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Republicans, you must now become the ‘loyal opposition’ | COMMENTARY

A note to the Republicans left behind by their party:

Democrats did not steal the election. Donald Trump stole your party.   He hijacked your soul. He kidnapped your courage. He swiped your common sense. He bullied you. Insulted you. He did to your party what he tried to do to the country. You went along. You enabled him. A massive tax cut. A few judges. A free ride to fill his hotel with lobbyist, corporate, political and big donor functions. Not bad for a charity swindling, university conning, contractor-stiffing, bank defaulting, wife cheating charlatan with multiple business bankruptcies. And through it all — we have yet to hear condemnation from your party’s hierarchy. Not a peep. Not Mitch McConnell. Not Lindsey Graham. Not the chairs of Committees. Not the chair of the Party. Not a peep.

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How did you let this happen? Where were you? Hiding behind the columns in the corridors of the Capitol? Petrified by Fox News? Conned into joining a cult of conspiracy theorists, fake newsers and non-mask-wearing virus spreaders? This was the Republican Party for the last four years. Sad. Just sad.

But now you have another opportunity. We elected a couple of experienced political leaders who do not scare easily and have already shown they will restore decency to our public discourse. It is unlikely that Joe Biden will call John McCain a coward. That Kamala Harris will tolerate ripping children from the arms of their mothers. Science will be back in the saddle, approved drugs will override snake oil remedies, and Dr. Anthony Fauci will no longer have to work with quacks. The military will not be ordered to quell protests. The allies will not be stabbed in the back. The swamp will be replaced by competent, experienced managers. And no family pardons.

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The Democrats saved your ass. They defeated the man who turned your party into a mean-spirited personality cult. Now that the Democrats replaced you as incumbents, it’s time for you to replace them as the “loyal opposition.” This is no minor obligation. It imposes the responsibility to challenge policies of the government without rancor while remaining loyal to the country without reprisal. It is not simply an academic exercise. It has historic significance. Those who disagreed with George Washington still loved the country but formed their own loyal opposition. These critics were not slouches. We’re talking Jefferson and Madison. Over time, debating those disagreements created the greatest nation on earth. Critics yes. Patriots first.

This requires a higher respect for governing then Donald Trump displayed when he took the country off the cliff. The party that fought for your right to bear arms, seemed strangely silent when it was important to exercise your right to free speech. Disagree with Democratic policies. But do it thoughtfully. Offer amendments, but do not obstruct for the sake of obstruction. Question appointees, but do not attack them for their tweets. Replace hyperbole with civility. Kill conspiracy theories. Don’t resurrect McCarthyism with phony accusations of socialism.   Don’t tolerate Rudy Giuliani and his dimwits. Don’t coddle dictators. Don’t play blue states against red states. And don’t make the same mistake twice. Dump Trump. But don’t replace a sociopathic nut with Sen. McConnell, an unbridled legislative grave digger. You can do better.

It was a quaint Republican lawyer who took down Joe McCarthy — “have you no shame, sir.” It was a Republican senator, Barry Goldwater, and Republican House member, Larry Hogan Sr., who led Republicans to persuade Richard Nixon to resign. It was Republican President Eisenhower who launched the Interstate Highway program. Republicans worked with Harry Truman to create the Marshall Plan, NATO, the United Nations. And it was a Republican civil servant who spoke truth to power when he passionately rebuked the president and Republican senators for willfully spreading absurd allegations that the Georgia election was rigged: “This has got to stop.”

Being the loyal opposition requires civility, compromise, working together, refusing to obstruct Mr. Biden’s policies for revenge or oppose his appointments for retaliation. Cooperation is not a crime. I can assure you, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will not “lock you up.” America is back. Now take back your party. Rebuild your party; build it back better. The center right is open. Will you continue to be brainwashed by Fox News or will you be open to facts, science and knowledge? Do you respond to propaganda or truth? Is it Sean Hannity or reality? Do you trust quacks or Dr. Fauci? Are you dupes of QAnon or members of a once great party? Are you ready to shift from loyal lapdogs to loyal opposition? Are you Trump first or Citizens first?

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And while you’re at it, wear a mask.

Ted Venetoulis (ted.venetoulis@gmail.com), a business owner and former Baltimore County Executive, is the owner of H&V Publications.

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