From the stage that resembled a Norse rune, to Sen. Ted Cruz whining about masks, to confusing remarks about the 10th Amendment, last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference was historical.
Late at night on Jan. 6, I thought the Republican Party would hand Trump his third divorce. I should have known when Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, joined by Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, and 79 other members of the House of Representatives, objected to the electoral votes from the state of Pennsylvania that I was mistaken. CPAC reinforced that I was overly optimistic in January.
I am a registered Democrat. From a partisan standpoint, the Republican party of Trump, Cruz, Hawley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is committing suicide. What may grant them short term political gains is offset by the long-term effects of their ways. Conservatives are disaffiliating from the Republican Party and settling for moderate Democrats such as President Joe Biden. Sounds great for a Democrat, but it’s wrong to celebrate.
Our electoral system is set up for a two-party democracy. Formation of a new center-right party would never work — in fact, it would solidify the rule of the Democratic Party. As a believer in democracy, I offer the following advice to Republicans across the aisle to save their party and maintain U.S. democracy:
First, ditch Trump. Biden won because he merged two coalitions — the left and moderate Republicans. The latter realized the harm that Trump inflicted upon the country and its democracy and switched sides for a respectable candidate: a little “d” democrat. Republicans shouldn’t repeat this in 2024. The moderate Republicans who still believe in conservative politics and social order but respect U.S. democracy need to be recaptured by the Republican Party.
Second, recognize past mistakes. The roots of Trumpism can be traced back to former President Ronald Reagan and opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, but Trump’s presidency was born out of the Tea Party Movement, bred from racialized fears that were inflamed when former President Barack Obama won the presidency as a Black man. Following Obama’s election, Republicans engaged in the politics of hostage taking, where they took hostage any minor piece of legislation proposed by Democrats in order to stoke division, which they capitalized on in the 2010 midterms. Republicans must acknowledge the consequences of this behavior — on policy, partisanship and democracy — and end their obstructionist ways.
Finally, become tolerant of your political opposition. If Sen. Mitt Romney’s resistance to Trump taught us anything, it’s that Democrats can respect the opposite party when they respect us. Democrats are not your enemy; they are your political opposition. Late Sen. John McCain said it best when he defended President Obama in 2008, stating, “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” Accept that Democrats will not destroy America, as some Republicans propose, and fix your party so that together, we can have a more perfect union.