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Past & Present: If History Is A Guide, The GOP Will Pay A Political Price

In 2007, Victor Gold, a long-time G.O.P. insider, wrote a widely discussed book entitled Invasion of the Party Snatchers. Cleverly using the 1956 film classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a symbolic reference point, Gold lamented the growing influence of the religious right and neo-conservatives in the Republican Party.

Donald Trump’s rise to power within the Republican Party seemingly represents another “invasion of the party snatchers.” Within a relatively short period of time, the political party once known for fiscal responsibility and its tough foreign policy toward Russia has become something far different. Apparently influenced by the spendthrift Trump, today’s G.O.P. lawmakers are silent about an exploding federal debt (currently over $23 trillion and counting). Similarly, the G.O.P. has sought to deflect attention from the growing amount of incriminating evidence associated with Trump’s impeachment proceedings by parroting Vladimir Putin’s discredited assertion that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

If history is any guide, it appears likely that the Republican Party will pay a political price for its blind allegiance to Donald Trump. Just as the G.O.P. successfully waved the proverbial “bloody shirt” against Democrats in post Civil-War elections, as impeachment proceedings reveal more of Trump’s lawlessness, the Republican Party “brand” will be dramatically tarnished.

Robert E. Weems Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University.