Getting older has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that having lived a long life, you’ve had an opportunity to see changes in the world around you, and you can pass your observations on to anyone willing to listen. One of the disadvantages is that even if you have some brilliant thoughts, members of the current generation think they know more than you and will reject your thinking out of hand.
For my entire life, I’ve believed that bipartisanship is the only way we can get things done. I can point to hundreds of changes in our federal and state laws that wouldn’t have happened without the willingness of the two parties to sit down and collaborate on many contentious issue. But with each passing day I become more disturbed about what has happened to the Republican Party, and by its inability to reform itself before it is eaten alive by people with the worst possible way of thinking.
The current party is best described as whatever former President Donald Trump thinks it is. He calls it the MAGA party, but it’s really the Trump party. He supports candidates who embrace his philosophy and rejects anyone who dares to challenge his thinking. Established politicians who were once the bedrock of the party are afraid to cross him on any issue for fear that his followers will turn on them.
I know there are a lot of good Republicans serving in the current Congress, but if you did a Washington name recognition test, the majority of party members would recognize only two prominent names. One is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known for outlandish and clueless statements. The other is Liz Chaney, who warned America about the perils of being a Trump supporter and has paid a price for it.
Until Trump came along, it had been a long time since the Republican Party had been saddled with anyone whose name alone was bad news for the party. I can think back to the days of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, followed by President Richard Nixon, and remember how they damaged the image of the party. But neither McCarthy nor Nixon was able to dominate the party’s thinking like Trump. He has established a stranglehold on the entire institution and has wiped out its great history, dating back to Abraham Lincoln.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.