Diary

Today, the GOP Meets its Own Robespierre

Super Tuesday has finally come, known recently as the “SEC primary.” After months of anticipation the moment arrives where 595 delegates will be awarded to participants in 11 mostly-southern states.

 

For most of the last year, candidates have risen and fallen and nearly a dozen debates have been waged to show the differences between candidates, or air dirty laundry. And we have been shown to have plenty of the latter. Rather than be substantive discussions on policy, debates have effectively been the trump show. (I refuse to capitalize his “brand,” of which he’s disproportionately proud) No one saw this coming, and the timing was unfortunately perfect. Social media and blog-driven anger has been stoked among the voting population like few have ever seen. The “anti-establishment” mood is strong, even with great advances the last ten years. The primary process has become unpredictable, as all conventional wisdom in politics has been tossed out the window.

 

Conventional wisdom would have said intentional gaffes, personal insulting, childish behavior, blatant nationalism, consistent inaccuracies, unethical business, open immorality and a lack of basic constitutional and political knowledge would sink a campaign. But it hasn’t.

 

Political history would have told you that rising too soon would lead to an early exit, and ultimately, by this point stabilization and regrouping by the base around a pair or triad of candidates would have occurred. But that hasn’t happened. Iowa saw eight tickets on the train to New Hampshire, and still seven after that. Today, five candidates are splitting the ticket while 35% of the electorate has galvanized around the churlish, vulgar, uncivilized campaign Mr. trump has waged.

 

After seven years of an Obama presidency, Republicans are so frustrated with how long it’s taken to pull the levers of power that a good portion have tossed all rational thought and been antagonized by and embraced the very kind of monster they claim to fight. Even leaders among the Evangelical world, of which I’ve been a part my whole life have abandoned their core principles for access to power, or perhaps a faddish compromise with congregations misled by conservative websites and pundits more interested in ratings and drama than substance. The only thing consistent about this “movement” is that every other day the news is filled with another dramatic moment, as the Rational Conservatives place their foreheads squarely in their hands ashamed.

 

These people are the reason Soap Operas last 30 years at a crack. Drama supersedes reason. Will today reveal this Reality Soap is hitting Sweeps Week or its Series Finale?

 

A NATION OF LAWS, NOT OF MEN

“[We are] a republic, a government of laws, not of men.” – John Adams

 

In March 1793, the French Revolution culminated in the founding of the Tribunals, used as a tool in the “Reign of Terror” against the Royalists and other aristocrats. It is a shameful time in history that tarnished good intentions with a horrifying lack of civility.

 

While Paris burned, the commoners would fistfight. The bourgeois crowd felt it was acceptable for lawlessness and anger to correct the real and perceived offenses by the ruling class, and they put to death 1,220 people in 13 months. Aristocrats, Royalists and those they felt were aiding them. What followed was the iron hand of Maximilien Robespierre, a populist who rode this anger to the top of the revolutionary pile and the passage of his infamous Law of 22 Prairial, which removed legal defense, banned independent witnesses and made death the sole penalty. 1,376 more people were rushed to death in the next 49 days, many of them innocent. Just a suspicion of support for the ruling class was punished.

 

As I sat in the theater in July 2008 to watch Batman: Dark Knight I was taken aback by the powerful narrative in the movie, of revolution and why many fail: because the best villains manage to hijack it, to control a population through fear. It was a modern re-dramatization of the French Revolution.

 

The related scene was when Dr. Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow) held his tribunals in the ransacked City Hall on behalf of Bane, sending leaders to their death in sickening fashion.

 

This isn’t what America is about. Our revolution was almost parellel to France, but had remarkably different results. Why? We are better than this. At least, that’s what I was raised to believe. To never give up hope that we are exceptional because our people are good, that despite our emotional moments we are a nation of laws, not men; we are a republic, not a mob-rule democracy. While the movie shows the need for a Dark Knight to save us from this villain, it was the goodness in people like Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, Selina Kyle, Sgt Blake, Lucious Fox and others that saved the people from themselves.

 

We need goodness to crack through the clouds today.

 

These primaries will determine which direction the Republican Party goes: will it go the irrational route at the goading of an emotionally and mentally unstable liberal populist, or will it embrace reason and civility? There could be a third option, where we collectively choose to fight another day. But if it were up to me, we would dismiss this delinquent, boorish malcontent tonight, and be rid of our flirtation with nihilism.

 

Despots find their power, but not stability in the ashes of disorder. A simple understanding of “chaos theory” would convince you the answer is quite different than a billionaire hedonist even Playboy found reprehensible.

 

Donald Drumpf (his real family name) is the kind of leader Americans defeated in 1945, because order simply never comes out of disorder. But a pendulum does eventually stop swinging. That principle is written in the stars. Will our future also be found by looking up, or down into the sewer of mob rule?

 

Please, Republican voters, restore the order of conservatism. We owe it to true leaders like Jack Kemp, Tom Colburn, Rick Perry and yes, Ronald Reagan. There is virtue in civility, because a system can be engaged and we the people can use our access to determine our future. Party, please do not leave me.

 

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