I’m an admirer of Daniel Pipes. he is distinguished scholar, a public servant, and an author. Of course he has a very public point of view that not everyone shares: he is a staunch advocate for Israel. Israel has become a divisive political issue for Americans. Gradually, but steadily, in the post-Truman/Eisenhower era, the Democrats, sometimes for crass, partisan, reasons, and sometimes for good, sound policy ones, became more and more pro-Arab and the Republicans, almost reflexively, became more and more solidly pro-Israel. It was not surprising, therefore, for me to read that Prof Pipes has been a Republican for 44 years … but no longer. He left the party, he explains at the linked article, because it selected Donald Trump as its candidate for president.
Let me make sure that readers understand that I believe, firmly, that Hillary Clinton was a bad senator, a really bad Secretary of State, is a dishonest, corrupt person ~ she takes the Democratic Party back 150 years to Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, and all that ~ and I think she will be a really poor president if elected. But, despite the fact that I think she should be in prison, not on the campaign trail, I do not think she is any worse than Donald Trump.
Prof Pipes gives five reasons for “bailing” from the Republican Party, all related to Mr Trump:
- “First, Trump’s boorish, selfish, puerile, and repulsive character, combined with his prideful ignorance, his off-the-cuff policy making, and his neo-fascistic tendencies make him the most divisive and scary of any serious presidential candidate in American history. He is precisely “the man the founders feared,” in Peter Wehner’s memorable phrase. I want to be no part of this.
- Second, his flip-flopping on the issues (“everything is negotiable”) means that, as president, he has the mandate to do any damn thing he wants. This unprecedented and terrifying prospect could mean suing unfriendly reporters or bulldozing a recalcitrant Congress. It could also mean martial law. Count me out.
- Third, with honorable exceptions, I wish to distance myself from a Republican Party establishment that made its peace with Trump to the point that it unfairly repressed elements at the national convention in Cleveland that still tried to resist his nomination. Yes, politicians and donors must focus on immediate issues (Supreme Court justice appointments) but party leaders like GOP committee chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrongly acquiesced to Trump. As columnist Michael Gerson wryly notes, Trump “attacked the Republican establishment as low-energy, cowering weaklings. Now Republican leaders are lining up to surrender to him – like low-energy, cowering weaklings.”
- Fourth, the conservative movement, to which I belong, has developed since the 1950s into a major intellectual force. It did so by building on several key ideas (limited government, a moral order, and a foreign policy reflecting American interests and values). But the cultural abyss and constitutional nightmare of a Trump presidency will likely destroy this delicate creation. Ironically, although a Hillary Clinton presidency threatens bad Supreme Court justices, it would leave the conservative movement intact.
- Finally, Trump is “an ignorant, amoral, dishonest and manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard” in the words of Republican donor Michael K. Vlock. That charming list of qualities means supporting Trump translates into never again being able to criticize a Democrat on the basis of character. Or, in personal terms: How can one look at oneself in the mirror?“
I find Daniel Pipes’ reasoning 100% persuasive and I say, shame on those “low-energy, cowering weaklings” in the GOP who are behind Mr Trump. I hope they are all consigned to the trash heap of history when Donald Trump, finally, does destroy the misnamed American conservative movement.
It’s no secret, I suppose, that I think that American policy and politics have both been on a downwards arc since John Kennedy assumed the office of president in 1960. The downward trajectory has been pretty steady .. it may (Reagan) have levelled a bit, or, at least, the rate of decline may have slowed, but, by and large America has been poorly, often ineptly lead and guided by its presidents, its congress, and its public intellectuals for 65 years. But, Donald Trump and the politics of fear and envy is not the answer … neither is Ms Clinton and the “snake oil” she is peddling.
America is a great country, one of the greatest in history. It may be, relative, in decline but it is neither down nor out … yet. But Americans, themselves, seem hell bent on destroying their country by selecting bad people ~ there’s no other word, besides “bad,” to describe Ms Clinton and Mr Trump, is there ~ to lead them.
I wish Prof. Pipes well in his search for an alternate, write-in candidate … I still kinda like “Mad Dog” Mattis.