Hold, Fold, Walk Away
It was only recently, quite honestly, that I restored my membership in the Grand Old Party. I had defected in the late nineties in favor of Libertarianism which I, in my wiser thirties, decided was too radical and un-nuanced an answer to our nation’s ills. I’ve always considered myself a Jeffersonian, and agree that his brand of liberal democracy is best suited for a small insular, wealthy, homogeneous, market-directed nation. His theories and writings, quite aside from his biting politics, form the basis for an ideal, academic thought experiment.
Alas, that is not our America; while I think this was potentially Jefferson’s America—an America made, in many ways, rich on the backs of slaves—it is an America that can’t—without a severe and painful social, economic and cultural restructuring—be recaptured. Besides the dark past of Libertarianism’s (then called Democratic-Republicans) first true experiment in America, pure modern Libertarianism, informed most famously by the objectivist theories of Ayn Rand, devolves into selfishness, arrogance, and self-absorption (and awful prose).
Ultimately I decided that my vote would be worth more within the big tent of the Republican party where the broad, watered-down, relatively sustainable institutions of limited government, expanding opportunity, personal responsibility, free enterprise, free speech, strong national defense, and fraternity through patriotism could temper the potential pitfalls of pure ideology. I would help widen the tent from within the party, I argued to my friends as I began sending my efforts to the Republicans and their candidates. I had no reason to expect that I would soon wish for the known knowns (thanks Rummy) of theoretical politics.
Little did I predict that the 2015 Republican party could be hijacked by a personality that stood for all the worse byproducts of Libertarianism without, at least, the well-developed personal ideology. And yet, a part of the (formerly) Grand OP has been blinded into a view of America that is thoroughly unAmerican: built on anger and gambles instead of optimism and rationality.
Even if you argue that there might be some missing context around the following quotes, the fact that these could be mined at all proves, at best, a complete lack of diplomatic skills and, at worst a robust, simplistic disdain for decency.
“I’m the worst thing that’s ever happened to ISIS,” bragging without a real plan to Barbara Walters in December.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,”in the third-person to a rally in Charleston just last December.
“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong,” doubling down on Jimmy Fallon’s show in September.
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her… wherever,” gushing incomprehensibly about GOP debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” of patriot and Republican demi-god John McCain in July.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting,” announcing his presidential candidacy in June and setting the stage for the greatest disappointment to befall the Republican party since David Duke.
And speaking of borders:
“We have to have a wall. We have to have a border. And in that wall we’re going to have a big fat door where people can come into the country, but they have to come in legally,” obtusely arguing for the most poorly articulated public works program since the Berlin Wall.
Orientalist bordering on racist, sexist bordering on misogynistic, bombastic bordering on insulting , ill-informed bordering on asinine, and divisive bordering on, well, every single possible border, he’s wrapped in an abrasive, un-elegant, simple-spoken, intellectually vacuous, string of self-aggrandizing ideological bankruptcies. Based on celebrity and the ability to work a news-cycle for soundbites, he has been nothing but lucky in business and now politics. He’s a gambler who has a penchant for letting it ride until the luck runs out and then, rather than simply leaving the table, razing the entire casino to remove evidence of his failure.
He speaks for himself and himself only. He does not speak for my Republican Party, nor even for the Republican Party I abandoned the Libertarian Party for during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
I will not even grant that he is a flipper of flops because that implies that he once held a set of beliefs and now holds another on guns, abortion, and healthcare, for example. By his own admission, he supported causes and candidates in the past in order to rig the odds in his business gambles. By our own observation today, we can see that positions, often inconsistent with his constituencies’ or a coherent ideology, are meant to fuhrer…er, further, damn autocorrect…his own personal brand.
Even Bernie Sanders has ideas. I may not agree with them—many of them—but I respect that he has put thought into practice and developed a cohesive set of policy solutions to see his vision through. He can clearly and unequivocally articulate a set of thoughts. For that, I respect Senator Sanders.
So, in light of this week’s caucuses, and as I consider my vote in the primary and then in November, I know that I could vote (warts and all) for Wonky Jeb!, Throwback Kasich, Combative Christie, Rosy-cheeked Rubio, Feisty Fiorina, or even grudgingly Libertarianish Paul. Short of these choices, I could vote, Benghazi and all, for Teflon Hilz who would—despite liberal primary posturing—lead like Bill, Bush and Barry, from a pragmatic center. Short of that, I’m at a complete loss.
Who I will not ever vote for is clear.
As I wander through the northeast this week, I pick up grumblings about a Bloomberg third party candidacy; I’m all in.