Former Nevada Senator Harry Reid said something unexpected last week, especially for a man who led Senate Democrats for 12 years.
Reid said the country needs Republicans.
“I believe in a strong two-party system,” Reid said. “It has been the strength of our country for generations.
But, he added, “I think Republicans have to find their way, because the Republican Party we have today is not (former Rhode Island Senator) John Chafee’s Republican Party, (former Rhode Island Senator) Oregon Senator) Mark Hatfield, those people who were truly pillars in moving the country forward. “
Also joining the chorus: President Joe Biden.
“We badly need a Republican Party,” Biden said Wednesday. “We need a two-party system. It is not healthy to have a one-party system. And I think Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought at this point.
Former President Donald Trump maintains an iron grip on most Republicans. Because of Trump, many Republicans are at least saying things they know, or should know, are wrong, like stealing the 2020 election. The disloyal is vilified.
Consider the senseless censorship by Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske based on allegations of voter fraud rejected by the courts and debunked after an investigation.
Or how about the boos given to Utah Senator Mitt Romney at the Beehive State Republican Convention on May 1. Romney – one of seven Republicans to vote to convict Trump on his second impeachment in February – was the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
Or how about efforts to oust Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney from her No.3 position in the House GOP caucus? Cheney, who also voted to impeach Trump in February, argued the former president should not have any role in the Republican Party. In response, Trump sparked contempt and supported a move to install New York Rep. Elise Stefanik as Cheney’s manager.
Before Trump, Cheney was considered a strong Republican. In fact, the FiveThirtyEight.com website determined she voted with Trump 92.9% of the time, a score much more favorable to Trump than the 77.7% of Stefanik.
But it’s not a question of politics or philosophy. It is about loyalty to a single individual, whose ego does not tolerate any dissent. Praise him and your sins will be forgiven. Abjure it, and you are an enemy.
It is not a political party, it is a sect. And like many personality cults, Trump inevitably led to a homicide, as his forceful forces stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the legitimate results of the vote. of the Electoral College.
Some on the right may argue that Democrats have built movements around figures such as Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But none of them took their supporters to Capitol Hill to thwart a democratic process, nor demanded unyielding personal loyalty as the price of admission.
Equally unnecessary is the attitude expressed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told a press conference Wednesday that “100%” of his attention was focused on shutting down the Biden administration – well that not as immediately dangerous. Political junkies will recall he said something similar after Obama was elected, saying his main goal was to make Obama a president for one term.
As Conservative commentator Bill Kristol said on MSNBC, a normal minority leader should say he or she will work with the administration where they have common interests, try to persuade the administration on where they are. disagree and will oppose it when the principle makes compromise impossible.
Voters in 2020 sent a divided government to Washington, DC, presumably expecting lawmakers to work together to resolve issues for the common good. A compromise between those of strongly held opposing views is the American way. But that cannot happen if one of the two parties presents members who cannot or do not want to recognize reality.
And it’s not like there isn’t a need for traditional Republican opposition in the current debate. Biden has proposed billions in new spending, but Republicans who advocate budget restriction – as they tend to do when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office – are drowned out by Republicans who don’t even recognize Biden as the rightful president. .
This must change, or we risk losing the ability to govern by consensus entirely. It requires at least two opposing parties that work.
Or as Reid put it in his interview, “And that’s why you have people who want a good Republican Party, projects like Project Lincoln, (who) are doing whatever they can to bring the party back together.” Republican, a party of problem-solvers, not a bunch of goofballs led by our former president.
Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. To follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.