Encouragement From A Republican

These days there isn’t much that is encouraging, but one thing that gives me hope for the future (by future, I mean specifically November 3rd) is the number of life-long republicans that no longer support Trump and are even willing to throw their weight behind Joe Biden.  Michael Gerson is a republican op-ed columnist for The Washington Post who served as President George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001 until June 2006, as a senior policy advisor from 2000 through June 2006, and was a member of the White House Iraq Group.  But, read what he had to say in his column yesterday …


The entire foundation of Trump’s appeal in 2016 has been swept away

michael-gersonOpinion by

Michael Gerson

Columnist

July 16, 2020 at 3:20 p.m. EDT

Whenever President Trump’s likely loss of the 2020 election is mentioned, many respond, in hope or in fear: “But 2016 . . .” The effect is to impute almost magical populist powers to the president. Anyone who pulled off such a political miracle can presumably perform one again.

Yet Trump won by mortal means. Like any elected president, he won by shaping a narrative that fit the public mood. In this effort, Trump and his allies made three successful arguments:

  • Things can’t get any worse. According to Trump, the United States was a “third-world country” and a “dumping ground for everyone else’s problems.” “For those suffering and hurting, I say: Give Donald J. Trump a chance. I will fix it. What do you have to lose?”
  • Governing is actually easy. In Trump’s view, politicians had failed because they were invariably “clowns” and “stupid.” America could be turned around by an inexperienced outsider without much difficulty.
  • Moral leadership doesn’t really matter. “We’re not electing a pastor in chief,” said Jerry Falwell Jr. Many values voters put their entire emphasis on policy and judicial appointments, not on presidential character.

None of these propositions that helped elect Trump in 2016 can be credibly maintained in 2020. The entire foundation of the president’s previous appeal has been swept away.

The claim that things can’t get any worse is disproved by any day’s headlines. When Trump was elected in 2016, job growth was steady, poverty was declining and the unemployment rate had returned to pre-Great Recession levels. And oh, by the way, a pandemic was not needlessly taking lives, crashing the economy and putting the United States at a massive competitive disadvantage, due (in large part) to the cowardice and incompetence of the president.

In 2016, Trump argued that the United States was in an existential crisis in order to increase the public’s tolerance for risk. If everything was going to hell anyway, why not take a chance on a vivid but inexperienced leader? This turns out to have been a choice of monumental irresponsibility and immaturity. As any true conservative knows, things can always get worse. Trump has provided empirical evidence.

The claim that governing is easy would now sound delusional in the mouth of our overmatched president (though his claim that the U.S. government is afflicted by clowns still has the ring of truth). Trump has attempted to compensate for his incompetence by criticizing acts of his own administration on Twitter (“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. . . . I will be meeting with them!!!”). This is an absolutely bizarre way to conduct business in the executive branch. Instead of working through a process to produce a consensus policy, which would generally be announced in a carefully prepared speech, the president takes pot shots at government experts on social media. Rather than leading, Trump seems more comfortable spectating and commenting. Whether this is a result of his laziness or his inability to operate the levers of power, it is pathetic.

Trump often tries to cover for his failures by asserting that he is a victim of the “deep state.” In this narrative, the problem is not Trump’s gross incompetence but sabotage by devious enemies. Many of Trump’s followers have bought this argument in theory. In practice, it involves pitting his credibility against admirable, nonpartisan public servants such as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s Anthony S. Fauci. And Trump does not triumph in any contest where knowledge and integrity determine the winner.

The claim that presidential character doesn’t count has also been tested and found foolish. Morality is not merely a matter of sexual ethics. It involves a determination to treat others with respect and to honor their essential dignity. This is what makes racism immoral. And this is what makes Trump’s increasingly unvarnished racism politically disqualifying. Trump’s failures of empathy and decency are the product of poor presidential character. At a time when the country is deliberating about sensitive matters of justice and equity, we have a president with a missing conscience. This is doing profound harm to the country.

The coming presidential election may offer its own surprises, but it is not a repeat of 2016. The ideological props beneath the Trump presidency have been removed, one by one. It is now clear that the country has much to lose, that governing skill is essential and that presidential decency counts. By all those measures, the Trump of 2020 is a loser.

21 thoughts on “Encouragement From A Republican

  1. Pingback: Encouragement From A Republican – PSO World

  2. On a different sort of note, I was wondering what you think of Condoleeza Rice as a possible running mate with Joe Biden. I’ve seen it discussed on a few web sites, and it seems like a bold move that could really solidify Joe’s lead…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An excellent share indeed! I had read this column by Michael Gerson and found some morsels of hope therein. His well presented analysis of trump’s 2016 campaign vs 2020 is exactly what trump supporters need to hear. Though undoubtedly there would still be those clinging even as trump’s 2020 campaign’s death knell begins ringing. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! His hardcore base will stick by him no matter what … even if he stands on Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody! But bit by bit, the more moderate in the GOP are coming to see the damage he has done and continues to do. I hope Gerson is right … our very lives depend on it.

      Like

  4. Very awesome piece. Unfortunately, he opposed Trump in 2016 and there are a lot of people in a lala land of denial over all of the misdeeds the idiot-in-chief has done. I can’t wait for him to be gone, and don’t really care how that happens — although there would be a karmatic quality if the virus took him out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed he is! As is George Will … and a couple of others whose names escape me at the moment, for I’ve just gotten news that John Lewis has died and I’m a bit shaken … a lot shaken, actually. There was a great man. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I heard. And yes, he was a great man. We’re losing these icons way too frequently are we not? Unfortunately it’s inevitable. I certainly hope we’re creating new icons as we speak. Because the times we are in now, call for massive action, much like the days in which Lewis came to prominence. He’ll be sorely missed.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Jill, Michael Gerson is on a short list of my favorite conservative writers. He was the first conservative I can recall that implored people not to vote for Trump. He was right then and is correct now.

    I am glad he mentioned the deep state issue, as that actually was built up prior to Trump, but he has capitalized on that fear. But, as Michael Lewis notes from his research and many interviews for “The fifth risk,” is the deep state are the hard-working public servants who know what they are talking about. Only the politicians have made the deep state political.

    As bad as Gerson’s paints it, Lewis’ book actually says it is much worse, because this administration has less knowledge of the greater risks facing our country. The squeezing out of talent, through reassignment and pressure to leave, the management by people less interested in knowing what the departments they manage actually do, the failure to be briefed through interviews or reading of materials prepared by outgoing managers, has left this country behind the eight-ball. In short, the president does not know or care to know what risks keep these folks up at night.

    So, we have a corrupt and deceitful president, whose decision-making revolves around himself, and who does not have the competence or empathy to manage something he does not care to study. What could possibly go wrong? We are seeing what with his COVID-19 mishandling and pouring gasoline on racial fires.

    The risk of four more years of this rudderless ship management will take our country down a bad path. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Agreed … both Gerson and George Will are what I think of as “moderate conservatives”, or men of conscience.

      I just this minute got a ‘breaking news’ notification that John Lewis has died. I am devastated … he was, in my book, a hero. 😥

      I agree with you … I don’t think this nation can withstand another four years of Trump and his corruption. Let us hope we don’t have to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, with Lewis’ and CT Vivien’s passing so close together, two icons of civil rights have died. On Will, Gerson, Brooks, Erickson, et al, we need to keep sharing the words of conservative writers that used to matter to Republicans. To me, these are the forerunners to getting weak-kneed GOP Senators to remember their oath is to the Constitution not the person who acts so corruptly and deceitfully in the White House. The message needs to be clear – this president is campaigning on the sick and dead bodies of Americans. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s no chance even one of his own would accuse Trump of decency They want him to achieve speciffic things and don’t care how he does it. The breakdown of Big Government, Freedom for the banks and as many Republican
    Judges sitting in the high court and the Superior court as possible.There is still time for him to win a few more victories through the courts and he’s restarted his land grab probably to help his oil friends or his coal mining pals. Those are just sideswipes of nastiness for recent bad luck.which might be the pattern to November, He has to go, but it would help iif some of the Senators who say they are going to back away, did so instead of pandering to his whims,
    Cwtch

    Liked by 4 people

    • Quite true, but then I suspect that most who are closest to Trump in his administration also couldn’t ever be accused of decency or having values. Their values, like Trump’s, lie in $$$$$$$$$$$$.

      All my life, until the past decade or so, I genuinely thought that judges were above partisan politics, above the game playing that politicians engage in. And I still think most are, but sadly too may are now “up for sale” to the highest bidder. Sigh.

      I fully agree about the senators … talk is cheap … let their actions show where their loyalties lie. I suspect they will show us that their loyalties are NOT to their oaths, but to the Oaf in the Oval Office.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

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