Politically Handicapped By the GOP

Already Missing A Limb, I’ve Now Lost My Party

Dave Spencer - Feb 28, 2022

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Having been physically disabled for the last forty years, I know all too well what it means to be a realist. You have to make constant adjustments and know what you can’t do, yet people are always surprised about how much one can and will do. But as a moderate, pragmatic Republican, I‘m now politically handicapped, and my stubborn sense of optimism has been hobbled.

In August of 1981, I woke up in a hospital, knowing something was terribly wrong. Four days after a terrible car accident, my right leg had been amputated above the knee. Nothing can prepare you for this kind of shock and I’m still dealing with its aftermath, including five surgeries to my good leg over the past five years. It’s cruelly ironic, but these additional traumas directly coincided with the election of Donald Trump, his four years in office and the continuing damage inflicted by his totalitarian-like dominance of the Republican Party.

After the loss of my leg, I had to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For a moderate GOP supporter, it parallels the different phases of the Trump phenomena. Denial: he will never get the nomination. Anger: how could he reduce serious debate on the issues to a series of insults, accusations and mistruths. Bargaining: oh, he'll grow into the job and serve the best interests of the nation. Depression: this president has no scruples or moral compass and is only looking out for himself. Acceptance: no matter what his transgressions and mistruths, his stranglehold on the Republican Party becomes stronger.

I’d actually add a sixth stage to a Never Trumper’s grief. Phantom limb syndrome, where there’s still pain from a severed appendage. Even after his defeat, a horrific attack on the Capitol, the majority of GOP supporters accepting The Big Lie, states making it harder to vote and most of all, elected officials being complicit in their silence. It’s not the crazies like Matt Gaetz and Majorie Taylor Greene or a power-hungry sycophant like Ted Cruz who surprise me; it's the supposedly reasonable, “adults in the room” like Rob Portman, Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who have spoken out in the past and now, act paralyzed in the face of this ongoing threat of a slow-moving coup.

I now believe the only way to change the Republican Party is to keep it out of power and by losing elections, force it to change. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party keeps kneecapping itself, with its constant infighting and continuing shift to the Left. President Biden has also hamstrung his party by acting as if he has an overriding Congressional majority, proposing massive bills that not even one Republican will vote for, rather than going for smaller, piecemeal victories that would demonstrate to the American people that Democrats can get things done. So, the Biden Administration keeps limping along, hoping that voters will come out in droves in November to vote against a Trump led GOP. That crutch may very likely not hold up.

There are over 61 million Americans who are disabled. While we may be limited in some of our activities, we are just as powerful as any citizen because we have the same vital skill: the ability to vote. For myself, rather than sit on the sidelines and watch the GOP plot and execute a slow-moving coup, I created a website and social media platform for both concerned Republicans and Democrats to participate in civil debate, a lost tradition that has led to our bitter divide.

Our nation has faced adversity before and come through it. But while the Founding Fathers envisioned that we'd have reckless presidents who might attempt to defy the outcome of an election, they always assumed Congress would be there as a check. I believe America is in for a lot of pain in 2022 and 2024 and just hope the resulting wounds aren’t irreparable. The thought of a crippled republic leaves me, a determined optimist, fearing that democracy may not have a leg to stand on.