A New Era

Aside

Two things will for certain place our nation onto the path to tyranny: coddling the lazy and the indolent, or coddling the wealthy and powerful.

If you have not already, please go vote. And regardless of who wins tonight, let us commit ourselves to ensuring that the new administration understands both the nature and limits of the mandate we have given it.

The polls are not helping

2016 Election 2016 Presidential Polls

Source: RealClearPolitics – 2016 Election 2016 Presidential Polls

 

If this election is proving anything – to me, at least – it is proving that polls are al over the place, and therefore both singly and collectively unhelpful in judging the zeitgeist.

If I were a pollster when this was all over, I’d be taking a long, hard look at my craft and wonering whether this might not be a good time to throw away the book on public opinion research and start all over again.

Just my stressed-out $0.02.

Hope you’re having a great day.

Beneath our Consideration

Quote

The man is contemptible. For the record, he never served in Vietnam, having received a student deferment to complete his Ivy League business degree, and later a medical deferment, supposedly over bone spurs in his feet. He lied to the press about his deferment status. This became an issue after he criticized John McCain as a loser for being captured and tortured by the North Vietnamese. I had forgotten about Trump’s trashing McCain’s service. I am very glad McCain, a hawkish hothead, did not become president, but Trump’s making fun of him as a POW and torture victim is, well, contemptible.

— Rod Dreher
Gold Star Father Clobbers Tin Pot Politician”
The American Conservative

American Bully

Alarmed by Donald J. Trump’s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Mr. Trump’s litigation history. The report concluded that Mr. Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court.But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.”

Source: Fearing Trump, Bar Association Stifles Report Calling Him a ‘Libel Bully’ – The New York Times

Leaving aside the delicious irony of a bunch of lawyers declining to speak openly because of a fear of being sued, this is a new low in American democracy.

Not even Richard Nixon, in his worst days, was this much of a bully to his enemies. This man does not only belong in the White House, there is some question in my mind as to whether Americans have a moral obligation to shun any enterprise into which Donald Trump has placed his name, his interests, or both.

Is Trump a Neo-Nazi?

I had a good friend send me this article today that draws a direct line between Trump’s messaging on immigration and the rhetoric of the most notorious neo-Nazi and white supremacist websites. After reading it he asked me:

Could the candidate truly be neo Nazi and not know it? That would confirm the power of delusion and clinical megalomania… But do we really believe he’s actually unhinged?

My response was essentially this:

Without doubt, there is sufficient semblance between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, tactics, and mannerisms and those of the Adolf Hitler to trouble anyone familiar with the German elections of 1933. But pegging Trump as a neo-Nazi seems to be going a bit far. Several analysts, many even more disenchanted with Mr. Trump than I, have explained in detail why Trump is neither a fascist nor an American Schicklgruber. Instead, they say, we should see Trump as an American Marie Le Pen or Frauke Petry rather than old Adolf: they are shrill, they play to a small yet fanatical audience, and lack a Dr. Goebbels to help them.

So these nationalists are not yet a Nazi-like threat – not yet, anyway, if polling is any indication. Fourteen days before the US election it seems that the only thing that could change that anytime soon would be election fraud on an unprecedented scale.

Still, the right-wing populists are accelerants for the thuggish undercurrents that too often surface when nominally civilized societies are wracked by change. For Europe and America, Islamism is today what communism was for much of the 20th century: a force threatening to upend the social order and political institutions upon which the West is rooted. Hunting’s clash of civilizations is upon us, but it is playing out in our cities rather than across remote global geopolitical fault-lines.

That issue is real, and it terrifies people. The right is riding that fear, and addressing it in the most rodent-level manner possible. But the blame is shared. The populism of the right is abetted by the haplessness of the Left. Liberal admonishments to tolerate Islam and sympathize with the refugees are no substitute for policies that could address the real security challenges accompanying a wave of migration from West Asia or the integration of groups who live according to rules that challenge the precepts of liberal democracy.

Until the left – and in America, I mean the full spectrum from Hillary to Bernie – acknowledges the threat of Islamism to free societies even as they underscore that Islamism is not Islam, you’ll have people voting for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world who are smart enough to know better but too scared to care.

And if the left does not, and if the right continues to cleave to white supremacy and xenophobia as guiding principles, then it will fall to those of us at the center to craft a wiser path to the future.

The Moose and the Elephant: Leaving the GOP

Lean a little more to the right, maybe?

Those who have been reading this blog for some time will notice that we have, once again, undergone a facelift. This time it is for more that aesthetic reasons: it is meant to signal a change.

For a long time, this site and my political activities have been devoted to the fruitless effort to rescue the wagon that is the Republican Party from its accelerating slide down the steep slope to the right. After five years, I have come to terms with the fact that this is a hopeless quest. Long before Donald Trump reared his bilious physiognomy above the political parapet, it was clear that the party was in deep need of change, and that far too few Republicans either acknowledged this or had the faintest inkling of what that change might look like.

But the past few months, culminating with Trump’s nomination at the most shameful political gathering since the last Reichsparteitag in Nuremburg in 1938, have provided sufficient evidence that the GOP is incapable of meaningful, deep reform, even in the face of its most severe existential crisis in a century. The party’s lurch beyond conservatism points our republic toward a dark and terrifying future. We can either get off the wagon and do something, or we will by inaction consign the nation to the darkness.

And while I consider myself to be a conservative, I have found that the term has become so abused as to be almost meaningless, and that I have as little in common with the vast majority of conservative pundits and politicians as I do with those of the left.

Political conservatism to me is a dedication to two things: first, the principles that motivated the Founding Fathers as embodied in their writings and in the Charters of Freedom (The United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights); and second, the proposition that even the best system of governance is infinitely perfectible and thus dynamic. Conservatism should not throw itself athwart the road to change, but should embody ongoing reform informed by a wise balance of caution and progress.

Sadly, the most vocal proponents of conservatism seek to twist it into something far more regressive, robbing it of its balance in the name of dogmatic orthodoxy or more nefarious motives. When slavish devotion to free markets leads conservative thinkers like Thomas Sowell to inveigh against Teddy Roosevelt, the right no longer stands for reform but for a backslide into the cauldron of laissez-faire capitalism, robber barons, corporate monopolies, corruption, and vast income inequalities. The future promised by this sort of conservatism is not America: it is decline and dissolution. Christian conservatism would see America declare itself a Christian nation, and impose Christian values in the classroom, the bedroom, and the examination room. A theocracy dominated by plutocrats is the promise, enough nearly to rename the GOP the Banana Republican party.

Either we consign the GOP to the past, or we consign ourselves to the dystopia it promises.

In an effort to be a part of a better future, one informed by a conservatism that captures the promise of the 21st Century while holding true to the enlightened vision forged in the 18th, I am today leaving the Republican Party. I do so with a heavy heart and great reluctance. But to paraphrase my wife when she speaks of her own roots, I love the Republican Party, but the GOP that I love does not exist anymore.

But I also do so with a belief that such changes are good for the country, if for no other reason than they compel us to cast off the fetters of short-termism and special interests and enable us to engage in a more visionary and constructive conversation. This is what motivated Ronald Reagan in 1980, Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and the men and women who put everything on the line 240 years ago to craft a new nation.

 

I will share more about where the Bull Moose is headed in the coming weeks.