Throughout American history, several political parties have come and gone, from the Whigs to the Federalists and even the American Party, mockingly called the Know-Nothing Party. For most of our history, the country saw multiple parties operating at the same time.
Our country’s founding fathers, though, did not like parties. When George Washington retired from public life in 1796, he warned against “faction” in politics. James Madison, our fourth President, thought parties were probably necessary, but he didn’t entirely approve of them. Alexander Hamilton, a staunch supporter of a strong federal government, thought that political factions were a vice to be guarded against at all times. And Thomas Jefferson declared in 1789 that, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”
Most of the old parties morphed into new parties as their constituencies changed, or merged into stronger parties after major national events, including after the Civil War and the Great Depression.
Since the 1930s, the US has experienced a somewhat stable political system with only two parties; Democrats and Republicans.
Generally, the Democrats have represented a liberal view that included progressive policies toward social programs, free trade, and equal rights. Republicans have embraced a more conservative platform of lower taxes, strong national defense, and a smaller government.
During and since Ronald Reagan’s two terms as President during the 1980s, Republicans have doggedly espoused a philosophy of lowering the national debt, support of a stronger and larger military, and conservative social policies against gay marriage, abortion, and immigration.
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 seems to have marked a dramatic turning-point in the fight between the two parties, setting off what has now become a life-threatening fight for the soul of the once Grand Ol’ Party.
After Obama’s historic win to become the first person of color to be President of the United States, Republicans set out to do whatever it took to deny him any victories at any cost.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously said his number one priority was to make Obama a one term president.
In the following election cycle in 2010, Republicans enlisted the help of fringe Tea Party candidates. For the most part, Tea Partyers were anti-establishment and far more partisan than old traditional Republicans.
With the success of the Tea Party movement, the GOP gained 63 seats in Congress, but the Tea Party campaigns had moved the Republicans farther to the right on the political spectrum.
Since then, traditional Republicans have faced more opposition from within their party than from across the aisle. Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned under pressure from the right, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost a primary fight from a conservative Tea Party opponent.
New House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have had to balance increasingly extreme positions within their own caucas.
Then came Donald Trump. His anti-everyone campaign against the establishment upended everything traditional Republicans stood for. When he won against all odds and without the support of most establishment Republicans, the GOP lost control of its legacy.
So far this year, Trump’s slash and burn style has not resulted in any meaningful legislative victories. His signature promise to end Obamacare fell short of passing. His promise to bring jobs back from overseas has not materialized. And his latest attempt to pass real tax reform has turned into a model of partisan backroom dealing reminiscent of the swamp he promised to drain.
The House passed a reform package last month that included tax cuts mostly for the richest of American, corporations, and businesses. Most non-partisan estimates predict middle-class families could actually see their taxes increase over the next ten years under the plan.
This week, the Senate passed its version of the tax cuts that mostly mirrored the House bill, still making most of the cuts apply only to the highest earners.
Tax cuts for the rich is a staple of Republican plans. Every time they are in power, they rush to cut taxes on the rich with the promise that the benefits will trickle down to the average American.
Study after study has shown that similar tax cuts in the past resulted in higher budget deficits and ballooned the national debt. No tax cut has ever paid for itself.
And this latest proposal could be the worst one yet for Republicans. By their own estimates, their tax reform plan would result in an increase in our national debt of nearly $1.5 trillion dollars.
That’s basically borrowing against our futures to pay for tax cuts for the richest Americans now.
Tax cuts are laudable to spur the economy in times of sluggish growth. But today we are facing a historic stock market value, unprecedented corporate profits, and near record low unemployment.
Our economy has grown for eight straight years without exception, so what is the rush to cut taxes and create enormous debt for our children?
There is no economic argument for lowering the taxes on wealth individuals instead of investing in better educational opportunists, job training, and health care for our children, and to repair our crumbling infrastructure.
Leaving more debt and a broken country to our children is not the American way, and it isn’t consistent with the Republican platform of Ronald Reagan’s party.
Republicans and Trump are desperate for a win, not to make America great again, but to pander to their biggest donors.
They have sold their souls and abandoned their principles, and may have marked the end of the Republican Party as we knew it.
Tax reform to help middle class Americans, and those aspiring to join the middle class, could transform people’s lives.
Giving more money to the rich at the expense, literally, of our children is highway robbery.
Shame on Republicans for disguising the theft of money from kids as a political victory.
The Republican Party is a mere shadow of its former self. Maybe soon, it too will join other has-been parties in the trash bin of history.