The Lincoln Project: Reform or Revenge?

There is a need at this time for the Lincoln Project. However, when it comes to rebuilding the center-right in America, it can’t be the only thing.

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Can the Republican Party in America be reformed? Can it change from its Trumpist trajectory?

This has been an open question among anti-Trump Republicans for quite some time. Reform of anything is not something that happens immediately; it takes time. It is not easy work, and at times it will feel like a thankless task. I know this from experience, working for a decade for the state chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. It was not easy in trying to change an entire party’s view on sexual orientation. Reforming a party or any institution is painstaking work. Success may or may not happen.

The much better path and far more satisfying is revenge. Instead of trying to reform the GOP, you seek to punish the party for its sins. You get more attention and even more sympathy if you decide to work to tear down the party instead of changing it. The end result can be even more successful than reform.

A few weeks ago, former GOP consultants created the Lincoln Project which seeks to take the fight to President Trump and Republicans who enable him. The goal is very simple: defeat President Trump and congressional Republicans. They explain:

We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.

I get voting for Democrats. In a two-party system, if you are dissatisfied with your party, you vote for the other party. I know a lot of Republicans and former Republicans who are doing that. But does it make sense for an effort like the Lincoln Project to make this their reason for being? What happens if they are successful? Is their work done or is there any phase two that works on rebuilding and reforming the party? Is there any interest in reforming the party or is this about taking Trump and congressional Republicans down?

Most of the people behind the Lincoln Project are political strategists who know how to win campaigns. That’s important, but you also need people who can rebuild. There has long been a wish from moderates and later Never Trumpers that a massive and embarrassing loss will become an impetus for change. But people hoped this would happen a decade ago. Losing an election can spur change, but it can also cause people to dig in and not change at all.

There is a need now for the Lincoln Project. Yet, it can’t be the only thing. There needs to be a positive vision for the party. Until there is an effort for anti-Trump Republicans to explain what they are for, the Lincoln Project will only be a partial measure.

Originally published at on January 7, 2020.

Written by

A middle-aged pastor living in Minneapolis. I write about politics, religion, sexuality, and autism.

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