Diary

History's Traffic Cop

On Super Tuesday, Republicans in several states will cast their ballots not just for our nominee, but the future of our party, our country, and the world. We are at a crossroads, and your decision could echo throughout history. Five men remain in the contest and even though I support Marco Rubio, I could enthusiastically support three others in the fall if they are our party’s nominee. Voices from every faction of our party have condemned the one I cannot support in November. Some of them have cited some of history’s most infamous monsters in their condemnation of Trump. However, a more recent history may offer the most accurate comparison of all.

As the 21st century began, another country was emerging from economic chaos and faced the threat of violent jihadists. These people opted for strength and security, unaware of the liberty that not just they, but citizens of other countries would lose. In March 2000, the Russian people would select a man that would spend the next 16 years dismantling freedoms, destabilizing and threatening neighbors, and emboldening a kleptocratic economic system controlled by loyal oligarchs and the security services. Vladimir Putin continues these same violations of basic human rights every day across the globe.

This report by Freedom House chronicles many of the actions undertaken by the Putin regime from 2000-2012. The assaults on freedom have grown even greater since this report was published. Here are just a few examples from the report:

-April 2001 “State-owned natural gas firm Gazprom bolsters its hold over the formerly independent media empire of Vladimir Gusinsky, effectively taking control of its NTV television station in April. Also that month, Gazprom shuts down the newspaper Sevodnya and fires the staff of the weekly Itogi.”

-July 2001 “Putin signs legislation that imposes new restrictions on political parties.”

-January 2002 “Russia’s last private nationwide television channel, TV-6, is closed down in January after a Moscow arbitration court orders its liquidation, allegedly at the government’s instigation. The station had been owned by exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky.”

-July 2003 “In July, Putin signs a new “illegal campaigning” law that effectively makes media outlets susceptible to closure for publishing critical information about candidates for office.”

-August 2003 “the government seizes control of VTsIOM (All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion), the country’s most respected polling firm.”

-December 2004 “In the aftermath of a catastrophic terrorist attack near Chechnya, Putin pushes through constitutional amendments in December that eliminate the direct election of regional governors, allowing the president to appoint them instead.”

-May 2005 “In May, the State Duma passes a package of amendments intended to penalize media outlets for reprinting or rebroadcasting “inaccurate” news reports during electoral campaigns.”

-Autumn 2006 “The government launches a harsh autumn crackdown on Georgians living in Russia as a result of political tensions with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili.”

-2006 “At least three journalists are killed in connection with their work during the year, according to CPJ. They include investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya of Novaya Gazeta, whose reporting focused on human rights abuses in Chechnya.”

-2012 “Other laws enacted in 2012 include the recriminalization of slander, the imposition of sharply higher fines for participation in illegal protests, and a broad expansion of the definition of treason to encompass providing assistance to foreign organizations.”

These examples are important, because Donald Trump exhibits many of these same tendencies, and even campaigns on similar protectionist and nationalist ideas. The orchestrated takeover of media by Putin allies, in addition to the lawfare engaged by via lax libel laws by friends of Putin in the UK are all scenarios that are either likely or have been championed by Trump.

Americans and Republicans specifically have much reason to be angry at the failures of elected leaders. However, that anger must not allow us to fall for the promises of a strongman as Congressman Mark Sanford so eloquently stated in this piece at the Daily Caller.

On Super Tuesday and beyond, I hope my fellow Republicans vote their values and reject Donald Trump and his dangerous rhetoric. As William F. Buckley stated decades ago, “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” It is time for Republicans of all stripes to embrace the mantle of history’s traffic cop and put an end to this mess before it is too late. You have an 80% chance of making the right decision. I pray history will smile upon our choice.