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A party in disarray

guest column

I recently heard on a national radio network station the astute comment of a political reporter to the effect that the Republican Party will have to conduct an autopsy after the election, regardless of who will become president of these United States. Implied in his comment was that the Grand Old Party was dead, or almost dead, since autopsies are usually conducted post mortem.

It is hard to imagine that the party of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, H.W. Bush and W. Bush could be in so complete disarray that all the leaders of the party have refused to campaign for their presidential nominee, and that some have publicly stated they will vote for the opposing party’s nominee. How could this happen with majorities in both houses of Congress and with entire TV networks, such as Fox, and print media, such as the Wall Street Journal, dedicated to the party line? Where are you Carl Rove, when you are most needed?

I believe the answer to the above questions lies in a simple truth from the old and new testaments of the Bible: “you reap the harvest from the seed that you sow,” or as I hope to explain, from what you don’t sow.

When Barack Obama stunned the American psyche and the world at large by becoming the first African American president of the United States, a sense of optimism pervaded the minds of a majority of voters that such a neophyte politician with youthfulness and candor would breathe new air into the stuffy and acrid halls of government, and bring a fresh set of ideas for resolving the countries many woes; the chief ones being a worldwide recession bordering on economic depression, and two foreign wars costing American taxpayers one billion dollars per day. What the voters of this country did not anticipate or desire was that a third great woe would soon face the country, namely, the refusal of congressional leaders and of a majority of members in the legislative branch of government to work with the executive branch to resolve the country’s problems.

In his first two years in office, President Obama sought bipartisan consensus on a national health care proposal that would reform years of private abuse and neglect in the health care system (e.g., $20 dollars of aspirin tablets in for-profit hospitals and refusals to insure pre-existing conditions). Instead he received constant and continual destructive “cooperation” from Congress. As a result, the country received a severely flawed Affordable Care Act which is jammed with hundreds of pages of special interest inserts and exclusions (no single payer plan) so complex and confusing that no one to-date purports to understand it all. The next bone of contention was the “stimulus package” that if correctly legislated, would have put billions of federal dollars to work on American infrastructure while at the same time rebuilding the American middle class. This initiative was also packed with pork barrel conditions and intentionally designed for failure by the Congress to settle political points. The winners were not the good citizens of this country.

“You reap what you sow.”

In the last six years of the Obama presidency, both houses of Congress have had Republican majorities and their leaderships have publicly stated that their main goal would be to slow down or block any initiatives coming from the Obama presidency. But they did not state why, the implied yet dubious reason assumed to be politics. So from 2009-2010, a divided Congress sowed bad seed in good soil and harvested a failed crop. And from 2011 to 2016, a unified Republican Congress decided to barely sow any seed at all, and harvested mostly weeds. The winners again were not the good citizens of this country.

Which is why the Republican Party is currently in such a state of despair. When you are given authority and power, citizens expect in return that you will use it wisely and for good purposes. If all you do with it is play political games, issue moronic commentaries and basically waste time and money, then it is very hard to generate public support or, for that matter, to generate great leaders. Leadership is honed through the experience of accomplishment, not through the absence of experience. Leaders rise to favor in a democracy when the benefit goes to the “demos”, that is, the people. The sad truth of the last eight years of Republican leadership is that there is none. A lack of accomplishment has brought forth no great leaders, and the public has found no one they can favor champion within the party.

It should be no great secret to a rational person that the current nominee of the Republican Party is not of the party. Regardless of who wins the election, the Republican Party will have to undergo an autopsy. And what they will find is that the party as we know it died from its own delusion that inaction was the best course of action to take. If you spend eight years doing nothing except sowing divisiveness, instead of good seed, the harvest is bound to be…well, you can fill in the blank.

Paul Triulzi is a graduate student in the Environmental Entrepreneurship Certificate Program.

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