Parties change, from top, or bottom. Plus: DeSantis marches on. And, a YouTube reversal.

By Gary Abernathy

Political parties change, from top, or from bottom

If you’re a longtime member of a political party, be it Republican or Democrat, how do you handle it when the party changes from what it was when you joined it?

Sometimes, parties change because of leaders, as in the case of the Democratic Party, which saw leaders rise to the top who were far to the left of its base members, and who, in turn, implemented fiscal and social policies that many members could no longer tolerate. As Ronald Reagan said, he didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left him. The same is true for a state like West Virginia, for instance, the home of the late Democrat Sen. Robert C. Byrd and a longtime Democratic stronghold. Eventually, the national party went so far left that West Virginians could no longer tolerate it, and it has become solidly Republican.

But sometimes, a party changes because its grassroots base makes the change, despite the efforts of its leaders. That’s what has happened with the Republican Party, even before Donald Trump came along, but especially after Trump gave millions of Republicans someone to get excited about. Trump’s 2016 Republican primary victory — not to mention actually winning the presidency later that year — was a disaster for party elders who thought the GOP belonged to them. They have feverishly tried ever since to take it back.

I agree that Trump’s actions after the election – his refusal to acknowledge defeat and his role in the shameful Jan. 6 Capitol uprising – disqualify him from being the party leader or a future candidate, and it was wrong to punish Rep. Liz Cheney for saying so. But the GOP is now a party practicing “Trumpism.” The majority of grassroots Republicans have embraced a Trumpist philosophy of America First on foreign policy, energy independence, secure borders, pushing back against cancel-culture “wokeness,” and a form of “God and Country” patriotism that seems outdated to some Americans. It’s a populist strain that has become the dominant belief across the Republican landscape.

Those who are clinging to Reaganism – and I agree that Ronald Reagan was our greatest modern president, but it’s not the 1980s anymore – are frantically trying to shame Republicans into abandoning their personal beliefs, which the old guard does not comprehend. They are either part of the “Never Trump” movement, or they’re initiating a new “alliance,” as described in a Washington Post oped this week signed by folks like former RNC chair Michael Steele (who has been criticizing the GOP ever since his ouster as chair), former Republican Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and some lesser-known former officials. Good luck.

It is somewhat sad to witness people’s shock and grief as they come to grips with the fact that something they loved and nurtured their entire lives has rejected them to take a different path. But that’s what has happened with the Republican Party. Those who cannot come along for the ride should say farewell and good luck, rather than constantly shaming and belittling the party for the road it has chosen.

And speaking of the new leader of Trumpism…

From the New York Times:

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said on Wednesday that he would pardon “any Floridian” who violated mask or social distancing mandates. Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, made the announcement during an appearance on the Fox News program “Ingraham Angle.” After the show’s host, Laura Ingraham, interviewed the owners of a Broward County gym who said they had been arrested for violating a county mask mandate, Mr. DeSantis said their case was “a total overreach.”

He said he would issue a reprieve to delay the case and that when the state’s clemency board meets on June 16, he would issue pardons not only for the business owners, Mike and Jillian Carnevale, but also for “any Floridian that may have outstanding infractions for things like masks or social distancing.” “I think they’ve been treated poorly,” he said. “Fortunately, they got a governor that cares.”

And that’s among many of the reasons why Ron DeSantis is the leading contender to take up the mantle of Trumpism on his way to the Republican nomination in 2024.

YouTube takes down public meeting, then reverses itself

Check out this story from the Charlotte, N.C. NPR station about YouTube deleting a video of a school board meeting because of comments made about masks:

Parents’ arguments against face masks for students led YouTube to delete a Union County school board video last week, saying it violated the company’s policy on COVID-19 misinformation. Thursday night YouTube reversed itself, but experts say the case highlights questions about free speech and public video archives… A bit of clicking led to the realization that the two-and-a-half hour meeting video had been taken down because YouTube concluded it violated community standards on COVID-19 misinformation.

So, what amounts to a public record of a governmental meeting is deemed inappropriate by YouTube because mask comments that were made are against guidelines about covid? The social media restrictions on those holding different opinions on health matters was already ridiculous, and it’s getting worse. Even if YouTube eventually got it right, it was ridiculous that it seemed like a problem in the first place.

More on this next week. Have a good weekend!

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