The Republican Restoration
Coy Pederson (TheLorian)
One does not need to possess an intimate knowledge of history to recognize its stunning prescience. The rise and fall of Donald Trump within the Republican Party is no different, as it is uncannily similar to the ascendancy and deposition of Napoleon Bonaparte in 19th century France. For example, Donald Trump spurred an intraparty civil war that diminished the influence of the establishment in his own party in order to perpetuate his own ideals. Similarly, Napoleon asserted his larger-than-life persona on an already weak and politically precarious system of government – the French Directorate. The two figures not only changed but ultimately reshaped their nations by implementing their own political, national, and social prerogative.
The successors to Napoleon’s tumultuous reign were the Bourbon monarchs, who ruled France prior to the French Revolution. The nations that took part in the redrawing of the map of Europe thought that returning France to the Ancien régime would restore the balance of power to the continent. However, in the end, the French people rejected the Ancien régime for the second time in the July Revolution of 1830.
You may be asking yourself, how exactly does this relate to a “Republican Restoration?” Well, the answer to that question is a simple one; either the Republican Party as it has always existed returns to take up its mantle as the preeminent leader in a party that has been dominated by a populist and a quite unsavory flavor of politics for the past four years; or, a new and reinvigorated brand of Republicanism born from the crucible of Rockefeller-style politics decides to supplant the former.
I would be remiss if I had not mentioned the “Trumpists” of the Republican Party who are likely here to stay, for better or worse. The Trumpists, who much like the Bonapartists of France, will undoubtedly reassert themselves on the national stage once the fervor surrounding the Capitol Hill insurrection settles. The Republican Party finds itself in a unique and incredibly optimistic position that rarely occurs in a major political party. In order for the Republican Party to survive, I will attempt to provide a much-needed prescription for the continuance of a party that was first brought about in a small, liberal arts college in 1854 Ripon, Wisconsin.
“The Party of Lincoln” is rightfully the moniker of the Grand Old Party, which in modern parlance is synonymous with “The Republican Party” of today. Fortunately, if the past four years have taught us anything, it is that the American spirit is enduring and unwavering in its commitment to providing the “American Dream,” which is still alive today, albeit more difficult to attain. The Party of Lincoln must once again acknowledge our founding principles as a party devoted to equal treatment under the law.
In the wake of the 2012 Presidential Election, the Republican Party launched what has been described as the “autopsy report.” This report identified some of the key reasons why Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave such an abysmal performance against the incumbent, President Obama. The overarching answer to this question is that the Republican Party is predominately old, white, and male. The Republican Party must adopt policies and attitudes that speak to question of racial injustice in this country. The problem won’t go away simply by ignoring it.
Also, the party must recommit itself as the party of moderation and pragmatic conservatism, devoid of “QAnon” and cults of personality. President George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” must once again enter into the lexicons of every Republican in America; race-baiting, fearmongering, and the othering of the immigrant must be challenged and addressed in Republican politics and rhetoric. Furthermore, the increased alienation of people within the LGBTQ+ community must cease. Republicans must recognize that the LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith; there is as much diversity in identity as there is in thought. We must also come to terms with the ongoing climate crisis that is already ravaging parts of the globe. The private sector can only do so much to combat the ever-increasing temperatures and rising sea levels without government assistance.
Moreover, we must reaffirm our status as a big-tent party. All factions within the Republican Party ought to be respected and listened to. Our opposition must be more constructive than the grandstanding which is common among both parties in the halls of Congress. Although we claim to be the party of religious liberty, we must make good on that claim by respecting those within the party and outside of it who have differing beliefs.
There is such a thing as conservatism without theism. The use of religion as a political prop in order to promulgate divisive speech is distasteful and is quite frankly bad politics. We must make the party palatable to an increasingly non-white and non-religious population with substantive policy proposals. In addition, we need to stop being the party that is simply the “alternative” to Democrat ideas, which although can be extreme at times, are at least ideas that nevertheless address societal problems.
We want to be a pro-business party, but that doesn’t mean we have to proverbially “rob Peter to pay Paul.” Republicans must address the need for economic reform that aligns with, and can be solved by, capitalist-centric policies. Egregious corporate greed is a real and present danger to society. I speak only as a member in the Republican Party. It is my sincere and earnest hope that something new is born from the ashes of a once-great and respected party.