Ghost of a Chance

It seems pointless to Hope the GOP can change from its current trajectory. But what other choice is there?

Dennis Sanders
8 min readJan 24


Photo 109418788 / Republican Party © Tanaonte |

In the aftermath of the 2012 election where Barak Obama was reelected over Mitt Romney, leaders within the GOP came up with a document to explain why the party lost and what it needed to do going forward. The Autopsy was a thorough understanding of the situation, urging the party to be more tolerant of immigrants and persons of color. One could have hoped the Autopsy would usher in a new era for America’s conservative party, one that brought the conservative message to an ever-expanding electoral base.

Instead, the GOP got Donald Trump, the guy who called Mexicans rapists at his presidential campaign kickoff.

The demise of the autopsy and the rise of Donald Trump are stark reminders that bringing change to the Republican Party is difficult work. It has caused many a sunny Republican who thinks they can change the party to give up and walk away. Various initiatives are created for this very reason and they end washed up on the shore. Good intentions give way to a harsh reality.

Even as Donald Trump recedes from view, his shadow still informs today’s GOP. The never-ending contest to make Kevin McCarthy Speaker of the House shows that while Donald Trump may no longer be the driving force in the party, his lasting influence remains and that makes any hope for reform hard, if not impossible.

Why does this happen? Why is reform within the GOP and the wider conservative movement so difficult? Are they immune to reform? Can reform happen? Should it?

I am arguing that it can happen and that it should happen. But any kind of work for change has to deal realize how hard it will be and any change has to be intentional and well-planned. Half-assed measures won’t do.

So, why is change so hard in the GOP? When people talk about change within both political parties, it is important to realize that the change that needs to happen is not the same. Compared side by side, the Democrats have an easier path to reform than the Republicans.

Reform in the Democratic Party is far easier because the changes tend to be procedural and/or programmatic. What I mean by…



Dennis Sanders

Middle-aged Midwesterner. I write about religion, politics and culture. Podcast: newsletter: