Along with the rest of our nation, today the Republican Party stands at a crossroads. There is no denying that the GOP that opposed slavery, sent President Abraham Lincoln to the White House and was the catalyst for granting women the right to vote has lost its way.
On Wednesday, I watched in horror as domestic terrorists stormed our nation’s Capitol, threatened the lives of our democratically elected representatives and vandalized our sacred ground. I was devastated to see the most striking symbol of division — the Confederate flag — paraded through our Capitol’s hallowed halls.
In helping foment current national divisions, there is no longer any doubt that our Republican president has abdicated the principles of freedom, law and order and a democratic process that has for so long enabled the United States to be the leader of the free world. We have never seen such a breach of law and order in the seat of our hallowed republic.
Unlike so many citizens of other countries, I have never before had to question whether my president was inciting violence or sedition. It is up to us to defend our country against lawlessness and those who would tear down the core values upon which our democracy has been built.
This riotous activity could understandably cause an instinctual reaction to abandon the party claimed by the president and the people who put him in the position to abuse his power and encourage this chaos. But, to those who want to write the Republicans off forever, I implore you to reconsider.
Wednesday’s attack vividly illustrates that what America needs most right now is reunification around the principles and values that have made us the leader of the free world. And we are not now, nor should we ever be, a single-party system. We require the checks, balances and discourse of a two-party system to be a strong and free nation.
While we should never abandon our values, beliefs or advocacy, we must stop perceiving the opposition party as our enemy. We are all equals, dedicated to participating in the political process that is essential to maintaining our status as a great nation.
And our state needs the millions of Illinoisans who voted for President Donald Trump in November, just as we need the millions who voted for President-elect Joe Biden, to work together for the common good. We need every citizen, from every corner of the state, and every background to work together to solve our state’s problems by empowering the people rather than the political elite or the well-connected.
Now is not the time to tear down — it is the time to rebuild. The Republican party is not, and has never been, one person. It is a collection of values such as liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of worship and economic opportunity for all. Here in Illinois, the GOP is centered around rooting out the corruption that festers in the halls of our government and restoring the public’s faith in our representative democracy. It is this shared value system and dedication that will be the cornerstone of our renewal.
As with all sorrowful crises, this moment carries with it an opportunity of tremendous magnitude for our nation and the Republican Party. But the opportunity is meaningless unless we seize it.
Let’s come together as a new GOP that has learned from its past and seeks to build a brighter future for all of those we hold so dear.
Illinois State Sen. Dan McConchie, a Republican from Hawthorn Woods, represents the 26th District in the northwest suburbs.
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