As the world emerges from a debate that may have been the lowest point of civil discourse I have ever witnessed, I find myself less confused with Trump, and more with those who continue to support him.
I know Joe Biden is no saint. Generally, all politicians are about self-preservation, skirting the issues all in the name of party. Biden didn’t dunk on Trump last night, but it didn’t really matter. His job was to simply keep the ball at midcourt and wait out the clock. Trump, as his own worst enemy, will do more damage to himself than anyone else.
But what emerged last night on stage was a President who has the ability to bring everyone down with him. And Biden, in an uncharacteristic moment of justified frustration, came to that level with “clown” and “shut up.”
Presidential politics is more like a Jerry Springer episode these days. And that fault squarely falls on Donald Trump. As I watched, I realized one thing. What you see is Donald Trump at his default state. He wasn’t being subversive, aggressive and petulant for the cameras or occasion. That is just who he is and how he lives. Sometimes, in my quieter moments, I even feel sorry for him, as I wrote in a recent article.
So that chaos and frustration we all felt watching him, is a daily part of life for everyone in his circle. He holds so much darkness inside, that the little bit that makes its way out is like the tip of an iceberg, with exponentially more fire and rage below the surface. He has taken the Republican party to a place that is unfamiliar. He has brought the angry fringe masses aboard, who are smart enough to read between the lines on his near-racist rhetoric, but dumb enough to not see the immorality of it all.
When Did We Lose The Republican Party?
I was a Republican until college. My grandfather was heavily involved in Republican politics and ran for office in PA, where I grew up. I had friends who ran for office, commercials were made at my house, and I worked the phones and the streets in support of them and the party.
Sadly, the Republican Party is no longer the party of our grandparents, or our parents. It is unrecognizable to me, and probably to you as well. The party has been hijacked by a man intent on dividing and conquering, and those willing to bow at his alter. No longer is this about small government, no overreach, lower taxes. This is about populist Republicans, with lower education levels, driven by rage, and looking for someone to blame. This is about the extreme right, wanting to go back in time. This is about compartmentalizing Trump’s faults, in service to a singular issue that is important to them.
As a moderate Republican, the populists and racists that have joined your crew are different than you. The want a segregated America. They think that that by giving others opportunity, they are taking it away from themselves. Republicans have historically been the party of privilege. With the advantages that are so apparent, there is also a responsibility. You know there is a moral high ground that must be preserved. You know that a divided country cannot work for any side. You know that the things Trump has done to this country, and your party, must be stopped.
We have all watched his performance on Coronavirus, the economy, immigrants, the environment, his $750 taxes and stirring a cultural divide among our country. You know it, I know it, the world knows it. And sometimes I wonder how can people I know, smart people, continue to support a man who goes against their ideals, their moral character, and I finally figured it out.
Because the Republican party is all they know. Those whose parents passed on the party ideals. Those who served, and respect the Commander-In-Chief with an allegiance, because that is their honor code. Those who reap the benefits of a tax code designed for top tier.
And Trump understands that to keep these moderate Republicans in line, he needs to continue to use scare tactics and characterize his opponent as a socialist who will allow communities to be overrun with crime. Because, that leaves you with less of a choice. Desert the party you know and love, or jump ship to a “socialist” who opposes law & order.
Hate: The New Face Of Politics
There is a question that many people have: Why do small town, struggling Americans support a billionaire who could care less about them? It bothered me for a while, until I finally realized that he gives them an excuse for their misgivings. He is the pied piper of hate, and opens the door for someone else to blame, rather than themselves.
And populist Republicans so effortlessly put the blame on black men for crime, LGBTQ+ for destroying family values, immigrants for taking their jobs and draining social services, and China for delivering a virus. Yet, that is not a true reality. And moderate Republicans know it. But is it also much easier to find a foil, than take that long, hard look in the mirror and realize that you fucked up the one life you were given.
Trump is a fraud, and he knows it. Lies are an effortless part of his world. But as you or I know, getting caught in a lie is anxiety-inducing. And adding anxiety to alleged mental illness, drug use, narcissism and cognitive disorders is a powder keg that comes out on Twitter or whenever he is challenged.
Donald Trump does not have any real relationships. He lacks empathy, and the people in his life are merely transactional. That is why his sons work so hard for the love and approval that he is unable to give. He lacks the basic humanity needed to lead a family, let alone a country.
But what he does have is the silver bullet to his success; The ability to lead by fear. There is fear of reprisal, fear of speaking up, fear of losing favor with their own constituents. Politicians as a whole are not the most brave people. That is why many Republicans who he has badly insulted in the past, support him. Lindsay, Megyn, Nikki, Cruz are just a few who took a below-the-belt punch and continue to elevate and defend.
With that blind allegiance is the lack of accountability. Imagine the privilege of saying “Fake News” whenever a story comes out that paints you in a bad light? Even worse, imagine the lack of self-respect of those aforementioned people and others who gladly accept whatever he says, simply to adhere to their narrative or instinct of self-preservation.
We are now at a crossroads where the moderate Republican choice is country over party. What does that mean in practical terms? Be brave. Braver than the politics on both sides. Be willing to do things that will lift up others, rather than focusing on issues with a direct benefit. Think about your friends of color or in marginalized groups or communities. Think about their suffering under this administration. Imagine if that was you. As educated men and women, you know what it means to empathize. And with that, you give the country hope.
Many of the angry, populist Republicans will never understand this. But you can. They thrive on hate. It is an intoxicating drug, fed daily by both sides, and the social algorithm that fuels it.
We need to return to the middle, to squelch the angry, antagonists who prey on controversy. We must remember that we all want the same thing, a country we believe in. Many Republicans are already jumping ship, including generals, former staffers, etc., but it is still a hard choice. That’s why so many people fall into that trap. That is why we are in the mess we are in. That is why the Republican party is in as much peril as our country as a whole. And why the Democratic party is not much better.
Don’t want Biden? Then sit this one out.
If you are a moderate Republican, struggling with party over country, but can’t see yourself voting for Biden, how about you meet the needs of your nation in the middle, and simply relax, and sit this one out.
Stay home and let us elect someone who will unite our struggling country. Someone who will reach across the aisle as Republicans and Democrats have done throughout history. Someone who understands the science, will denounce hate groups and will put people over profits. Someone who is not above the laws or paying taxes and restores normalcy in a world that feels anything but normal. Someone who will put us back as a world leader, and not a laughing stock. Our mental health, livelihoods and future of the country (and your party) are depending on it.
With four more years of this administration, the Republican Party will be beyond saving. Now is the time. If you are feeling conflicted, make the right choice. Help us rebuild, and in four years, you will have the opportunity to vote in someone else who better represents your party and your ideals if you like. Make Biden a stopgap; A 4-year coda that gives you time to rebuild your party, from what has been taken away.
If you struggle with Trump, don’t allow the party to make a decision that may not align with your thinking, simply for its own self-preservation. Think independently, and make a hard choice based on your own thoughts, rather than those being thrust upon you.
The world depends on Republicans and Democrats coming together to help it heal. And the only way to do that is to think independently and remove Donald Trump from office.