Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer elegy

As July slid to an end, it ushered in the dog days in so many ways. On the one hand, I can't step outside without Florida's furnace of heat and humidity causing me to sweat so bad my clothes stick to my skin. And on the other hand, as I think about the recent political conventions and upcoming "debates,"  I can't stop thinking that our body politic is flushing our freedom and virtues down the toilet without a second (or even first) thought.

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Since it's easier to criticize the party to which you don't belong, I will start by going after the Democratic National Convention, which I found to be one of the most breathtakingly dishonest productions in American political history.

The Democratic Party (by which I mean its elected officials and donor class) has for decades been openly contemptuous of American principles, American ideals, and everyday American citizens. It and the leftists who run it are the very entities that concoct and embrace condescending terms like "flyover country" and smugly presumptuous books like What's the Matter with Kansas?

They sneer at Boise and Dallas while rhapsodizing about Brussels and Davos -- blissfully unaware that without the sweat and toil of American patriots from places like Boise and Dallas, Brussels and Davos would not have been free enough or safe enough to be Brussels and Davos for the last century.

These are the people who hold the Rosenbergs up as heroes, unaware of (or not caring about) the fact that the Rosenbergs' treason allowed the USSR to spend half a century enslaving half of Europe and exporting tyranny around the globe.

These are the people who eagerly apologize for anti-American murderers like Che Guevara while shrugging their shoulders about Iran getting nukes.

Hearing them chant "USA! USA!" -- when in reality they don't care one whit about the principles that make the USA the USA -- caused me to want to break the dishes in my house.

Michelle Obama's speech was widely praised on both sides of the aisle, which can only mean that people were praising her ability to lie through her teeth while maintaining a smile on her face.

She implored us to not "let anyone tell you that America isn't great." Well, sorry Michelle, but it is you who said during the 2008 DNC, when you were 44 years old and earning a salary of more than $300,000 per year, that you had never at any point in your life been proud of your country until it made your husband a presidential nominee. Some of us have memories and can't be fooled.

And of course, this year's convention ended with the Democrats -- who claim to be against big money, big power, and bad ethics -- nominating the most money-grubbing, power-hungry, and ethically challenged nominee in our history.

Bleh. A thousand times over.

But don't take that to mean that the GOP offers a hint of salvation in these dog days.

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No, I am not saying the overall Republican Party is as bad as the overall Democratic Party.

At the state level, Republicans have recently produced an all-star lineup of governors (chief among them Scott Walker and Rick Perry) who have presided over outsize economic growth, increases in government accountability, and decreases in bureaucracy. At the federal level, they have produced a bumper crop of young legislators (for starters, Tom Cotton, Tim Scott, Mia Love, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio) who eloquently espouse conservative values while actively opposing Leviathan and standing up for the Constitution.

As the 2016 presidential season opened, the GOP fielded a roster of conservative and conservative-leaning candidates that was undoubtedly the largest and most impressive one in my lifetime -- and probably the largest and most impressive one in the party's 160-year history.

But unfortunately, with all that quality from which to choose, the party's voters opted for a man who is the least conservative, least impressive, least qualified, and most unfit-for-office choice in the party's 160-year history.

Sure, it says something good about GOP primary voters that a sizable majority of them checked the box for somebody other than Donald Trump. Nonetheless, it is bad that they never coalesced around a small enough number of alternatives to overcome Trump's stubbornly strong plurality -- and it is bad that Trump ever had a stubbornly strong plurality to begin with. That is why these are such troubled and dangerous times for our national soul.

Although the Democratic Party has raced far leftward over the past decade, it has always been a left wing party and therefore its leftism should come as no surprise. It has always been uninterested in national defense and unwilling to defend free people abroad from tyranny abroad... It has always (or at least for two generations) looked down on people of non-Islamic faith and been unwilling to support the First Amendment... It has always aimed to silence dissent, undermine private property rights, and increase government power with no regard for how that affects individual rights and personal freedom... It has always been ambivalent about human life and morbidly attracted to death (via abortion and euthanasia).

Until recently the Republican Party was a reliable (albeit imperfect, and sometimes compromised) right wing counterbalance to left wing Democrats. It held national defense to be the federal government's primary responsibility... It regularly supported free people abroad from tyranny abroad, sometimes in deed, and when not in deed, always in word... Republicans reliably stood up for people of faith (including Muslims) and defended the First Amendment even when it was used against them... They supported private property rights... They may not have liked dissent, but they did not seek to silence it and they at least gave lip service to being concerned about how government growth affects individual rights and personal freedom... And last but not least, the GOP was never ambivalent about human life, for only in the GOP could you find unapologetic opposition to abortion and euthanasia.

But now, with the elevation of Donald Trump to the titular head of the party, all that is gone. With his elevation, the Republican Party has been shoved so far to the left that it now sits in the Democrats' lap. This means the American people have been left without a real choice between their two major parties, and that is extremely bad for our republic.

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In National Review's Corner blog, David French already summed up perfectly what I think about prospective Trump policies, so rather than cook up "my own words," I will just go ahead and start this segment by quoting him:

If I go by Trump's words and actions, he'll raise taxes, implement touchback amnesty, support government-run health care, appoint pro-abortion judges, fund Planned Parenthood, order troops to commit war crimes, try to defeat ISIS with Exxon, destroy American credit, radically increase the deficit, cede NATO countries to Russia, abuse eminent domain, restrict First Amendment rights, start trade wars, retweet white nationalists, support gender-neutral bathrooms, inflame racial tensions, and traffic in absurd conspiracy theories. Trump himself has made the case that he'd be a disastrous president. 

I understand why some Republicans, even some conservatives, have pitched their tents in Trump's camp. They want to defeat Clinton because she is a poison in the bloodstream of the body politic, and on that point I agree with them.

But then again, if defeating Hillary Clinton means putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office, what's the point? Defeating one candidate usually means electing another who will do what you think is right more than half the time. Failing that, maybe the one you elect will do the right thing only 25 percent of the time, but at least that's five times more than the five percent you'd get from the other candidate.

In the case of Donald Trump, however, where is there any evidence that he will ever do the right thing? There isn't any.

Near as I can tell, the conservative case for voting for Trump is that he might, just might, accidentally do the right thing. Once. If we're lucky. (Or maybe even twice if we're supremely lucky!)

I hasten to add: Or never.

If Clinton wins, it will be a disaster.

If Trump wins, it will be  disaster... but not only that, it will also mean the party of Reagan has abandoned its commitment to individual rights over government power; abandoned its commitment to protect small nations from hegemonic ones; and abandoned its commitment to protect alive but unborn children, who are the most vulnerable and persecuted demographic in our country.

It will mean that the party which defeated 20th century Soviet communism will have consented to the rise of 21st century Soviet communism, by virtue of Trump saying we won't defend our Baltic allies from Russian attack despite being treaty- and duty-bound to do so.

It will mean the party that was founded specifically to fight slavery -- the party of MLK, the party that defended the Little Rock Nine in the 1950's and voted in the greatest numbers for the civil rights laws of the 1960's -- will have surrendered its leadership to a man who refuses to disown the support of white supremacists.

It will mean the party that has always claimed to advance the sanctity of marriage will have surrendered its leadership to a man who has been divorced more times than all the other presidents in our history combined.

Many of us don't want Hillary Clinton becoming POTUS on our watch, but that doesn't mean we have to be agreeable to Donald Trump becoming POTUS on our watch. Our core principles should not be for sale and should never be sold.

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When I re-read the words I just wrote, I don't see how I can have any reason for optimism, but for some reason I do.

Two Sundays ago we walked on the Atlantic shore. The taste of salt was in the air. Sarah enjoyed leaping over the breaking waves, Parker enjoyed running into them, and Erika strode beside me smiling. It felt good, even though the back half of my mind was worried about some symptoms I had been experiencing.

Then, the following day I got the results of the lab work and they were normal. Turns out all is well on the medical front.

Every time I read the conservative media I am reminded that many Republicans continue to oppose their party's nominee, to the point of withholding their votes in order to stop the party's leftward lurch.

It's bad that neither the liberal nor mainstream media (I know, birds of a feather) don't focus on Clinton's atrocities drawbacks like they focus on Trump's. I wish the contingent of Democrats willing to withhold their votes from their party's nominee, in order to stop the party's embrace of corruption, was as big as the Never Trump crowd is in the GOP -- but the contingent does exist and its members mean what they say.

Even if I never agree with the policy ideas of the anti-Clinton Dems, their refusal to accept the use of bad means to achieve their desired ends is a good sign. The fact that they openly declare themselves, even though it means they are crossing a powerful person who is one of our all-time most vindictive and ruthless politicians, is a great sign.

In other words, there are always good things happening, just as there are always bad; and while it's corrupting to ignore the bad, it's also corrupting to ignore the good.

Times are dire and our country could very well fail, but we have emerged from darker times before. I won't pretend to know how we will manage to emerge in better shape once these dog days are over, and yes, it is very possible that we will emerge in much worse shape than we are now. Nevertheless, I have a weird and inexplicable feeling we will emerge okay.

But please follow the instructions Billy Joel once turned into a song title: Don't Ask Me Why.

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