Don­ald Trump is killing the Repub­li­can Party

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Joe Scar­bor­ough Joe Scar­bor­ough, a for­mer Repub­li­can con­gress­man from Florida, hosts the MSNBC show “Morn­ing Joe.”

Idid not leave the Repub­li­can Party. The Repub­li­can Party left its senses. The po­lit­i­cal move­ment that once stood athwart his­tory re­sist­ing bloated govern­ment and mil­i­tary ad­ven­tur­ism has been re­duced to an amal­gam of talk-ra­dio re­sent­ments. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Repub­li­cans have de­volved into a party without a cause, dom­i­nated by a leader hope­lessly ill-in­formed about the ba­sics of con­ser­vatism, U.S. his­tory and the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Amer­ica’s first Repub­li­can pres­i­dent re­port­edly said, “Nearly all men can stand ad­ver­sity. But if you want to test a man’s char­ac­ter, give him power.” The cur­rent Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and the party he con­trols were granted monopoly power over Wash­ing­ton in Novem­ber and al­ready find them­selves spec­tac­u­larly fail­ing Abra­ham Lin­coln’s char­ac­ter exam.

It would take far more than a sin­gle col­umn to de­tail Trump’s fail­ures in the months fol­low­ing his bleak in­au­gu­ral ad­dress. But the Repub­li­can lead­ers who have sub­ju­gated them­selves to the White House’s cor­rupt­ing in­flu­ence fell short of Lin­coln’s stan­dard long be­fore their fa­vorite re­al­ity-TV star brought his gaudy cir­cus act to Wash­ing­ton.

When I left Congress in 2001, I praised my party’s suc­cess­ful ef­forts to bal­ance the bud­get for the first time in a generation and keep many of the prom­ises that led to our takeover in 1994. I con­cluded my last speech on the House floor by fool­ishly pre­dict­ing that Repub­li­cans would bal­ance bud­gets and cham­pion a re­strained for­eign pol­icy for as long as they held power.

I would be proved wrong im­me­di­ately.

As the new cen­tury be­gan, Repub­li­cans gained con­trol of the fed­eral govern­ment. George W. Bush and the GOP Congress re­sponded by turn­ing a $155 bil­lion sur­plus into a $1 tril­lion deficit and dou­bling the na­tional debt, pass­ing a $7 tril­lion un­funded en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram and pro­mot­ing a for­eign pol­icy so utopian it would have made Woodrow Wil­son blush. Vot­ers made Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House in 2006 and Barack Obama pres­i­dent in 2008.

Af­ter their well-de­served drub­bing, Repub­li­cans swore that if vot­ers ever en­trusted them with run­ning Wash­ing­ton again, they would prove them­selves wor­thy. Trump’s party was given a sec­ond chance this year, but it has spent al­most ev­ery day since then mak­ing the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans re­gret it.

The GOP pres­i­dent ques­tioned Amer­ica’s con­sti­tu­tional sys­tem of checks and bal­ances. Repub­li­can lead­ers said noth­ing. He echoed Stalin and Mao by call­ing the free press “the en­emy of the peo­ple.” Repub­li­can lead­ers were silent. And as the com­man­der in chief in­sulted al­lies while em­brac­ing au­to­cratic thugs, Repub­li­cans who spent a decade sup­port­ing wars of choice re­mained quiet. Mean­while, their bud­get-bust­ing pro­pos­als demon­strate a fis­cal reck­less­ness very much in line with the Bush years.

Last week’s Rus­sia rev­e­la­tions show just how shame­lessly Repub­li­can law­mak­ers will stand by a long­time Demo­crat who switched par­ties af­ter the pro­mo­tion of a racist the­ory about Barack Obama gave him stand­ing in Lin­coln’s once-proud party. Nei­ther Lin­coln, Wil­liam Buck­ley nor Ron­ald Rea­gan would rec­og­nize this move­ment.

It is a dy­ing party that I can no longer de­fend.

When my Repub­li­can Party took con­trol of Congress in 1994, it was the first time the GOP had won the House in a generation. The two par­ties have been in a state of tur­moil ever since.

In 2004, Repub­li­can strate­gist Karl Rove an­tic­i­pated a ma­jor­ity that would last a generation; two years later, Pelosi be­came the most lib­eral House speaker in his­tory. Obama was swept into power by a sup­pos­edly unas­sail­able Demo­cratic coali­tion. In 2010, the Tea Party tide rolled in. Obama’s re-elec­tion re­turned the mo­men­tum to the Democrats, but Repub­li­cans won a his­toric state-level land­slide in 2014. Then last fall, Trump de­mol­ished both the Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ments.

Po­lit­i­cal his­to­ri­ans will one day view Trump as a his­tor­i­cal anom­aly. But the wreck­age of this man will break the Repub­li­can Party into pieces — and lead to the elec­tion of in­de­pen­dent thinkers no longer teth­ered to the tired dog­mas of the po­lar­ized past. When that day mer­ci­fully ar­rives, the two-party du­op­oly that has stran­gled Amer­i­can pol­i­tics for al­most two cen­turies will fi­nally come to an end. And Wash­ing­ton just may be­gin to work again.

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