Democracy Challenged: The new face of the Republican Party: leaderless, disengaged, and in disarray

Francis Clarke

The Republican party faces a political identity crisis. With the death of Senator John McCain, the nation is stripped of the last true ‘maverick’ of the Senate. No other Republican has the gall and determination needed to return the senate to ‘regular order.’ What’s left is gallivanting politicians, only aiming to make the next news cycle. As an independent-minded voter who today strongly supports the Democratic party, I believe we desperately need stronger Republican leadership.

The death of Sen. McCain sent a shockwave through the Senate. Many of his colleagues recognized his stature during his time in office, and now realize the seriousness of his loss. Republican Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska is beginning to emerge as the perceived new ‘civilized’ member of the Senate. Sasse’s new book, Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal, sheds some insight on his psyche: “I think it’s true that polarization is horrible right now,” Sasse writes. “The political disruption is far downstream from what’s really wrong,” It’s more about cultural upheaval and disruption, he said. “We need to rethink what it looks like to be a community.”

But talk is cheap. According to FiveThirtyEight, Sasse votes with Trump’s position 86.8% of the time. For someone who talks regularly about leaving the Republican party, he surely has little intention of ever voting against them. Additionally, Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, who both speak out against the President regularly, vote with Trump’s agenda 86.3% and 79.2% of the time respectively.

Americans see this issue of ‘broken rhetoric,’ or politicians saying one thing and doing another, all too often. Sasse is in a unique position to turn this around. He is on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which can slow down Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination process to the Supreme Court. With the recent allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Kavanaugh, Sasse should put the Kavanaugh vote on pause while an investigation takes place.

The Republican party has gone from the maverick of McCain to the incompetent fools of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. As President Barack Obama’s returns to the national stage, he asks, “What happened to the Republican party?” It seems they are leaderless to look away from Trump’s character flaws, disengaged from the average person’s needs, and in disarray, far from their party’s purpose.

Diversity makes America great. Diversity of our skin colors, religion, and in our political parties and ideologies. Our democracy thrives on differing viewpoints as it helps us reach a point of harmony and understanding. But we will never reach that point if the Republicans refuse to take ownership of their actions, and their inaction.