Folks who’ve enjoyed the play or film “The Little Shop of Horrors” will understand why it reminds me of the Republican Party’s evolution over the past several decades. In the Little Shop, a bumbling florist discovers a small, talking plant that lives on human flesh and blood. He starts feeding it with his own vital fluid but soon must provide human victims as it keeps growing and becoming more aggressive. In end, the plant eats him too.
Well, the GOP once had a much smaller, far-right base until conservative Republicans kept throwing it more and more political red meat. Like the fictional flesh-eating flower, that group just kept growing and getting more voracious until it has now almost completely devoured the establishment party.
That process will continue as old-line Republican Senators like Alabama’s Richard Shelby, Ohio’s Rob Portman, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Missouri’s Roy Blount retire in 2022. And it’s certainly possible that all five could be replaced by strong supporters of former president Trump or even a political bomb-thrower or two, like Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) who is running for Shelby’s seat.
The likely retirement of Iowa’s 88-year-old Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley could make room for a sixth Trumpian. And Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment trial, faces reelection next year, with well-funded, Trump-loving primary challengers battling to capture her seat.
Certainly, pro-Trump replacements for the somewhat more moderate Senate Republicans in 2023, along with GOP Senators like Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Texas’ Ted Cruz and Kentucky’s Rand Paul – to name a few of the most radical – would give Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the most obstructive, anti-democratic caucus in modern history.
Over in the House, there are literally dozens of fanatics like GOP Rep. Margorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) who have demonstrated dangerous antipathy to democracy. The 10 Republican representatives who bravely voted with Democrats to impeach Trump after the January 6 Capitol insurrection will also face strong primary challenges from ardent Trump supporters next year.
Republicans at all levels of government, along with tens of millions of their supporters, have convinced themselves, without evidence, that the Democrats somehow stole the 2020 election. With the enthusiastic support of right-wing media, they’re using Trump’s Big Lie to justify politicizing the election process with election laws that also seriously impede minority voting.
This voter fraud charade has confirmed my long-held belief that whatever Republicans wrongly accuse Democrats of doing, they are doing or want to do themselves, including stealing elections. They don’t believe they can win in a free and fair election process so they try to project their devious methods on to Democrats, while using them to rig the system in their favor.
You know friends, I keep wondering – when will this nation have an election again where our democracy isn’t being threatened by Republicans? Obviously, it won’t be soon.
If the GOP takes control of the Senate and/or the House in 2023, as history would predict, and the numerous voter suppressing, election politicizing laws being passed by most Republican-controlled states are not nullified, it’s almost guaranteed that a Democrat will not be in the White House after 2024 unless he or she wins by a landslide.
I don’t wish to be an alarmist, but Republicans are openly and actively in the process of crippling – if not destroying – democracy in the United States. That’s a fact!! The only question is, can they be stopped? If Trump or another Republican like him is elected president in 2024, along with a Republican-controlled Congress, I fear that our two-party political system could be virtually eliminated.
The justices on the conservative-controlled Supreme Court may not rule against this GOP power grab, perhaps because political parties have no specific rights under the Constitution. Or if they do, the Republican administration and Congress might simply ignore the decision.
But here’s what strikes me. I don’t think most Republican politicians and their supporters realize what they’re doing; their love of conspiracy theories, irrational hatred of liberals and impatient quest for power, is overwhelming all other considerations.
First, the norms they are violating, the precedents they are setting and the types of laws they are enacting could be used against them if a left-wing tyrant is elected president sometime in the future when white people are certain to be in the minority. That possibility alone should make them want to strengthen our democratic processes rather than weaken them. Do they no longer fear Democratic payback?
Moreover, the GOP seems oblivious to the corporate and business interests it has long promoted. Don’t Republican politicians realize that America’s strength – including that of its dollar – and its status in world affairs is primarily due to its strongly democratic history and the rule of law? These qualities make America a business-friendly, economic powerhouse and a safe haven for foreign investment. Do Republicans really believe that major U.S. corporations would support a conservative autocracy, any more than they would a socialist government?
Until 2016, I firmly believed that no internal political force could easily subvert the U.S. Constitution or corrupt our democratic institutions. But consider how Republicans and their right-wing supporters have managed to weaken our democracy in just the past year. To them, this is necessary to ensure survival of the party – and they’re not about to relent.