Opinion

On the path of the Know Nothing

The critical choice facing Republicans

This is the editor's letter in the current issue of The Week magazine.

America needs two viable, sane political parties. Parties provide voters with a coherent choice of governing philosophies, and galvanize people to unite behind an agenda and candidates; without opposition, any party inevitably falls prey to corruption and extremism. Liberalism and conservatism are yin and yang, parts of a whole, each contributing insights and values to guide the zigzag path forward. But when parties become enamored with unpopular and foolish ideas, they can die: The Federalists, the Whigs, and the Know Nothings all once flourished and then perished. Many Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — now worry that if their party can't evolve beyond blind fealty to Donald Trump, the GOP will also fade into history.

Many state Republican organizations remain in the grip of Trumpist extremism. State parties have censured principled conservatives such as Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and Sens. Bill Cassidy and Ben Sasse for voting their consciences on impeachment. State party chairmen in Wyoming and Texas are raising the possibility of secession. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey maintains that the Capitol assault was a "hoax" that "was all staged" to discredit Trump and his supporters. In Virginia, State Sen. Amanda Chase — who describes herself as "Trump in heels" — is running for governor on a platform that includes preserving "white history" and Confederate statues. Republican strategist Rick Taylor warns that the post-Trump GOP is devolving into "a radicalized regional party" with "no leadership and no vision." The party's agenda is set by Fox News, where Tucker Carlson is telling his flock that a cop did not kill George Floyd, and that shadowy, powerful elites are "lying" to them about COVID vaccines. The Republican Party can be revived, but it must first turn back from the Know Nothing path it's on now, which leads to Knowhere.

More From...

Picture of William FalkWilliam Falk
Read All
The two-man space race
Jeff Bezos.
Opinion

The two-man space race

Authentic liberty
Vaccination.
Opinion

Authentic liberty

'Good speech' isn't winning
Mark Zuckerberg.
Opinion

'Good speech' isn't winning

What police reform requires
Newark.
Opinion

What police reform requires

Recommended

What Ebrahim Raisi's election means for Iran, U.S.
Ebrahim Raisi.
U.S.-Iran relations

What Ebrahim Raisi's election means for Iran, U.S.

The Week contest: Booze rescue
Cans.
Feature

The Week contest: Booze rescue

Great Britain has its 1st Catholic prime minister. Surprise!
Boris Johnson, Carrie Symonds
Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Great Britain has its 1st Catholic prime minister. Surprise!

Biden suspends Trump's 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky
Scotch
Slàinte mhath

Biden suspends Trump's 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky

Most Popular

Victoria's Secret pivots to feminism
A model.
Picture of Jeva LangeJeva Lange

Victoria's Secret pivots to feminism

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now