The Night the Grand Old Party Died

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resting-elephant-1-1340299-1280x1156I was sitting in Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station when it started. By the time I had already boarded the train, it was done.

On the evening of March 11, 2016, thousands of violent agitators marched their way towards downtown Chicago, intent on disrupting a scheduled campaign stop by Donald Trump, the leading candidate of a major American political party. Rumors swirled in advance of this event. It was believed various foreign funded Democrat operatives, along with the same Republican operatives that used this technique successfully in a 2014 Senatorial primary campaign, were working together to stop the Trump campaign appearance.

While it was never confirmed who organized the intimidating show of force, it worked. Large numbers of the Anti-Trump gang had maneuvered themselves into the University of Illinois’s Pavilion. Long before the speech was scheduled to begin, the troublemakers had already begun baiting the thousands of Trump supporters patiently waiting for their hero. Police did escort these “protestors” out one-by-one, but it soon became apparent the instigators outnumbered the security forces. That, together with the enormous size of the ominous Stormtroopers outside the facility, caused Trump to postpone the speech “for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena.”

Today, most people associate the phrase “Stormtrooper” with the movie Star Wars. But the term actually comes from a para-military group from Nazi Germany known officially as the Sturmabteilung (“SA”). Officially named on October 5, 1921, this group soon became known as “brownshirts.” According to William Shirer, “These uniformed rowdies, not content to keep order at Nazi meetings, soon took to breaking up those of the other parties,” (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960).

If you recall American history from your elementary school days, our Founding Fathers, when presented the choice, specifically rejected creating a democracy. They feared the dictatorship of the majority or, simply, “mob rule.” In a democracy (such as Athens) this device was used – legally – to prevent honest dissent and squelch citizen opposition. For that reason, the Founding Fathers chose to create a Republic “if we can keep it” (to quote Benjamin Franklin).

What occurred in the early evening of March 11, 2016 recalls the thuggish tactics of the early Nazi movement and represents what America’s Founding Fathers feared most. It prevented free speech. It prevented free association. It prevented honest dissent. Worse, it trampled on the constitutionally guaranteed rights of thousands of United States Citizens.

It also signaled the end of the Republican Party.

Most of us laughed it off when Ted Cruz infamously admitted he didn’t represent “New York Values.” After all, Cruz is from Texas (or is it Canada?) and there’s always been a friendly rivalry among the larger states. Ironically, when I think of “New York Values” I think of that line Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick spouts off in Casablanca. You know the one I mean. Major Strasser says, “Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?… How about New York?” To this Rick smartly retorts, “Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”

To me, that’s New York Values: A toughness that would scare even the evil Nazis. Think of how Rudy Guliani handled 9/11. Trump’s cut from that same cloth. Of course, we have to admit New York as a whole may have lost some of those values. We’ve gone from frightening Nazis to mandating how much pop you can drink at one time. Let’s call those “Hillary’s New York Values” (yes, I know Mayor Bloomberg did the whole pop thing, but it derives from the same value system shared by Hillary and a large section of New Yorkers).

Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be wonderful if our nation was forced to choose between the two competing versions of New York Values: The tough “scare the Nazis” values of Donald Trump vs. the “don’t drink too much pop” values of Hillary Clinton? I’m pretty sure if it was up to New Yorkers, these two would be November’s contenders. (Besides, that would be one presidential debate you can sell tickets to and put on pay-per-view!)

Of course, this thought is moot. There’s likely to be no meaningful competition for Hillary. Why? Because the Republican Party is dead.

It died the night of March 11th, 2016. The supposedly Soros-backed Stormtroopers didn’t kill it. The wound was, as we all predicted, self-inflicted. As coverage of the event continued, one-by-one – were there twenty-three of them? – each Republican “leader” failed to blame the lawless mob for their atrocities. Instead, they claimed the guilt lay on the shoulders of… Donald Trump!?! Yes, the man whose right to free speech was infringed, whose supporters could not freely assemble, who, in short, was the target of this premeditated act.

But the unkindest cut of all came when Ted Cruz, long heralded as the champion of “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” threw away his constitutional mantle and claimed it was all Trump’s fault, saying, “in any campaign responsibility starts at the top.” With that, Cruz tossed aside any pretense of principle and sold his soul, as did the Republican Party, to the altar of political expediency. For many, this was to be the last straw.

Trump appeals to those who believe politics is inherently unfair. These are the same people who believe it was inappropriate for Obama to rely solely on Democrat votes (when he had them) to pass controversial legislation in lieu of the time honored practice of slow, deliberate, compromise. They didn’t like Obama’s arrogant response when asked why he didn’t try to include the Republicans (“Because we won”). They felt snubbed. In a similar fashion, they won’t like the Republican Party establishment brushing aside the voters’ will and allowing Ted Cruz’ shady backroom shenanigans to steal delegates Trump earned honestly through the open ballot box.

Trump supporters have emerged from the woodwork. Induced by a party that ignores them, they don’t appear to want to obey commands from an overconfident leadership. Their new mantra is “No Trump. No Vote.” They have found their champion. Unfortunately for the legacy of Lincoln’s Party, when confronted by a fork in the road, Party leaders took the same old road of consistent, proven, failure. And now, it’s too late to turn back. The Republican Party has crossed its Rubicon, except, in this case, it’s more like the River Styx.

GOP (1854-2016).
May it rest in peace.

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