The Republican party is dead - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

The Republican party is dead

BALTIMORE– The last time we had a Republican mayor in my home town, his name was Theodore McKeldin, and the last time I saw him, he was delivering my high school graduation speech. That was 56 years ago.

Think about that distance in time. John F. Kennedy was in the White House back then, and “Leave it to Beaver” on the tube, and a ticket to see the new James Bond movie at the Senator Theater cost 75 cents.

And we haven’t had a single Republican mayor of Baltimore since that bygone era, and none likely to come along any time soon. McKeldin’s the end of it. And the crazy thing is, he’d be completely out of step in today’s Republican Party.

And he wouldn’t be alone. There’s a new book by a respected veteran pollster that says the same thing’s happening all over America.

For sure, McKeldin would look at today’s GOP and ask, “What happened to my party?” He’d have raised holy hell if any president said people in Baltimore were “living in hell” or dared call his city “disgusting…a rat and rodent-infested mess,” the way Donald Trump did.

Theodore McKeldin, 53rd Governor of Maryland and 38th and 42nd mayor of Baltimore. (Public Domain)

Unlike the current president, McKeldin saw problems but put money where his mouth was – a series of urban renewal projects he started in a city that was already showing its age and its civil strain. He was a strong proponent of racial equality, at a time when such a position wasn’t easy. He exalted the American melting pot instead of demeaning immigrants.

Are you listening, Donald Trump?

Oh, and something else. At the Republican National Convention, in 1952, McKeldin gave the principal presidential nominating speech for Dwight D. Eisenhower – another guy who wouldn’t get near today’s Republican Party.

Nor would millions of Americans, according to this new book, “R.I.P., GOP: How the New America is Dooming the Republicans,” by Stanley Greenberg.

Greenberg foresees “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it.”

The book’s more than a philosophical treatise. Greenberg’s a Democrat who’s worked for Bill Clinton and Al Gore (and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder). But his credibility here comes from focus groups and polling.

Fundamentally, he’s saying the Republicans are on the wrong side of too many issues ever since the dawning of the far-right Tea Party, and they slip further out of touch as the country’s demographics keep shifting.

Much of that is tied to race – and, by extension, immigration. From the moment he announced his candidacy for president, Trump has played on those issues repeatedly, in the toxic belief that they appeal to his base.

May 25, 2018, Annapolis, Md. – Commencement at the United States Naval Academy. The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, was the keynote speaker for the class of 2018. (Mike Jordan/Staff Photographer)

That’s Trump’s whole history, going back to his real estate days, the Central Park five, the Obama birtherism, Mexican rapists, Charlottesville, African “s—hole” countries…ah, you know the list by now.

The thing is, when it comes to Republicans and race, the list far pre-dates Trump himself.

Go back to McKeldin’s time. In the same spring McKeldin delivered that high school graduation speech, in 1963, John Kennedy was launching the first of a series of civil rights bills he and his successor, Lyndon Johnson, championed.

The Republicans spent the Sixties fighting every one of those bills – even the most basic gestures of racial fairness, such as voting rights and open housing.

Then came Richard Nixon and his so-called Southern Strategy – specifically designed to divide the country along racial lines. And Ronald Reagan and his talk of “welfare queens” and George Bush with his Willie Horton ads.

Trump’s just part of a pattern. Around here, it goes back at least as far as McKeldin’s era. It’s a big reason why this city, which is more than 60 percent African-American, votes repeatedly, and overwhelmingly, for Democratic presidential candidates – and for mayoral candidates, as well.

As part of the national modern demographic shift, it’s why “R.I.P., GOP” reads powerfully.





About the author

Michael Olesker

Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of five previous books, including Michael Olesker's Baltimore: If You Live Here, You're Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts' Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press. Contact the author.
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2 Comments

  1. Howard Berman says:

    The post defies logic
    I recently saw a 1959 production from WJZ where they show the promise of a great city
    Since then the Democrats with the exception of Mayor Schaefer with his promotions and hard work have disintegrated under Democratic Party rule
    The mere questioning of the leadership resulted in the end of the 16 year career of Mary Bubala
    That was despite a heartfelt apology for any hurt feelings
    Our President after contact with a Black Pastor in West Baltimore agreed to meet at the Oval Office with then Mayor Pugh and Congressman Elijah Cummings
    They refused the meeting to discuss a multi Billion dollar Opportunity Zone plan which would include many construction jobs for the city residents
    Now Democrats,most of whom like Michael O’lesker live in safe homes and can comfortably maintain their hate for Republicans who they argue would make life in Baltimore worse
    No,they want to make sure that the President doesn’t get credit for transforming Baltimore

    Reply
  2. Stuart says:

    Very nice hit piece on the Republican Party, but the real question is the Republicans have had nothing to do with the current problems since it has nothing to do with running the city. Only the Democrats have run the city, so the real question is why is the city such a total failure ? Can’t blame the Republicans, but i’m Sure you will try.

    Reply

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