In college I was president of the Young Republicans. Growing up on a wheat ranch in eastern Washington, nearly all of my parents’ farmer friends were Republicans and of course – “I like Ike.” As Republicans we believed in investment in infrastructure and paying for good public education. Our party even broadly supported civil rights, women’s reproductive rights, advocated for conservation, public lands and wilderness areas as necessities for a better society. We believed in balanced budgets and were not averse to raising taxes to support the common good. We believed in supporting our NATO allies and saw our country as the beacon of the free world.
The Republican Party is no longer that – it’s become the party of Donald Trump. The new Republican Party lacks the human kindness and care exhibited by Ronald Reagan and George Bush. How is it that virtually every elected Republican has chosen to defend Trump and support his debunked and insane conspiracy theories, even when I am certain at least some of them do not believe them? Republican members of Congress apparently take the word of Fox pundits rather than coming to their own judgments by seeking out multiple perspectives through critical reading, listening and thinking so essential to the ongoing health of our democracy. Can’t they see what Trump is doing to our democracy for his own personal gain? Is it OK for him to extort Ukraine to aid his reelection? How can seemingly smart people, like Sen. Ted Cruz, back Trump’s unsupported allegations that Ukraine interfered in our election, after hearing sworn testimonies and evidence to the contrary? Is it Ok for Trump to obstruct justice by preventing witnesses from testifying in an impeachment hearing? Do Republicans want a monarch rather than a president? Is it OK to support someone who lies incessantly and sends out more than 90 tweets a day? And, like most insecure middle school bullies, he brutally attacks anyone who raises the slightest criticism. One would think at least a few members of the Republican Party would have the courage to tell him to knock it off and grow up.
Do Republicans see how Donald Trump’s climate change denial is ruining our planet? A new federal report finds that climate change is matching the worst-case scenario of doom with catastrophic rising sea levels, violent storms, and unbearable heat waves making certain population centers uninhabitable. The new Republican Party has become the climate-denialist party doing everything possible to destroy environmental regulations. Perhaps money is the answer. According to Paul Krugman, Republicans have received 97 percent of political contributions made by the coal industry and 88 percent of those made by coal and gas industries. Is this why Republicans consider global warming a gigantic hoax perpetuated by deep state scientists? Maybe it is time for them to read scientific literature, become informed and provide some real leadership instead of denying facts about our world at risk. And, by the way, the scientific community does produce facts, as opposed to “alternative facts” that President Trump and his administration make up on a near daily basis.
The Republican Party of my youth is dead. Our democracy, our planet and our place in the world are in deep peril. We can’t withstand another four years of Donald Trump and the depravity of his Republican Party. I implore genuine Republicans of real character to stop tolerating the theft of their party’s traditional values so Congress can begin to heal and start to function.
Carol Santa, Ph.D