The American Republican Party is in trouble. In 2005 I wrote a book, It’s also my birthday, who warned he was overwhelmed by his more conservative elements. I predicted that this conservative takeover would lead to his ultimate marginalization.
There is no satisfaction in saying “I told you” – but I now suspect that is precisely where the party is heading. Recent polls suggest Republicans could lose the Senate and additional seats in the House of Representatives in November, a sign of the party’s waning electoral appeal. And even if he holds the Senate, the overall Republican registration will continue to decline.
Despite the damage President Donald Trump has inflicted on my party, I still believe our country works best with a two-party system, and I don’t want to see the principles that have long driven Abraham Lincoln’s party disappear. I am proud of the long line of the Grand Old Party which was founded on equality for all Americans.
Mr. Trump has never represented this party. Instead, he fractured her and empowered her most extreme elements. The president affiliated himself, and by extension the party, with far-right extremists before belatedly condemning white supremacists. He destabilized American foreign policy, abandoning our allies and appeasing or even encouraging our enemies. He has abandoned the political beliefs that have long guided the party – going so far as to run on a blank platform at this summer’s convention. It has undermined the very core of the Republican Party and put its existence in jeopardy.
The way forward for the GOP depends on the reversal of growing extremism exemplified by Mr. Trump’s presidency.
The Republican Party must build a broad and inclusive coalition that represents the diversity of the American experience. If we don’t, we will quickly become irrelevant in American politics. But above all, if we don’t build this coalition, we will have lost sight of what our nation stands for, a country founded on the promise of inclusiveness: Among many, a – among many, one.
The principles of this inclusive conservative party must be based on respect for the American constitution, respect for the rule of law and equality for all, regardless of race or class. Security at home and abroad, balanced budgets, respect for our common environment and a committed foreign policy should all be at the forefront of our party’s agenda. If the Republican Party embraces this inclusive platform, there will be a seat at the table for a wide range of Americans – and the party will have an electoral future.
Make no mistake: the outcome of this election will not only decide the presidency, it will also determine whether the Republican Party can survive. If Mr. Trump wins re-election, then the party is his and his extreme views will continue to guide policy. With a Trump White House for the next four years, we will find ourselves increasingly isolated, abandoned by our allies and duped by those who have never been our friends.
The center of global leadership will continue to change, as China and Russia rush to fill the void left by the Trump administration’s lack of coherent foreign policy. We will see the continued decline in environmental regulations, which will endanger the health of our citizens. The GOP will be transferred to the control of a bully who is not, and never has been, a Republican. In short, the party will be dead by 2024.
If Joe Biden wins in a close race next month, Mr. Trump will fight tooth and nail to stay in power. He will lay all kinds of baseless accusations of electoral fraud in the hope that the results will be considered by the Supreme Court, perhaps with his new judge able to tip the results in his favor.
A protracted battle over election results will also mean a divisive fight within the GOP. Some could pull out altogether, creating a third made up of dissident Republicans who chose to back Mr. Biden in November for the sake of our democracy. Plagued by internal disagreements and a tarnished reputation, the Republican Party will lose its political influence for a time, leaving the electoral field to the Democrats for at least a decade.
If Mr. Biden’s victory is strong enough that even Congressional Republicans concede defeat of Mr. Trump, the Trump wing of the party will become the outlier. Under a Biden presidency, the GOP will have at least four years of a president who will work to bring people together and provide the stability we need to move forward. The focus will then be on what kind of responsible and conservative party we want to be. This is one of the reasons, beyond the fact that I think Mr. Biden is an honest man who will put the interests of the country first, why I am leading the Republicans and Independents group for Biden.
The Republican Party has a choice to make. It is naïve to imagine that its members can continue to move endlessly to the right without losing the American vote and ultimately reducing the influence of the party. The only way forward is a return to the principles of moderate republicanism, supported by a broad coalition of Americans. This election could be the starting point for a more inclusive Republican Party, if we elect Mr. Biden with a margin that prevents Mr. Trump from challenging the results. Paradoxically, the election of the Democratic candidate will be the path to the big tent that the GOP must become.