Opinion: Why more Republicans should follow Rep. Mitchell’s lead


I understand his frustration and anger with the current state of the GOP. Mitchell has many good reasons to feel this way.

The 2020 presidential election outcome became clear and irreversible on November 7, when Pennsylvania was called for Joe Biden by CNN and other major news outlets. At that moment nearly every Republican in Congress knew Biden had won the presidency; some have acknowledged this fact publicly while far too many others have remained silent.

Mitchell, like the other congressmen mentioned, is a friend with whom I served in the House. He has made it publicly known that he has run out of patience with those elements within the GOP who are unable to accept reality or who seek to advance a political outcome at a cost to democracy. Sadly, the GOP has lost many people like Rep. Mitchell who have disaffiliated from the party.

In fact, Mitchell is the second Michigan congressman to leave the GOP during Trump’s presidency. Justin Amash left the party in 2019.
Meanwhile, too many smart, thoughtful Republicans across the country who know better continue to indulge Trump’s alternative fantasy narrative about the 2020 election and enable his denial of a resounding electoral defeat. Donald Trump lost. Just say it. Everyone hold hands and jump into 2021 together.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged the outcome of the election on Tuesday, after the Electoral College had cast its votes formalizing Biden’s victory. Better late than never.
Most Americans know the game is over. There is no time left on the clock and the score is on the board. The electoral college has elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House with 306 votes. Republicans should heed the message of Mitchell’s departure. Stop enabling Trump’s shameless fundraising off his defeat at the expense of public confidence in the American electoral process. No need to continue with baseless litigation, shoe pounding and brow beating of elected officials between now and Inauguration Day. Enough already. It’s time to move forward.
The Republican Party is at a crossroads about its future. One path is to embrace Trumpism with all of its populism, protectionism, isolationism, nativism, unilateralism and nihilism. This road will not expand and grow the Party of Lincoln. A better path for the GOP is one that advocates social tolerance and sensibility, engages constructively on the international stage, promotes free markets with modern, reasonable regulation, and advances serious policy solutions on issues outside its comfort zone like climate change and immigration. Simply complaining about New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “The Squad” — that may excite the base but is not a substitute for sound, thoughtful policy on issues important to the American people.
Some will say my vision of the future is naive and unrealistic. But I maintain that to win elections the GOP must be a party of inclusion, not exclusion; addition, not subtraction; and multiplication, not division. In the recent election, House Republicans had some real success in recruiting diverse candidates who won races down ballot in spite of Donald Trump being rejected above them. Impactful numbers of disaffected Republican and Independent voters clearly rejected Trump and wanted a check on the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Why would Republicans now continue to embrace a raging, losing candidate as the future of the GOP? Trump’s politics of exclusion resulted in his resounding defeat in the popular vote and electoral college. Further, his illiberal populist appeal is no substitute for a center-right agenda grounded in common sense and conservative virtues like order, discipline and stability.

If the Republican Party does not unite against the toxic elements that have emerged in its ranks over the last five years, more good Republicans like Mitchell will bolt and put the presidency out of reach for the GOP in 2024 and beyond.

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