Republicans, Where Is Your Moral Compass?

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Carlos Barria / Reuters

The renowned moral philosopher Immanuel Kant’s message was simple: do the right thing and for the right reason. The Republican Party must not have even heard of Kant, much less studied him.

The Republican Party manages miraculously to hang together to pass laws that support their donors and their personal interests, such as was the case in their tax legislation, but they seem to be invisible and amorphous when it comes to upholding morality, values and the average person’s fair shot at success. They say little when President Trump disparages all of Africa, Haitians, Salvadorans, Muslims and billions of humans who are black or brown or who live in developing countries. They espouse family values and are mum when President Trump disparages women and cuts benefits for childcare. They express outrage at sexual misconduct and harassment when the perpetrator is a Democrat, but “launder” accusations against the President. They make inane excuses when Trump utters falsehood after falsehood as if the truth does not matter. I could go on and on but the message is clear. Morality is being pushed aside in favor of passing legislation and executive orders that benefit a privileged few and appeal to the basest of human values. And importantly, what seems to matter is the here and now for the “base” with little consideration for all Americans, the longer-term and wider fallout.

What could Republicans do? They could come together as a party and express their united outrage condemning the president’s statements, tweets and behavior. A vehicle for this could be done through a “sense of the House,” “sense of the Senate,” or “sense of the Congress.” Members of his cabinet and staff could resign and publicly voice the reasons for their inability to serve this president, as has the U.S. ambassador to Panama. If they continue to serve they are simply enablers. A few Republican lawmakers expressing their disbelief or rebuking the President’s behavior and statements carry little moral force. This Republican Congress appears set on destroying the Party of Lincoln in a short span of two years.

What can the Democratic Party do? Develop a platform now in January 2018 to represent Democratic priorities for the long haul, for at least a decade. Include in the platform elements that incorporate tax reform with a commitment to fairness and justice, initiatives that provide fair access to quality education and skill training for all, infrastructure enhancement at the national level, healthcare that is available to all at an affordable cost, a program to control budget deficits and the national debt, and a strong stand against money in politics and gerrymandering. Form small groups of ordinary citizen on each of these critical point in the platform; empower these groups to travel around the U.S. to explain the party’s proposal on the item of their focus, such as tax reform or education; all along committing to informing and interacting with Americans every day of the year and in each and every year, not just in election years.

What can the average citizen do? Americans must take the time to be better informed. They must increase their political participation—vote in each and every election and consider running for political office. Most important, stand up and oppose injustice and wrongdoings at all times, even and especially when it does not affect them directly because someday, and in all likelihood, they will be a victim of a similar injustice.

If the fallout of presidential and party behavior were temporary, one could be less alarmed, but it is not. This behavior is seeping into America’s social and political fabric and dividing the country as never before. Will ethnic and religious minorities — African Americans, Hispanics and Muslims — continue to serve and defend the country with their utmost devotion? With growing disparity, will Americans feel that they have fair chance for advancement as long as they work hard? Will the country continue to come together when threatened? The fallout of the Republican Party’s failure is not only domestic. Will America’s image be irreparably tarnished abroad? Will the vast majority of the world who have admired and respected the United States change their tune and see America as racist and oppressive to minorities and to certain foreigners? Will America be seen as a nation of religious bigotry? Once ingrained into customs, norms and behavior, such fallouts are hard to reverse.

It’s time to restore what made America great — a caring country with freedom, justice, transparency, the rule of law and a fair chance for everyone — and quickly, as the passage of time makes the task ever more difficult.