Apr 152017
 

I have often disagreed with your party’s positions, but I usually could tell what they were. Although there were always some exceptions, there was a general coherence to them. You were the Sam the Eagles of American governance, statesmen above all else, and champions of a steady hand on the tiller of America, even when progress might perhaps have required a somewhat freer one.

That is not who you are now. You have put a mercurial, war-mongering clown at the head of your party, installed him in the White House, and are now standing silently by as he is aided and abetted by a team that, with rare exception, is at best incompetent if not also purposefully bent on undermining every institution that has protected the American people for generations. Far from being the conservative play, by letting his intemperate and frequently lawless behavior go unchecked you have been enabling the dissolution of every bit of stability – economic, political, and, perhaps worst of all, diplomatic – the nation and its security depends on. Stability that your own party has proudly claimed to have worked so hard to build.

While there are some among your ranks who appear to be gleeful for the GOP to suddenly be unshackled from the norms of decency, diplomacy, and competency, I have to believe that they are the minority. But as long as the majority is frozen in paralyzed impotence, the minority is redefining who you are, and who this country gets to be.

I suspect the fear to act against the threat Trump poses to all you have held dear is rooted in the sense that your own power is dependent on the Faustian bargain you believe you’ve had to strike with the people who voted for him. I urge you to rethink your analysis. Trump may have brought a surprising number of people to the polls, but their motivations were not all the same. It would be a mistake to act as if Trump voters were one giant block that doles out political support for the same consistent reasons. It would similarly be a mistake to presume that you will be entitled to their future support if you do nothing to stop him, just as it is a mistake to presume that their margins will not be far eclipsed by all the voters so alarmed by Trump’s performance to date that they have regularly, and at unprecedented levels, flooded phone lines and town halls and even the streets. As more and more people are hurt by his presidency fewer and fewer will continue to support him or the people who have enabled him. Do not let his sinking polls sink you too.

Especially not when there is so little for you to gain by continuing to support his presidency. While you may have experienced a few erstwhile victories for some of your preferred policies, Trump has shown himself to be ill-equipped to advance anything resembling a true conservative political agenda. As a penny-wise, pound-foolish spendthrift executive who carelessly raids the public fisc, often for his own personal benefit, he is anathema to all conservative notions of fiscal prudence and fair play. Even when he has not been in outright conflict with traditional conservative principles, his belligerence and ignorance have also made him incapable of marshalling the political will to advance policies reflecting them or create any long-term consensus behind the values they represent.

The reality is that if Trump were not carrying the GOP label, none of this conversation would be necessary. Instead you would be marshalling all your political capital and pushing back against him, hard, and you would be seen as heroes for it. Now you have left all the heroism for Democrats, and, even speaking as someone who has traditionally voted for them, that is not good for anyone. As you have long, and at times reasonably, complained, Democrats can sometimes want dumb things. We need to have a credible opposition party that can push back when they do. But as long as only Democrats are willing or able to see and respond to the existential threat to America and the world posed by the Trump presidency, voters who can also see how much he is jeopardizing the safety, security, and economy of the country have no choice but to vote for the Democratic Party—because even at their dumbest there is nothing Democrats push for that could possibly jeopardize the safety, security, and economy of the country as much any more than Trump so blithely does with even a single early morning tweet.

It does not serve your values, or America, to force us to have to make that choice. It does not serve your values, or America, for you to tolerate Trump in order to entrench your political power for the future when everything Trump does so significantly threatens that future.

As Trump is so fond of saying, “Make America Great.” The nation is waiting for that empty slogan to be turned into meaningful action. But since he has shown himself incapable of it, and only you are currently in the political position to achieve it, that task falls to you. And it should be where you shine.

As the party of Lincoln you have held this country together in the face of forces that would divide it. As the party of Eisenhower you have helped ensure that its offer of liberty was available to all its people. You are a party that has venerated law and order, and a party that has never been shy in insisting that America deserves the best. As the party of conservativism you have stood for careful, expert, deliberative governance as being what’s best. It is time now to stand up for those values and be that party again to protect our country from a man whose presidency has been so foreign to it all.

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