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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
March 5, 2024

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Jayne: Any reasonable folks left in GOP?

By , Columbian Opinion Page Editor

They are out there. We know they are out there. We know there are some reasonable Republicans who believe in effective, limited government without dancing along the fringe of lunacy.

Or at least, we hope.

As one local Republican elected official told me: “I tend to differentiate between Republican leaders and those who tend to vote Republican.”

That would be a good thing. Because the local Republican leadership has gone off the rails. And after Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was one of 10 Republicans in the U.S. House to vote in favor of Donald Trump’s second impeachment, they publicly revealed their foolishness.

The Clark County Republican Women group, led by former state Rep. Liz Pike and current county Councilor Karen Bowerman, vowed that Herrera Beutler “will never receive our votes or support again.” The Clark County Republican Party said Herrera Beutler’s vote “directly violates our values of standing for truth and justice.”

All of which is an odd claim for people who have embraced unfounded allegations of election fraud. Donald Trump filed some 60 lawsuits to overturn the election and was rebuked by the courts; that’s what happens when you are bereft of evidence. When that tactic failed, Trump incited insurrectionists to overrun the U.S. Capitol.

The result was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, with rioters seeking to assassinate elected officials and prevent the carrying out of constitutional duties.

To suggest otherwise is to insist that the sun rises in the West. Yet here we are.

“I think they have made a grave mistake in calling for Jaime Herrera Beutler to be primaried,” David Nierenberg said of local Republican leaders. “She has exercised exactly the kind of principled and independent judgment we should demand from any public servant.”

Nierenberg is a longtime Republican donor and fundraiser. And he’s a sometime Democratic donor and fundraiser. He just likes to see good government, not “a presidential-incited attack on a co-equal branch of government.”

As Nierenberg puts it, “If that is not an impeachable offense, what is?”

It’s a good question, and it’s one that reasonable Republicans should be asking themselves.

Notice that we are talking about “reasonable” and not necessarily “moderate.” Moderate implies policy preferences, somebody who might agree with some positions typically staked out by Democrats. It is possible to be an arch conservative, to support a border wall and believe the Affordable Care Act should be overturned, and still be reasonable, if perhaps misguided.

But there is nothing reasonable about defending Trump after his sycophants tried to overthrow the government. As five people were being killed during the riot at the Capitol, the president of the United States declined to call in help for overrun security forces.

Claiming to stand for “truth and justice” in defense of Trump is comically absurd. And the aftermath has demonstrated the divide between reasonable Republicans and those who are a threat to the nation.

“For a long time, there have been battles for the soul of the Republican Party,” Nierenberg said. “What’s happening here is kind of a microcosm of what’s happening across the nation.”

What’s happening here can be traced to 2012, when far-right factions took control of the local party. That’s how politics work; precinct committee officers choose local party officials, and here they provided a harbinger of a party in decline that resulted in Trump.

Previously, Nierenberg said, local Republicans “tended to have a more inclusive, tolerant, Reaganesque big-tent view of the Republican Party.” Currently: “I don’t know how long they can be demographically viable.”

That should be a concern for people who embrace the stated Republican ideals of small government and personal responsibility. It should be a concern for people who reject asinine conspiracy theories and totalitarianism.

And it should be a call for reasonable Republicans to rescue their party.