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The GOP is MIA

The Grand Old Party hasn't died, but it's certainly gone missing. Occasional sightings have occurred over the last few years, but politically speaking, the GOP (traditionally understood) is on the endangered species list. It seems that only a handful of GOPartiers are left in the wild. Its fate is uncertain.

It has become clearer and clearer to an ever-increasing number of Americans that the Republican Party -- the party of Abraham Lincoln -- has not only lost its way, but has lost its soul. And to anyone paying close attention, perhaps the most frightening aspect of this collective descent into madness is how easily so many GOP'ers are apparently willing to dispense with democracy altogether in favor, ostensibly, of a one-party system. We have a word for such a beast: authoritarian, which is a system of governing that, taken to its logical conclusion, almost always becomes totalitarian. Such systems (regimes, really) always traffic in human and institutional abuses, from gulags and ghettos to a gagged press and silenced dissent. Notable countries that practice such a form of government are Russia, China, and N. Korea (the leaders of at least two of whom are people Donald Trump admires). And this from the party that supposedly venerates patriotism.

Chants of "USA! USA!" and "Lock him/her up!" are common in rallies that support this authoritarian style of American governance, and the rest of us can only hope that it's either a political fad that will fade in time or, at worst, a bizarre social experiment gone terribly, terribly wrong, and which will eventually collapse under the weight of its own abhorrent folly.

That we actually find ourselves as Americans in such a precarious position speaks to the precarious nature of democracy: it is fragile and exists merely at the behest of the electorate and on a razor's edge of political consensus. Such an existence is nothing more and nothing less than the mutual preference of all political parties to lose fairly rather than win deceitfully. If winning becomes the goal at all costs, and demonizing your opponent is the preferred method of engagement, and enough people buy into such an arrangement, then democracy dies and the legacy of the great American experiment dies with it.

At that point, some other beast will rear its ugly head, because not only will the GOP be missing in action, but the America our ancestors fought and died for, and which we've come to live in and love for over two centuries (and, it seems, lately, taken for granted) will have become extinct. May it never come to that, of course. After all, how could it? But who are we kidding? Half the country bought into the repeated lies (on record, verified repeatedly, in credible sources on all sides, from the Supreme courts to local news outlets) of our former president, and if they believed him, won't they believe anything?

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