The national Republican Party has run aground. Some of the most prominent conservative columnists of the last 20 years, like George Will, David Brooks, Jennifer Rubin, and Michael Gerson, have abandoned the Trump-captained ship. Anyone who remains aboard has either decided to look away until the 2020 election or is a die-hard partisan who will accept any level of behavior from a president who has proven to be incompetent, incorrigible, amoral, barely articulate, slothful, and perhaps psychologically unstable. How can anyone listen to his nonsensical and often fallacious rally rants and think they are befitting of the leader of the free world?

Trump treats the nation’s business like the reality show star he is. Since January 2017, he’s said, “You’re fired!” to, or accepted the resignations of, three national security advisers, a secretary of state, a defense secretary, an attorney general, an FBI chief, a UN ambassador, a director of national intelligence, a homeland security secretary, two White House chiefs of staff and five deputy national security advisers. Trump won’t brook any disagreement with his “stable genius” mind. Who needs the competition of ideas to assist decision-making? Instead of Lincoln’s fabled “team of rivals” we’re left with a team of “yes men” and sycophants.


But it’s not just the guy in the Oval Office. It’s the party itself. To make America great again, what initiatives has the GOP sponsored besides tax cuts, slashing environmental and financial regulations, adding even more to an inflated defense budget and national deficit, and spreading false fears about the bogeyman of socialism? Where are their well-wrought proposals on health care, high drug costs, immigration, income inequality, infrastructure, gun violence, protecting our elections, and climate change? (Yes, it’s real, my flat Earth friends. Didn’t you get Hurricane Dorian’s calling card?)

On election security, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell has blocked all bipartisan proposals to shield voters from foreign interference in 2020. Since the overwhelming evidence from our intelligence agencies proves the Russian government attempted to intrude into election systems in all 50 states and waged an aggressive campaign on social media and through hacked emails to ensure Trump’s election, is there any mystery to McConnell’s roadblock? Republicans, are you OK with this? Where does it fall on the flag-waving patriotism continuum you like to measure Democrats against?

All of this would have driven everyone crazy back in the Red Scare days of the 1950s when Republicans claimed there were Russians hiding under every desk in Washington, including President Eisenhower’s. (You can look it up.) Back then, Republicans also delighted in asking, “Who lost China?” in reference to the Chinese Communist takeover of mainland China in 1949 during Democratic President Harry Truman’s administration.

Today, we might reasonably ask, “Who lost Turkey?” Long a staunch NATO ally, Turkey has now drifted into Russian Premiere Vladimir Putin’s orbit under Trump’s mismanagement of international affairs. Have you seen Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan beaming in photos with Putin in Moscow? And Erdogan recently spurned the U.S. and purchased Russian S-400 air defense batteries and is considering buying Russian fighter jets. So much for NATO’s solidarity.

Not inconsequentially, didn’t our president campaign on a promise to withdraw the U.S. from NATO and hasn’t he shown head-scratching subservience to Putin during their meetings? And doesn’t he want Russia added back to the G-6? I wonder what the FBI’s legendary commie hunter J. Edgar Hoover would think of all this. (OK. That may be a bridge too far, but really, aren’t you puzzled by all of these attempts to satisfy Russian strategic objectives? No? Then what if the president’s name was Barack Obama? Yeah. That’s what I thought.)

I can’t help but smile each time a conservative solemnly genuflects to President Ronald Reagan and influential pundit William F. Buckley as the true souls of the Republican Party. I was long a big fan of Buckley’s acerbic wit and intelligence and regularly watched his PBS talk show “Firing Line,” airing until 1999. Neither Reagan nor Buckley would recognize today’s Republican Party. Both would sadly wag their heads at its shallow, present day platform, hollow standard bearer, and magnet-like attractiveness to white supremacists.

Under Trump and McConnell, today’s GOP has become a personality cult and the party of obstruction and vetoes. I’ll gladly admit that many of the ideas generated by the current slate of Democratic presidential hopefuls are over the top. Some are even avowedly socialist. But they are simply ideas — new, fresh and even revolutionary, and they are aimed at many of America’s aching ills. The important thing is that their proponents have started a much-needed national conversation about them — from guaranteed income to Medicare for all to gun control. In my book, that’s a refreshing change from the Republicans’ steady politics of No.

Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Friday. Email him at