Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Knock Yourself Out

From the New York Times:

More than 100 Republicans, including some former elected officials, are preparing to release a letter this week threatening to form a third party if the Republican Party does not make certain changes, according to an organizer of the effort.

The statement is expected to take aim at former President Donald J. Trump’s stranglehold on Republicans, which signatories to the document have deemed unconscionable.

“When in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice,” reads the preamble to the full statement, which is expected to be released on Thursday.

The effort comes as House Republican leaders are expected on Wednesday to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their ranks because of her outspoken criticism of Mr. Trump’s election lies.

“This is a first step,” said Miles Taylor, an organizer of the effort and a former Trump-era Department of Homeland Security official who anonymously wrote a book condemning the Trump administration. In October, Mr. Taylor acknowledged he was the author of both the book and a 2018 New York Times Op-Ed article.

“This is us saying that a group of more than 100 prominent Republicans think that the situation has gotten so dire with the Republican Party that it is now time to seriously consider whether an alternative might be the only option,” he said.

The list of people signing the statement includes former officials at both the state and national level who once were governors, members of Congress, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, state legislators and Republican Party chairmen, Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor declined to name the signers. Reuters reported earlier that the former governors Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey will sign it, as will former Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters and former Representatives Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma.

Mr. Taylor declined on Tuesday to reveal the specific changes that the coalition was planning to demand of the Republican Party in its statement.

“I’m still a Republican, but I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth because how quickly the party has divorced itself from truth and reason,” Mr. Taylor said. “I’m one of those in the group that feels very strongly that if we can’t get the G.OP. [sic] back to a rational party that supports free minds, free markets, and free people, I’m out and a lot of people are coming with me.”

Well, that sounds very ambitious and it’s sure to get a little airtime on cable TV, a cursory glance at who might be signing the letter doesn’t indicate that there are any current office-holders who might actually have some sway in the G.O.P. That’s because the current crop of Republicans is in the middle of a purge of anyone who isn’t a True Believer in TFG. So while I have my own reasons for cheering them on faintly, they’re in the cheap seats and have about as much impact on the state of the game being played in Congress as the drunk guy in the bleachers hollering at the umpire.

History has shown time and again that third-party attempts usually cause little more than a ripple rather than a wave, and they have a nasty way of solidifying, if not ossifying, the major parties as they gird themselves against the attack from the outsiders. They also leave behind a legacy of resentment and retrenchment: witness the impact George Wallace had on both the Democrats and Republicans in 1968 with his grudge-run against both Humphrey and Nixon. The Democrats turned left, and the Republicans bought up Wallace’s racist-tinged Southern Strategy and used it artfully with Reagan and clumsily with Trump.

This newest effort will either be a one-hit wonder — show me a viable candidate from this new batch — or it will splinter the party into shards of sectarian factions not unlike what Martin Luther and Henry VIII did to the Roman Catholic church, each proclaiming to be the Real Deal but not changing any minds, all the while ignoring the people they claim to serve.

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