The Future of the Republican Party is ...

Bleak.

Why?

Former President Donald J. Trump is leading his followers down a path to oblivion. Now is the time to accept this reality, not in five years, or even next month, because of what is happening in some of the 50 states of our Union, and on Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C.

It may be easier to understand the urgency if we assume the role of a visitor from outer space, able to quickly see and comprehend all that is happening in the world.

Immediately apparent to the visitor is damage and death being inflicted by a pandemic. The visitor can see the role politics is playing, and will recognize that the former president and his followers are leading the resistance that extends and worsens it.

The strength of that resistance will be mystifying, because the visitor knows the history of prior pandemics and the effectiveness of vaccines developed to combat them. Also known is how prior resistance has fared in the judicial system.

Also hard to grasp is the impact the resistance is having on loyal followers who refuse to be vaccinated. COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than 648,000 U.S. citizens, and variants are emerging that are even more contagious and deadly. The three freely available vaccines have been proven effective in either stopping illness or making it survivable. Joining the resistance seems counterintuitive, and dangerous to one’s ability to participate in elections.

The extra-terrestrial visitor may point out that there were clues that should have been helpful in anticipating this difficult situation.

An early clue was a conversation the past president, then a candidate, had with a television host. He asserted he was a star who could, without objection, grab women who appealed to him by their female parts. This was reported widely and proven not fatal to his campaign for president because it was just “locker room talk.” It was not seen as a reflection or indicator of his worldview, or of a commitment to being the inspirational, moral leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

Another clue was his history of avoiding military service, and of having a low opinion of those who, like him, did not do all they could to avoid such service. He is quoted as having referred to those who served as “losers” and “suckers.”

The visitor, also aware of the records of prior presidents, would search in vain for anyone whose understanding of history was more limited than that of President Trump. His interests were in activities that brought attention to him, and that might increase his wealth. None of the prior presidents were close to perfect, but it would be clear to the visitor that President Trump is among the least perfect in terms of his abilities and his record in that office.

For instance, no other president was impeached twice. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached in the House of Representatives, as was President Trump, but all were able to avoid conviction and removal from office by votes taken in the U.S. Senate.

And finally, there is the matter of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Our visitor knows the facts that led to that attack, also soon to be known by the Select Committee charged with the investigation. Enough is known about what happened that day to assure a third impeachment if President Trump were still in office. Since he is not, he must face what is coming to a former president and citizen subject to the laws just like anyone else.

Can the current leadership of what remains of the Republican Party look forward with anything but dread about what is in their future? Dread, and fear, may help explain the claims being made by some of those remaining “leaders.” They seem to be raising the volume and fantasy levels, pulling ahead of the former president to new heights of absurdity.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is threatening telecommunications and social media companies that comply with a request by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, declaring that Republicans “will not forget” their actions.”

Leader McCarthy may well be concerned about what the investigating committee will learn about conversations with the former president before and after Jan. 6.

And finally, our alien observer particularly liked the metaphor of the dog having caught the car. After running and barking for years about Roe v. Wade, some fleet footed Texans have devised a way to effectively deny the right to an abortion provided by that U.S. Supreme Court case. The car, it happens, holds a substantial majority of the U.S. population who now may not be kindly disposed to that “success.” For an historical perspective, the observer recommends recent readings from Heather Cox Richardson.

Work is underway for a rally for supporters of those who are being prosecuted for participation in the Jan. 6 event. It is scheduled for Sept. 18 in the Capitol at Union Square.

Another event like that of Jan. 6 could be devastating to what remains of a responsible and rational Republican Party.

It is time to agree on how best to forgive and forget this former president, and let Republicans get started on rebuilding what could again be called the Grand Old Party.

Keith Mobley lives in Dufur. After attending many Dorchester Conferences, volunteering with Wasco County Republicans, and serving as local chair of the Re-Elect Senator Mark O. Hatfield Committee. In 1980, he decided to seek election to the Oregon House of Representatives. Wayne Fawbush won again, leaving Mobley to face the Rajneeshees and eventually a retreat to Corvallis, where his political experience would make him a decent lobbyist for Oregon State University.