Some of you may be glad to see this outcome. But not me. I grew up revering the GOP, but not because of any one politician or policy. I thought the party had wisdom on its side.
I’ve always bought into the “roots and wings” philosophy of life: some things about situations need to change and some things need to stay the same. I saw the Republicans as roots and the Democrats as wings.
I came of age politically in the early 1980s, just at the end of a progressive era in America, kicked off dramatically by LBJ’s Great Society program. Government in this era came to play a more direct role in citizens’ lives than it ever had in the past. Ronald Reagan, therefore, represented the end of this era and someone who would restore some balance to the country. His rhetoric, “No government schemes can perfect man,” made sense to me. If people stopped relying on themselves for hard work, grit, and determination, then the entire system might collapse as too many people would look to government programs to save them.
But, oh how times have changed. As an active Republican voter, I supported increased free trade, limited government spending, and tough foreign diplomacy. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, and with no coherent explanation, Republican voters in the 2016 presidential election are expected to support a man who:
- Wants to reverse every free-trade agreement America has ever signed.
- Plans on initiating a domestic-infrastructure program that would cost trillions of dollars (while simultaneously cutting taxes).
- Praises autocrats and dictators around the globe for their “toughness.”
Huh? Did I miss something?
But, that’s not all. In addition to these stunning, unexplained policy reversals, the 2016 Republican ticket…
- Wants evangelical Christians to vote for a serial adulterer who brags about sexually assaulting women.
- Exclaims that if he doesn’t win it’s because he was cheated.
- Advances as his most current campaign strategy that of suppressing his opponent’s turnout.
But, that’s not all.
Further, candidate Donald Trump tells voters that he wants to protect them from…
- Corrupt special interests.
- Companies that “offshore” work.
- People who play by a different set of rules.
- Rigged systems that offer special advantages.
- Has donated heavily to political campaigns to advance his business interests.
- Has moved the manufacturing of products he sells offshore.
- Tells people that as a celebrity he can get away with assaulting women.
- Uses special loopholes to avoid paying federal incomes taxes for eighteen years
He’s essentially running against himself. He is who he claims to hate.
And then Republicans trot out his running mate, a devout and pious Christian, who sometimes campaigns as though he’s not even aware of Donald Trump. His single debate performance seemed strong and believable — if he were George H.W. Bush’s running mate in 1992. But it’s the defending of Trump that’s most confusing. Pence somehow wants voters to believe that Trump represents the right direction for the country, even though he commits the seven deadly sins on a weekly basis. Trump doesn’t just have a shady past; no, he’s got a shady present. During this campaign, he has encouraged violence among his supporters, suggested President Obama founded ISIS, threatened to jail his opponent if elected, and attacked many of his fellow Republicans. How in the world can Mike Pence support any of this with a straight face?
It’s beyond understanding at this point.
But what’s most devastating to me is not Donald Trump or his outrageous behavior. Very little about his conduct is out of character with his persona or celebrity image. He’s always been an over-the-top attention-seeker who makes everything all about him. He’s a showman.
But what I never expected was the go-along attitude that most every elected Republican politician has exhibited during the Trump candidacy. Although there have been a few notable exceptions — such as Senator Lindsey Graham, Governor John Kasich, and Senator Jeff Flake — most other Republicans have either explicitly or implicitly endorsed him. Or, they’ve accepted his candidacy and then slowly walked back their support over time, somehow suggesting that the original stunts he pulled — such as mocking a disabled reporter, making openly racists comments about an ethnically-Mexican judge, and threatening to upend America’s most important international alliances — were fine.
Why weren’t the Republican men and women who purport to love America so fervently willing to protect it from this man? Why?
Fear? Greed? Confusion?
We may never know.
But in my estimation, they failed themselves and they failed this country. They proved that they care more about winning than they care about doing the right thing. They proved they have no values.
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