Republicans Will Never Save Us From Republicans. We Might Have To Do That Ourselves.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke Monday at the Aspen Ideas Climate Conference in Miami and lamented that Republicans don’t seem to give a damn about the climate crisis.
She said, "I mean, the fossil fuel industry, they weigh in so significantly.” Yes, they fully own the GOP and the guy from West Virginia. Polls show that Republican voters love the industry more than queer kids.
"I mean, the fossil fuel industry, they weigh in so significantly," she continued. "I mean, how could it be that nobody in the Senate cares about climate?"
When Oregon catches fire again this summer, it won’t reassure me to know that some Republicans somewhere, behind closed doors, almost believe climate change is real. All that matters is how they vote. Republicans (and Joe Manchin) have hobbled President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
Pelosi went on: "So rather than saying, 'Well, we have to defeat them,' no, let's just try to persuade them. I want the Republican party to take back the party, take it back to where you were when you cared about a woman's right to choose, you cared about the environment."
Defeating Republicans at the polls seems simpler and more straightforward than trying to persuade them once they’re in office and laughing derisively at us. We can’t even persuade theoretical Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to listen to us and not their corporate donors.
.@SpeakerPelosi: "I want the Republican Party to take back the party to where you were when you cared about a woman's right to choose, you cared about the environment. Here I am, Nancy Pelosi, saying this country needs a strong Republican Party. Not a cult."pic.twitter.com/h12SSFQKdk— The Hill (@The Hill) 1652140260
The Republican Party’s national platform has been affirmatively anti-abortion since 1980, which was 42 years ago. The hard shift right on abortion was a major part of the Reagan Revolution. Blame Phyllis Schlafly, who arguably did more to create the current GOP than any other single figure.
Just about every single Republican now is anti-abortion, and even the proclaimed “pro-choice” ones like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are jiving. Yes, abortion was once less of a partisan issue. Some Republicans supported reproductive freedom while some Democrats voted against it. This includes the current Democratic president, who voted to let states overturn Roe v. Wade in 1982. Let’s not dwell in the past but instead focus on the here and now, where voting for Democrats is the only way to keep the state out of your uterus.
"Hey, here I am, Nancy Pelosi, saying this country needs a strong Republican party, and we do, not a cult, but a strong Republican party."
Republicans are currently dancing on the grave of Roe v. Wade. They are in a position to reclaim the House and Senate. They have gerrymandered maps and passed voter suppression laws that might consign Democrats to permanent minority status no matter how many votes we actually win. They’re doing OK.
Pelosi’s correct that it would benefit the nation if one of the two major political parties wasn’t an authoritarian death cult. However, non-MAGA Republicans George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush subjected us to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts. Even supposedly “pro-democracy” Republicans like Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney supported the nominations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Cheney expressed her support for Mississippi’s abortion ban, which led to Roe’s likely demise. She didn’t do this because she was afraid of MAGA. She’s both anti-coup and anti-choice. That’s the best the GOP can offer. I don’t doubt that Cheney and Kinzinger are more charming at DC cocktail parties than Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, but their voting records — especially regarding abortion rights — aren’t that different.
Last September, Pelosi also urged Republicans to “take back” their party from the far-right sedition caucus. It’s like a horror movie where a desperate parent begs their possessed child holding the chainsaw to stop listening to "Captain Howdy.”
Obnoxious trolls online insisted this was what very serious and important people must say to give white moderates an excuse to vote for Democrats. Our superior policy positions and fundamental belief in democracy aren’t enough. We need to lie to voters and pretend there are still some “West Wing” Republicans in their midst who can restore the party to its imagined greatness.
This strategy never works, and predictably, the trolls refused to admit how wrong they were when just a few months later, Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race and Republicans reclaimed the majority in the General Assembly. That’s the problem with “strong” political parties. They win elections. We need a very small, very weak Republican Party, one we can drown in Grover Norquist’s bathtub.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."