I miss the Republican Party. I really do.
Oh, conservatism's still out there in fractured bits and pieces as evidenced by folks like Sen. Ben Sasse who's facing censure in Nebraska for saying things like “Politics isn't about the weird worship of one dude.” And there's Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of the dark lord of politics. And Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. whose moderation has Trumpers convinced he's morphed into Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
There's a custody battle going on in the GOP over sanity, and despite glimmers of hope for supporters of reality and cognition, it's too early to tell if sanity will be embraced once again or completely abandoned after being locked in the basement by Donald Trump the past four years.
We live in a world where Cheney, acting on her conscience (as once was common in the GOP) voted to impeach the president for inciting a coup but was censured by Wyoming Republicans for doing her constitutional duty. Conversely, freshman Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a believer in Jewish space lasers who's endorsed the assassination of Democrats, got a standing ovation from U.S. House Republicans.
It's fascinatingly strange and scary as hell to see so many members of what was once a reality-based party disappear down the QAnon rabbit hole. The GOP mascot's no longer the monolithic elephant. A shirtless shaman in buffalo horns and Braveheart makeup has slipped under the circus tent with a troupe of other clowns.
We're still peeling back the (organic) onion on what happened when the president's homegrown terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol but there's plenty of evidence that it wasn't spontaneous but rather planned with the president's role that of a coach urging them to hang one for the Gipper.
“Jan. 6 is going to leave a scar,” Sasse said. “For 220 years, one of the most beautiful things about America has been our peaceful transfer of power. But what Americans saw was ugly, shameful mob violence to disrupt a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress to affirm that peaceful transfer of power.”
God, I miss that brand of Republican. I'd fight him tooth and nail over policy if I were in the Senate, but I'd respect him and, ultimately, I think, find some middle ground.
This isn't the Republican Party's first experience with extremism in the ranks. There was Joseph McCarthy and his communist witch hunts in the 1950s. A conspiracy-minded John Birch Society had to be firmly tamped down by the party in the 1960s, and now, the seeds planted by the Moral Majority in the 1970s have bloomed like leafy spurge with the insane notion that a treasonous fascist who never saw a commandment he wouldn't break has inexplicably been sent by God to save us from liberals and brown people. We'd do well to remember that God also sent locusts.
I pray for secular conservatism. Which means momentarily being on the side of Mitch McConnell. The Grim Reaper himself has repudiated Marjorie Taylor Greene.
I've never voted for a Republican for president but I could have lived with Romney, John Kasich, or even the mercurial John McCain had he not jumped the shark and picked the unstable Sarah Palin as a running mate.
Light a candle for conservatism. May they find their way back.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.