The writer is a Republican politician and former member of Congress from Pennsylvania
From his chaotic early days in power, Donald Trump showed us what kind of president he would be with his obsession with crowd size and his horribly enforced travel ban. I warned of the consequences of its chaos. Endless slurs and slurs, glorification of ignorance, peddling of dangerous conspiracy theories, utter disinterest in public policy and lack of history defined his presidency.
These four years have witnessed large-scale American political chaos and instability. But too many of our leaders and citizens have not recognized this reality publicly. If Wednesday’s crowd on Capitol Hill isn’t enough to convince them, nothing will ever do.
The Republican Party must reflect and accept responsibility for what it has too willingly allowed. Radical groups like QAnon and the Proud boys and other dangerous elements have gained a foothold in Mr. Trump’s GOP. It’s time to drive them away.
The attack on Capitol Hill was a frontal assault on the American constitutional order and the very foundation of our government institutions. By interfering with the certification of the electoral vote and encouraging others to do so, Mr. Trump has committed crimes against the Republic. Trying to steal an election in plain sight won’t help its already shameful legacy.
On the ashes of this week’s events, which include revelations of a presidential phone conversation with reputable Georgia election officials who challenged Mr. Trump’s attempt to illegally overturn a fair election, must come a fresh start for the Republican Party.
The foundation for new leadership has emerged in recent weeks. American representatives Liz cheney and Adam kinzinger and a growing number of senators have mobilized to defend American values. They must now redefine the GOP as a party based on principle and ideals and move away from loyalty to a terribly imperfect man.
Social tolerance, constructive engagement on the international scene, rejection of cronyism, adoption of free markets with reasonable and modern regulations are good starting points. Advancing center-right political solutions on issues outside the GOP’s comfort zone, like climate change and immigration, will send a message of seriousness. Complaining about the far left Democrats is no substitute for a strong program.
It’s time to expand the adult ranks of the Republican Party and take it back from those who continue to embrace lawlessness, nativism, cronyism and this ugly form of populism. The image of a rioter marching through the Capitol carrying the Confederate Battle Flag indelibly stained the national psyche. I have often shown my constituents a bronze plaque next to an oversized bust of Abraham Lincoln located in the Capitol not far from where this flag was displayed. It commemorates military units known as the “First Honorary Defenders,” including the Allen Rifles from my hometown of Pennsylvania. These patriots were the first to respond to Lincoln’s call in 1861 to defend the Capitol from Confederate rebels. Their noble heritage was trampled on Wednesday.
How anyone could support the rejection of certification of the electoral vote after this violent insurgency, with its intention to undermine the peaceful transfer of power and constitutional order, is beyond me.
A political infrastructure must be built to support those leading the reconstruction effort. This struggle will be difficult and will take time. For starters, former President George W Bush, former Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle, and every GOP congressman are to attend Biden’s inauguration as a sign of national unity and reconciliation. A change of leadership in the Republican National Committee and many state committees is expected to follow to remove Trump’s facilitators. None of this will be easy; the RNC chair and co-chair were reelected Friday. Mop service is never fun but necessary.
Mr. Trump cost the GOP the White House, the House of Representatives and now the Senate. Democrats control the levers of power by the thinnest of majorities. This presents an opportunity for the Republican Party not only to block reckless democratic policies, but to engage in good faith bipartisan negotiations to reach deals on cybersecurity, infrastructure, China and more. Gradual progress can be made in a tightly divided Congress.
It’s time to start over, if only to honor Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and the Bushes. These Republican leaders left a legacy of decency and a commitment to the advancement of freedom. Let’s not waste this legacy. The United States needs a healthy GOP more than ever. It’s time to get down to business.