For Republicans, the skies are scarcely big enough to hold the darkness before them. They have lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Their president has been impeached for a second time, and faces the likelihood of an impeachment trial in the Senate. It was this same president who incited the mob that stormed the nation’s Capitol, giving the world a troubling picture of just who the president’s followers are. And it was this president and Congressional Republicans who bear responsibility for how the nation has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, arguably one of the biggest disasters of the last century.
When things go this astray the first thought for Republicans might be, hmmm, this hasn’t worked out so well, how can we change?
But economists with a sense of history will tell you it most often doesn’t work that way, that poor performance is not something that self-corrects. When stress is at its peak is when those feeling the stress are most likely to double down on the very things that put their existence in peril.
The history of communism in Russia is used as an example. Communism didn’t end in the 1920s and 1930s when millions of Russians died of starvation under Stalin. It didn’t end as the losses from the failed experiment continued to mount up for the next half century. Those in power blamed their circumstances on the lingering remnants of capitalism and the followers believed. Failures prompted the leadership to become even more radical. Things that didn’t work were just repeated only on a larger scale. For decades.
The break in the Soviet “condition” was Mikhail Gorbachev, that once-in -a-lifetime leader who happened to be the right person, in the right place at the right time. He changed the face of his country and communism.
The same parallels can be drawn with the Republicans and President Trump. Republican senators have the opportunity to say he cannot run for election ever again. In so doing, they would be ridding their party of a political albatross. If it were ruled that he could never again run for office then perhaps his party could separate itself from someone who leaves office a deeply unpopular figure. Republicans could remake themselves, which they need to do if they are to remain a viable party.
If it were up to Republicans like Vermont’s Gov. Phil Scott, then, yes. There is every likelihood that Mr. Scott will be heard urging Republican senators in Washington to do all that is within their power to rid themselves of Mr. Trump and his ruinous legacy.
But with history as a guide, the odds of Mr. Trump being convicted in the Senate are low. If they were able to rule that he should be ineligible to run again, it would be tested before the Supreme Court. The odds are low because the party’s depression and disarray is pulling them further down the rabbit’s hole. It’s the depression and disarray that gives rise to Ted Cruz, R- Tex, and Josh Hawley, R. Mo.; it’s another rendition of Lenin’s slogan, “The worse, the better.” At least for them.
It’s the Phil Scotts of the Republican Party who can act as the brake to prevent the Republican Party from cratering into oblivion and to figure out ways to reinvent itself apart from Mr. Trump and his Capitol-destroying mobsters. Are there enough Phil Scotts to do with Republicans what Mr. Gorbachev did for communism in the Soviet Union? We’ll see.
by Emerson Lynn