RIP GOP

The Republican party is in its death throes. It’s gasping for air while it sinks deeper and deeper into the swamp, grasping only to a ship’s anchor as it falls. The once-great party of Lincoln and Reagan is nearing its end, destroyed from the inside by a false messiah.

For the good of the country, we need to let it die as quickly as possible.

I’ve never been a Republican per se, but faced with a binary voting choice for most of my adult life, I’ve always opted for Republican as the lesser of two evils. Before Trump, at least. I was raised in a Republican family and I’ve always identified more with notions of fewer taxes and smaller government (which is why I’ve gone more Libertarian these days). When I say the Republican party needs to die, I don’t relish the thought; I see it as a mercy killing.

Today’s GOP has become a shameful, lawless, racist, anti-intellectual embarrassment that has earned every bit of its downfall. A decrepit shell of what it once was. For the sake of us who once identified with it, something new needs to be reborn from the ashes — which first requires burning it to the ground.

So what happened? How did we get to such a sorry state of affairs?

It all started with George W. Bush. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dubyah. I think he was a great leader, a kind and decent man, and an effective president in a lot of ways. To this day, I believe his strategery and folksy demeanor is genuine, but also a façade for a very smart and savvy man. After 9/11, he showed extraordinary leadership and brought this country together in a way that I still get chills thinking about. His decision to go into Afghanistan looking for Osama Bin Laden was morally and legally justified. So for anyone who thinks I’m going to blame Bush for destruction of the GOP, well…you’re kind of right. He didn’t destroy the party, but he unwittingly put it on the path to ruin.

So let’s take a look at what Republicans are supposed to believe vs. what the so-called Republicans of today support.

Fiscal Responsibility

When GWB took office, America was in peak form. The stock market was hitting record highs, the economy was in great shape, and the government was in the black. Seriously — it may seem like a fairy tale these days, but the federal government had surpluses in each of the years 1999, 2000, and 2001. According to both the Congressional Budget Office and Bush’s Office of Management and Budget, the federal government was on track to log $5.6 trillion in surpluses over ten years. Had that continued as predicted, it would have more than eliminated the national debt at the time.

Then came 9/11 and the 2001 recession, during which Bush passed a set of sweeping tax cuts. The invasion of Iraq, though appropriately started with the full authorization of Congress, quickly turned into a spectacular quagmire. The war in Afghanistan raged on, a fiscal black hole with an increasingly unclear mission. In the latter half of his presidency, Bush passed a Medicare expansion which added hundreds of billions to the budget (socialized medicine, anyone?). Over the course of his administration, any claim to fiscal responsibility went by the wayside, taking down traditional Republican orthodoxy with it.

Don’t get me wrong, tax cuts are good — people should be keeping as much of the money they earn as possible — but the Reaganomics axiom that they pay for themselves has time and again proven to be false (or at least impractical to create the conditions under which it would actually work). If you cut taxes, you also need to cut spending or the overruns are ruinous. When Bush passed Medicare Part D, he failed to fund it and added even more permanent expenditures to the budget without any offsets. Between ongoing wars, tax cuts better meant as a temporary stimulus, and a huge increase to Medicare, Bush became indistinguishable from a so-called tax-and-spend Democrat. A tax-and-spend Democrat would at least be more responsible since costs would at least get offset with taxes. By his last year in office, Bush ran a deficit of $458 billion, and we are still living with those failures. Republicans never learned the lesson. Instead of lambast Bush for his big spending, they acquiesced and became the (other) party of big government.

Though Obama brought deficit spending to even higher heights, Trump never slowed it down. Though he promised to eliminate the national debt, he never even attempted fiscal responsibility. His deficits have already been greater than Obama’s and are on track to be absolutely yuuuuge. I wrote a lot more about Trump’s fiscal irresponsibility here. Notably, all of Trump’s outsized budgets were supported by the Republicans in Congress without hardly a word about fiscal responsibility.

One supposed major tenet of Republicanism — fiscal responsibility — abandoned, with no end in sight.

National Security

Republicans have traditionally been known as strong on national security and foreign policy. Reagan’s impassioned cry for Gorbachev to tear down the wall served as a turning point in global politics and signaled the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. Since then, deterrence through strength has been a calling card of American foreign policy.

Tell ’em Ronnie!

Again, that all changed on 9/11. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 to consolidate many different agencies into one. He started the war on terror, the war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan. Almost twenty years later, all three are still ongoing to some extent, and they have not gotten better with age.

The invasion of Iraq, in particular, was an important inflection point. However well intentioned, The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive invasion to prevent attacks will go down as one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history.

The best thing to come out of the Iraq war

Saddam Hussein was certainly a terrible dictator, but one thing he provided well in the region was stability. When American troops toppled his regime, it set into motion a destabilizing effect across the middle-east, with the power vacuum most notably leading to the creation of ISIS and the ongoing civil war in Syria. Trump was in favor of the war initially, though to his credit has changed his tune; and while he was quite effective in eliminating the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq, the situation in Iraq has been largely unchanged since the start of the Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly said he’s pulling out from Iraq, and has made some progress in that, but we still have more than 5,000 troops in Iraq and they’re not coming home during this term.

The war in Afghanistan is the same situation. Without any clear purpose or goal, the longest war in American history rages on, a perpetual black hole of lives and money with no clear exit strategy. 8,600 American troops remain in Afghanistan, with that number tentatively expected to drop to 5,000 by the end of the year.

Finally, the war on terror exemplifies everything that’s wrong with the Republican foreign policy. Shortly after 9/11, Congress issued an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for military action against the terrorists responsible for 9/11. Almost twenty years later the act has not been updated, yet has been the purported legal basis for military operations in 14 countries and against many different alleged terrorist organizations. Despite Trump being seen as having reduced military engagements overseas, Trump has dramatically increased drone strikes and removed accountability. In Obama’s 8 years in office, he conducted 1,878 drone strikes. In just the first two years of Trump’s term, he had already conducted 2,243 strikes. We only know about the first two years because in March 2019, Trump ended the Obama rules which publicized annual drone strike reporting so the public now has no idea who we’re even bombing anymore.

The consistent bombing of countries since 9/11 has not only strained the budget, but it has made us less safe. With each alleged terrorist we remove, we create even more. With each civilian death (estimated in the thousands compared to fewer than twenty terrorist leaders killed), we lose our moral authority as a force for peace. Escalating this practice under dubious legal authority has led to a worldwide campaign of continuous bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria. Drone strikes have been a boon to terrorist group recruitment, and in all likelihood have created many more terrorists than it has killed. To say that the 2001 AUMF has been stretched thin would be an outrageous understatement.

The war on terror, started by Republicans, escalated by Obama, then escalated further by Trump, has replaced an American image of strength with an unfettered, unaccountable projection of unabated violence all over the world. At what point have we killed too many people to justify prevention of hypothetical future attacks against us? I don’t know where that line is exactly, but I think we passed it long ago.

Under Trump, our alliances have suffered too. Since World War II, the gold standard of global security has been the NATO alliance. It has been remarkably successful in establishing the longest extended global peacetime in world history. It has largely protected Europe and the world from Russian incursion since the Cold War. Trump has worked to destabilize that alliance, to Russia’s benefit, since he took office. He has routinely criticized NATO allies, he presided over the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia — the longest nuclear nonproliferation treaty in history — that has led to a new hypersonic missile arms race, and he has consistently bullied members — even threatening withdraw from NATO altogether — over their financial contributions. This destabilization of NATO plays right into the hands of Putin, who Trump routinely fails to criticize at every opportunity — even when Russia paid bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of American soldiers. Trump was informed of the intelligence of the bounties in early 2019 and to this day, has not said a word about it to Putin, nor condemned him publicly.

One of our most important military allies in the fight against ISIS, the Syrian Kurds, felt Trump’s betrayal the hardest when he withdrew troops from northern Syria so that we could instead “protect the oil”. That left an opening for Turkish forces (a NATO ally, ostensibly) to wipe out the Kurds. One national security official noted that in their calls together, Trump got “rolled” and “out-negotiated” by Erdogan. Trump, whose international hotel holdings are greatest in Turkey, afterwards sent the Turkish dictator a pathetic letter trying to both flatter and intimidate Erdogan into not “murdering thousands of people” Trump left in harms way. Following the Kurdish debacle. There is every reason to believe Trump benefitted personally from his negotiations with the Turkish leader.

Trump’s denigration of our intelligence services has been consistent, with ongoing cries against the DEEP STATE (see also, QAnon). When the intelligence community unanimously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and said he believed Putin over his own agencies.

Compromised

After firing his Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Trump illegally appointed Ric Grenell, then Ambassador to Germany, to act as DNI — eventually nominating, again illegally, John Ratliffe for the position permanently. Why were these appointments illegal? Because the federal law that governs the DNI requires that anyone who serves as DNI must have “extensive national security expertise.” Neither Grenell nor Ratliffe has any experience in or national security, but both are hardline partisans willing to do the president’s bidding. Since Ratliffe was confirmed along party lines, he has blatantly politicized the intelligence apparatus, including releasing raw intelligence about Trump’s political rivals that, on its face, said they could not confirm as true (meaning it could just as easily be Russian misinformation). This, again, irresponsibility enables Russia and makes us less safe.

No assessment of national security is complete without the New York Times reporting of Trump’s taxes. He personally owes more than $400 million to various entities, most of which would come due during Trump’s potential second term. This means somebody out there holds improper influence over the President of the United States to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. If he were an ordinary government employee looking for an entry-level security clearance with that kind of debt, he’d be laughed out of the government. In addition to this leverage, he’s personally enriching himself — on the taxpayer’s dime — by pimping out his properties to the highest bidder, including foreign nations with a stake in his foreign policy (arguably in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses).

Without the consent and approval of the Republicans in Congress, none of this could happen. Congressional Republicans remain either fully supportive or incredibly quiet about Trump’s efforts to undo the GOP’s proud national security legacy. Conspiracy-minded, foreign-influenced graft is what the GOP in Congress have endorsed and embraced through Trump.

Perhaps the most qualified president to ever hold the office, George H.W. Bush, is rolling in his grave over the national security threat Trump poses. Which is probably why Bush — a dynastic, dyed-in-the-wool Republican — refused to support Trump when he was alive and instead voted for, of all people, Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Rule of Law

Republicans used to be the party of Law and Order — they promoted rule of law in an honest and equal sense. When the law is applied equally to everybody, we are a nation of laws, not of men. America has a proud history of this, and Republicans in particular can claim Abraham Lincoln as its most ardent advocate. In his 1865 Lyceum address he said we must “Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.”

How far we have fallen since Lincoln. If Nixon blazed the trail of lawlessness, then Trump has paved it into a superhighway.

In Robert Mueller’s report, he laid out 10 different instances of obstruction of justice committed by the president. The only reason Mueller failed to bring criminal charges was as a result of a Department of Justice policy — binding on Mueller, but having no force of law generally — that says a sitting president cannot be indicted. In one instance, Trump ordered advisor Don McGahn to fire Mueller — when McGahn refused, he told McGahn to fabricate evidence for the record that said the order never happened. Trump also gave sworn written statements to Congress, many of which just said that he couldn’t remember the answers. In one instance, he said that he doesn’t recall if he spoke to Roger Stone about Wikileaks. Testimony from Rick Gates at Stone’s trial (where Stone was convicted for intimidating witnesses and lying to protect Trump, for which he was later pardoned) showed that Trump spoke to Stone multiple times about Wikileaks, and coordinated release of documents with his campaign. A counterintelligence investigation by the US Senate found additional evidence and determined that Trump likely lied under oath about his contacts with Roger Stone. The Senate investigation, led by Republicans, also discovered additional connections to Russia, including that the campaign manager Paul Manafort was regularly sharing internal polling data with a Russian intelligence operative. Upon releasing more damning information about the Trump campaign’s obvious coordination with the Russians, Chairman Marco Rubio (remember Little Marco, back when he had some integrity?) went on Twitter to tell the world that this investigation further proved that there was no collusion. They trusted that the public wouldn’t read the report, or care, and flat out lied about its contents to protect Trump.

2016
Now, after release damning evidence of collusion. Little indeed.

One thing’s for sure, somebody owes Bill Clinton an apology for getting impeached over lying about an affair with an intern. Speaking of impeachment, rule of law includes — most importantly — the highest law in the land, the US Constitution. Trump was impeached for soliciting a bribe from the Ukrainian president in exchange for political information about an opponent. At the time, Ukraine was in a hot war with Russia and Trump withheld military assistance to our ally to advance his own political career. The House conducted extensive hearings which showed this conclusively — despite the fact that the Administration failed to comply with subpoenas, allow witnesses, or cooperate with the proceeding in any way. It asserted absolute presidential immunity — which is not a real thing, especially not in an impeachment inquiry.

When the proceeding reached the Senate, all of the Republican Senators not named Mitt Romney voted to block all witnesses or additional evidence, voting instead to summarily acquit the President. For this reason more than any other — a total refusal to conduct their constitutional duty of holding a fair trial in the Senate — those members who voted to deny evidence need a speedy, forced retirement for explicitly rejecting their oath to the Constitution. It is indicative of the moral and ethical rot that has infected the party.

The Constitution would like a word, Mitch

Since being acquitted, Trump has obviously not learned his lesson and has gotten more brazen in his lawlessness. He openly asked China for dirt on the Bidens and privately applauded their construction of vast concentration camps. Congressional Republicans remained silent.

When George Floyd was murdered on camera earlier this year, Trump tried to become the Law and Order president by…shouting the words Law and Order a lot.

Self-explanatory

Instead of a measured use of law enforcement, he unleashed violence and lawlessness across the country, consistently inciting racial tensions and condoning police brutality. On June 1, 2020 he deployed federal troops to violently disperse a peaceful protest in Lafayette Square…so that he could take the weirdest set of photos ever.

Why? Just why?

That violence continued. Later in June, Trump announced Operation LeGend, which purports to send hundreds/thousands of federal officers to American cities to, ostensibly, fight crime. This is a blatant intrusion on the police powers of the states and an egregious federal overreach. The federal government can enforce federal laws as appropriate, but they many not patrol cities to “keep the peace” and enforce local laws. In places where federal officers have been deployed, there have been numerous reports of them using unmarked vans to pluck protesters off the streets — actions defended by federal leadership even after they’ve admitted they had no basis to do it. Here’s a great thread on the topic from a Harvard Criminal Law Professor; if you have any doubts about how sinister these federal incursions are READ THIS.

Further than this, Trump on many occasions threatened to send in the military to quell riots. Not only is this something of a fascist flex, but military are not law enforcement. They are trained to kill, not enforce domestic laws, regardless of the fact that some military deployment may be legal if done appropriately (a big IF). Not only did congressional Republicans support Trump’s threats to essentially invade America in response to general, rather than specific, unrest — but one senator actually penned an extraordinary Op-Ed in the New York Times enthusiastically cheering for the deployment of the military to American cities. Scary stuff.

Despite Trump’s claims that increased violence was strictly a problem in Democratic-controlled cities, it has been a nationwide phenomenon. Despite his consistent focus on the violence of looters being coordinated left-wing rebellion inextricably linked to the protests against police brutality, the violence has been largely separate from the protests, which have been overwhelmingly peaceful — save for those incidents incited by the police’s own violence.

A barrel full of bad apples

While interlopers of all varieties caused mayhem at various times — including right-wing militias — the violence is decidedly not a coordinated rebellion just by Antifa or other of the president’s so-called extreme left terrorists. In fact, Trump’s FBI director Christopher Wray said that white nationalism and right wing militia activity is much more of a domestic terrorism threat than Antifa, which he regarded as more of an ideology than a group. Regardless, the unrest in Trump’s America is Trump’s responsibility, and he’s only made it worse by fanning the flames.

Trump has — enabled by the congressional Republicans — even attacked the structure of the government itself. He has fired many inspectors general — the people tasked with looking for corruption in the administration — some in direct response to investigations they were conducting. He has subverted the confirmation process in the Senate by unlawfully leaving “Acting” directors in place long past the time the law allows. In many cases, he purposely fails to properly nominate people because he knows they would never be confirmed — then hands them the reigns of their agencies without being vetted. Despite literally stealing their authority, GOP senators remain silent and are derelict in their constitutional duty to check the executive branch for abuses.

Recently, Trump has touted an absurd “Obamagate” conspiracy theory and has called for both Obama and Biden to be indicted on charges that are not at all clear. Aside from properly-predicated investigations conducted into the campaign’s covert contacts with Russia (for which Michael Flynn and others were convicted of crimes), there are no credible accusations of Obama’s administration doing anything illegal, and certainly not criminal, with regard to “spying” on Trump’s campaign — even if he had, Trump’s own theory of the Executive branch’s power would make such conduct just fine. Just yesterday, in fact, Attorney General Barr quietly closed the investigation — without any charges or arrests — into the unfounded allegations of improper unmasking the names of Americans recorded on phone calls of surveillance of Russian (and other) agents.

Conversely, since the beginning of his campaign, an ever-growing number of people associated with the Trump campaign or administration have been indicted, arrested or convicted of crimes — many by Trump’s own justice department. With the arrest of Brad Parscale in September, the list includes at least three of his campaign managers.

It’s probably best that Abraham Lincoln can’t see what his party has become — law for thee but not for me. Another traditional Republican strong-point gone.

Immigration

The year was 1980. The event: a women’s forum during the primary race. Two Republican giants, George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan debated for control over the 1980’s. The topic, immigration. Reagan, who ultimately won the election, calls for understanding, work permits, more open borders, and getting illegal immigrants to work legally so they can pay taxes and get the benefits of civic life. HW calls Mexicans good people, strong people.

These are the principles of a good Republican immigration policy. Compassionate solutions. Like Reagan said: “rather than putting up a fence”, let’s find solutions that don’t demonize and illegalize an entire group of good people because of labor disparities.

I don’t even need to make the counterpoint here, but particularly since 9/11, Republicans have turned wholly away from this and resorted instead to xenophobia and racism. Trump started his campaign by calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, then put most of his efforts in 2016 convincing people that he would build a wall across the entire border and get Mexico to pay for it. During the campaign, he even said he supported a national registry for Muslims (and not just immigrants).

Indeed, the thing that propelled Trump into the national spotlight before 2016 was his outrageous, obviously racist Birther Conspiracy — the conclusively-refuted idea (in the form of a long form birth certificate) that Barack Obama was not born in America.

The reality during the president’s first term has been even more troubling. Despite Trump’s numerous claims to the contrary, he has not built the wall. What he has done is renovate about 300 miles of existing barriers (using companies and people now under indictment for fraud) and then pretend he put the walls up himself. In his first 3.5 years, Trump has only built about 5 miles of new wall where there was none there before. Five. This is because he needs Congressional authorization for the appropriate funding, but the House didn’t allow that. Instead, Trump made an emergency declaration so that he could justify taking money from the military’s budget — including money for an army base’s schools in Kentucky — to pay for the wall/renovations. The legality of that move is still being litigated, but it was dubious, at best.

In mid 2017, the Trump Administration had begun family separations — any family unit that crossed the border illegally were detained and their children (babies included) were separated from them and detained separately. While arguably legal on the very thin comparison to cases where people arrested for domestic abuse have their children separated from them upon arrest — the policy was inhumane, unnecessary, and intentionally punitive. It has created a child migration crisis, as the policy was implemented without any procedures for reuniting families. The policy was formally reversed in 2018, but there are reportedly still potentially thousands of children who have not been reunited with their family. An American travesty.

The architect of Trump’s immigration policy? Stephen Miller, a documented white supremacist.

To quote George W. Bush, “The United States of America is in many ways the most successful of nations. Historically, where immigration is concerned, we’re also the most welcoming of nations. These two facts are related.”

Let’s hope that continues to be true in the next generation of real conservatives.

Family Values

Here we go, the social issues that have been the cornerstone of Republicanism for a long time. Abortion, LGBTQ rights, religion, and guns. The big four. Prominent Republicans have been relatively consistent on these issues. My argument here is not that Republicans have a proud tradition of being right, but have inherent flaws in their ideologies that need to go down with the ship. And despite being on the wrong side of things for decades, they’ve chosen to dig in and become more extreme.

On LGBTQ rights, Republicans have always been varying degrees of hostile. In red states, private, consensual homosexuality was essentially criminalized in some places until 2003, when SCOTUS struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. Ronald Reagan (and Mike Pence in Indiana more recently) made the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the 80’s demonstrably worse from the stigma and public health failures. Both Republican and Democratic administrations fought to protect the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) until it was struck down in 2015. While Democrats have largely come around on gay rights (and so has the Supreme Court — looking at you, Neil Gorsuch!), Republicans generally have not. Even the most cynical straight Republican should say to themselves “that doesn’t really affect me, so why should I care?”

Instead, elected Republicans have tried to use religious liberty as both a shield and a sword, attempting to claim that they are somehow injured by another person being gay or getting married — or baking them a cake. I guess they skipped over “love thy neighbor” in their bible classes because GOP orthodoxy on the topic has turned individual religious liberty into an excuse to discriminate. The Supreme Court seems to be mostly ahead of it for now legally, but the malice remains. It needs to stop. Hatred is never the way to sustain electoral or ideological success. You don’t have to “agree” with someone, or even like or approve of them, to show them basic decency and let them live their own lives their own way. Your marriage will not be affected, I promise.

While Trump has not been the worst offender, and at times has tried to actively court the LGTBQ vote, he remains hostile (and Pence has always been overtly hostile). Trump removed an Obama-era rule that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoptions. He banned all transgender people from the military, even after a military commission designed to study the issue found that having transgender people did not affect unit cohesion in any significant way. Time and time again, Republicans have always seemed to find a new way to try and discriminate, and it has — unsurprisingly — dragged them down. Support for same sex marriage is at 67% nationally and only going up. Republicans don’t need to be crusaders for LBGTQ rights, but maybe they should at least let this one go and take the loss. Brood privately if necessary, but if nothing else it will help them get elected more to leave well enough alone.

Abortion and religion seem to go hand in hand, but the GOP’s evangelical embrace of chicanery and hucksterism has come full circle. Gone are the days of caring for the poor, welcoming the stranger, or loving thy neighbor. Here are the days of “prosperity theology” and, the biggest used-car-salesman around, Trump.

Trump’s actual pastor. For real. Not kidding.

I’ve written how Trump is the least religious, least virtuous president imaginable and still maintains support of evangelicals, but it bears repeating that he’s a serial sexual assaulter, a congenital liar, and has no integrity whatsoever. The least Godly person to be relying on. No wonder that on the biggest issue with evangelicals — abortion — he’s true to form.

Here’s Trump talking about his pro-gay, pro-choice views years ago:

To his credit(?), he’s been very consistent since he entered politics as a Republican. He, like the rest of the GOP, is now staunchly anti-abortion. Therein lies the problem. Abortion is a fantastically difficult issue encompassing religion, morality, ethics, economics, bodily autonomy, science, medicine, and law. There is a lot of grey area and compelling arguments on both sides. As such, being neither staunchly pro-life nor staunchly pro-choice is a practical or workable solution, certainly not for everyone equally (or geographically). For either party to approach it with an extreme hardline is a mistake. I’ve written how Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but also how we need to legislate nuance into how we, the people, want to protect (or not) the competing interests of mother and child over the course of a pregnancy. The two extremes need to come together with a little more humanity and a little more understanding of the opposite viewpoint. But since we’re talking about Republicans here, I’ll remind them that the number of abortions tends to go down under Democratic presidents, largely because they encourage realistic sex education (not abstinence-only, which is objectively ineffective) and easy access to safe, inexpensive birth control. This is a no-brainer that, if the right truly wants to create fewer abortions, they would embrace. It’s always better to prevent a problem than to try and fix it after it’s too late. Alas, common ground is seemingly a notion of the past.

Finally, guns. With the advent of Trump’s quasi-fascism, I believe more than ever that the second amendment is not just an excuse for any idiot to run around with a gun (though it is more and more becoming that), but an essential freedom and deterrent against the overreaches of a tyrannical government. As cops continue to expose their abusive underbelly and crime on the rise, gun ownership is an indispensable constitutional right now more than ever. But as with even the most fundamental rights, some reasonable restrictions are appropriate — and extraordinarily popular. When the levels of gun violence in the US are deplorable compared to the rest of the civilized world, there needs to be some sensible balance. Simple measures like closing the private sale (gun show) loophole, universal background checks, and instituting better mental health and domestic abuse safeguards are popular steps that could have a profound effect on what is a huge problem. Approval for universal background checks consistently polls well above 80%. The GOP’s failure to consider ANY reasonable regulations — spurred on by the very corrupt NRA — is unacceptable and is costing American lives.

For those who see Trump as a big defender of the 2nd Amendment, I’ve got news. While he mostly only uses it as code to incite violence, the only actual gun policy he’s enacted as president has been a proposed ban — on bump stocks on 2018. He has also voiced support for expanded background checks and raising the minimum age to buy guns. So Kudos to Trump for that for breaking with his party.

Across the board, on nearly every issue, today’s GOP is an unsustainable drag on American progress. It was once home to great (if imperfect) leaders who served with integrity and conviction. Culminating with Trump, it has deteriorated into something more resembling a cult of personality. This is embodied, quite literally, in the party’s official platform for the 2020 election. They don’t have one. Literally. The party opted not to put forward a party platform for this election (after briefly re-adopting the 2016 platform). Their platform has become Trump, explicitly. In an America that respects issues and rule of law over wannabe authoritarians, there’s no coming back from that kind of blind support. Alea iacta est.

They all need to go. The longer this drags out, the more it will hurt America. This election is our opportunity to do a complete cleanse; the more complete the victory, the faster conservatives can regroup and start something new. Something modern. Something with integrity.

That said, I’m under no illusions that it will be a smooth transition. When your house is burning down around you, you need to get out — but then you have to hope there’s not a tornado outside. Destruction of the Republican party — though necessary for the good of the country — will likely mean one-party rule for a time. But with the state of the country as it is, maybe that’s a good thing. We can’t survive much longer with such rancorous stagnation; it’s tearing the country apart. Sometimes compromise just means that nobody gets what they want, so maybe it’s time to let somebody actually enact a bold agenda and see what happens. Republicans don’t have an agenda, but maybe conscientious conservatives will be right and a bold liberal wave of legislation will fail spectacularly. If that happens, whatever emerges after the GOP will rise to relevancy faster amidst widespread public opposition. The great thing about democracy is that whatever is done can be undone if it doesn’t work. Maybe, just maybe, the bold solutions WILL end up working and we have to change our thinking on some things. I’d swallow that pride for the sake of the country flourishing.

The important thing to remember is that being out in the wilderness for an honest (if too liberal) democratic administration doesn’t remove our voices, just some temporary power. It doesn’t make bad liberal ideas good or make the conservative movement disappear. We’ll be on hiatus, ready to return with a modified ideology to compete in the modern world.

Father, Husband, Attorney. I call myself a moderate Libertarian. I might be the only one.

Father, Husband, Attorney. I call myself a moderate Libertarian. I might be the only one.