter that President Trump isn’t a conservative or that he ignores the Constitution; he owns the GOP now. I don’t think Republican politicians care if he colluded with Russians; they cling to him like a life preserver because they believe he’s their last hope to avoid sinking into oblivion. Even if Trump groped one of their wives – which may have already happened – they would probably find an excuse for it.
What’s this all about you ask?
Well, think about it. Republicans have only one, maybe two, major economic policies: Cut taxes and slash government regulations, neither of which have been particularly helpful to the middleclass. GOP opposition to immigration, gun control, abortion and climate change initiatives doesn’t resonate with the majority of American voters. Neither do tax cuts for the wealthy that exacerbate the growing inequality. The Party’s older, rural, white Christian base is shrinking, while it struggles to connect with a younger, more diverse demographic that steadily grows.
Like an old herd bull, it is battling viciously to maintain relevance against a strong, millennial challenge. Republican-controlled legislatures radically gerrymander congressional districts, suppress minority voters with strict voter ID laws and conduct racially targeted purges of voter rolls. To blunt the surge of college students who vote, Republicans are enacting laws and procedures to discourage them. Polling places are moved to inconvenient locations away from college campuses, student IDs are not accepted as identification to vote and so on. GOP legislatures study where and when students go to the polls and then craft laws to limit those opportunities. Yet, these are mere band-aids on the GOP’s gaping demographic wounds.
Restrictions on immigration have the same objective, keep potential Democratic voters out. A Brookings Institution study showed that the number of immigrants to the U.S. declined to 200,000 in 2018, down 70 percent from 2017. Economists fear that if this continues, the number of immigrants needed to expand the workforce will decrease, causing a stagnating economy.
Younger immigrant workers have children, buy houses, pay taxes and stimulate economic growth. With an aging U.S. population and shrinking Social Security and Medicare trust funds, the taxes they pay into these programs help support those who are retired. Republicans don’t care; they have different priorities
Here’s a statistic, however, that they should fear even more than immigration: According to the Pew Research Center, nonwhite children in U.S. public schools, pre-K through 8th grade, have increased from 37 percent in 1997 to slightly over 50 percent today. And this percentage is projected to increase significantly through 2022 and no doubt beyond. These results are due to higher birth rates among Asian and Latino immigrant families and lower birth rates among white families.
But here’s the thing. Trump supporters need to be mindful of the old saying “what goes around comes around” as they chant “lock her [Hillary Clinton] up” at one of his rallies. Their heroes’ deviations from political norms may feel good to them now – but how would they like to be in the minority when a Trump-like authoritarian president from a different party is elected?
I don’t think Republicans would be so sanguine if this future president followed Trump’s lead and refused to release financial records, openly gained financial benefit from his office and violated the law as Trump did in authorizing hush money payments to his porn star paramour. And would they cheer if he appointed a partisan attorney general like William Barr who sees his job as protecting the president instead of upholding their constitutional rights? I don’t think so.
If this future president coerced a foreign government to dig up dirt on a Republican presidential candidate or welcomed a foreign adversary to hack our elections to support him, would GOPers be okay with that? Of course not – so why don’t they recognize it as a threat to them when Trump does it?
I could go on and on with the many ways and numerous times Trump has bulldozed through the norms that many call the guardrails of democracy, but you get the point. These roadblocks to an authoritarian president – like the rule of law – protect all citizens, majority and minority. If they are weakened or violated, all Americans are in jeopardy, not just those who the president targets. So, it’s hard to understand voters who enthusiastically support the president’s brazen disregard of these protections while ignoring the precedents he’s setting and how their children and grandchildren will likely suffer as a result.
Yet, I doubt many Republicans grasp the significance of Trump’s authoritarian bent; they are totally focused on protecting him and survival. Nothing is sacred in this panic, as they trample down their conservative principles. Gone is their concern about federal deficits that incited them to near riots during President Obama’s first term. Abandoned is their demand for free trade policies as they cower before tariff-man Trump. Cast aside is conservatives’ long-standing esteem for decorated war veterans like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, as he risks his career to tell the truth about the president’s misdeeds with Ukraine.
Yes, the GOP is fighting for its life, willing to do just about anything to survive. And in the process, they pose a real and present danger to our democratic republic.