We cannot turn back the hands of time and redo our mistakes of the past. If we could, I would go back to 1992 and join the Democratic Party. That was when the Republican Party turned a dark corner.
Leaving one’s political party is as gut churning as changing one’s religion. My family was involved in the creation of the Illinois GOP in the 1850s. We traced our Republican roots all the way back to Abraham Lincoln.
I had no roots in the Democratic Party until a year ago, but I am laying them down now. I am not one of those swing voters who plays with one party in one election and another party in the next. I know the value of commitments and have made one to the party of “us,” the Democratic Party.
What happened in 1992 that makes that particular year a benchmark? That was the year Bill Clinton ran for President and defeated George H.W. Bush. I had a huge stake in that election. I was not an average voter in that year. I was a Republican Lobbyist with a new company and a client list that was a who’s who of international business.
I lobbied the Congress and the White House on a daily basis. My economic well-being hinged on relationships in Washington. I did not know how much my world was about to change in January of 1992, and was not a change for the better.
The dark corner showed its ugliness at the GOP Convention in Houston. The party was changing, and none of us understood the impact of those revisions in the party would be. All we knew at the time was the visciousness directed at an incumbent President who had successfully brought us through a war quickly, and to a victorious outcome. The world outside America's borders was changing, and so was our world at home. We just did not know it.
The ugly rise of the Religious Right happened in 1992.
In 1988, the Christian Right tried to flex their political muscles by endorsing TV Preacher, Pat Robertson against George Bush for the nomination for President. His campaign failed, but he did show strength in the Bible-Belt states.
Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger’s words to me from 1980 seemed to ring true. I had expressed my apprehension that we empowered the megachurch gang in 1980 to help Reagan get elected. He told me not to worry; we could control them.
As it turned out, Ronald Reagan could control them. By 1992, Ronald Reagan’s health had declined to the point he was not a factor in the election, and the religious right and ultra conservatives abandoned George Bush and cast their fate with Ross Perot.
That division in the Republican Party and betrayal of George Bush, who just one year earlier enjoyed a 90% approval rating after Gulf War I, elected Bill Clinton.
There was a monster loose inside the GOP, and it consumed the party.
The alt-Right has grown from the Religious-Right.
Since President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, the Republican Party has rolled out the red carpet for racists. Let me state, not all fundamentalist Christians are alt-right, or even Republican for that matter. However, the majority of the alt-Right appears to adhere to Christian fundamentalism.
They approach their narrow politics with the same zeal with which they approach religion. The alt-Right fuel themselves with hate, white supremacy, and ultra-Nationalism.
Today’s Republican Party embraces racism openly.
For proof of claim, look no further than President Trump’s pardon of Dinesh D’Souza on May 31st. Who is Mr. D’Souza? He is an alt-Right author and commentator who fuels hate on the right.
Among other things, Mr. D’Souza has said the Charlottesville rally that turned violent when a white supremacist murdered a woman protesting against the Klan and their confederates by hitting her with his car was a hoax.
He hates former President Obama with passion. He has called Mr. Obama a gay Muslim and claimed Mrs. Obama is a man.
Mr. D’Souza started a conspiracy theory that an anti-Trump activist staged the Las Vegas mass shooting.
He has said that slaves in the American South were treated as property, which is to say well cared for by their owners. He made a documentary trying to tie today’s Democratic Party to slavery.
He was under arrest for violating federal campaign laws, for arranging illegal campaign donations in a Senate race. Without coercion, he voluntarily pleads guilty to the charges.
He mocked the teenage survivors of a Florida school shooting, and he defended Adolf Hitler. Add anti-Semitism to Mr. D’Souza’s resume.
Donald Trump pardoned him, and Senator Ted Cruz cheered his approval of the pardon.
How can anyone with any decency continue to be a Republican?
When people ask me how could I quit the GOP, the embracing of people like D’Souza, and his followers is one of the reasons. These people are now rank and file Republicans, and I want nothing to do with them or a party that could embrace people with such views.
A Republican friend of mine called me after reading my words of disapproval for the pardon on social media. She assured me the GOP does not approve of this trash that is now in the party.
Really? Then why the silence? Silence equals consent. If one does not show scorn for this kind of rhetoric, if one does not stand against the indecency on full display by the White House, then it continues. Those who are silent are enabling further racism to grow in the GOP.
There is no silent majority in the party that disapproves of Trump and the alt-Right. If that were the case, there would be no Trump in the White House, and the alt-Right, white supremacists, trade protectionists, and white-Nationalists would not be in charge of the party.
The world my friend described to me sounds a great deal like the world Dorthy found herself after the tornado; a place called Oz where people with no brains, no hearts, and do not have the courage to stand against the immorality of Trump and his base.
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Tags: Charlottesville VA, Donald Trump, George HW Bush, GOP, Join the Democratic Party, Ku Klux Klan, Lyn Nofziger, Quit the GOP, Racism, Religious Right, Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, ultra-nationalism, White Nationalists, White Supremacists