We have to admit the truth. We Republicans did this to ourselves. We chose leaders who lost their way and put the Republican Party at risk for a Trump takeover. Teddy Roosevelt once said: “If I have to choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.” The problem for the Republican Party is that it chose neither righteousness nor peace. Now the “Grand Old Party” is no longer grand at all. It is on the brink of replacing Republicanism with Trumpism.
Over the last 25 years, Republicans charged the nation into Middle Eastern wars, costing hundreds of thousands of lives, broken bodies and minds, millions of refugees and trillions of dollars of indebted treasure. And what does the nation have to show for it? Iraq, Libya and Syria overrun by combinations of terrorists inflicting mayhem upon the indigenous populations, especially the Christians among them; a disordered Middle East dominated by theocratic Iran vowed to annihilate Israel; a financially and militarily dependent Afghanistan government, and a twice-toppled Egyptian government, replaced with one dictatorship after another.
During all this, Republican leaders allowed the privileged to manipulate the banking system to the point that it nearly brought down the economy, forcing the nation to go further into debt to save it from complete collapse. Thereafter, Republican leaders, with their Democrat accomplices, did nothing to hold accountable those who rolled the financial system, while letting millions of working poor suffer financially because of what the greedy did.
Then, if that was not enough, Republicans and Democrats stuck the taxpayers with the cost of their incompetence and corruption. The national debt now exceeds $19 trillion and rising — a debt that will shackle generations of our children with financial costs they will never be able to afford; a debt that will irrevocably change national politics; a debt that will inevitably break this nation.
While seeking every possibility to protect the privileged, Republicans neglected the disenfranchised and disadvantaged. Instead of conceiving creative, conservative solutions to lift them up and help enrich their lives, the Republican Party relegated them to a third-class status, leaving them hopeless, and driving them into the arms of the Democrats and their failed policies and programs. Any political party that ideologically abandons those in need disqualifies itself to lead the nation.
We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. Nearly 90 years ago, following a devastating world war, economic failure and deprivation of racial minorities and the disadvantaged, the people lost faith in their political leaders and structures. Out of desperation, they turned to fascism to rescue them — a fascism that eventually demanded the destruction of democracy and tens of millions of people.
Instead of learning from the past and correcting our mistakes by picking a presidential candidate who will seek righteousness and peace over corruption and hostility, who will put our financial house in order for the sake of the rising generations and who will pursue efforts to lift and enrich the disenfranchised and disadvantaged, the Republican Party is pounding the final nail in its coffin by electing Donald Trump as its standard-bearer — a standard-bearer who has no vision, no experience and no understanding of what is required to save the Republican Party and this nation.
Donald Trump will be a Republican standard-bearer who spent his entire life hustling for his greedy ambitions on the backs of the very ones he now claims he wants to help as president. Those who believe that Trumpism has the capacity and commitment to truly “make America great again” have succumbed to “The Donald’s” biggest hustle ever.
Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope. The caucus election results demonstrate that most Utah Republicans are not among those tempted by Trumpism. Hopefully, Utah’s political “exceptionalism” will in some way be a guiding light in the coming dark days of this nation’s future.
Stuart Reid is a former Utah state senator.