Okay, Republicans, quō vādis and all that. Whither goest thou? To where are you marching? Where in the holy hell do you go from here? After a couple decades of shifting your focus away from policy and governance and investing almost exclusively in ‘owning the libs,’ what comes next? Where do you go when your party has lost control of both Congress and the presidency, and is now defined almost entirely by unquestioned subservience to a leader who’s been impeached twice? What comes after supporting the only president in U.S. history to foment a violent assault on the nation’s Capitol building? Seriously Republicans, quō fucking vādis?
Quick tangent. You may be asking, “Greg, old sock, why the Latin? Why quō vādis?” Because it’s appropriate in a couple of ways. First, it’s appropriate because most Republicans call themselves Christians, and the Latin phrase comes from a Biblical story. Well, sort of Biblical. It’s in the Acts of Peter, which is one of the apocryphal gospels. I’m going to resist the temptation to explain the apocryphal gospels, because that would require me to go off on a tangent within this current tangent. If you’re curious, do the research.
Second, the Latin is appropriate because of the lesson of the story. So, here’s the story. Around thirty years after Jesus got crucified, Peter, the apostle, goes to Rome to preach the gospel. While he’s there, he gets in a fuss with a guy named Simon Magus (again, if you’re interested, do the research), after which Peter decides it would be a good idea for him to leave town for a bit. Let the fuss die down. As he’s on his way, Peter meets Jesus toting a cross. Remember, Jesus had been dead for three decades at this point. Also, that cross? It talks. (I am NOT making that up; this talking cross may help explain why the Acts of Peter was shifted into the apocrypha). Anyway, Peter asks Jesus, “Quō vādis?” This is usually translated as “Whither goest thou?” or more simply, “Where are you going?” A more accurate translation, I’m told, would be “To where are you marching?” but the intent is the same. Jesus answers, “Rōmam eō iterum crucifīgī,” which means “I’m going to Rome to be crucified again.”
This is the Biblical lesson. Sometimes you need to stop, think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, then turn around and get back to doing the good work you know you’re supposed to be doing. It gives Peter the courage to return to Rome and keep preaching. Unfortunately for Peter, he gets crucified on his return to Rome. Upside down, apparently.
So yeah, it didn’t end pretty for Peter, but the idea is still sound. The question and the answer are still important. Where are you going, Republicans? What’s your intended destination? What’s the purpose of your journey? What’s the nature of your good work? Where does the Republican Party go after they’ve attempted to overturn a fair election…and failed? Where do they go after they’ve shrugged off a violent insurrection?
Think about it. A hundred and twenty-one Republicans in the House objected to the Electoral College vote–and that was after the insurrection threatened their own safety. A hundred and ninety-seven of them voted against the second articles of impeachment. Forty-three of the fifty Republicans in the Senate voted to acquit Trump of inciting the insurrection–an insurrection that was not only intended to disrupt and/or stop the peaceful transfer of power to the legitimately elected president, but also threatened the lives of the next three people in the line of presidential succession.
The only good thing about this is that some Republicans are asking themselves about the future of their party. Susan Collins, the tower of Jello representing Maine, said this:
“I think we need to get away from the idea that the Republican Party is just one person and adherence to just one leader.”
She thinks that’s what the GOP needs. But her comment is a sad example of the very problem Republicans are facing. Instead of addressing the actual issue–instead of trying to figure out a viable future direction of the party–Republicans are concentrating their energy on whether or not they should remain faithful to an unfaithful, dishonest, failed former president. That simply reinforces the notion that they ARE a party of just one person, just one leader. Without Trump, the Republican Party is rudderless. Without Trump, there is…well, nothing.
Don’t forget, for the first time since 1854, the GOP didn’t bother to craft a party platform for a presidential 2020 election. They basically said their party platform was whatever Trump wanted at any given moment. There is no longer any traditionally conservative governing philosophy that unites Republicans and shapes their policy positions. There is absolutely nothing that moves the GOP forward except the entertainment value of “owning the libs.”
Do they try to regroup? If so, as what? As a traditional center-right conservative political party? Do they gather together and concoct a political party platform? Do they get caught up in some sort of political mitosis and split into two different political parties? Do they just continue to drift randomly, driven only by opposing whatever Democrats propose and the haphazard, arbitrary, volatile anger and resentment of their base? Do they organize and morph into a violent guerrilla insurrectionist movement?
I don’t have any answers. I know what I’d like. I’d like to see the GOP reform into a functioning organization with moderate, conservative values and policies I can oppose but still understand. I’d like them to be a traditional loyal opposition party. But that seems unlikely. Hell, nothing seems likely. No particular possible future seems more likely than any other; it all seems pretty aimless and accidental.
I haven’t a clue what comes next. But I’m genuinely curious, and a wee bit fearful.