Death of a political party

Staff Columnist

Suicide’s a nasty word;

It means “untimely end.”

Breaking ranks is most absurd;

What message does it send?

On Thursday, March 6, 2016, the Republican Party, founded on March 20, 1854, and nurtured by Abraham Lincoln through a bloody civil war, committed suicide.

From the very beginning of the bizarre 17 person line-up comprising the disparate group of aspirants to this year’s GOP presidential nomination, rumors had flown concerning the party’s establishment’s opposition to the contest’s front runner, businessman Donald J. Trump.

Rumors in a political campaign are nothing new.  They are the life blood of media speculation, and in this case they served to bring concentrated attention to the Trump phenomenon.  That attention, in turn, provided free advertising to a non-political celebrity, saving that gentleman millions in unneeded paid press releases.

As a result, the lesser known candidates were forced to concentrate their frustrated fire on Trump, adding to that gentleman’s celebrity.

There is nothing new in intramural warfare within political parties.  A similar contretemps occurred during Theodore Roosevelt’s historic quests for the presidency, resulting in fractured loyalties and splits within party ranks.

But basic political wisdom has almost always kept such conflicts quietly in house, with members of the establishment communicating by letter or telephone, making deals behind closed doors, oftentimes in proverbial “smoke-filled rooms.”

Former actor Ronald Reagan, who played the role of president to near perfection, warned members of his party never to publically speak ill of each other.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, shattered that advice by attacking Trump personally with charges of “con artist,” “phony” and a “fraud.”

The charges brought counter-charges from the beleaguered Trump and inspired further personal calumny at the next scheduled Republican debate.

It now no longer matters whether Trump succeeds in acquiring a majority of delegates before the Republican National Convention in July, or whether his momentum is slowed by the current upswing in support for Senator Ted Cruz, or whether Mark Rubio drops out or stays.

The damage has been done and cannot be undone.

What were formerly undercurrents of discontent are now in the open, exposing fractures that are causing the Grand Old Party to spend the rest of 2016 imploding.

No matter who wins the nomination at the party’s gathering in Cleveland, what was formerly the rumbling of an oncoming earthquake will burst upward and outward, with devastating consequences on Election Day.

If Trump is the nominee, all the old establishment types, including Romney, Senator McCain and former Governor Jeb Bush will either cast their secret ballots in other directions or stay home.

If Cruz is the nominee, citizens who are angered and disgusted by six years of gridlock and governmental shutdown in Washington, will withhold support from the one candidate who promises more of the same.

Marco Rubio’s weak and puerile showing everywhere except in Minnesota and Puerto Rico, preclude his nomination, but he had an enthusiastic following, most of whom are unlikely to vote for anyone responsible for eliminating him from the race.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, the one candidate who projected the aura of an adult, is most likely to hold the support of Ohio residents, but has not shown real strength nationwide.

At this writing it is too early to predict whether the Democratic Party’s contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will create a fissure dividing the loyalties of that party’s constituency, but it should be noted that the bitter divisiveness apparent amongst Republicans has not shown itself during the Democrats’ debates.

Clinton and Sanders have been comparatively respectful to each other, and their goals have not been too dissimilar, although their paths to achieving those goals offer differing degrees of pragmatism.

Pundits have observed that Sanders and Trump both offered relief to the same groups of citizens who felt angered and left out by the excessive greed of those at the top of the capitalistic system.

Whether our new president in January of 2017 is a Republican, Democrat or (unlikely) an Independent, he or she will need to have carried into office a sufficient number of like-minded legislators to free up the workings of government that the founding fathers contemplated when they devised a system of three co-equal parts.

A wise economist (yes, there are a few) once observed that if you took all of the planet’s wealth and divided it up equally among all the earth’s population, then in two generations, all money would end up back in the same pockets of those presently in charge.

If that is so, one can only hope that tomorrow’s society will have learned to moderate greed so as to leave the middle and lower classes with a livable share.


Richard Hershatter is a retired Connecticut lawyer and novelist who writes an occasional column if interest to Floridians.  He can be reached at Banyan502@AOL.







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1 Response for “Death of a political party”

  1. Ross P. Alander says:

    Sad time for the GOP but they created this mess themselves. You are right Gov.Kasich is the only adult in the group and see how they treated him.Complete lack of leadership at all levels. They only have themselves to blame.
    We need Jack Kemp, Alan Simpson, Richard Lugar, George (not Mitt) Romney, John Danforth, Jon Huntsman, President George H.W. Bush, etc. Republicans but they are all gone
    Ross former Republican

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