There is rarely any reason to take my fellow conservatives to task. But I have to say that if Joe Biden actually becomes president on Jan. 20, the Republican Party at the national level will have only itself to blame.

Sure, there are the allegations of widespread voter fraud which, if proven, would certainly taint or (hopefully) overturn the 2020 election. But there were other things Republicans at the federal level could have done to prevent us from getting to this point in the first place.

According to question 23 of the Questions and Answers section of the Department of Justice’s web page covering the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) – also known as “motor voter” – the Act places restrictions on what voter-registration officials can say to people registering to vote: “Any person who provides voter-registration services at a Section 7 agency is prohibited from ... 3) taking any action or making any statement to an applicant to discourage the applicant from registering to vote ... “ (emphasis added).

Like: “are you a United States citizen?” or “are you in this country legally?”

Bill Clinton and the Democrats inflicted this one on us in 1993.

So how are Republicans to blame for NVRA? Simple: they made no effort to repeal NVRA, or even to excise the features that facilitate voting by non-citizens, illegal aliens, convicted felons (where applicable) and other ineligible people. Republicans could have done it in 2001-06 and 2017-18, when they held the Congress and the White House.

But they didn’t even try. So God-knows-how-many ineligible folks voted in every election since 1994. And for whom do you suppose they voted?

(Hint: the party that sought to make them beholden by enabling them to vote illegally in the first place.)

Then there are all the allegations of criminal activity against President Trump that could far more easily have fit his 2020 opponent, Joe Biden. During the impeachment trial, there were innumerable opportunities to turn the whole thing from a farce into an exposé of Mr. “if-the-prosecutor-isn’t-fired-you’re-not-getting-the-money.”

Yet Republicans again did nothing. Why? Did they think they could finesse the issue, by simply voting not to convict Trump? If politics were a bridge game, the lowest card of a trump (no pun intended) suit can win a trick. But as 19th-century German military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz pointed out, war is the continuation of politics by other means. That is: war and politics are interchangeable in terms of aims. Democrats have understood that for decades, and have employed any and all means – fair and foul – to gain their ends.

That’s why Democrats impeached Trump, on the flimsiest of charges: they hoped to cripple him for the 2020 election, and since that was all they had, they went with it. Republicans in the Senate should have thrown it back in Democrats’ faces, pointing out (as I did in a column at the time) how well their accusations against Trump instead fit Joe Biden like a second skin.

Biden’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine would have made it into the official record of the trial, and (as a matter of public record) could have been a major campaign theme. Trump’s successes in leading the country to the best economy in decades, and helping it fighting back from the COVID-19 body blow, have already translated into down-ballot gains for Republicans. With greater effort to demonstrate the moral and ethical compromises of Joe Biden – like the outright extortion and blackmail of which he boasted when he was Obama’s veep, there would have been far less chance of a Biden win.

So does all this criticism of Republicans at the national level mean I embrace the idea of jettisoning the GOP in favor of a proposed new “Patriot Party” as some are proposing?

Not only “Heck, no!” but “No, thank you!” This is a disastrously stupid idea.

Those considering such a notion should remember 1992 and H. Ross Perot. Analysts have estimated Perot took twice as many votes away from George H.W. Bush as from Bill Clinton. So had Perot not run and split the conservative vote, we would have been spared Slick Willie: no NVRA, no retroactive tax increase, no Black Hawk Down disaster, no North Korea nuclear deal that let Pyongyang get nuclear weapons, and no shameful Monica Lewinsky affair.

Besides, Republicans at the state level in those states where they hold power (like ours) have done all that could be asked and more both to further conservative values and to forestall liberal policies of the Democrats. So they are not the problem.

It’s time, therefore, for Republicans at the national level to recognize that one need not like Democrats’ methods of politics-as-war, to see their effectiveness. One gets dirty wrestling in the mud. But refusing to wrestle because the fight’s in the mud guarantees defeat.

So remember Edmund Burke: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Gary Exelby is a reporter for the Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at gexelby@paragoulddailypress.com.

Gary Exelby is a reporter for the Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at gexelby@paragoulddailypress.com.

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