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“Say No Go”: When It Comes To Severing Ties With The Radical Right, Better Late Than Never

I’d like to nominate, for next year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, every prominent Republican who has declared, unequivocally, that they will vote for a candidate other than seemingly-inevitable GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in the general election–including former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and neoconservative writer Max Boot.

Granted, it’s fair to ask why these anti-Trump Republicans didn’t abandon ship years before, considering the wingnuttery that existed in the Republican Party long before Trump’s rise. On the other hand, when it comes to severing ties with the radical right, better late than never.

Do you remember the “Obamacans,” the legions of conservatives and Republicans who declared that Barack Obama, not John McCain, was best suited to become the 44th President of the United States? Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell were the two most prominent names on the list of “Obamacans” who were courageous enough to acknowledge that McCain’s selection of silly Sarah was too sickening to stomach.

The anti-Trump Republicans remind me of those brave “Obamacans.” They also remind me of the Republicans who embraced ex-Republican third-party candidate John Anderson in the 1980 presidential election; while I wish those Republicans had set aside their grievances with President Carter, at least they recognized the radicalism of Ronald Reagan–something a majority of the electorate did not.

I imagine that many of these anti-Trump Republicans were simply in denial about just how pathetic their party had become. Maybe they thought the Tea had cooled off. Maybe they thought there was still some semblance of reason and rationality on the right.

The rise of Trump has been a rude awakening for them. They now realize that in today’s GOP, reason is considered treason. They now realize that the party is so far gone that even Jesse Helms would be branded a RINO if he were around today. They now realize that the virus of viciousness is spreading–and that it’s far more dangerous than Ebola or Zika.

Granted, not all of the anti-Trump Republicans deserve to be considered brave. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner embraced the politics of cowardice earlier this year when he suggested that he would remain neutral in the general election:

Beginning with Ronald Reagan, I have voted Republican in every presidential election since I first became eligible to vote in 1980. I worked in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and in the White House for George W. Bush as a speechwriter and adviser. I have also worked for Republican presidential campaigns, although not this time around.

Despite this history, and in important ways because of it, I will not vote for Donald Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.

I should add that neither could I vote in good conscience for Hillary Clinton or any of the other Democrats running for president, since they oppose many of the things I have stood for in my career as a conservative — and, in the case of Mrs. Clinton, because I consider her an ethical wreck. If Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton were the Republican and Democratic nominees, I would prefer to vote for a responsible third-party alternative; absent that option, I would simply not cast a ballot for president. A lot of Republicans, I suspect, would do the same.

I guess Wehner never heard the words of the late historian and activist Howard Zinn:

I don’t believe it’s possible to be neutral. The world is already moving in certain directions. And to be neutral, to be passive in a situation like that is to collaborate with whatever is going on.

As for the anti-Trump Republicans who will not remain neutral but who will take their votes elsewhere, we should welcome them with open arms into the reality-based community. We should praise their willingness to stand up to the scorn of social media and the abuse of angered allies. We should also respectfully ask them: “Hey, what took y’all so long?”

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 19, 2016

March 19, 2016 Posted by | 3rd Party Presidential Candidates, Conservatives, Donald Trump, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Elephant In The Room”: Equality Ought To Be Considered A Conservative Virtue As Well As A Progressive One

While I remain nervous about the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court ultimately not concluding that gay and lesbian couples deserve equal treatment under the law, I was thrilled to see the scion of one of America’s most prominent right-wing families call for gays and lesbians to be treated as full citizens.

Sean Buckley, the grandson of far-right former U.S. Senator James Buckley (who was, of course, the brother of the late National Review founder William F. Buckley), points out that equality ought to be considered a conservative virtue, as well as a progressive one. Considering the rhetorical brutality visited upon another Buckley–WFB’s son Christopher–when he endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, one can only imagine how much courage it took to write this:

A clear majority of Americans now understand that being gay is not a choice. Gradually, this understanding is also extending among conservatives. And over 60% of millennial evangelical youth now support the freedom to marry.

Historically, marriage was primarily considered an economic and political transaction between families. As such, it was too vital of an institution to be entered into solely on the basis of something as irrational as love. It was not until the dawn of the Enlightenment in the 18th century that the idea of marrying primarily for love arrived. Those who opposed this shift saw it as an affront to social order, and rejected it as a dangerous change in the definition of marriage—similar to the arguments today.

But we’ve evolved, and learned that marriage matters for other reasons. At its core the institution of marriage hinges on two individuals committing to one another in life, for life, on a bedrock of love and self-sacrifice, which results in a better environment for raising children.

Above all else, the greatest gift our parents can give us is to teach us how to love—an emotion that gives the human experience both the purpose and meaning that is so critical to a happy and healthy life. I count this as one of the greatest gifts my parents have given me, and hope to one day give the same to my kids. Conservatives are right to argue that the best environment to raise children is within a marriage. However, it has nothing to do with the gender of their parents but instead the love they have for one another.

Unfortunately, Buckley fails to point out that it was progressives (including some progressive-minded Republicans such as former Massachusetts Governors William Weld and the late Paul Cellucci, who appointed three of the four Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court judges who recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry in the 2003 Goodridge v. Department of Public Health ruling) who paved the way for equal treatment under the law for gays and lesbians, over the fierce and hate-filled resistance of Wingnut World. However, to the extent that Sean Buckley’s position is being embraced by a new generation of Republicans, we could be on the verge of seeing the GOP effectively split into two parties–one representing the views of the James Dobson crowd, the other representing the views of Weld and current Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

Granted, I don’t like the idea of Republicans holding fast to equally backward ideas like denying human-caused climate change and embracing the Tax Fairy despite giving up on the gay-bashing in blue and purple states. However, it is of critical importance that homophobia be deprived of as much political and cultural oxygen as possible–and if Sean Buckley can help us all in that regard, then more power to him.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 2, 2015

May 7, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Homophobia, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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