Watching the G.O.P. convention this week I keep waiting to hear what my party believes in. I want to be inspired, not frightened. I don't want to listen to a mob yelling "lock her up" about the Democratic nominee--tyrannical regimes lock up the opposition, democracies defeat them at the polls. I didn't become a Republican to vent my anger. I became one to follow my aspirations. If the party hopes to keep voters like me in the fold it is going to have to appeal to my principles not just stoke fear and loathing of the other nominee. ("I Want a Party to Inspire Me, Not Frighten Me," The New York Times, updated, 21 July 2016: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/07/21/what-is-the-republican-party/i-want-a-party-to-inspire-me-not-frighten-me )Who is Linda Chavez? A writer for Salon? A recent Republican convert? No. Linda Chavez was White House Director of Public Liaison under President Reagan and Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush. She is president of the non-profit Becoming American Institute, a conservative think-tank focusing on immigration reform.
In a response to Chris Christie's bellicose bellowing at the RNC, in which he led a screaming audience in a display of mob "justice," Jeff Flake had this to say on Twitter: "@HillaryClinton belongs in prison? C'mon. We can make the case that she shouldn't be elected without jumping the shark." (https://twitter.com/JeffFlake/status/755617805249056768)
Who is Jeff Flake? He is a fiscal conservative Republican who first served in the U.S. Congress for the 1st congressional district of Arizona. In 2012, Arizonians elected him to the US Senate.
David Frum, conservative author and commentator and speechwriter for President George W. Bush, just tweeted his response to Trump's claims about Hillary Clinton: "But it isn't really funny, is it, that a nominee for president regularly issues insanely false allegations of murder and treason." (https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/756517548724723712)
Mike Murphy, whom the National Journal named one of the "Ten Republicans to Follow on Twitter," and who has advised such Republican luminaries as John McCain, Bob Dole, and Lamar Alexander, said this of Donald Trump and his "handlers" (Paul Manafort, Tony Fabrizio, the now-fired Cory Lewandowski):
The problem is, they're like Charles Manson's fox trot instructors. Yeah, they could teach him how to dance. But he's too busy trying to cut their heads off, because he's insane.When asked if Trump was a threat to democratic institutions, Murphy replied that Trump has fascist tendencies, that:
[i]n every question of politics, he [Trump] goes to one analogy which is, "What's my leverage to, like, not pay the loan?" So if his main thing is, "Well, I just won't pay, I'll start a trade war as an instrument of policy" — it's so blindingly stupid. I mean, the problem is Trump doesn't know what he doesn't know, and he doesn't know very much.
And so that would leave him with a very small arsenal of blunt instruments as president. If we become a dysfunction banana republic, are we still the reserve currency? You know, because right now, the dollar's the safest thing in the world because we're seen as stable. If we're a banana republic, that goes away. And it would be a catastrophic loss for our country and our geo-political position. And a clown president would do that. (John Harwood's interview with Mike Murphy, 9 June 2016: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/09/trump-nom--archeologists-will-be-studying-the-ruins-for-awhile-gop-strategist.html)Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy advisor to President Ronald Reagan and Treasury official under President George H. W. Bush, has become an outspoken critic of the party he once called his own, so angry with the direction that the Republican party is going that on his Twitter feed he announces that he "now thinks GOP panders to fools, whom he calls wankers." Reading Bartlett's Twitter feed is like reading the howling voice of a righteous Old Testament prophet or the madness of a King Lear, angry over the sins of a once beloved people. "The great sin of traditional Republicans like David Brooks," he tweeted 4 hours ago, "was of omission--not denouncing hate and know-nothingism as it took over their party." (https://twitter.com/BruceBartlett/status/756487769879408640)
Yesterday, Bartlett tweeted: "When Trump won GOP nomination Phase 1 of my plan to destroy the GOP was complete. With Roger Ailes canned from Fox, Phase 2 is now complete." (https://twitter.com/BruceBartlett/status/756244089604014080) And:
Bartlett's Old Testament prophet voice rises to a crescendo in the opening paragraph of a recent New York Times op-ed:
- "GOP policies for the nation are same followed in southern states for 150 years, but South has always been poorest region (https://twitter.com/BruceBartlett/status/756238498311577600)
- "Since George Will abandoned the wanker party his columns have improved. Now reports inconvenient facts." (https://twitter.com/BruceBartlett/status/756159911835406336)
- "White Nationalists Love Trump's Convention: 'GOP is Becoming the De Facto White Party'" (https://twitter.com/BruceBartlett/status/755856066907344896)
- "Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate, but we've had worse presidents. We've never done worse than Donald Trump." ( https://twitter.com/BruceBartlett/status/755798231850909696)
The Republican party today is basically a coalition of grievances united by one thing: hatred. Hatred of immigrants, hatred of minorities, hatred of intellectuals, hatred of gays, feminists and many other groups too numerous to mention. What binds them together is hatred of Democrats because they are welcoming to every group that Republicans reject. ("The Republican Party has become the party of hate," updated, 21 July 2016: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/07/21/what-is-the-republican-party/the-republican-party-has-become-the-party-of-hate )This is from the man who has as a banner on his Twitter page a photo of President Ronald Reagan with various advisors. (I recognize the younger Barlett as well as Gary Bauer.)
Though many other Republicans have repudiated Donald Trump in their fear for the Republic for which we stand under Trump's "leadership," I end here with the voice that I now think of as the Eeyore of Republican politics, David Brooks:
Welcome to a world without rules. (I want you to read this paragraph in your super-scary movie trailer voice.) Welcome to a world in which families are mowed down by illegal immigrants, in which cops die in the streets, in which Muslims rampage the innocents and threaten our very way of life, in which fear of violent death lurks in every human heart.
Sometimes in that blood-drenched world a dark knight rises. You don't have to admire or like this knight. But you need this knight. He is your muscle and your voice in a dark, corrupt and malevolent world.
Such has been the argument of nearly every demagogue since the dawn of time. Aaron Burr claimed Spain threatened the U.S. in 1806. A. Mitchell Palmer exaggerated the Red Scare in 1919 and Joe McCarthy did it in 1950.
And such was Donald Trump's law-and-order argument in Cleveland on Thursday night. ("The Dark Knight," The New York Times, 22 July 2016: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/opinion/campaign-stops/the-dark-knight.html)In other words, welcome to demagoguery, welcome to Night in America.
Note: I did a little editing immediately after posting.