The End of the Old Parties, and the Birth of the New

For the past year, we have been talking about how this election year is going to tear the Republican Party into pieces. It was time, and many of you looked on in fascination as Donald Trump swung the wrecking ball that brought the rotting edifice down.

But if there is one thing clear after election night, it is that the Democratic Party has collapsed. The result was an embarrassment to a political establishment that curried favor with coastal urban progressives, forgetting its roots in labor and the working class. The Clinton Alignment, which saved the Democratic Party from ignominy in the early 1990s, is no longer able to sustain the party of Wilson and FDR.

But there is more to this than either the Democrats or the GOP.

For the first time since 1856, we have the opportunity to build one or more political parties utterly separate from the current two party organizations. We can build 21st Century political parties constructed around the things we all care about.

And we’d better do that soon. Because the alternative is chaos, and the empowerment of leaders who serve themselves, not the people.

 

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

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.

John Kasich’s Missed Opportunity with Women

Source: John Kasich tells women to avoid drunken parties so they don’t get raped.

If you dive past this headline and go back to the source material, you must acknowledge that there is some common sense in what Governor Kasich is saying. I’d tell my own daughter the same thing.

But there is shared culpability here. As a conservative, a person of faith, and the father of a son, I believe that a man has a singular responsibility to contain his urges, to understand that despite the behavior of one’s peers that it is not acceptable to take advantage of a woman, and that indeed he is obliged to take upon himself the responsibility to protect women from harm or offense. I believe that a man who does not do those things is not only no gentleman, he is a thug, aught better than an animal, and should be treated as such.

Naturally, women should minimize their vulnerability. But the preponderance of culpability lies with the aggressor, and as fathers, teachers, clergy, and society, we must start teaching our young men to behave like gentlemen or suffer the consequences.

This was not a “blame the victim” moment to the degree that Slate makes it out to be – Kasich did speak at length about the importance and value of campus policies to protect women, and channels for them to receive justice.

At the same time, I was deeply disappointed that he did not take that one additional step – to point out that while women are not excused from their need to exercise caution, men are never excused from their obligation to protect the vulnerable. He could have made the point that these tenets of personal responsibility – for ourselves and for each other – are fundamental parts of the American character too often ignored by the proponents of nanny statism, and by students of our universities. That would have been a home run.

But in failing to address the totality of the situation, he played into the hands of those who contend that the GOP is waging a war on women, and he made his hamstringing of Planned Parenthood look like the actions of an elected moralist rather than a leader for all Americans.

A disappointment. And another clue why he failed to capture the imagination of even those of us on the right who see ourselves as moderate. I’ll be thinking about Kasich’s failed campaign a lot today as my state goes to the polls.

Donald Trump is no Moderate

Source: Donald Trump is a moderate Republican: That’s why he’s winning.

There has been of late much speculation as to the provenance of Trump’s supporters. Some see Trump’s irredentist caucasian nationalism as de-facto proof that he is a conservative, if not a nascent fascist. But others, including Jamelle Bouie, Slate’s Chief Political Correspondent, point to Trump’s rejection of movement conservatism and exclaim that he is a moderate.

With respect to Bouie, that’s a misdiagnosis, and one that suggests that Bouie doesn’t understand what a moderate (I prefer “centrist”) Republican is or believes. As a centrist Republican myself, I see nothing appealing in Trump or his policies. Pat Buchanan, on the other hand, who is either a “paleocon” or an outright reactionary, adores Trump. All of this suggests that trying to frame all of this as a “conservative” vs. “moderate” issue misses the point.

In truth, Trump’s supporters seem to cut a wide swath across the spectrum, suggesting that his appeal is less ideological than it is a visceral reaction to the perceived political and economic sidelining of white middle-and working-class America. It’s the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” bloc, those left behind by globalization and the information revolution who face dimming economic prospects for themselves and probably their children and grandchildren and lay the blame on the White House lawn and at the steps of the Capitol building.

That’s important. The group at fault here is not the moderates or the conservatives. The problem is with the elites in the party (and, arguably, with both parties.) The nation will only evolve beyond Trumpism when the Democrats and Republicans begin framing a path to a better future for Trump’s supporters that is more convincing than angry nationalism.

Jon Stewart: Trump is the Child of both Dems and GOP

Source: Jon Stewart Pops Up To Deliver Epic Anti-Trump Rant | GOOD

Fascinating. Stewart does offer some amusing and pointed vignettes that summarize the infantilism of Trump. Pointedly, though, he notes that the blame for the emergence of Trumpism cannot be laid at the feet of the GOP alone: the Democrats share a degree of culpability.

The real fun begins at around the 36 minute mark, when Stewart starts truth-telling about the Democrats and the Obama administration, and David Axelrod offers a remarkably lame defense of his former boss and his record.

When historians begin to delve beyond the poisonous rhetoric of the past eight years, past the spew of birthers, the racists and the obstructionists on the one hand and the starry-eyed apologists on the other to try and reveal the reality of this administration and the man at its center, David Axelrod, Ben Rhodes, and John Kerry will offer the most compelling points of entry.

Loyal to whom?

I am compelled to stifle my bile when I watch people whom I once respected get behind this Tyrant-in-Training, all in the name of ideological purity or party loyalty. The truly great conservatives are those who put the nation before party loyalty, even if that means voting for the Democratic candidate.

On the Cusp of Apostasy

The Republican Party I joined promoted fiscal responsibility, strong foreign policy abroad, and individual liberty. The party that I’ve seen of late is one that is none of that.

Source: I Left The “Grand Old Party” Today — The Buckley Club

Luis Mendez
“I left the ‘Grand Old Party” Today”
The Buckley Club
4 May 2016

If nothing else, it is nice to know that I am not the only Republican living on the horns of this particular dilemma today.

But I’m not leaving yet. I would rather let the edifice of the party burn around me, knowing that when the time comes to clean up the wreckage and build anew, I’ll be on scene and ready to begin.

We knew that a Republican disruption was coming in 2016. What none of us could have predicted was that Donald Trump would be the one to finally sunder the GOP.