Along with all the other havoc he has brought into American politics, Mr. Trump’s squishy, smarmy performance recently at the Helsinki Summit with Mr. Putin, may just have signaled the death knell of the Republican Party in the USA. Though most of us may believe they are, political parties in this country are not forever. For the Republicans, the 2018 midterms and the subsequent 2020 presidential election will tell the tale.
In 1816, one of this country’s first political parties (actually, a political club or faction, but regularly called the first American political party by historians), the Federalist Party, whose fundamental assets had included George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, ceased to exist. The emerging sovereign nation of the USA was at fierce war with England (this is the time that English troops, not Canadian troops, burned the White House to the ground).
Just before and during the War of 1812, as it was called (more properly, it should be called the War of 1815), the Federalists as a group, put out unrelenting public comments opposing the War, and arguing for a rapprochement with England. The Federalists even had a Hartford Convention in New England which laid out their position including the idea that the USA was too weak this early in its nationhood to physically tackle the British, then the preeminent military power on the planet.
The Battle of New Orleans in 1815, which made General Andrew Jackson a household name, resoundingly defeated the British on land, and along with John Paul Jones’ success against the British navy, then thought to be unbeatable, the Americans bettered the British overwhelmingly. African American soldiers played a major part in these events, but that’s another story. The point is, this was the time when USA patriotism was at its zenith. The USA had won, hallelujah !!!!
The Federalists’ timing was awful, and the party become associated with anti-American sentiments and pro-English proclivities. In the presidential election of 1816, the Federalists were soundly defeated, and essentially discredited as a viable political party. A few years later, the Federalists were replaced by the Whig Party as the new competitors to what became the Democratic Party. Essentially because of the slavery issue, the Whigs too disintegrated by the 1850’s and the Republican Party was born as America’s long-term competitor with the Democrats.
This country has not really been kind to political interests which advocated USA subservience to England or any other country. Mr. Trump pathetically performed his role as leader of the strongest country in the world while standing next to Russia’s Mr. Putin, in spite of how Mr. Trump tried to explain it away in the following days. ‘Don’t believe what you saw, I was strong and decisive with Putin.’ Many other commentators have called Mr. Trump’s behavior treasonous, embarrassing, and weak. Newspaper headlines from many parts of the world called Trump ‘Putin’s Poodle,’ ‘Putin’s Puppet,’ and ‘Putin’s Doormat’ among other niceties (it got a lot worse than those names).
Mr. Trump has just associated the Republican Party with ‘sleeping with the enemy.’ The Republicans, all through the Cold War have been virulently anti-Russia and anti-Communist. Now, under Mr. Trump, they are not. This is not a good look.
By or before the 2020 presidential election, the GOP may be out of business. If the Mueller Probe clearly demonstrates the collusion/conspiracy of the NRA with the Russian hack-attack on this country, and with other members of the Republican Party (including congressional candidates) also conspiring/colluding with the Russians, the GOP may follow the lead of the old Federalists.
There’ll be a party on their grave if that indeed happens.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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