An Open Letter to Anti-Trump Republicans
To my fellow Trump opponents who have yet to follow me out of the Republican Party,
In the two weeks since we went our separate ways, I have seen many of you face the prospect of the Trump nomination. Reactions have run the gamut, some have left as I did; others – like Jennifer Rubin, are doing something akin to a trial separation; still more are clinging to the Republican label while refusing to back Trump (that’s fairly popular in this corner); and far too many are beginning the long, slow, and punch-drunk journey to the tribalist norm (sorry-not-sorry, Ken).
To those of you in the latter three categories (which include many of my friends, and more than a few fellow BDers), I must beseech you to follow me out, for your own sake.
I’ll start with the trial separators. Rubin’s column is the model for this: walking away from Trump, but willing to come back “maybe in December.” I am compelled to ask: what do you think will be there when you try to come back? Do you honestly think the Trump-led party will be chastened and respectful to you? Do you really think they will suddenly be serious about reducing the size, scope, and cost of government again? Do you really think they’ll return to supporting freer international markets and the assertive defense of American interests?
I’m sorry, but the events of the last several months expose that for the fantasy it is. One could argue that the Republican Party never really cared about any of those things, save for occasional squawks from a leadership cadre to lazy to win arguments among their own supporters, let alone the American public at large. Trump has either recast or revealed the GOP as the Other Big Government Party (or, as I think is more accurate, given his views on trade, his emphasis on Mexico regarding unauthorized immigration, and entitlements, the Big Government for White People Party). Do you really think that reality can be completely undone in December of 2016? Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in his doomed campaign for president, and the effect on the party was so profound it actually changed the political tactics, strategies, and objectives of the very Republican who preceded him and succeeded him as nominee for president. If Goldwater could do that to Nixon himself (and largely by accident, mind you) do you really think the Trumpenproletariat (which is doing this on purpose) will have worse luck with the party?
To be fair, you were at least willing to leave now, and I expect you will see that staying out is the better course when this is over. I will admit to being more confused about those trying to separate the nominee from the party. Scream about entryism all you like (whoops, that’s the British term for outsiders who come in and wrench control of the party), but Trump’s victories are haardly the work of an outside clique. He romped to victory in closed primaries as much as he did open ones. In the region of the country where “moderate” Republicans are supposed to predominate (the Northeast), he’s had his best results. The Republican Party is his party now, not yours. The effects are already obvious here at the Commonwealth level: all three would-be nominees for Governor (Gillespie, Wittman, and Stewart) have bent the knee to Trump. That stain won’t go away next year. Neither will the Trumpenproletariat. They will push their man (Stewart) and ignore your choices – primary or convention.
I’d also advise you to look at those who are becoming VonPapenized: Hunstman, Priebus, Ryan, etc. The building is burning to the ground, and they’re inhaling the fumes while looking longingly into the blueprints and asking, “but where else can we get such a wonderful design?” Many of you are looking at them and shaking your heads…
…but that’s you in six months.
If you can recognize that fear of Clinton is no excuse, how can you justify fear of Ralph Northam?
As for those undergoing VonPapenization, I ask you: is this how you want to be remembered? You may have managed to convince yourselves that Trump is a force of nature, a political novice who can be corralled into doing the right thing. I know better. I’ve watched Trump for over twenty-five years. His only consistencies are the very things that have made your party the racialist embarrassment it now is: trade protectionism with hateful rhetoric aimed at Japan and Mexico, immigration rants that focus on ethnic Mexicans jumping across the Rio Grande with near total silence on the rest of the world jumping visas, and a refusal to address entitlement reform (so the younger and more diverse workforce must continue to pay through the nose for a far whiter group of recipients).
If you think you can change any of that, you’re deluding yourselves.
Frankly, that applies to all of you: that will be the Republican Party of 2017 – win, lose, or draw.
I know it hurts to read that. Truth be told, if I hadn’t been struggling with this since last June, I’d be struggling with it now, just as you are.
As it happened, though, I just got to this point – and past it – first, and let me assure you – There is life after the Republican Party.