I first posed this question in a column seven months ago, on May 23rd, 2020. Now, I’ll presume to answer the rhetorical question raised in that column. Yes, I think the time, perhaps, has come to consider giving new thought to old political paradigms.
Let’s give Thomas Jefferson a nod and call a new political Party the Republican-Democratic Commons Party (RDC for short). Or, maybe, the Democratic-Republican Commons Party (DRC for short). The Republican and Democratic emphasis could be alternated for each election cycle, for Commons will be the operative term. In this new and modern context, Commons is simply to acknowledge that the new Commons Party is for the People. It doesn’t connote common possessorship in the old context, but instead, common purpose, that is, to seriously conduct the people’s business.
The new Party would be Centrist in nature because the center is where things get done, where serious, patriotic men and women throughout the great American spectrum temper their differences. Little that is constructive happens at the extremes– mostly noise, rancor, divisiveness, and stalemate.
Today, both political parties in our country suffer from extreme influences that are inimical to progress, collegiality, the American body politic’s best interests, and the great American experiment in Democracy. There is room to fear that this malady of Party enmity is terminal and that the great American experiment cries out for rebirth and renewal. Yes, I think, maybe, the time has come.
The Republican Party isn’t even a shell of its original self. The Republican Party replaced the Whig Party in 1854 by taking a strong and principled stand against slavery, which the Whigs were reluctant to do, and the pro-slavery Jacksonian Democrats refused to do. To call today’s Republican Party the Party of Lincoln is, well, just plain silly. Lincoln would have been disgusted with many of today’s Republicans.
When, nearly five years ago, on January 23, 2016, President Trump bragged that he could shoot and kill someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote, he was engaging in metaphor to make a point. The point? I am so popular; I can get away with anything. As it turns out, getting away with shooting an anonymous, rhetorical straw person known to no one may not have been that far-fetched a metaphor.
But now we can understand Trump’s thinking a bit clearer. What he seemed to believe then, and is doubling down on now, is that he could shoot a bullet into the heart of American Democracy, and few in the Republican Party would care. He thinks he is just that popular. In that supposition, he is dead wrong. While many Republicans would, indeed, follow Trump into the abyss, many, I believe most, would not—not once they understood the extreme depths to which he would drag the nation to stay in power.
While millions of Republicans are in sycophantic thrall to President Trump and who embrace QAnon and the histrionics of Sidney Powell and Rudi Giuliani, I believe many Trump voters do know where to draw a line in the sand. I believe that line is that metaphoric shot into the heart of Lady liberty—American Democracy itself.
That is why Republican judge after Republican judge, Republican governor after Republican governor, many other Republican elected officials, appointed Republican election-security officials, Republican Attorney General William Barr, and even a Republican-majority Supreme Court have dug in their collective heels and said “No!” to Trump’s blatant and unfounded attacks on an American election, indeed, on American Democracy itself.
Traditional Republican principles such as fiscal responsibility, a loathing of chronic budget deficits and resulting runaway debt, support of free trade, and a market-driven, anti-tariff economy still matter to many Republicans, even if today’s Republican Party has jettisoned those principles in deference to President Trump
The Democrats have evolved from the old Jacksonian pro-slavery party. In the old Solid South of the first half of the 20th century, the Party was a bastion of Jim Crow and a fierce force for segregation. However, for nearly a century, and to its credit, it has morphed into the robust progressive-leaning political party it is today. Many Democratic organizations no longer celebrate Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinners, having jettisoned the old ties to the Party’s slavery-promoting beginnings.
Today’s Democrats and millions of independent and first-time voters (over 80 million in total) have elected a decent, party stalwart, Joe Biden, to be the 46th President of the United States of America. Yes, he really won. No, he is not addled, corrupt, a Trojan horse for Marxism, nor the head of a crime family.
Whether or not he will be a great or noteworthy President remains to be seen, but he will be the 46th President of the United States when the 45th President’s term expires in twenty-four days. The incessant, over-the-top attacks directed at Biden by Trump are beyond the pale of acceptable political behavior. However, that having been said doesn’t negate the lasting damage a large and radical fringe within the Democratic Party is doing to drive away millions of voters.
The Defund-the-Police movement, the soft-peddling, if not tolerance by too many, of urban looting and arson, the woke movement to expunge long-standing pronouns such as him and her and he and she from the American lexicon is an enormous turn-off to millions of Americans. These movements drive millions of Americans to vote for, well, the other political party. Understand this: that reality is partially why Donald Trump captured as many votes as he did as a losing candidate.
So, maybe, we need to rethink our political alignments in America. Maybe centrist Republicans who are not in the thrall of President Trump and the type of political corrosiveness he represents, and centrist Democrats who aren’t as woke as that combative, bellicose fringe in their Party can, together, pursue constructive progress under a new centrist banner.
RDC or DRC anyone?