Thanks to recent events, cogitation about the future of the Republican Party is now a growth industry bursting at the seams. How Trumpy will the party remain now that the Trump brand wafts the stench of insurrection? What political price will be paid by the stop-the-steal dead-enders in Congress who even after the mayhem of January 6 still wanted to disenfranchise voters and torpedo a legitimate election? How long will seditionist Republicans be incarcerated in the corporate campaign finance doghouse? Is there someone available to check on Mike Pence to see if he has a pulse?

Donald Trump in a cabinet meeting at the White House July 16, 2019. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

These are lovely questions that have the pundit-industrial complex spilling barrels of ink (or sparking acres of pixels, if you like), and the coming battle for political gravity in the GOP will surely be entertaining—albeit perhaps in the way that the “Saw” movies are entertaining. Count me fully in for the sport and spectacle of it, but not today. What I’m thinking about today is not the future of the GOP as a party, but the future of individual Republicans as self-respecting humans.

If you self-identify politically as a Republican, or regard yourself as a Republican leaner (as the pollsters say), I have five questions for you.

[1] Your party of choice subscribes to corruption as a legitimate way to govern. Do you? Trump and acolytes have spent four years openly and defiantly practicing numerous variations of the arts and sciences of graft and self-dealing in full view. The obvious ones like conflicts of interest, emoluments, and Hatch Act violations only scratch the surface. All parties cope with acute bouts with corruption within their ranks from time to time, but your Republican party, by doing nothing to rein any of it in these last four years, and I do mean literally absolutely nothing, has made it part and parcel of the GOP brand. This is your party.

 [2] Your party stands firmly for ignorance and devalues education. Do you? GOP rejection of science is not just a Democratic talking point. It’s an actual thing, and it’s not just rabid backbenchers; several of the party’s most prominent Congressional mouthpieces think climate science is for chumps. COVID-19 denialism is measured in coffins. In its complicity with Trumpian populism, your party stokes resentment against intellect and loathing for the country’s great colleges and universities. It has become fashionable in the GOP to regard educational achievement with scorn, and to dismiss expertise as elitist. This is your party. 

Your party not only tolerates, but actually welcomes outright lying as a basic philosophy of governing.Your party is both casually and institutionally racist. An unhinged GOP pretended the pandemic didn’t exist.

[3] Your party is both casually and institutionally racist. Are you? Reasonable people can disagree on policy choices around issues having implications for race, such as affirmative action and criminal justice reform. But your party comes at those issues not on policy grounds but as an extension of widely shared racist beliefs. In a stunning poll finding in 2020, more Republicans thought whites face “a lot of discrimination” than the number that believed Blacks do. Your party thinks that racial discrimination is not an actual thing, and in keeping with my earlier point about willful ignorance, dismisses the study of systemic racism as a Marxist plot. This is your party.

[4] Your party not only tolerates, but actually welcomes outright lying as a basic philosophy of governing. Do you? Putting aside (if it’s possible) the endless river of mendacity that has gushed from the orange man’s own piehole, Trumpworld has regaled us with a four-year cavalcade of fabulists, fibbers, fabricators, falsifiers, and other synonymous sycophants doing his bidding for public consumption. Rather than call them on it, your party’s consistently silent and cheerful embrace celebrates made-up bullshit as a legitimate basis for leadership. This is your party.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the Oval Office of the White House on Oct. 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the Oval Office of the White House on Oct. 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 [5] Your party unabashedly stakes its future on the idea that fewer rather than more people should vote. Do you? Reasonable people can disagree about specific policies addressing election methods. But only a party that is hostile to democracy stakes out on these issues – every time – the position that disenfranchises as many people as possible who are likely to vote for your opponents. In 2020’s post-election dust-ups in battleground states a sane GOP would have said something like this: “Courts allowed some accommodations so that few would lose the opportunity to vote during a pandemic, so let’s make sure they worked properly without compromising ballot security and election integrity.” An unhinged GOP – the one you associate with – pretended the pandemic didn’t exist, screamed “fraudulent” and “unconstitutional,” and without a scintilla of evidence or legal validation made every effort to discard the votes of millions. This is your party.

So, dear Republican reader, this is your GOP: a party without a governing platform (literally – there is no current national platform) that proudly and demonstrably stands for corruption, ignorance, racism, deception, and disenfranchisement. Perhaps you’ll be tempted to dismiss this interrogation with an insouciant “well that was Trump, not us, and so now we take off the gas mask and inhale some normalcy.” Resist the temptation. You weren’t just a bystander in the store when he broke it; you came in with him, you put the thing in his hand, and you watched with silent approval as he threw it against the wall. You own it too, and the stench that goes with it.