Early in Trump’s presidency I went directly to the White House web site to protest his effort to undermine the Affordable Health Care Act. Imagine my surprise when my criticism got me placed on the Trump mailing list. Ever since, I have been getting emails from the White House. In the space of twenty-four hours I received six emails including five trying to raise funds. Along with the frequent emails, I’ve been selected by them to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Rep Ilhan Omar and coveted by Republicans. I ignored the first survey request, sent the 2nd survey back – realizing too late I needed a stamp, as it slid into the mail box. Apparently, the post office requires postage on a letter before delivering it. This week, I got my third survey. There is an angry, “shame on you quality” to the letter accompanying it. My missing survey is telling them I am not a responsible person and I ought to be ashamed.
What I am quite certain of is that they will not like my answers. The Republican party of my youth is vastly different than today. In the church I served before I retired, one person after another told me that they used to be a Republican, “but the party left them behind.” They could no longer recognize what the current Republican party had evolved into. Some had been deeply involved in the party politics, serving on state committees and personal friends of well known office holders of the 90’s. Most were bewildered by its radical change. What puzzles me the most is how swiftly values shifted. The old Republican party was concerned about the environment. As recently as the early 2000’s there was bipartisan support around air quality and water standards. In Minnesota, a Republican governor supported and signed a law forcing electric companies to begin switching to renewable energy. The conserve in the word conservative meant something, when it came to the environment.
There was bipartisan support to welcome refugees into the country. Communities were encouraged to participate in resettling people who were fleeing violence.
But what confuses me the most is how the party, which claimed to be the party of family values, has dismissed all bigotry, hatred and racism coming from the White House. Daily tweets . . . often threatening, mocking or derogatory toward a Trump enemy . . . have had few Republicans protesting them. Dwight Eisenhower’s Grand Old Party has disappeared. Ronald Regan would not recognize it. The Bush family struggles to find themselves in it. The new Republican party has become the party of big business, big money and intolerance. It is the party of tax breaks for the rich at the expense of the poor. This new version of Republicanism blinds itself to the pain of asylum seekers, and rejects the compassionate part of compassionate conservationism. Today’s Republican party refuses to stand up to a bully president and protect young people who were carried here in their parents arms. It is the party that has allowed the word immigrant to be misused and all migrants attacked as evil. When former Republican Senator Jeff Flake wrote an oped this week, he said it was not too late for his fellow Republicans to save their souls. “My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles. Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection. Our country will have more presidents. But principles, well, we get just one crack at those . . . Trust me when I say you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”
Jesus put it this way: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:25-26