The Republican Party, a national coalition of conservative voters, died Tuesday night in Cleveland surrounded by friends, delegates, and 1980s television stars.
The Party was 162.
The cause of death was a roll call vote that officially cemented the nomination of Donald J. Trump, a reality TV star and hotelier known for his histrionic exhortations to “Make America Great Again,” to represent the party as its presidential nominee.
The Republican Party was born on July 6, 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. Its parents were former Whig Party members, who were determined to fight the spread of slavery under the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The party, also known as the “Grand Old Party,” grew impressively in its youth, electing Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860 and dominating national politics well into the 20th century.
The Party’s health took a turn for the worse during the 1920s, when the Great Depression drove voters to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” coalition. But it recovered in the 1960s, when Southern Democrats defected over civil rights and joined its ranks.
A series of health scares plagued the GOP shortly thereafter, including the ascendance of Barry Goldwater, and the resignation of Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal. But it survived those challenges, as it would survive many others over the years—including Sarah Palin, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair skit, Mitch McConnell’s “Harlem Shake” video, and the guy from Duck Dynasty.
The 1980s brought the GOP’s heyday, with the election of actor Ronald Reagan, which knitted religious conservatives and tax-averse capitalists together in a fragile alliance. But the party began a terminal decline with the 2009 formation of the Tea Party, a splinter group that swept federal and state legislatures and really boosted sales of “Don’t Tread On Me” beer koozies.
In its final days, despite having majorities in both houses of Congress, the GOP fell gravely ill. In the 2016 presidential primaries, the Party mustered only a handful of serious contenders: Jeb Bush, the affectless scion of a Republican dynasty; Ted Cruz, a widely-despised first-term senator best known for shutting down the entire U.S. government; Ben Carson, a narcoleptic Drudge headline; and John Kasich, a haircut.
Donald J. Trump, the illness that led to the Party’s demise, seized on these weaknesses and propelled himself to the nomination. Trump was originally misdiagnosed in 2015 as a rash that would clear up by the end of July. But he metastasized quickly, and rose through the polls while calling Mexicans rapists, antagonizing a religion of a billion people, retweeting memes from white supremacists, and linking a rival’s father to the assassination of JFK.
In the end, even the best attempts of Republican establishment leaders to revive their party proved unsuccessful, and on the night of July 19, 2016, on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, the Republican Party finally succumbed.
The GOP is survived by a faded Ronald Reagan poster, gerrymandered control of state and local governments, and a “Trump That Bitch” t-shirt.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests the repeal of the estate tax.