Guest opinion: A house divided can not stand.

“A house divided cannot stand.” Our house, the Republican Party, is divided and is falling apart.

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, described the current condition of our party well even though he was speaking of the country. He said “[this] country is torn between conflicting visions of reality and identity.” 

Issues such as the outcome of the recent election, COVID-19, the storming of the U.S. Capitol, QAnon, and certification of the election continue to divide our party.

Since January 6th, many have called for unity. Unfortunately, this call has lacked action to achieve unity. Unity as a nation can never occur if we as Republicans cannot find unity as a party. If we cannot find commonality amongst each other for unity, how can we find unity with those who are Democrats?

While it may be in vogue to call out President Biden’s recent executive orders as divisive, we as Republicans need to look to at our own house and ask the question: “Do we truly want to unify as a party and as a country?” If we do, our words need action to achieve meaningful change.

It appears that our party is divided into two groups, those who hold themselves as being “true” conservatives and everyone else. Some argue that the Republican divide could better be defined as those who supported Trump for re-election and those who did not.  This line of thinking supports the ill-conceived notion that only those who support Trump are “true Republicans.” The problem with this view is it is in direct conflict with the beliefs of the Republican Party.

In 2020, the Republican National Committee addressed the Republican Party Platform. They stated “The RNC has unanimously voted to forego the Convention Committee Platform in appreciation of the fact that it did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement.” Because of this, the RNC maintained the 2016 platform.

Within the 2016 platform was advocacy for the political freedom, the 1st Amendment, and the belief that Americans “have a First Amendment right not to be forced to individually support individuals or ideologies that they oppose.” The platform also decried the media “misleading advocacy… rather than providing the public with unbiased reporting of facts.”

Within our country, a small contingent of Republicans seeks to divide our party, advocating conspiracy without fact and censuring of Republicans without cause. 

On January 19th, the Oregon Republican Party released a resolution that there was “growing evidence” that the attack on the U.S. Capitol by the mob was “a ‘false flag’ operation” and was “designed to discredit President Trump, his supporters and all conservative Republicans.” This statement cited sources that did not adhere to commonly accepted methods of verification or evidence based on fact.

On January 23, the communications vice-Chair of the Hawaii GOP tweeted, “We should make it abundantly clear — the people who subscribed to the Q fiction, were largely motivated by a sincere and deep love for America. Patriotism and love of County (sic) should never be ridiculed.”

On the same day, the Arizona GOP voted to censure three Arizona Republicans: Governor Doug Ducey, former Senator Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain. What was their crime? Flake and McCain endorsed Biden over Trump, while Ducey was censured for imposing emergency rules in fighting COVID-19. 

What we need to realize is that many Republicans believe the 2020 election was not stolen, the storming of the U.S. Capitol was illegal, efforts to overturn the election results lacked evidence supported by facts, QAnon is a conspiracy, COVID-19 is a real pandemic, racism still exists, and the beliefs of Ducey, Flake and McCain are beliefs shared by fellow Republicans throughout our country. These beliefs are not a betrayal of Republican beliefs, but a subset of Republican beliefs. 

We as Republicans need to find ways to bridge the chasm that stand between the differences as a party and unity as no person or party has a monopoly on what is right. 

We as Republicans need to find ways to unite as the price of division is significant, we have lost the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and the presidency. We are also losing party members. In the weeks after the Capitol riot, 10,000 left the party in Pennsylvania, 6,000 in North Carolina, 5,000 in Arizona and 4,200 in Colorado. A recent article from the Salt Lake Tribune reported 7,600 actively registered Utahans have left the Republican Party. Our party’s division will cause these numbers to grow unless we as Republicans find a way to sensibly unite.

How do we unite? Unity can come if we as Republicans affirm our stand for the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution, advocate beliefs grounded in verifiable facts, refrain from loyalty oaths to persons, reject dangerous fringe organizations, embrace civility and proclaim that country will always come before party. In doing so, not only will we be united as a party, but more importantly, we will be united as Americans. 

John McCain once said, “We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always.” Make no mistake, this is a Republican view. 

Tony F. Graf, Jr. is a life-long Republican, an attorney and resident of Tooele