The republic will survive. The Republican Party is a different story.
I stole the headline from Professor Randy Barnett, whose new book “Our Republican Constitution” is a must read. And when the choice is two reprehensible, corrupt, and immoral demagogues, you can always pick the ethical way out and say none of the above. The republic will survive an election cycle.
The Republican Party is a different story, however. For those who are idealists about the Constitution–and there are probably far fewer than some of us like to imagine–there are a number of reasons to sabotage The Party of Trump, even if it ends with a Hillary presidency. The first is salvaging some of your own dignity and principles. But there are other, long-term political advantages to beating back an authoritarian populist who peddles conspiracy theories and big-government schemes and doesn’t have a freshman-level comprehension about the basic workings of American governance.
Trump has already exposed various pretend anti-establishmentarians, hucksters, and statists masquerading as conservatives—Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Rick Scott, and Jon Huntsman come to immediate mind. A party without any guiding ideology or principles is a party of nothing but opportunists. This goes for party “establishment”—and that includes big donors and the RNC—which has never moved to stop Trump, although his agenda and tone stands in contrast to everything they preached in their “autopsy.”
More dangerously, it’s clear that, led by the conservative entertainment complex, many voters are willing bend their own views to match the ever-changing positions of Trump. As George Will put it recently, “quislings will multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history.” All the legitimate anger they had about failing institutions has been wasted on frauds.
It’s quite possible Reaganism is no long relevant or popular with a majority of voters on the Right. Do people believe in conservatism (widely understood) because it’s popular, or because they find some truth in it? If it’s the latter, conservatives can either chase Trump fans by attempting to make a compelling case, offer some new ideas or better arguments, or they can surrender and adopt Trumpism and reward the least classically liberal candidate in Republican Party history.
Although others on this site and elsewhere have used it, this Alexander Hamilton quote is perfect for the situation: “If we must have an enemy at the head of government let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.” A Hillary presidency, even with a Republican Congress, will be a disaster for conservatives. But it was the constitutional idealism of the Tea Party that held back Democrats and establishment GOPers from working together to expand the reach of government. A turn to white identity politics and anger is turn away from that idealism.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.