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CUMMINGS: A letter to the GOP

Photo by Brian Georgeson

Photo by Brian Georgeson

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As the nation heads to the polls next week, GOP members must have butterflies, and I can’t imagine they are the good ones we used to get before high school basketball games.

Your party has always been divided but existed as a “sturdy three-legged stool,” balanced by churchgoers, security buffs and those who clamor for less taxation. Issues such as immigration have been debated amongst Republicans, but common ground has almost always been found in the general goal of winning elections.

Tensions heightened as 2016 approached. The anti-Democrat glue that held you together under President Obama became less effective as you set your eyes on the 2016 presidential bid. Establishment republicans clashed with conservative populists and 17 candidates decided to run for the nomination. Elite donors thought Jeb Bush was a sure thing, while the three most popular candidates were professionals who had never before held public office.

Your divided but still functional party was thrown into complete disarray when Donald Trump accepted the nomination in July.

Trump said in 1993 before a House subcommittee that the mafia was running rampant on Native American casinos, making the claim, “They don’t look like Indians to me.” Well, my Republican friends, Donald doesn’t look like a Republican to any of us.

He has gone against Republican orthodoxy on single-payer healthcare, immigration policy, decreased taxation, free trade and Planned Parenthood. His job creation plan resembles President Obama’s, he has been married three times and has fiercely criticized many Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

If your wall-building, “bomb the hell out of them, anti-establishment candidate wins the election next week, we are all in far more trouble than any one person can fathom. If Trump wins, his GOP supporters will cheer, but I fear many of his GOP doubters will be convinced that because he won, he can’t be all that bad. If this happens, I am not sure your party will ever recover.

A Trump victory could very well bring a movement within the Republican party closer and closer toward Trumpism. Traditional GOP beliefs on constitutionalism, smaller government and religion will be replaced with a party aimed at maintaining support from the anxious, formerly dominant white working-class, whose ideas on how to “Make America Great Again” leave out people of varying demographics. Inclusion will be gone and fear mongering will take over. Your party will laugh in the face of political correctness, and the days of immigration may come to a complete halt.

If Trump loses, however, your party will have the opportunity to reemerge, but not without serious reform. Subgroups within your party will each argue that the party should have moved in a different direction. Tea-partiers will claim you didn’t fight Obama hard enough, social conservatives will say your nominee should have been a better role model for traditional family values and establishment Republicans will say you lost the election because you failed to include minorities. It will be a complicated rebuilding process, but the alternative is self-destruction.

The country deserves better than Donald Trump, but so does your party. Bernie Sanders would tell you that “it’s a mess,” and he would be right. If Trump wins, I’m not sure you survive. He has already pitted himself against leadership, and a victory means not only a continuation of Trump support, but increased support from those Republicans still frustrated with your failed promises in Congress.

Trump hijacked your party. He is not one of you. As much as I disagree with Republican ideals, I prefer the old party over a Trump party. Don’t take your party down a path from which you can’t come back.

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