I think maybe I need to articulate something that all my friends know, but that may very well have gotten lost in the toxic smoke of this scorched earth election. I am, of course, a cheerful partisan, a traditional liberal, and were there any other candidate on the other side, espousing traditional conservative ideals, I would still be arguing against them, chiding them, and occasionally mocking them. But when I challenged them or their supporters, it would have been with a great measure of respect and good will, and a conviction that regardless of their political points of view, however different they might be from mine, they would still be motivated by a sense of patriotism and a respect for – dare I say it – the sanctity of the animating values of the nation.
Were it Jeb, or Marco, or Kasich, or even Cruz standing up there now, I would frame my case based on the common values we share. Fairness, however that’s defined by the various camps, justice, a desire to see us secure and prosperous. I’ve built my whole career on seeking those things that we, regardless of ideology, share. And more often than not, I’ve found them.
This election, however, is different. This is not a battle for the high ground between right and left, liberal and conservative. Donald Trump is not a conservative. A decade ago, he wasn’t a liberal. He’s a creature of impulse and selfishness, brutish animalistic and acquisitive. He is, by any definition, an abominable parody of all the values that we Americans cherish. Prosperity is not something to be celebrated and shared, it’s something to be hoarded and used as a cudgel. In his view our melting pot is a hospice bed pan, containing nothing but filth. He doesn’t understand or care how such an attitude rips at the bonds that hold this nation together, how it inflames hatred against us, or how such a notion would have profoundly destructive effects on everything from our security to our economy.
He mocks the very real concerns principled conservatives have about national and domestic security by making a cartoon of them, and promising to treat the middle east the way he’s treated Atlantic City, and his GOP opponents and the women who he spotted from a charter bus window. He’s heedless of the warnings and the best advice of arch conservative policy experts because he doesn’t care. It’s not about policy or the country. It’s about his insatiable appetite for self aggrandizement.
I have not sought any compromise with Trump’s ideals because there are no ideals and there is no compromise with him. Regardless of your political orientation, he is an existential threat to the values you cherish. All of them.
He is not just outside the normal bounds of political discourse, he is outside the boundaries of any civil discourse anywhere. He is not anti-big D-Democrat. He is not anti-Republican. Everything the man has said and done since he glided down that escalator has been an affront to America and everything we stand for.
He has already done lasting, perhaps fatal injury to the Republican party and it will be a decade at least before it recovers. It may never. And that’s a singular tragedy, because we desperately need a legitimate opposition party in this country, and we’ll need it even more to check the more conventional ambition of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
But worse than that, he’s done serious injury to the Republic itself already. All of the world, not just his puppet master Putin, but France, and Germany, and North Korea, now have carte blanche to question our judgement and our moral authority to lead on any question. The fact that he has risen so far, so fast, and the fear that another Trump, perhaps more polished, could ride the same wave and go further next time, has those nations weighing their options today, and that makes the world a much more dangerous place.
I do not for a moment imagine that he’ll be elected in three weeks. But a narrow defeat is not enough. We, Republicans, Democrats, Independents must resoundingly reject this man and all the worst impulses of ours that he represents. We need to send a message to each other and to the world that he is not one of us. We need to repudiate him in the most unmistakable terms. He needs to lose by the most significant margin in history.
To do less would be to acknowledge that the values we hold as Americans are as Trump himself would put it, just words.