On Wednesday, Jan. 6, President Donald Trump violated his oath to protect and defend the Constitution by fomenting an insurrection against Congress. This event broke the Republican party into two camps: those who believe in the Republican party as a whole and those who believe solely in Trump’s leadership. As Trump leaves office in wake of this terrible event, the Republican party needs to come together and rebuild its identity.
Many pragmatic Republicans have stayed quiet through Trump’s administration. With their silence, they have allowed him to spread disinformation and condone violence.
Months prior to the 2020 election, Trump instigated doubts over the electoral process. An ABC News article titled “A step-by-step look at Trump's falsehoods on mail-in voting: Analysis” explains how Trump repeatedly, “in front of millions during the prime-time debate...posited a doomsday scenario with wide-scale fraud, because of the expected increase in mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
During his four years as president, Trump has also been lenient toward white supremacist organizations. After a demonstration in August of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia by neo-Nazis and KKK members, Trump claimed there were “some very fine people on both sides,” according to The Atlantic’s “Trump Defends White-Nationalist Protesters: 'Some Very Fine People on Both Sides.'” Trump is also known to pressure government officials to get his way. A tape released on Monday, Jan. 4, documents Trump pressuring Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to overturn the election. "I just want to find 11,780 votes," he said in the tapes.
Finally, Trump endorsed the recent attack on Capitol Hill.
In one of his first Tweets after the event, Trump celebrated the attackers by saying:
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
With these actions and endorsements of terror, Trump and his radical followers have separated themselves from the Grand Old Party (GOP). Now, the Republican party decides who it is and what it will be.
According to the Washington Post and other news sources, 147 Republicans in Congress voted against the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. That is roughly 27% of the Republicans who had been crouching in safe rooms with gas masks just hours before the vote. However, there are other Republicans who have stood up to say “enough is enough.”
According to PBS, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said the actions of the mob were “due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.” Romney has a history of speaking out against the president, but this time he was not alone. AP News published that, “Trump appears to have lost some of his strongest allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC). Two Cabinet members and at least a half dozen aides have resigned. A handful of congressional Republicans are openly considering whether to join a renewed push for impeachment.”
Distance from Trump is not the only action the Republican Party should take. Now is the time to reclaim the Republican Party. It is time to support policies based on political beliefs instead of fear. It is time to treat our nation as people rather than parties.
I am not calling for Republicans to be Democrats. I am calling for Republicans to step away from Trump’s cult of personality and rebuild the GOP. Leaders should seek inspiration from the likes of Sen. Mitt Romney and the late Sen. John McCain who have demonstrated strong Republican ideals and acted upon them with compassion, empathy, and bipartisanship in the interests of a great nation, not just the betterment of a party.