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“The Threat He Embodies”: Against Fascism; For Honest Conservatives, The Only Answer Is #NeverTrump

From his opening slur against Mexicans to his current coddling of the Ku Klux Klan, Donald Trump has shaped the Republican presidential race into a character test for conservatives. For months too many of the country’s most prominent figures on the right have failed to respond adequately to the threat he embodies. Yet now, as Trump seems favored to clinch the GOP nomination, a growing cohort of principled Republicans is forthrightly proclaiming #NeverTrump – and placing country and Constitution above narrow partisanship.

It may be too late to save the Grand Old Party from the extremist contamination that Trump represents, but it is never too late to stand on principle.

Many Republicans have opposed Trump all along, of course, while supporting one or another alternative on the party’s overcrowded debate stage. The casino mogul was too vulgar, too inexperienced, too empty, too populist, or simply too compromised by his long record of contradictory political positions and alliances. Back when all of the Republican presidential candidates signed that pledge to support the eventual nominee, however, uniting the party behind Trump still seemed possible. They didn’t trust him, but they might have supported him anyway in order to win back the White House.

That tempting path is no longer open for any honorable conservative – and fortunately for America, there seems to be quite an assortment of them, including Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, RedState editor Erick Erickson, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, and Iowa radio personality Steve Deace. Although they held varying opinions of Trump until recently, they agree today that his appeals to bigotry, his despotic attitudes, and his coziness with white supremacists and neo-Nazis are — as Scarborough put it — “disqualifying” for his presidential candidacy.

And while others like Ann Coulter, Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and radio host Hugh Hewitt still promote Trump, to their eternal disgrace, the #NeverTrump conservatives have vowed not to support or vote for him under any circumstances.

Nobody should discount how difficult that stance must be for committed Republicans, especially given the strong likelihood that Hillary Clinton will secure the Democratic nomination. Not a few of them sincerely despise her (and none of them would be thrilled with a President Bernie Sanders, either). Nevertheless they appear to realize that Trump is in a wholly different category from any normal partisan or ideological foe. There is more at stake than a single election, even an election as significant as this one.

It is fair to wonder why so many conservatives didn’t seem to comprehend Trump’s toxic essence from the moment he brayed about Mexican “rapists” in his rambling announcement speech. For too long, right-wing pundits and politicians seemed much more disturbed by his past positions on healthcare, abortion, and guns than his current appeals to racism, xenophobia, and violence. Even last January, when the National Review devoted an entire issue to essays scourging Trump, most contributors worried about his issue positions and electability rather than his demagogic contempt for American values.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party and the conservative movement have not yet confronted the profound problems that Trump did not cause but merely symbolizes. His rise can be traced to the racial undercurrent in the Tea Party movement, the segregationist legacy of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, the Willie Horton tactics used by George H.W. Bush, and the Southern strategy deployed by Richard Nixon – indeed, the whole long history of ugliness not just tolerated but often celebrated on the right. Combined with the coarse, vacuous culture epitomized by Fox News and encouraged by the right’s leading intellectuals, that tainted history made someone like Trump almost inevitable.

Whether the party of Abraham Lincoln can be preserved and rehabilitated in the aftermath of a Trump nomination remains to be seen. For conservatives determined to rescue their movement and their party from fascist perdition, the way forward is clear if painful. Author and journalist Max Boot — who was among the first conservatives to reject Trump for the right reasons — addressed the depth of their dilemma with refreshing candor.

“I’m a lifelong Republican,” he reflected on Twitter the other day, “but [the] Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true.” Bitter as it is, that verdict may signal the possibility of real reform someday.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, The National Memo, March 1, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Is It Constitutional, The Civil Rights Act?”: Learning To Live With The Civil Rights Act, 50 Years Later

Freshman U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) has mainly drawn attention as a Tea Party ultra who somehow managed to draw a Tea Party ultra ultra 2014 primary opponent with rather exotic extracurricular activities.

But he may be fairly typical of his ideological cohort in having some, well, problems coming to grips with major legislation enacted a half-century ago, per this report from Scott Keyes of Think Progress:

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a freshman congressman aligned with the Tea Party, held a town hall Monday evening in Gainesville where he fielded a wide range of questions from constituents. One such voter was Melvin Flournoy, a 57-year-old African American from Gainesville, who asked Yoho whether he believes the Civil Rights Act is constitutional.

The easy answer in this case — “yes” — has the benefit of also being correct. But Yoho found the question surprisingly difficult.

“Is it constitutional, the Civil Rights Act?” Yoho repeated before giving his reply: “I wish I could answer that 100 percent.” The Florida Republican then went on to strongly imply it may be unconstitutional: “I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land.”

Well, that’s mighty nice of him to acknowledge the Supremacy Clause, not a universal tendency among self-styled Constitutional Conservatives.

But the difficulty a lot of CCers have with the Civil Rights Act–which almost certainly exceeds public expression, given the rather controversial nature of fighting the particular lost cause that helped sink their predecessor Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign–comes from three distinct but interrelated sources. The wonkiest issue is hostility to the Commerce Clause jurisprudence on which the Public Accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act relied for regulating private discriminatory business practices. It’s very common in conservative legal circles to deplore the extension of federal power via the Commerce Clause during a chain of Supreme Court decisions beginning in the 1930s; Chief Justice Roberts famously refused to accept a Common Cause rationale for the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

A second argument that would have been more familiar to Goldwater and to the southern segregationists who flocked to his 1964 campaign is a states’ rights objection to federal regulation of race relations. While today’s neo-secessionists would try to stay a million miles from racial issues in arguing that “state sovereignty” retains meaning even after the Civil War, it still has a ghostly power in conservative circles.

And then there is the idea, embraced off-and-on by the Paul family, that the Civil Rights Act simply violates fundamental principles of private property rights that cannot be trammeled for any cause, however justifiable.

It’s unclear which of these conservative concerns about the Civil Rights Act Ted Yoho shares, notwithstanding his willingness to bend the knee to the “law of the land.” But it’s interesting that he and other constitutional conservatives can’t quite suppress their discomfort with a legal regime that ensures people aren’t denied access to restaurants and hotels and other business because of the color of their skins.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 15, 2014

April 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Rights Act, Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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