Former FBI Director James Comey recently called on voters to elect Democrats this November saying, “Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.”
And just a few weeks ago, conservative George Will authored an op-ed titled, “Vote Against the GOP this November.” Will wrote, “In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him.”
A writer for my favorite National Review slapped back that Will has lost his mind and spewed a lengthy list of reasons why voting for Democrats is not a smart idea, saying it does not make sense to destroy the GOP to save it.
Anyone who regularly listens to or reads my weekly commentaries knows I think Trump is unfit to be our president. You know, too, I unaffiliated with the state GOP when Trump was elected and when Utah’s crazies fell behind him in lockstep. So I am always interested in any attempt to get him out of office. Unfortunately, the remedy proposed by Will and Comey – both men I admire greatly – probably would do more harm than good, or at least simply trade one pack of scoundrels for another – not unlike the so-called choice voters had in November 2016.
One scenario could placate my concern: Democrats win the House but Republicans keep the Senate. If that were to happen, at least there is a strong likelihood that the Democrats would vote to impeach Trump – much like House Republicans did to Bill Clinton. True, the Senate would not vote to try his impeachment, but the mere expression of sanity by House Democrats might be enough to sway me in November.
As usual, my focus on this idea to oust Republicans – and neutralize Trump, at least in theory – concerns the underlying issue: What leads intelligent conservatives to oppose the Trump presidency? So much so, that they are willing to hand over power to deeper state opponents? These questions have nagged me since the 2016 primaries. Put another way, why would otherwise intelligent people support Trump?
For the life of me, it makes no rational sense. Trump is a buffoon and now, in light of his loyalty to Putin, possibly either a useful idiot to a foreign enemy or an unwitting traitor to his country. What about Trump makes all of this okay for Republicans?
The only answer I see are the spoils that come from political victory. It is tribal. There is nothing deeply profound happening in defense of Trump. It is about spoils. It is not about conservative policies or judges. Mindless Republican support for Trump is about negating opponents – taking from them, however able, what they cherish most.
The more interesting question remains why intelligent conservatives – many of them anyway – are willing to essentially throw the baby out with the bath water?
I, too, argued early on that a Clinton presidency would be much better for the long-term life of conservatism than Trump. But, at its core, intelligent conservative opposition to Trump rests upon a reverence for the American political tradition. This reverence was best described by conservative Allan Brownfield as he observed the 2016 campaign. He wrote,
“In the Republican presidential race, name-calling and insults have taken center-stage. If anyone thinks this represents any form of legitimate conservative discourse, they are seriously mistaken. Tearing our government down and viewing the opposition party as virtual enemy agents is hardly a formula designed to bring Americans together to confront the many challenges, foreign and domestic, which confront us.
“And the idea that men and women with no experience in government are the best people to put in charge of our increasingly complex civic enterprise is many things, none of them conservative. We need steady leadership that understands where the levers of power are and how to use them. The world around us has become an increasingly perilous place. To keep our country safe and secure, amateurs and fantasists are hardly what any traditional conservative would recommend.
“The conservative political tradition is an honorable and thoughtful one, imbued with an understanding of man’s nature, the necessity for limits on government power, and a respect for differences of opinion. That tradition is now in danger of disappearing as many who proclaim themselves “conservative” today have replaced it with something far different. What they have embraced, in fact, cannot be called a political philosophy at all.”
That is what bothers me about Trump and why many conservatives are willing to trade an idiot today for even more partisans tomorrow.