Republican Party Needs to Move on From Trump and Decide What it Stands for
COMMENTARY

February 2, 2021 by Rachel Marsden
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Donald Trump destabilized the Republican Party, and it’s still stumbling around like it’s punch-drunk. The GOP needs to get its act together fast or risk handing the Democrats free rein to change the face of America.

President Joe Biden wasted no time issuing numerous executive orders in his first few days in office. He canceled the Keystone XL energy project with Canada, long seen as synonymous with North American energy independence. He rejoined the Paris climate accord. But is now really the time? The move could add compliance cost burdens to a U.S. economy already struggling with a pandemic. Biden even officially ordered that climate change be considered essential to American national security and foreign policy, as if those sectors don’t already present enough challenges to his administration without adding emission-reduction debates to the mix.

National security challenges facing the Biden administration include the normalization of relations with Iran, Russia and China. The U.S. needs to find a way to dialogue, negotiate, trade and cooperate with these countries in the long term without resorting to threats, sanctions and hysteria every time there’s a conflict of interests. It will be a Herculean challenge for Biden’s team to find a balance with these nations that can persist in the long term, far beyond Biden’s own presidential mandate. Why muddy the waters with climate change?

Another Biden executive order, while short on details, seems like it could block the federal funding of schools that prohibit transgender student-athletes born as biological males from competing in girls’ sports. That seems pretty radical.

While Biden himself is far from a radical, his agenda is prone to the push and pull of forces from within his own party and from the opposition. As it currently stands, with the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, there’s little or no pushback against the squeaky progressive wheels that have latched on to the Biden train.

While the Democratic left is beating the drums of its progressive agenda, what has the Republican Party been doing? GOP officials are mostly still busy defending former President Donald Trump as he faces a new impeachment trial in the Senate in a few days. They’re railing against fellow Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who voted along with nine other House Republicans to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” related to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

So basically, the GOP now appears more interested in engaging in a petty internal civil war for party supremacy over the legacy of a departed president than in focusing on the best way to move forward in defense of issues that actually matter to Republicans. What happened to standing up and fighting for the free market and limited government? Is that just too boring now in the age of the 10-second social media attention span?

It’s as if the GOP is more interested in propagandizing with outrageous claims that play to extremists and to the hysterics of the internet than in putting in the more mundane efforts required to redefine the party as effective opposition to Biden.

Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, said a few days ago: “I am also growing increasingly concerned over the past two weeks of a pattern among Biden administration nominees of consistently moving towards and embracing the Chinese Communist Party.”

The Cruz remark is an example of how Republicans have completely lost their way as effective opponents to the Democrats’ agenda. It’s not necessary to spew this kind of unfounded insanity when there’s already an entire list of Biden executive orders to critique.

A big part of the GOP’s problem is that so many of its elected representatives are playing to what they perceive to be the Republican base. They live in a funhouse full of distorted mirrors that mistakenly cause them to conflate the tens of millions of Republicans in America with a minuscule faction of loudmouths who squat on social media and the cable news airwaves. If the GOP needs any more of an indication that the average Republican is turned off by the folks to whom the party is pandering, it only needs to look at the last couple of months of plummeting Fox News ratings to realize that this kind of disconnected rhetoric is finally taking a hit.

If Republicans don’t get their act together in short order and concoct a vision for America that can counter the agenda that the far left is foisting on the Biden administration, they risk losing the confidence of their own party’s quiet majority.

©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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