There’s an ancient proverb that says “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
I’m reminded of this because I’m both encouraged and fascinated by the list of long time republicans coming out as #NeverTrumpers. I’m talking about prominent conservatives who have been publicly supportive of the party for decades who are now openly criticizing the president on all forms of media.
As I read the tweets of Rick Wilson, Bill Kristol, Margaret Hoover, Cheri Jacobus, and Ana Navarro for example, I find myself in complete agreement with much of what they are saying. And these are long time staunch, prominent republicans. It’s inspiring to see people of stature have enough courage to choose country over party.
So what happened? My first thought goes back to how brutal the primaries were and how Trump’s nicknames for his opponents ended up sticking. Little Marco. Low energy Jeb. Lyin’ Ted Cruz. He picked a fight with the establishment from the first debate. This cost him the support of the entire Bush family and many of its loyal followers including Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Tom Ridge and party pundits Cheri Jacobus, Margaret Hoover, and Steve Schmidt. Not long ago, these were frequent guests on Fox News supporting candidates McCain and Romney.
Next was the infamous kerfuffle with Megyn Kelly during the first debate. The fallout from the was a loss of support from strong women like Ana Navarro and Jennifer Rubin.
It’s much easier to come out as a #NeverTrumper when you are personally attacked.
When George W. Bush was president, I wrote plenty on policy differences and the inherent greed of the republican party, but I never once suspected him of being a racist. In fact, just the opposite. He always went out of his way to be inclusive of all Americans. He understood basic decency in addition to the political necessity of having moderate Muslims on your side to win the war on terror. In this regard, he was a good man.
Charlottesville was where I think Trump lost the last vestige of hope he had from the republican establishment. His “both sides” narrative caused several other prominent republican figures to join the #NeverTrump bandwagon.
In the Netflix series “The Crown”, prince Phillip sent Charles to the same boys school he attended as a child – and hated. Predictably, Charles hated it too. It was a clear example of the “strict father” approach. The “my dad made me do things I didn’t like, but it made a man out of me” mindset.
It used to be that you could count on the representatives of the party to be supporting a platform straight from the strict father paradigm, complete with personal responsibility, hard work, love of God and country. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this message. The issue has always been where to set the social safety net. Democrats have pushed more towards socialism. Republicans would like a society where, if you make bad choices, that’s your tough shit. They don’t understand the concept of having been born on third base, and the message about compassion got lost somewhere between the sermon and coffee and donuts.
But recently the party tent has gotten a little too wide for many. It’s as if long time republicans got invited to an upscale Ivy League frat party, got all dressed up and expected an evening of social snobbery and cigars, but then the host let the Nazi’s from down the street in, and started excluding people at the door for their religion and race. And then, late in the evening the jokes about pussy grabbing started. At that point, some started to realize they were living the Animal House experience, felt uncomfortable with the level of raunchy behavior now inside the party tent and decided to check out.
During the 1980 presidential campaign Ronald Reagan was asked why he left the Democratic party. “I didn’t leave the party”, he said. “The party left me.” I’m pretty sure this is example what is happening with the current GOP.
Twitter gave Trump a direct line to the American people and it was an effective tool for him to get his message across, however deceitful. But there’s also a saying about what goes around comes around. The same tool that can prop a guy up to the highest office in the land can also take him down. If you have the chance, I’d encourage you to follow these courageous republicans on Twitter. I’m liking what I am hearing because it gives me hope we can get back to some sense of normalcy.
===== Twitter Handles of Prominent #NeverTrump Republicans =====
@BillKristol, @CheriJacobus, @TheRickWilson, @SteveSchmidtSES, @ananavarro, @GeorgeWill, @nytdavidbrooks, @douthatNYT, @MJGerson, @MargaretHoover, @JRubinBlogger, @benshapiro, @CondoleezzaRice,