From Lincoln to Trump: Republican Party is dead

Republican anger is the fuel that propels Donald Trump’s candidacy and the death of the Republican Party.
Republican anger is the fuel that propels Donald Trump’s candidacy and the death of the Republican Party. AP

It's time for truth telling. After a run lasting 150 years, the Republican Party is dead. Its demise can be grasped in six words, from Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump.

When Donald Trump began his run for the Presidency last year few paid attention, including the Republican Party's hierarchy. They considered his candidacy a joke. Even as the size of the crowds that thronged to hear him speak grew, the GOP elders scoffed and belittled Trump. Their confidence in their cataclysmic blunder shines a bright light on how far out of touch they have become.

Today Trump is on his way to the nomination in Cleveland this July. He basically ran the table in the Super Tuesday primaries. There is every good reason to believe he will slam the door shut on his Republican rivals, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, in the two winner-take-all primaries in Florida and Ohio on March 15.

Beware the Ides of March! Turns out that Trump is Shakespeare's modern day Soothsayer. And the Republican Party is Julius Caesar – soon to die.

I first smelled this GOP “Peasant Revolt” coming at a church dinner the Wednesday night before the presidential election in 2008. With the election only six days away one of the individuals at my table said confidently, “John McCain's going to win in a landslide.” Another chimed in, “Obama’s not an American.” A third said,“And he’s a Muslim.” My wife kicked me under the table. Her kick said, “Don’t open your mouth, stupid. It’s hopeless.” I complied and didn't say, “You're all wrong.” Six days later Barack Obama won in an electoral landslide.

That barely concealed Republican fury in 2008, which has been festering ever since, is now out in the open. Donald Trump has legitimized it. It's the fuel that propels his candidacy, his inevitable nomination, his defeat in November and the death of the Republican Party.

One of the clear markers indicating that this nation is in severe trouble is our penchant to not take responsibility for failure, but rather to assume victim status and point the finger of blame at others. That is precisely what many in the GOP grassroots and positions of power will do when the Republican tent collapses on them.

But the GOP collapse can have a useful purpose not just for conservatives but also for healthy political discourse and, more importantly, for effective governance going forward.

Everybody knows Washington is hopelessly broken. Most Americans know that the blame for the breakdown rests at the feet of both political parties and their grassroots. Most of us know that neither party is able or willing to take the steps or run the risks attendant to repairing the damage.

So long as we have a Republican party shackled to the notion of dismantling the federal government and a Democratic Party shackled to the government's unbridled growth, we will remain locked in an unwinnable zero sum game. The Obama presidency proves that point. Swapping out Obama for Hillary will change that not at all.

But out of the ashes of the fire that will soon destroy the GOP it is possible that there might emerge a movement that not only reconstitutes the building blocks that created the Republican Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan, but also one that sees the necessity for and knows how to reach out to millions of Hispanic and African-Americans whose values are no different than those of Abraham Lincoln and those who followed in his footsteps. That would change everything.

But first, we need a corpse.

LeRoy Goldman worked on Capitol Hill and at the National Institutes of Health. He has retired to Flat Rock and can be reached at