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Will The GOP Become The 'Know-Nothings' of 2024?


In 1919, my grandmother saw her father, my great-grandfather, shot dead in the street during a pogrom in her village located in Ukraine. Two years later to escape a second pogrom, my grandmother and her husband, my grandfather, ran away from the village, crossed the Dnieper River and spent the next two years in Rumania raising my mother and waiting for visas to come to the United States.

My grandparents got off the boat at the pier in Brooklyn and entered the United States just several months before an immigration law took effect that would have prevented from coming here. This restrictive law was the handiwork of a Republican President and Congress, and while it was somewhat eased by Ronald Reagan in 1986, its restrictive features were incorporated into the law which Donald Trump tried but failed to enact in 2017.

What I have described in the previous two paragraphs is the reason that I have never (read: never) voted for any Republican in any election of any kind. I don’t care if a candidate is the nicest, most wonderful, most intelligent, and most compassionate public servant of all time. If he or she runs on the Republican line they might someone else’s vote, but they won’t get mine.

Lately I have been thinking that perhaps my unwillingness to vote for any Republican is too narrow an approach to the question of how America should be run. What I really believe is necessary would be to reduce the GOP to a second-tier party which holds power in a few states that have more cows than people but that’s it. Want to live in a state controlled by the GOP? Move to North Dakota.

Last week, one of the biggest idiots in the GOP, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, accused Ilhan Omar of being a member of the ‘jihad squad’ and openly mocked Omar’s Muslim beliefs at a campaign event. Omar refused to accept Boebert’s apology and the argument made some headlines over the Thanksgiving weekend when there’s never any real news anyway.

What did Trump do? He sent a crazy statement to Newsmax, which will publish anything he says, and accused Omar of being married to her brother and added a few more complete falsehoods about Omar’s native country, Somalia, along with a few other crazy things.

So now we have a former President clearly trying to build some kind of 2024 following by promoting the craziest and looniest personalities in the GOP (otherwise read: Marjorie Taylor Greene and/or Matt Gaetz.) And I can just see it now. Trump will say that if he doesn’t win, it’s because another election has been stolen from him.

This is the reason that I hope Donald Trump runs again in 2024. Because not only will he lose again, but he will run such a vicious and crazy campaign that even the people who vote for him will be ashamed to admit they did.

Ever read about a nineteenth-century political party known as the ‘Know-Nothings?’ Its official name was the Native American Party and it got going as a populist, anti-Catholic movement in the 1850’s. It briefly flourished in some Northern states which had taken in large numbers of Catholic immigrants from Ireland in the 1840’s and nominated former President Millard Fillmore in 1856. The party pulled 20% of the popular vote and 8 electoral votes in that year’s Presidential election and then disappeared.

What happened to the Know-Nothing Party after 1856 is what I would like to see happen to the Republican Party after 2024. And if Trump continues to cozy up to the worst, most insufferable office-holders of the GOP, I think my dream of a permanent demise of his brand of politics has a good chance of being realized.

My grandparents and my mother had wonderful lives as immigrants and then as citizens of the United States. We should be grateful that people all over the world still want to come here and have the kind of lives that my forebears had after they arrived.

And if at some point a majority of Americans don’t speak English as their primary language and aren’t White, so what?



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