I have a great deal of respect for Rich Elfers. Each week he voices his opinion regarding controversial issues – exposing himself to criticism and rebuttal. That’s not easy. I applaud Mr. Elfers’ courage who in the Teddy Roosevelt parlance is “a man in the arena.”
Having said that, I must comment on both themes of Mr. Elfers’ latest article, “Republican Party Can Either Broaden Its Base Or Cease To Exist,” published March 17, 2021. First he asserts that Republican efforts to ensure that voting standards align with the Constitution amount to voter suppression and secondly that the Republican party is so unpopular that it must remake itself to survive.
On the first point let me say that the most prescient post election voice I heard was former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. He stated that Trump lost because he was outgamed by Democrats. Time Magazine published an article detailing how that happened. Those games continue. Republicans are playing small ball by attempting to enforce traditional rules of engagement for federal elections while the Democrats are swinging for the fences with H.R. 1 which would profoundly change the rules of the game in their favor. H.R. 1 would be the subject to analyze.
On the second point, let’s analyze how “doomed” the Republican Party is. More than 155 million votes were cast for president in 2020. If a total of 23,000 voters in three states (GA, WI, AZ) had voted for Trump rather than Biden then Trump would still be president. 23,000 is 0.014 percent of the 155 million votes cast. Had that happened, the Georgia senate Republicans would likely have won and the GOP would control the senate 52-48.
That didn’t happen but the point is that the margin of the Republican defeat was infinitesimally small. Republicans did remarkably well in Congressional races, state houses and gubernatorial elections. In any era, the most accurate measure of the political temperature is always the last congressional election – the closest thing to a purely democratic, grass roots vote that we have. In 2020 congressional Democrats received 51.5 percent of the votes, Republicans 48.5 percent.
I’m not sure where Mr. Elfers sees the demise of the Republican Party – I see just the opposite. The party has reinvented itself in the last four years. Look at the youth, diversity and talent of the incoming freshman GOP congress. The ferocity of the current Democrat legislative efforts speak to their realization of likely GOP gains in 2022 and 2024. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The reports of the death of the GOP are greatly exaggerated”.
One last thing. It’s counterproductive to call political opponents names, question their character and integrity (racism, lies, conspiracy, et al) and unwittingly subvert the concept of pluralism that our constitutional republic is built on. I respect those on the left with whom I disagree. I fully understand that our political differences are the result of the variations in human nature and experience that reflect the elegant tapestry of human life. Can we begin to refrain from demeaning one another personally and corporately on the pages of the Courier-Herald? Let’s hope so.