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Opinion |
S.E. Cupp: The GOP is collapsing, so too could the country

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., stands outside his office during a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., stands outside his office during a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall.”

The fall of the Roman Empire, aside from pre-occupying the minds of all modern American men evidently, is a cautionary tale for every advanced society, including ours.

That may sound alarmist, but trust me — our Coliseum is already crumbling.

One need only gaze upon our once noble and dignified body of government — Congress — to see the cracks in the bricks, thanks in no small part to the usurpation of the Republican Party by one Donald J. Trump.

Lest you thought his ouster in 2020 marked the end of dysfunction and chaos in Washington, the turbid depths to which the Republican Party can sink have only steepened, believe it or not.

And the Grand Old Party isn’t looking so grand these days, as it both comically and tragically pinballs from one incompetent and embarrassing episode to another. Ding, ding…ding, ding, ding.

Putting aside the ugly pall cast on the party by its embattled frontrunner for president — he’s facing 91 criminal charges in four separate indictments involving everything from fraud to insurrection — the Republican Party he built and shaped into his likeness is doing just as badly.

The dysfunction and self-destruction is nothing short of stunning. And just taking into account the most recent humiliations — literally from this one week — the Republican Party seems to be all but collapsing.

There was the failed effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a wholly political exercise presumably meant to punish and embarrass the Biden administration. It had the opposite effect, however, when House Democrats outmaneuvered the Republicans, who failed to come up with the votes.

GOP House members were quick to complain about their self-own.

“I was embarrassed for our conference, for our party, because we can do better than we did last night,” Rep. Lance Gooden told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“He didn’t count votes,” said Rep. Ralph Norman of Speaker Mike Johnson. “I think he will next time.”

“When you are handed the keys to the kingdom…then when you have the majority there is an expectation that you will be able to govern. And we’ve just struggled with that over and over again,” said Rep. Steve Womack.

The stunt was such a failure of vote-counting that Rep. Matt Gaetz, who’d boastfully orchestrated the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year with no plan for his replacement, was feeling a little wistful. “[W]ouldn’t it have been nice to still have Kevin McCarthy in the House of Representatives? Never thought you’d hear me say that.”

The debacle prompted others to question the wisdom of that hamfisted effort to defenestrate McCarthy. “Getting rid of Speaker McCarthy has officially turned into an unmitigated disaster,” Rep. Thomas Massie lamented. “Name one thing that’s improved under the new speaker.”

Over at the party’s governing body, the Republican National Committee, things are just as dysfunctional. There, chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced she is stepping down — in the middle of an election year no less — due to pressure from Trump. (This is a woman who dropped her maiden name — Romney — because Trump didn’t like it, and yet he still sees her as insufficiently loyal to him.)

Gaetz, who, remember, ousted McCarthy over personal grievances, submitted his ringing endorsement of the former speaker for McDaniel’s replacement, tweeting, “Kevin is well organized and a very high-revenue fundraiser. He will also be well-liked by the RNC Committee.”

Then there’s the border bill disaster.

House Republicans tanked a bipartisan border bill, stuffed with provisions they’d long been asking for, because Trump — an unelected and four-time indicted private citizen — prefers to use the issue to get elected rather than solve it.

But the pyrrhic victory backfired. Reaching the pinnacle of utter uselessness, Republicans took an issue they were winning on — Biden’s broken border — and handed Democrats a very helpful talking point.

Afterwards, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented that his party “can’t get an outcome.” And for backing a border bill, McConnell was blasted by Sen. Ted Cruz, who called for his replacement. “I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans.” (The border bill would have delivered on a number of Republican priorities.)

American politics has moved out of the dignity of the Roman Forum and into the vulgarity of the Coliseum, thanks in large part to Trump and his GOP.

And rather than govern or legislate, the Republican Party seems to prefer the theatrics of the Coliseum — bloody battles between gladiators and wild beasts, punctuated intermittently by magic shows, acrobats, and executions.

Can the GOP survive its own self-destruction? Does it want to?

For America’s sake, let’s hope so.

Because the last part of the quote is “And when Rome falls — the world.”