The answer is in sight: It’s called the Democratic Party
The July 25 op-ed “It’s up to Gen Z to chart a new vision for the GOP” caught my attention. For the life of me, I can’t infer the Republican Party’s current vision. I might have answered “fiscal prudence,” but 2018′s deficit-ballooning tax cut belies any such belief. I guess that lavishing tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy constitutes a vision of sorts.
One must wade deep into the piece to find the first allusion to a vision: “limited, sensible government.” Fair enough — that aligns with notorious conservative Grover Norquist’s famous quip, “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
Reading on, one encounters three more planks of the Gen Z GOP group, though they appear to be lifted from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s platform: addressing climate change, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, valuing immigrants, and believing in facts.
Gen Z, you don’t need to swing the GOP supertanker the necessary 180 degrees to find these values. The Democratic Party already has them on offer. Join us; your ship’s come in.
Just what are the ‘sound principles’ of the Republican Party?
Unlike the authors in search of a “Gen Z GOP,” this former high school Goldwater Republican is old enough to remember Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy, Ronald Reagan’s 1980 dog-whistles, George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign ads, Newt Gingrich and his acolytes’ decades-long demonization of opponents, and Grover Norquist’s quest to drown government in a bathtub. In that context, Donald Trump is not an aberration within a party of “sound principles,” as the authors hope. He is the apotheosis of a party that long ago “sacrificed its values” while “embracing the tribalism that confuses political opponents with personal foes.”
What is to be gained by fighting within a Republican Party that has sold its soul? As much as I respect the authors’ desire to reform the GOP, I fear that those who obtain power or profit from the party’s devolution will subvert their idealism. Those who gain from GOP power will use these authors’ principles as they used the ideas of today’s Never-Trump Republicans before 2016: as intellectual cover for making divisive strategies less obvious while maintaining policies that these authors so rightly decry.
Kudos to the group “gen z gop” for recognizing that Donald Trump’s GOP does not represent their values. It’s encouraging to see that they accept the science behind global warming, and that they believe LGBTQ+ people should be free from discrimination.
That said, I’d be curious to know which Republican policies they do support. Would it be tax policy that favors the wealthy? Maybe the rollback of environmental protections, or could it be the denial of women’s reproductive rights? Perhaps it’s the fight against universal health care, or fair wages, or addressing the immigration limbo of our DACA neighbors. Could it be unyielding support of Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist Senate leadership, or the erosion of the separation of church and state? Opposition to any sensible gun control? Which of these “sound principles” will be the foundation of your reimagined Republican Party?
Maybe it’s not about policies at all. Sure, you’re not too happy with Trump (especially now that he might take the Grand Old Party down with him), but the rest of the Republican leadership that’s looked the other way for the past three and a half years you can live with, as long as they support — wait, which policies would those be?
It’s past time to welcome open and civil debate
As a boomer, a veteran, a conservative, and a former Republican, I applaud the young people who wrote “It’s up to Gen Z to chart a new vision for the GOP.” Kudos to them in recognizing the many abject failures of the current GOP leadership. I would be happy to rejoin a GOP run by their generation and espousing the principles they outlined.
Democrats are not the enemy; they are the loyal opposition. It is well past time to have open, principled, and civil discussions with those who hold opposing points of view. No more name-calling, no more refusing to compromise, no more GOP leadership such as Senator Mitch McConnell stating, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” and no more cult-like adulation of an incompetent and corrupt president just because he says he is a Republican.
The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.
The authors of this op-ed said a lot of good things, but nothing more important than their refutation of “tribalism that confuses political opponents with personal foes.” America faces multiple monumental problems today, from the immediacy of the COVID-19 pandemic to the accelerating destruction of climate change to the persistent scourges of racism and anti-Semitism. Indeed, we must realize that none of us is perfect, that none of us has all the answers, and that progress will depend on listening respectfully to others and compromising.
As the authors suggest, the key first step is to accept that those who may disagree with us are not our enemies. When we collectively acknowledge the wisdom of this insight, we will greatly improve our odds of overcoming the historic challenges facing us.
Step 1: Don’t overlook women
Voicing their vision for a new and better GOP and the need to rethink the principles of the party as they launch “gen z gop” was impressive. While four males — Mike Brodo, Ryan Doucette, Samuel Garber, and John Olds — wrote this excellent op-ed, they will need to be inclusive of females not only in the end result but in the planning process in order to be fully successful.
Mary Frances Connors