Longtime Mississippi Republicans will remember political consultant Stuart Stevens for his work on early campaigns for the late Sen. Thad Cochran. Since those early races he has become a highly successful media strategist and has helped elect numerous Republican governors and senators.
His client list sounds like a who’s who of Republican leaders – President George W. Bush, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Bob Dole, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Haley Barbour, Gov. Tom Ridge, Cochran, Sen. Dick Lugar, Sen. Mel Martinez, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Roger Wicker, Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. Dan Coats, Gov. Paul Cellucci, Gov. Bob Riley, Gov. Larry Hogan, and congressmen.
Through all these associations, Stevens has been immersed in what Republicanism in America is all about.
Or was, according to his recent op-ed column in The Washington Post.
“Wake up, Republicans. Your party stands for all the wrong things now,” was the headline. Here are some key excerpts.
“As you are out and about marking the new year, it is likely you will come across a Republican to whom you can pose the question, preferably after a drink or two, as that tends to work as truth serum: ‘Look, I was just wondering: What’s the Republican Party all about these days? What does it, well, stand for?’
“I’m betting the answer is going to involve a noun, a verb and either ‘socialism’ or ‘Democrats.’ Republicans now partly define their party simply as an alternative to that other party, as in ‘I’m a Republican because I’m not a Democrat.’
“In a long-forgotten era — say, four years ago — such a question would have elicited a very different answer. Though there was disagreement over specific issues, most Republicans would have said the party stood for some basic principles: fiscal sanity, free trade, strong on Russia, and that character and personal responsibility count. Today it’s not that the Republican Party has forgotten these issues and values; instead, it actively opposes all of them.
“Republicans are now officially the character-doesn’t-count party, the personal-responsibility-just-proves-you-have-failed-to-blame-the-other-guy party, the deficit-doesn’t-matter party, the Russia-is-our-ally party, and the I’m-right-and-you-are-human-scum party. Yes, it’s President Trump’s party now, but it stands only for what he has just tweeted.
“This is a sad fall. In Ronald Reagan’s America, being born an American was to win life’s lottery; in Donald Trump’s America, it makes you a victim, a patsy, a chump.”
“This impeachment moment and all that has led to it should signal a day of reckoning. A party that has as its sole purpose the protection and promotion of its leader, whatever he thinks, is not on a sustainable path. Can anyone force a change? I’m not optimistic. Trump won with 46.1 percent of the vote in 2016, while Mitt Romney lost with 47.2 percent in 2012; no wonder Republicans have convinced themselves that the path to victory and power lies with angry division.”
Stevens concludes his piece saying, “I’d like to say that I believe the party I spent so many years fighting for could rise to the challenge of this moment. But there have been too many lies for too long.”
A little context.
Stevens is currently serving as general consultant to the William Weld presidential campaign.
Still and all, his is a sad commentary to say the least.
“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” – 1 Corinthians 15:33.
» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.
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