Opinion: Republican Party’s demise is our nation’s loss

SHARE Opinion: Republican Party’s demise is our nation’s loss
GOP_2016_DEBATE_59245565_999x665.jpg

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with fellow candidates after a Feb. 6 debate. The GOP, writes Robert Reich, has fractured into separate interest groups. (AP Photo/David Goldman

I’m writing to you today to announce the death of the Republican Party. It is no longer a living, vital, animate organization.

It died in 2016. RIP.

OPINION

It has been replaced by warring tribes:

Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.

Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.

Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.

Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism.

Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.

And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their wellbeing are Muslims, blacks and Mexicans.

Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology — and its own candidate.

What’s left is a lifeless shell called the Republican Party. But the Grand Old Party inside the shell is no more.

I, for one, regret its passing. Our nation needs political parties to connect up different groups of Americans, sift through prospective candidates, deliberate over priorities, identify common principles, and forge a platform.

The Republican Party used to do these things. Sometimes it did them easily, as when it came together behind William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt in 1900, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Sometimes it did them with difficulty, as when it strained to choose Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Mitt Romney in 2012.

But there was always enough of a Republican Party to do these important tasks – to span the divides, give force and expression to a set ofcore beliefs, and come up with a candidate around whom Party regulars could enthusiastically rally.

No longer. And that’s a huge problem for the rest of us.

Without a Republican Party, nothing stands between us and a veritable Star Wars barroom of self-proclaimedwanna-be’s.

Without a Party, anyone runs who’s able toraise (or already possesses) the requisite money – even if he happens to be apathological narcissist who has never before held public office, even if he’sa knave detested by all his Republican colleagues.

Without a Republican Party, it’s just us and them. And one of them could even become the next President of the United States.

Robert Reich was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

Follow the Editorial Board on Twitter: Follow @csteditorials

Tweets by @CSTeditorials

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com

The Latest
Perch and other summer fishing around Chicago leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Three people were shot and three others were stabbed over several hours late Sunday into early Monday in Lake View East, where police had stepped up patrols after the Pride Parade.
The fire began in the basement of a house in the 4000 block of West Potomac Avenue early Sunday, officials said.
Two train passengers and one person in the truck were killed, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Devastated survivors struggle to grieve as the deceased’s great-granddaughter calls attention to herself.