Truth Matters in Politics: a Viable Republican Future

Liz Cheney has been the recipient of much wrath from the Trumpism wing of the Republican party when she courageously asserted that “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning the democratic system.”

Before elaborating on the significance of this bold statement, let me emphatically assert my agreement with the assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump is indeed a “big lie.” There is absolutely no credible evidence of significant voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election. All claims to such fraudulence have been rejected by members of the judiciary. This makes me thankful that America’s Founding Fathers had the wisdom to establish a tripartite system of governance, with appropriate checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, intended to prevent a president, like Donald Trump, committed to establishing autocratic rule by the Executive branch, from establishing such autocratic rule.

The truth is that, despite some minor glitches that are unavoidable in any large-scale election, the 2020 presidential election was eminently fair, thanks to the faithful discharge of their duties on the part of state election officials, both Republicans and Democrats.

As an aside, the most pernicious aspect of many recent state legislative initiatives to modify state electoral procedures is the transfer of responsibility for ensuring the fairness of elections from these trustworthy election officials to state legislatures.

As the Republican party struggles with defining its future, the tension is between adhering to the truth or embracing a “big lie” for the purpose of gaining legislative power. As Frida Ghitis puts it, the current debate within the Republican party is one “between plain truth and deliberative lies propagated by self-serving politicians at the expense of their country’s democracy.”

The nature of this tension is made clear by the disagreements between Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy as to how the Republican party should move into the future, which makes clear that there are two alternative ways for the Republican party to proceed: McCarthy asks Republicans to “compromise truth for power”; Cheney asks Republications to “sacrifice power for the sake of truth.” Let me elaborate.

I believe that May 12, 2021 will go down in history as a low point in the history of the Republican party; the day that Liz Cheney was removed from her leadership position with the National Republican Congressional Committee because she spoke the truth about the 2020 presidential election: It was not stolen by Joe Biden.

The main culprit is Kevin McCarthy who views embracing the “big lie” as a means to regain political power in the mid-term elections in 2022, with him sitting at the top of this power structure as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. The overwhelming evidence suggests that that the primary motivation that drives McCarthy is a lust for power. This has led him to first say that President Trump bore responsibility for the insurrection on January 6 and say later that Trump did not incite the violence. He can’t have it both ways. One of these assertions is a lie. And anyone who lies to maintain and increase his power has lost all credibility.

McCarthy has also suggested that embracing the “big lie” is a means to obtain “unity” within the Republican party. But any attempt to build unity around a lie is doomed to failure in the long-run, as long as our tripartite system of governance is sustained (And the manner is which our judicial branch of governance withstood the “big lie” from Donald Trump is encouraging).

Before presenting an alternative vision for a Republican future, here are my major criticisms of the Trumpian vision summarized above. First, by focusing exclusively on gaining and retaining power, Trumpian Republicans evidence little concern for fostering the well-being of their constituents. As a result, their politics is strictly oppositional, focusing on grievances and their fear of losing a position of privilege in America. As a result, their policy positions are mostly negative, dealing with what they are against in the Democratic agenda. They present a meager positive agenda designed to improve the lives of those who elected them to office.

My second criticism flows from my Christian faith commitment. Simply put, from a Christian perspective, a perceived “good end” (regaining political power In 2022) never justifies an “evil means” (lying) to attempt to accomplish that end. As unrealistic as it sounds, Romans 12:21 teaches that evil is to be overcome with good. Therefore, if Republicans believe that the Democratic political agenda is “evil,” embracing the “big lie” is not an acceptable option for overcoming that evil. And, for those readers who believe that such evil means can be justified by the “good end” of regaining political power in 2022, I note my belief that such a short-term gain will eventually lead to long-term disaster for the Republican party, because, in the long-run, faithfulness to our tripartite form of democracy will ensure that truth, not lies, prevail.

Is there an alternative for a Republican future that rejects the “big lie” that is at the core of a Trumpian vision for a Republican future? A small group of Republican politicians, including Adam Kinzinger, Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney advocate for such an alternative Republican future; one that refuses to sacrifice truth and embraces classical conservative Republican principles as an alternative to the agenda of the prevailing Trumpian Republican agenda, which rejects these classical conservative Republican principles. Possibly the most egregious example of how Trumpism is contrary to these classical conservative principles is the Trumpian rejection of “welcoming” immigrants to America.

For Republicans who may be reading this Musing (hope springs eternal!), I highly recommend going to Adam Kinzinger’s website (www.country1st.com), which he describes as a “home for reasonable people of good will; seeking common ground to make our country better for future generations.”

Why do I, a registered Democrat, meddle in the Republican business of defining a viable Republican future? Because I believe that for American democracy to thrive, we need at least two strong political parties who have competing views as to what is good for our citizens and are willing to engage in respectful conversations in search for common ground.

I close with a reminder to readers who share my commitment to the Christian faith. The biblical vision for the nature of “power” and its use rejects the prevailing political view (on the part of both Republicans and Democrats) that “power” means holding tightly onto positions of authority.

An alternative view of “power” was exemplified by Jesus, who I aspire to follow.  As recorded in Matthew 4: 8-10, Jesus clearly rejected the temptation to be in charge of “all the kingdoms of this world.” Rather, he chose a life devoted to selflessly meeting the needs of the “least” members of society (see Matthew 12:31-46) which contributed to the “rulers” of his day crucifying him on a cross. That is indeed the exercise of “power.” The “power of love.”

Those committed to the alternative future for Republicanism embraced by Adam Kinzinger and a minority of other Republicans are not quick to call their quest an expression of “love.” But, according to my understanding of the biblical teachings about “love,” that is what they are embracing, since caring for the well-being of others, and respectfully talking to others about competing views as to what constitutes human well-being are both deep expressions of the love for others to which Jesus calls those who aspire to be his followers.

 

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