Is the Grand Old Party Almost Over?

By Jamie Stiehm

June 26, 2019 5 min read

WASHINGTON — Is it too early to write the obituary for the Republican Party?

I ask because ideas are few and far between. Tax breaks and tariffs are all they get worked up about. Policy debates in the House and Senate are rivers run dry. Republicans stick to their own. They have been whittled like wood down to the will of a president, Donald Trump, never known for his party loyalty.

Trump is loyal to a party of one.

Under the watchful eye of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the 53 Senate Republicans are forfeiting the chamber's reputation as the world's greatest deliberative body. The impasse before us is deliberate, similar to McConnell's waiting game in refusing to hold hearings for then-President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

By ignoring the stream of progressive For the People legislation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her new Democratic majority championed, McConnell could not be clearer. He is all about thwarting the will of the American people. There will be a price to be paid.

The spirited diversity of "People's House" is scorned by the elitist, do-nothing Senate. The result is a furious stalemate under the Capitol dome.

McConnell is nobody's fool. He likes his "Grim Reaper" nickname as he scuttles the flurry of bills approved by the Democratic House. Remember the big train that couldn't move in "The Little Engine That Could"?

By Senate rules, McConnell controls every single thing that comes to the floor, to the mounting frustration of Senate Democrats. No wonder so many are running for president.

Actually, McConnell is doing something: placing "the president's capable nominees" on the federal bench. At a record pace, he's stocking the federal judiciary for life with arch-conservatives, just like a fish pond.

I see them, Republicans, walk and talk in the halls of the Capitol. They are like wooden toy soldiers — with about as much gumption. They quail before a trash-talking president. Trump slaughtered several of them on his way to the 2016 presidential nomination, so there's not much love lost for him, either. But they smile pretty by the Ohio Clock when Trump crashes their caucus lunches.

Let's say the Republicans hold the Senate and, God forbid, the White House in 2020. Still, the Party's waning, for a blindingly obvious reason: It's the last gleaming refuge of white men who wish for the old days, when they ruled over constitutional rights and liberties.

All Republican men in Congress oppose reproductive rights. Of 25 Senate women, just eight are Republicans. There's one black Republican, Tim Scott, R-S.C.

The House numbers tell the story, with seven times as many Democratic women as Republican women. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is the best they can do among House Republican women. She's not made of sugar and spice.

The last Republican senator with an independent conscience, John McCain of Arizona, died last summer. In the darkness before the dawn, he dared to vote against Trump on abolishing Obamacare, saving President Obama's legacy. Trump rages about that act of courage with no shame about defaming the dead.

What makes the loss sadder still is that McCain's best friend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is now cozying up to Trump and flying with him on Air Force One. He's loving life as the new Judiciary Committee chairman.

Plainly put, Graham is a charlatan who carried the pitchforks to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment for a minor misdeed. But he doesn't bat an eye to the coarse stuff (that we know about) coming from Trump.

Where have you gone, Eisenhower Republicans?

If you think it farfetched that a major American political party could collapse, it's happened before. Once there were the Whigs. Abraham Lincoln was a Whig while in the House in the 1840s. The Whigs foundered on the rock of slavery.

Lamenting its passing, then-New York Sen. William Seward spoke in 1855: "Four years ago, it was a strong and vigorous party ... united and consolidated." Seward blamed slaveholders as a "privileged class" that made the Whigs "wounded on all sides."

What party rose to take its place? The Republicans.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists, visit the Creators Syndicate website, creators.com.

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