The fight to save the soul of the G.O.P.

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery, which makes it all the more ironic that in 2018 the party of freedom finds itself in bondage. It is in bondage to three parts of itself, each of which claims to be the center of power and the repository of orthodoxy, the only authentic and acceptable wielder of leadership in U.S. politics since Ronald Reagan. While professing unity and fearful of splitting entirely with the two rival factions, each contender casts a suspicious and resentful eye on the others.

There are three combatants in this struggle: first, President Trump and his loyalists; second, the far-right-wing Republicans in Congress—the Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee and other descendants of the Tea Party—and third, the survivors of a Republican establishment dominated by business interests and supported by urban and suburban professionals.

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All three sides are bound together in their need to cooperate if they are to maintain the party’s hold on power, but they remain divided by mutual disapproval and resentment of each others’ demands and aspirations. If Republicans lose control of the House in this November’s midterm elections, as is expected, and if the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election seriously damages the president, it is not at all clear that the Republican Party will survive in any recognizable form.

The G.O.P. was founded to oppose slavery, which makes it all the more ironic that the party of freedom finds itself in bondage.

Each side in this contest for the soul of the G.O.P. brings unique resources to the battle. President Trump is able to set the course of our national conversation with a single tweet and can threaten his Republican critics with the anger of “the base”—a grass-roots multitude of predominantly white evangelicals. The conservative Republican faction in the House effectively holds the power of veto over the president (though they have proven reluctant to use it). It has access to its own set of large donors and connections to the grass roots. The establishment Republicans, like the Bushes and Romneys, rely on successful professionals and executives who also have commitments to professional standards in the law and in various government agencies, as well as their own deep pockets.

At the same time, each faction has its own vulnerabilities and deficiencies. First, the president carries with him the heavy burden of his own carelessness and recklessness—which not only exposes him to potential legal trouble but unsettles Republicans who otherwise support his policy goals. Second, the congressional conservatives have strong ideological convictions about business, sex and military strength, but they have failed to influence large segments of the population that have not already been converted to the special conservative mix of economic libertarianism, Christian moralism and aggressive nationalism that they make a test of orthodoxy. Third, the establishment Republicans lack the energy and vision to put forward a platform that responds to the economic anxiety that fueled the right’s populist turn, as was clearly shown in the 2016 primaries.

The three sides have overlapping but distinct priorities. The president was able to lead a coalition of congressional conservatives to victory on the tax cut, a matter on which the three factions of the party had no serious divisions. But the fight against Obamacare failed, largely because there was no coherent alternative on offer. Immigration policy seems likely to follow a similar path. On this issue there is little common ground between, on the one hand, the Trump administration and conservative House members, who play on populist fears of low-wage migrants and on white Protestant fears of people from other cultures, and, on the other hand, establishment business and community leaders, who welcome skilled immigrants and who are taken aback by the administration’s disregard of expert opinion and popular compassion in handling the problems of the border.

Each side in this contest for the soul of the G.O.P. brings unique resources to the battle.

Each corner of this awkward triangle has its own specific concerns and worries. The establishment Republicans seek to preserve the rule of law against what they perceive as the arbitrary and corrupt behavior of the president. They oppose the politicization of the Department of Justice and the dismissal of scientific expertise and professional competence from government agencies. They are distressed by the president’s lack of civility and morality and by his erratic and unreliable performances on the world stage.

They are also the people most likely to be swayed to abandon the president if Mr. Mueller uncovers evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump. The establishment Republicans will find the prospect of dealing with the likely Democratic majority in the House less distressing than it is for either President Trump or the radical conservatives; they may even welcome it as altering the balance of forces in the Republican caucus in their favor.

The conservative radicals are intent on gaining control of the judiciary by installing advocates of their vision of a Christian social order and a free-market economy. This longstanding yearning for an idealized and updated version of the 1950s—the time before the Warren Court and the civil rights movement—is now focused on the elevation of conservative judges, most recently Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court. To achieve this objective, Republicans who share their ideology have to control the executive and legislative branches, at least until retirement and death have removed judicial obstacles to their grand project.

These right-wing conservatives in Congress have been happy to run interference for Mr. Trump when it comes to the investigation into Russian meddling. But a blue wave in November would greatly diminish their ability to shield the president, and they would be unlikely to regain control of the House for some time.

The question is whether after November the Republicans will be so divided that they are unable to function as a governing party.

At the present time, however, both the attention of the public and the president’s concern is centered on Mr. Trump’s survival at the center of power. He may survive various forms and degrees of denunciation, investigation, impeachment and desertion, but his power is almost certain to be drastically diminished, especially if the Democrats take control of the House. On the other hand, survival to the end of his four-year term would be a remarkable accomplishment, even while it would demonstrate the inadequacies of the Republican leadership in Congress and in the party at large.

President Trump has the most to lose; the question is whether after November the Republicans will be so divided and enfeebled that they are unable to function as a governing party. In the event of a decisive defeat for the Republicans, Mr. Trump becomes a lame duck. The radical conservatives will lose their confidence that they were been right all along, only earlier than everybody else. They will intensify their criticism of the media, of higher education, of feminism and of minorities. Politics will in general continue to be vicious; the alligators will be assisted by hyenas, by copperheads and other unlovely creatures of the swamp.

Four Steps to Freedom

It is understandable that Democrats, who are at least as divided as their Republican counterparts, are attracted to a scenario in which they are able to hold a united front against Mr. Trump while waiting for victory in the November elections. This would allow the party to postpone serious decisions about future policy until a clear leader emerges in the 2020 primaries. A continuing combination of blunders, scandals and crises of one sort or another on the part of the president and the Republican-controlled Congress, some imagine, will ensure a Democratic victory in the fall.

The Democrats, however, paid dearly for such overconfidence in 2016. This go-around, important parts of the electorate are likely to turn against the party if they come to suspect that the Democrats hope to profit somehow from potentially avoidable disasters that may well harm the country as a whole.

A continuing combination of blunders, scandals and crises on the part of the president, some imagine, will ensure a Democratic victory in the fall.

How, then, should Democrats, independents and centrist Republicans respond to the current state of bondage in which the Republican Party faces seemingly endless internal struggle, ongoing moral debasement and looming electoral catastrophe?

First, everyone should pray for the Republican Party. This is not a pious wish but a cry from the heart that a major element of our political system is being ruined. Without a Republican Party that is ready to accept the dual roles of loyal opposition and spokesperson for conservative values, all of us will be hobbling into the future on one leg. A shifting balance between the two deeply entrenched parties in our system of representative democracy is an essential part of its health.

The balance has to revolve around a unifying commitment to the common good, which exists above the conflicting values of factionalism and partisan conflict. Such a commitment leads us to enter into public debate in a spirit of compromise and cooperation and leads us away from slanderous attacks on the other side. This commitment eschews political narratives in which there are no mistakes and honest disagreements but only sins and crimes. It protects social and political institutions and forms of civility that sustain our common life. Such attitudes need to be cultivated within both parties as well as between them.

Second, outsiders from both ends of the political spectrum should encourage the Republican Party and its allies to adopt a less adversarial approach to politics and a less individualistic view of society. Politics, especially when it is organized around two great coalitions, as ours has historically been, will retain an adversarial dynamism; interests will continue to conflict; intellectuals and commentators will fire away in all directions. But in an increasingly interconnected society, we need to find ways of moderating dissent that dampen extremism rather than exploiting it.

Conservatism can be conceived in communitarian rather than libertarian terms.

Conservatism can be conceived in communitarian rather than libertarian terms. It is in the general interest to ensure that those left behind in the forward movement of society are not left without the resources and programs that can ensure that they are treated with the respect and dignity appropriate to human beings and to our fellow citizens. This minimal form of equality stands as a shared moral value, even though there will always be justifiable disagreements about how to achieve it. Reliance on a single set of strategies, whether these be market-oriented or government directed, will almost inevitably lead to social failures—including failures of imagination and sympathy. This will require Republicans to move away, at least partially, from their insistence on free-market solutions across the board; it will also require Democrats to avoid government overreach. And for both parties, it should lead to a critical examination of the role of contributions from interest groups and megadonors in influencing policy and legislation.

Third, and this is primarily the responsibility of Republicans themselves, though Democrats will need to follow their example, it is necessary to insist on the moral character of political life. The life of public service and community leadership proposes worthy ideals for those working for the common good and at the same time imposes binding rules on those who may be tempted to use morally and legally questionable means to benefit themselves and their causes and to conceal their mistakes. The current state of the Republican Party should not be taken as a guide to “the new normal” in partisan politics. In a polity that insists on mutual respect and human dignity as a cornerstone, some level of public morality is almost a matter of national security. A shared respect for the protection of truth in the public sphere holds us together and provides a basis for global leadership.

Whatever the advice of lawyers, consultants, pollsters and fundraisers may be, a political system that refuses to cleanse itself and its key members of corruption will lose the confidence of an open and democratic society. A regime that tolerates white nationalism in its ranks, practices tax fraud and obstruction of justice and openly accepts the multiplication of conflicts of interest will lose the respect and to a considerable extent the allegiance of its citizens and voters. The future of such a regime in an open and democratic society will not be happy or lasting so long as there is a free press. Yielding to the temptation to set moral considerations to the side will not be good for the Republican Party in the long run. It will also damage the republic itself. It is, therefore, not an outcome that Democrats should welcome or rely on. Nor should they think that immorality in government is a distinctively Republican problem.

The current state of the Republican Party should not be taken as a guide to “the new normal” in partisan politics.

Fourth, Democrats and others should pray and work for a renewal of internationalism in the Republican Party. Mr. Trump has walked away from the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal, taken a hard line on trade and tariffs, drastically cut the number of refugees admitted to the United States and questioned the value of U.S. military commitments in Europe and Asia. It is not surprising, therefore, that there has been a great deal of emphasis in the media on “Trump the nationalist.”

But the desire on the part of many people to reverse key elements in U.S. foreign policy is much broader than sentiments for and against Trump. There have been critics, especially in Latin America, who have for a couple of generations denounced U.S. imperialism and the consequences of an overly active role in the affairs of various countries, whether these be left-trending democracies or backward-looking dictatorships and oligarchies. Others have attacked U.S. foreign policy as insufficiently bold in responding to China and North Korea and to radical Islam in the Middle East. Still others have criticized Washington for being overly generous to Israel or to the United Nations and for being insufficiently generous to Africa and other extremely poor areas.

This set of observations reminds us how difficult it is to reduce U.S. foreign policy to one pattern of response to what are widely varied problems. But sustained and patient dialogue between ourselves and the contending states in the Middle East; between ourselves and our close allies in NATO and the Pacific; and between ourselves and those states seeking to establish or maintain great power status, including Russia, China and India, should help to contain the current wave of anxiety and reverse America’s retreat from the global stage.

Supporters of the pro-life movement should bear in mind that their fortunes are deeply affected by what happens to the Republican Party.

This is especially true with regard to those problems that urgently require international consensus, including nuclear proliferation, environmental protection, ensuring fair terms of trade, sustaining—and holding accountable—international institutions, and defending human rights in realistic and cooperative ways. These are all tasks that require a sense of shared responsibility and confidence in the reliability and stability of partners, the United States above all.

More broadly, the task is to find a pattern for international action that is neither imperialist nor isolationist, that affirms the moral bonds underlying an active human rights policy as well as the contribution of existing international organizations to the maintenance of peace and the relief of extreme misery. The outcome should be a balanced and cautious internationalism that should be acceptable to both parties and beneficial for the country as a whole. This will liberate Republicans from the cries and demands of strident nationalism and xenophobia and will give them room to shape and pursue objectives in their own style.

The Way Forward

Republicans looking at this list of paths to a liberated version of their party are entitled to ask just how to get from here to there. The answer to that question is to look for a new generation of leadership willing to take on the difficult but crucially important task of saving the party from its current divisions and its enslavement to current ideologies and fears. This task will require patience, courage and imagination.

Non-Republicans, especially those with strong religious convictions, may well wonder what is supposed to happen with regard to such hotly and rightly contested issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. In comparison with the fundamental concerns about human life, family and sexuality, the ups and downs of the Republican Party, important as they are, seem ephemeral and parochial.

But supporters of the pro-life movement, especially, should bear in mind that their fortunes are deeply affected by what happens to the Republican Party and, in particular, its more conservative elements. Recent ill-conceived efforts by the Democratic Party to purge pro-life members seem likely to deepen and to confirm the political-religious polarization in this country. But the pro-life movement should be willing to reconsider the political side of its own strategy. Maintaining an ever-closer mutual embrace with the Republican Party increases the risk to the movement’s long-term objectives. Given the style of the current Republican regime, the party does not seem to be a worthy vehicle for the essential moral and religious concerns of the pro-life community.

If the argument advanced in this essay is correct, the Republican Party stands in need of liberation from self-imposed bondage, conversion to a new agenda, and transformation into a party of civility and inclusion. If it does not move in this direction, it is likely to entangle and tarnish many of its supporters and allies in the hard times that lie ahead. But the party already stands in opposition to Catholic commitments to internationalism, to justice and participation for the poor and the marginalized, and to environmental protection, as these are interpreted and proclaimed by Pope Francis and by the tradition of Catholic social thought. Catholics, who have at times promoted single-issue politics in ways that contribute to the polarization of the U.S. electorate, ought to seize the G.O.P.’s moment of reckoning as an opportunity to broaden their own conception of public life.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
2 months 2 weeks ago

Are you endorsing the ritual defamation going on in Washington? I have been following politics closely for over 20 years and don't recognize anything you are saying. My guess is that your sources for information are limited. I suggest you expand your horizons.

And by the way read "Death of a Nation" by Dinesh D'souza and report back on US politics. I recommend every interested reader to read the book. The rhetoric is a little over the top in places but his analysis is spot on.

J Cosgrove
2 months 2 weeks ago

An obvious discrepancy in this article is the failure of the author to acknowledge that the Russia collusion story is the biggest fake news event in the last century in the US. He fails to indicate the effect of this hypocrisy of the Democrats on the country and what the Republicans have to deal with.

Mike Bayer
2 months 2 weeks ago

Russians bought ads on social media, and thousand of their bots had pro-Trump, anti-Hillary messages. Mueller has indicted and convicted based on that. That's the interference and meddling. The conspiracy involves the Trump Tower meeting, Manafort in Ukraine and becoming campaign manager, the connections to Agalorov and Deripaska, Trump's money from Russia, his real estate sales and money laundering with the Russian Mob, Jared's back channel communications, Erik Prince's meeting in the Seychelles, Flynn and Kislyak. Then there's Trump obstruction of justice. Trump is dirty, always has been. The questions for us now are whether Trump committed treason, and whether he is, wittingly or not, a Russian asset.

J Cosgrove
2 months 2 weeks ago

You are really out of touch. What are you reading? No one with any sense believes this. Being anti Trump is not an argument for anything.

This article (notice how long it is) is from the latest issue of America which is an assault on the Republican Party and an attempt to portray Democrats as the party of sanity and stability and morality. Impossible task for the America editors.

Terry Kane
2 months 2 weeks ago

Amen! Thank you, J Cosgrove!

Chuck Kotlarz
2 months 1 week ago

Mr. Cosgrove, perhaps you can advise where Republicans do better than democrats at serving the common good and the public interest.

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

where Republicans do better than democrats at serving the common good and the public interest.

Everything. Republicans are interested in practical results. Democrats are interested in power. This means that a better world will emerge slowly but surely under conservative principles. That is what we have seen in the last 250 years.

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

I could give you things to read to show the differences between the two parties but your comment history indicates you don't read a variety of sources. But try "Death of. Nation" and "The Suicide of the West." Both by prominent authors who know their history and who understand human behavior. Also I would start reading Thomas Sowell, the smartest man in America. The author of this article should have read these books/authors before writing this piece.

Judith Jordan
2 months ago

Mr. Cosgrove: I note that Chuck Kotlarz stated to you, “Mr. Cosgrove perhaps you can advise where Republicans do better than democrats at serving the common good and the public interest.” In your response you made broad, vague statements, but you never answered the question. Please answer and be specific.

J Cosgrove
2 months ago

Mr. Kotlarz has been commenting here for several years using irrelevant and misleading statistics. There are several occasions where he fails to answer the obvious problems with his position. So my "vague" comment has many precedents with specifics.

J Cosgrove
2 months ago

perhaps you can advise where Republicans do better than democrats at serving the common good and the public interest.

The core value of the Republican party are freedom and a conservative approach to progress. This means that policies will be based on what people freely choose and what works. Economics - their policies encourage job creation through economic innovation which lead to a more stable economy and greater employment. National Defense - their policies are for a stronger military that is more willing to engage egregious actions by foreign entities that threaten freedom and lead a destabilized world. Legal - they embrace legal positions (originalism) that lead to gradual changes in laws to protect freedom and stability. Education - they promote more freedom in education and the exploration of different viewpoints. Race relations - they promote equal opportunity for all but not equal results. Religion - they promote religion and freedom of religion.

These values lead to a more stable and prosperous society.

F C
2 months 1 week ago

J Cosgrove
You write: "This article (notice how long it is) is from the latest issue of America which is an assault on the Republican Party and an attempt to portray Democrats as the party of sanity and stability and morality. Impossible task for the America editors."

The task you say is impossible for America editors, is clearly possible for you. Congratulations!

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

Thank you.

Jeffrey More
2 months 2 weeks ago

"[T]he Republican Party faces seemingly endless internal struggle, ongoing moral debasement and looming electoral catastrophe[.]"
"The establishment Republicans . . . are distressed by the president's lack of . . . morality and by his erratic and unreliable performances on the world stage."
I suppose that as a Jesuit, the author of this article knows something about the subject of morality, at least in theory. However, his condemnation of the Republican Party as suffering from a process of ongoing "moral debasement" and his further characterization of President Trump as devoid of morality is tendentious in the extreme. Moreover, the author's arguments display a remarkable shallowness of understanding of recent history, current events, economics, science, and political science. Maybe this shallowness is de rigeur among members of his order these days, as the Pope has, time and again, displayed the same lack of understanding of these subjects.

Dionys Murphy
2 months ago

Yes. Surely that Saudi journalist was killed by "Rogue killers." Pretending Trump has even the tiniest bit of a moral compass is disgusting.

Gerard Baumann
2 months 2 weeks ago

Interesting analysis ! I’m a native Democrat from Brooklyn , NY ! Bailed from the party when they became the flag bearer for abortion, “no God”, and the open purse with no effort requirement !
We now have two extremes fight the bloody war of personal destruction. Sadly, the decline and fall of this nation seems written on the wall of Babylon on the Potomac!

Tim Donovan
2 months 1 week ago

I registered as a Democrat at age 18 (in 1980) and remained in the party until about 6 years ago, when I registered as an Independent because neither party fully represented my views. I have always strongly favored the.restoration of legal protection to the unborn, not based on theology, but because of the biological fact that a new human being comes into existence at conception/fertilization. After all, each one of us was once a fetus (which means "young one" in latin ). I think it's only reasonable to conclude that the "young one" of a human woman is also a human being ; certainly, an unborn baby is a member of the human species. I do however, very much sympathize with pregnant women with unplanned pregnancies. I know several women who have had abortions. The older sister of a good friend of mine had an abortion many years ago. She did in time give birth to a daughter and became a single mother. My good friend when he was 19 and in college impregnated his 17 year old girl friend who was a senior in high school. Despite much difficulty, they did fortunately choose life and my friend's girl friend (who I became close to) have birth to a son one month after her 18th birthday. They got married nine months later. I was glad to help raise their son, often babysitting and buying clothes and toys for him. My friend became a mechanical engineer, and his wife became a pharmacist. Although certainly not all young parents are so fortunate, with hard work they achieved their life goals. I also believe that it's crucial to support the hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers in our nation which provide pregnant women and their babies with practical, compassionate care. I support a homeless shelter for pregnant women and their babies, which also provides other services as well. I also.contribute to Mom's House, a network of about six homes which provide free quality day care for low income pregnant women so that they can complete their educations. I did very reluctantly become a registered Republican about 4 years ago. My reluctance was because I still support many typical Democratic policies. I support stringent gun control laws, oppose capital punishment, and support reasonable laws and regulations to protect our environment. (For these reason, I contribute when I'm able to the Catholic Climate Covenant, a pro-life environmental group which among other positions favors the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. I also support reasonable government assistance to the millions of Americans in need. Among others, these include people who are disabled (I'm a retired Special Education teacher who instructed children with brain damage), homeless, senior citizens, veterans, the mentally ill ( my late aunt lived most of her life in a state mental hospital), those addicted to illegal drugs, and the seriously ill. Although I 'm not a pacifist, I admire their convictions. I favor war only as a last resort after all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted. I also favor increased foreign aid to impoverished nations. Despite my general agreement with typical Democratic policies, I firmly believe that the violence of legal abortion, which kills almost 1 million innocent unborn human beings for any reason up until the time when the unborn infant is viable each year, is of paramount importance. In my view, ideally Americans would support a new party which favors policies that combine the "best" of the Republican and Democratic parties. The American Solidarity Party is such a,party, in my view. The party platform is,pro-life on abortion and opposes capital punishment, but is generally liberal on most other issues. I do occasionally contribute to the party. However, unfortunately as it is a small, largely unknown minor party, I don't believe that,it has,much chance of,gaining much support. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are too dominant in our nation.

Chuck Kotlarz
2 months 2 weeks ago

An outstanding essay by Father Langan.

Terry Kane
2 months 2 weeks ago

If by outstanding you mean long and completely devoid of reality, you are correct. Father Langan's position is not rooted in the world as it is. This piece is well-meaning, no doubt, however, the premise is delusional. In 2012, the Democrats took a voice vote to delete the mention of God from the party's platform, but Father Langan says we have to pray for the salvation of the Republican party! (Anyone with ears could hear the vote went for removal, but Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, claimed the votes went for inclusion - you can see it yourself on YouTube).

Chuck Kotlarz
2 months 1 week ago

Mr. Kane, please enlighten us on how to better serve the common good and the public interest.

Joan Sheridan
2 months 2 weeks ago

I am a Democrat who left because of abortion even though I agree with most things the Democrats expound . I think the Democrats are the ones in trouble and it is mostly because of abortion

Mary Gillespie
2 months 1 week ago

Then unfortunately you are part of the problem of the moment. You have no concept of whole of life care and the evil that is being carried on in the name of "profit". Greed is the anathema of the republican party and abortion is their hook to Catholics who do not understand all that the term implies and stands for....

Joan Sheridan
2 months 2 weeks ago

I am a Democrat who left because of abortion even though I agree with most things the Democrats expound . I think the Democrats are the ones in trouble and it is mostly because of abortion

Mike Bayer
2 months 2 weeks ago

Trump is despicable person without morals or a conscience. He brought the Republicans down to his level. He is not fit to be the leader of a decent people.

The Republicans Party enables him and moral rot pervades. Kavanaugh will be the 5th vote to strike down Roe, but talk about winning the battle and losing the war.

Dolores Pap
2 months 1 week ago

Absolutely correct, Mike. My husband and I were five decade GOP voters, but once the Republicans nominated and supported someone as amoral, vulgar, vindictive and bigoted candidate like Trump- we were out. We aren't the only people in our circle who left the GOP over their sudden veer to the extreme right. We are still registered as Republicans, but will never vote for them in a general election- instead, we will vote in the GOP primaries, for the least amoral GOP, far right candidate

James Schwarzwalder
2 months 2 weeks ago

Lots to think about in this essay. Just a few observations. One, Trump almost never gets any credit for the vastly improved situation in Iraq, the near defeat of the Islamic State, the improved economy and stock market and the use of tariffs as a bargaining chip with trading partners. One thing that struck me about the Reagan years is that Reagan picked his top priorities and stuck with them. The demise of the Soviet Union, reinvigorating the military, generally good relations with religious groups in the US. Trump is a showman. Reagan was a former two term Governor and actor. Interestingly, before his death and the 2016 election comedian Jerry Lewis on EWTN opined that Trump would make a great President. The Democrat Party shuns pro -life voters. Regarding the 1950's Eisenhower received about 34% of the Negro vote in the 1956 election before the major push for civil rights in the 1960s. Part of the polarization today is the debate over what kind of country do we want America to be. Income inequality is probably the most serious and pressing issue we face and the second may be the poor state of primary and secondary education in the U.S. today. Immigration reform needs to be addressed by the Congress which is AWOL on that topic. Can Trump offend, yes, and he toots his own horn. Few in the press or media support Trump.

Randal Agostini
2 months 2 weeks ago

Professor,
Glad I don't have to do homework set by you. I believe that the common thread was that you would hate to have the President for dinner in fear of his table manners.
If the Trump revolution continues I predict that the Catholic Faith will find itself in a more kindly legal atmosphere; that the world will find itself in a better position to combat the effects of climate change; that the immigration issue will be resolved, without the need for open borders; that the world itself will be safer from the threat of a nuclear war; that the financial strength of America will assist Latin America in financial growth, political stability and prosperity; that the military strength of America and it's allies will ensure greater world stability. Who knows, maybe the American liberal press will find it's own future lies in truthful factual reporting, foregoing perceived threats through innuendo - that level playing field could even lead to a return of civility in government? Maybe University professors will forego their perceived role as socialist indoctrinators? Maybe that's too much to ask? - We live in hope.

Terry Kane
2 months 2 weeks ago

Sadly, I fear that last one IS too much to ask, however, the other predictions are extremely well expressed versions of my hopes, too. Thanks for your vision.

Robert Klein
2 months 2 weeks ago

Wow I will pray for you John

lurline jennings
2 months 1 week ago

Thank you for your concern about the soul of the Republican party. Our souls are in great shape and ready for any obstruction the demos want to bring on. Liberals are rapidly becoming a smokescreen for those like Soros who leads the uneducated around by the nose. We feel you need to do some research, perhaps you want to start many years ago and catch up with the rest of the world. Today the Republican party is more united than ever. We are not scattered by inventing things to march about in the streets. We are not consumed by finding every way possible to kill the unborn. Rather, we support the natural right to life from cradle to grave. We concentrate on bettering our economic and social concerns. We are concerned with education for all levels. We believe in hand ups and not handouts. We support our churches, hospitals and the great centers of learning. Those demos marching in the streets don't support anything and they are not the ones with money to see that the institutions continue. The Republicans are upbeat and gathering strength. As to our president, and yes he is your president also, he has done much for this country and continues to do so. Do you read about it? Do you hear the good reports? NO! You hear the comments of the liberals who are enraged with hate and filled with malice. Please check out some viable resources on the health of the Republican party today. We are doing very well thank you. and God loves us.

Vincent Gaglione
2 months 1 week ago

I find much in Father Langan’s essay to commend. But, naturally, my disagreements arouse me to write!

I disagree with this statement: “ ‘the base’—a grass-roots multitude of predominantly white evangelicals.” I would suggest that, despite polls to the contrary, there are significant numbers of Catholics (who lie to the polls) who are part of the base as well.

And I disagree with this statement: “…white Protestant fears of people from other cultures…” Is the author deaf to the frightening numbers older white Catholics, almost all of them grandchildren and children of immigrants, about their fears of the same?

I do agree with this statement: “This longstanding yearning for an idealized and updated version of the 1950s—the time before the Warren Court and the civil rights movement…” But the author won’t take the next logical step in that statement, a large segment of the Republican Party has become racist and/or nativist.

And I do agree with this statement, up to a point: “Catholics, who have at times promoted single-issue politics in ways that contribute to the polarization of the U.S. electorate…” I would substitute the word “Bishops” for “Catholics” in that statement. I do blame the Bishops for the creation of this single-issue focus on Catholic teaching as opposed to what the author recommends! I sometimes even wonder if they did it to distract from our internal issues!

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

a large segment of the Republican Party has become racist and/or nativist.

No it is just the opposite. The Democratic Party is the racist party. Look at who governs the inner cities to see the cynicism that is at the core of Democrats. I suggest you read Death of a Nation to see the 200 year history of racism and the Democratic Party.

Mary Jensen
2 months 1 week ago

You GO J Cosgrove!!! I think the Church needs to take a really good look at who they are and who they represent ---JESUS. TRUMP IS A VERY BRAVE MAN! The evil that exists in our government, our church and our educational system must be rooted out and soon before there is a real demise. Let's get going and straighten out ourselves in these areas and represent what fairness and freedom is all about. Love the Lord God and your neighbor AS YOURSELF---then we can really demonstrate and share with the world. Beth Jensen

Vincent Gaglione
2 months 1 week ago

On this issue your “party affiliation” blindness is obvious. The Republican Party, once the antislavery party in USA politics, became the Democratic Party of old during the Civil Rights era. And the Democratic Party became a much-more diverse and socially liberal advocacy party during that same period. There comes a point when the history of any group no longer serves its image in its present-day appearance.

Another example of that transformation, the Church of the immigrants of a hundred years ago has itself become, unfortunately, a ghost of itself as prominent Cardinals and Bishops refuse to condemn the anti-immigration policies of the current administration. Oh yes, our social services programs provide relief and assistance, but our bishops refuse to take the stand of a Bishop Hughes and condemn our civic leaders and our own members for their attitudes

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

You are unaware of history recent and past. Republicans mainly passed the civil rights laws. Democrats have run the impoverished inner cities for over 60 years. Black families have disintegrated under Democratic policies. It takes real cynicism to deny the obvious. The Democrats are the real racists. They have created a dysfunctional underclass that is dependent. You and every editor/author/commenter should read Death of a Nation

Judith Jordan
2 months ago

Mr. Cosgrove: The author of Death of a Nation, as you know, is Dinesh D’Souza, a convicted felon and a right-wing ideologue who writes “history” filled with revisionism and wild conspiracy theories leaving his books intellectually bankrupt. He also lost his job as president of The King’s College, a small evangelical school, due to the fact he was engaged to a 29-year-old woman while still married to his wife of 20 years. Further, the Board was unhappy with D’Souza’s leadership as he failed to earn his salary and his negligence was because he spent his time promoting his documentary.

J Cosgrove
2 months ago

Have you read "Death of a Nation?" What is the revisionism? Be specific. I suggest you do and also answer D'Souza's description of his so called felony. You disqualify your opinion immediately by making ad hominem arguments against someone. I suggest you rely on evidence and rationale arguments.

Judith Jordan
2 months ago

Mr. Cosgrove:
The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed with a majority of both the Congressional Democrats and the Republicans, plus a Democratic president, LBJ, signed both acts. Now we see the Republicans trying to suppress the vote. The Democrats created Medicare and Social Security lifting millions of elderly people out of poverty. The Dems passed the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, which the Republicans oppose. To say the Dems are racists because of the inner cities is a mantra reaction of the right-wing without any thought to the complex issues of the inner city poor, which the Republicans vote against helping. The Dems passed the Violence Against Women Act to protect abused women. The Republicans repealed the legislation. Amazing.

You seem to ignore a vital piece of history. The Democratic Party used to be the pro-slavery, pro Jim Crow party. Members of the Ku Klux Klan were Democrats and Christian, including many southern ministers. During this time the Republican Party was against slavery and Jim Crow laws.

All that changed in the 1960s and 1970s. The Democratic Party had a "civil war" between the liberal wing and the conservative/southern wing. Nixon created the Southern Strategy. RESULT: Southern and conservative Democrats changed to the Republican Party, which means the Republicans got a WHOLE LOT of racists that left the Democratic Party. The Democrats lost elections for a long while because of the realignment, but it was worth it.

Blacks vote for the Democrats now because the Democratic Party does not try to suppress their vote; does not punish people because they are poor; votes for fair housing, for fair employment, and for many other programs that do not permit discrimination.

Mary Gillespie
2 months 1 week ago

Right now there is no hope for the republican party. It's the party of dirty little secrets. It's the party of knowingly taking bribes called "assistance" from K Street. It's the party that takes away food from children, that eschews diversity, that threatens strong women. It's the party of greed and concupiscence. It's the party that feels that the needy need to care for themselves and health care is best left to the healthy rich.

Peter Uranov
2 months 1 week ago

Mary, this sounds like you are simply repeating the liberal media attacks, which are designed to harm and harass, rather than espouse the truth. You should take an honest, deeper look at these points before spreading more trouble based on falsehoods.

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 1 week ago

Nothing about political parties in the Constitution and definitely nothing about the existing duopoly. The two calcified parties need to go. Instant runoff voting, please.

John Rysavy
2 months 1 week ago

J Cosgrove-I know you not, but man o man-you think so much like me! Grateful for your time and comments. Keep up the great commentary sir!

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

16 years of Catholic education,nuns and Christian Brothers, culminating with several courses in religion and philosophy at a Jesuit college.

Peter Uranov
2 months 1 week ago

This article looks like it was borrowed from the far left, Republican-and-President-Trump-hating Washington Post, or some other leftist news outlet.

Articles like these help keep "Catholics" smiling smugly as they drive down the road with their Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ, and political bumper stickers supporting people who profess their protection of the right to kill unborn babies.

The conservative/liberal demographics are about the same among Catholics as the general population. We all know what liberals strongly support in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ and his Church. More and more, they are rejecting God and their faith. There is no compromise. Articles like this suggest there is.

There are so many problems with the statements in this article, I could write a book in response. I'll sum it up with this statement: The devil has America Magazine by the collar as well as the Jesuits in general. Sad. Very Sad. Constant prayer is called for.

Bev Ceccanti
2 months ago

Amen Peter!. Thank you for your clear expression of the truth. I was a Democrat till the pro abortionists pushed me out. I don't wish to go to hell.

Dionys Murphy
2 months ago

"till the pro abortionists pushed me out. I don't wish to go to hell." - And yet the policies of the GOP will assuredly result in many, many more deaths worldwide and more abortions. Ironic.

Bev Ceccanti
2 months ago

Amen Peter!. Thank you for your clear expression of the truth. I was a Democrat till the pro abortionists pushed me out. I don't wish to go to hell.

Dionys Murphy
2 months ago

This will be a battle, indeed, as the soul of the GOP has surely been given over to Satan by putting money, profits and narcissism above people, especially the poor. Each action taken by the GOP in recent years is directly contrary to Christ's teachings and examples.

Patrick Robinson
2 months ago

Prof. Langan suggests the GOP redefine itself consistent with leftist-socialist principles. His call for an embrace of "internationalism" includes support for the dangerous Iran Nuclear executive order issued by President Obama and the Paris Climate Accord that would have punished our economy with no binding commitment to climate change by the major world polluters like China and India. It seems to me most Republicans do not like President Trump's sometimes odd behavior and incessant tweets, but love his policy successes. Republican opposition to illegal immigration is not anti-immigrant, it's anti-lawlessness. Republicans also believe big government supplants the vital importance of the family and self-reliance . Catholic social teachers like Prof Langan might consider teaching the immorality of an ever expanding national debt. Democrat leaders now promote violence against those with whom they disagree consistent with their unswerving violence against the yet to be born. My suggestion is the next time America magazine wants to critique the conservative Republican Party, it would make sense to actually ask a conservative Republican to write the critique.

Charles Erlinger
2 months ago

One commonly acceptable way to avoid dealing with complex
details, especially those which present ambiguities that defy quick resolution, is to resort to anthropomorphic devices. And you can’f be much more anthropomorphic than to personify a political party by attributing a soul to it. But this device does not advance analysis. It hinders understanding.

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