Our Own Time For Choosing

I have read quite a few diaries and comments this week, spanning the spectrum of emotion and have tried to think through my personal views before posting.   As a history teacher I have always tried to look at the views and behaviors of others to try to understand them, even if I didn’t agree with them.  After watching some politicians stand up against the fast moving train threatening our party and others fall in line behind it, I have tried to look at their decisions from their perspective.  Sometimes this is not an easy thing to do but  with politicians we have seen in action over the course of five+ years, you can begin to project what their thought process might have been.

Last summer, I determined that I could never vote for/support Donald Trump.  The same holds true today.  I also would never vote for Hillary Clinton or any other liberal democrat (Sanders, Biden, Warren).  My choice is made; I put principle over party ALWAYS.  BUT, I am not a politician  or elected representative.  Politicians see things a little differently. They look at a big picture and have to think about the end result in a different light than most of us.  I am not talking about those who hopped on board the Trump Train when there were still other options.  I am talking about conservative politicians who we have respected and supported who have made the decision this week to get in line.  Many of us are still hearing the “Hillary wins if Trump is the nominee” in our sleep and believe it.  I know and understand what the polls say, but how dependable are polls?  Both presumptive nominees are greatly disliked and, while the money is on Hillary to win, I would like to remind all of you that the money was that Trump would never get to this point.  So, let’s look at this conundrum from the view of a politician who puts country above all.

This politician looked at the political landscape and had to make a decision on where to stand.  It might be for personal gain, survival, or out of the concern for our country.  I can see an experienced politician, used to working in the party system playing out the following scenario in his/her mind:

“What if Trump wins?   Our country is too important to let it go down without having done everything possible to stop it.  Do we want a Donald Trump with the poor dumb oafs he tends to surround himself with?  OR do I take a chance to place myself in a position to be available to even possibly keep Trump’s finger off the button?  Do I want second or third tier leaders in the cabinet advising the president or do I put myself out there at the risk to my own political future?”

Such are the decisions our more experienced politicians have to make.  The good ones understand that their decision may not be popular among their base and they are willing to risk it because they see a greater good.  The RNC is in a rotten position and they know it.  A while back, Priebus hinted that  the keys to the RNC kingdom might not just be handed over to the nominee as has been done in the past. The RNC’s  best play is to try to hold back certain types of support – fund-raising, organization, data bases –  from Trump unless he makes better hiring decisions in the future, such as a Rick Perry as VP or Secretary of Defense, Homeland Security, or Veteran’s Affairs.  I am using Governor Perry as my example, because, while I don’t know him personally, I have read his books, and watched his governance of my home state for his entire political life.   He is known and respected for doing what he thought was the right thing even when it wasn’t popular.  While I was (and still am) disappointed in his choice at first impulse, I tried to look at this from a different perspective.  Why would someone with so much conservative cred so quickly jump in?  I may not be correct in my conjecture (because that’s all it is), but it is what I would prefer to think as it fits my understanding of the man.

I can see others, especially those closer to the end of their political lives thinking similarly.  They would see it as a patriotic duty to at least try to protect the country from an unstable authoritarian and if Trump were to win, we will need good people on the inside at least trying to influence the decision making process.  I can understand (but not particularly condone) tepid statements from younger politicians who still have to work with in the party structure for their current political path.  While we realize the need for a new party, this will be a big building effort and the organizational and fund-raising bases must be secured before current GOP politicians of like mind will jump ship.  They have to have the organizational, monetary backing, and guarantee of a ballot spot in order to keep their careers afloat.

I just re-read Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing”.  It is as relevant today as the day it was given.  America was at a crossroads, as it often is.  Unfortunately this time, the two major paths are both dangerous and filled with landmines and pitfalls.  I pray every night that God will again bless this nation.  I try everyday to not judge the actions of my friends and people I respect without first trying to understand that their point of view may be different than my own.  These are people of good character, with morals and values I look up to and they deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt to follow their conscience the way we ordinary, grass roots citizens are.