Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Friend. John Agresto Writes and I Respond.

The blatant display of hypocrisy by Democrats
on The House Floor!
This memo is exclusively devoted to John Agresto's  essay and my response
1)The Stockholm Republicans

The Culture Wars are over, and we conservatives have lost.
For years we fought a hard fight. We stood in opposition to liberal statism. We believed in limited government and individual initiative. In arguing against affirmative action we fought the notion of rewarding or punishing people on the basis of their color, or last names, or pedigree. In contrast to the progressive penchant for thinking America to be no better, or perhaps worse, than all the failed states and monstrous tyrannies that make up so much of the globe, we always viewed America a leader in human freedom and increased prosperity.  We stood with our allies and alliances. We argued for the sanctity of life, for traditional morality, for family unity and stability, and for the notion that character counted – especially in the people our children and the world would look up to.

We always knew the culture wars would be hard to win. Formidable, modern enemies were arrayed against everything we believed in.  To talk about the importance of self-restraint, adherence to traditional values, and the right to life always ran counter to the more contemporary, more “progressive” values of self-esteem, self-gratification, and self-indulgence.   To argue for America’s salutary involvement in the world ran counter to an everyday human desire to not get entangled in the affairs, the foolishness, and the suffering of others.  To argue for limited government and constitutional forms always ran counter to democratic impatience and the desire to get the job over and done with.

So, we on the Right, always knew that what we stood for could easily be beaten by an impatient, egalitarian Left that would play on popular desires to reward the many by punishing the few, to dispense with constitutional niceties, and to demean our military and try to degrade our standing and influence in the world. How foolish we were -- how blindsided we were – not to see that the onslaught would come not from the Left but from within the ranks of the Republican party itself.

So now we are presented with a presumptive “Republican” candidate for president who accepts so much of what we fought against on the Left and combines it with qualities of moral relativism, with conspicuous and prideful mendacity, with ignorance of even the most basic issues of world affairs, and with an impulse to authoritarianism that even the most radical leftist might be ashamed to avow.

One would have thought that belittling our men and women in uniform – including those captured and tortured by the enemy -- would disqualify Mr. Trump from the presidency.  Nope.  You would think that encouraging his supporters to violence and offering to pay for their defense if caught would cause good Republicans to turn away. Think again. Perhaps the constant public lying – witnessing American Muslims cheering the fall of the twin towers, falsely suggesting President Bush was a war criminal for sending soldiers to die in Iraq on cooked up evidence, declaring the vast majority of illegal immigrants to be rapists and criminals – perhaps you might think these and dozens of other proudly proclaimed lies would disqualify Mr. Trump from holding high office.  Sadly, it seems not so.

There are scores of additional offenses we all can name. Indeed, my fellow Republicans, before you resign yourself to voting for Mr. Trump, make a mental list for yourself of all his insults – transgressions against common decency, against American interests, against the well-being of ordinary working men and women, and against the principles we once tried to adhere. Think of how we reviled the Clinton-Reno cabal that sent federal marshals to deport Elian Gonzales at gunpoint. Now multiply that offense by eleven million. Think of how we cringed when Mr. Trump smiled as he said how much he would like to “date” his daughter. Or when he crumpled (“proud” to help, he said) when he was confronted with evidence that Obama wasn’t born in Kenya after all. Or when he again crumpled, then whined, after an obvious question about his ferocious sexism from Megyn Kelly -- then skipped the next debate supposedly to “raise money” for vets. Or how we cringed when we heard him praise Kim Jong Un or watched his bromance with friend Vladimir, with whom he knows he can do business because, apparently, he has. Perhaps Ann Coulter said it all when she fretted that poor Mr. Trump, our presumptive leader, might be “mental.”
But, you say, the alternative is Hillary.  All I know is that the last time we jumped on the Stop Hillary Express we paved the way for someone arguably worse.  In any event, the Republic has survived any number of bad Democratic presidents.  It will again.  But will the country and the party survive Mr. Trump?  Will it survive and still be a country and a party we’re proud of? 

But, you say, Mr. Trump is the nominee of our party, and we have to support our party, no?  Well, no.  I joined – I imagine we all joined -- the Republican Party because it seemed to support the ideas and values, the principles, we believe in. We all joined and supported the party for the sake of those ideas and because it nurtured those ideas, not the other way around.  The party is not our country, to which we owe respect and allegiance.  It’s a vehicle for the realization of our ideas and ideals and for the effectuation of public policy in accord with those ideals. It has to win our allegiance; it cannot demand it.

But, you say, Mr. Trump has promised us a Supreme Court if we just fall in line.  Oh, is that so?  Or is this just another part of the art of the deal – promise the weak and helpless something, anything, and watch them fall in line.  Then, when you have them on your side, promise your opponents even more, and win altogether.  What else will you, my fellow Republicans, give up in exchange for hope – false hope -- and promises? 

But what about all those ostensibly good Republicans who have already fallen in line?  Well, perhaps when they talked about standing up for our principles, they were simply fooling us, and maybe themselves as well.  Or perhaps when they said such things as “Character Counts,” or touted the importance of limited government, they simply used those words to beat down others and advance themselves. Or perhaps, for those in power, they’re afraid that standing up to the bully will lose them their congressional seat or their insider power when Mr. Trump wins. Perhaps, that is, the Trumpsters are on to something when they say that most politicians stand for nothing but themselves; that their words are just that, words. (And when the electorate turns ‘round on them and defeats both Mr. Trump and his new-found acolytes, will they come back to us and ask for our support once more?  We’ll see.)

But all these objections – fear of the opposing candidate, party loyalty, the seduction of new promises, and the love of power -- actually speak to the heart of the matter: We may have lost the culture wars, our ideas might be temporarily or even permanently kicked to the ground, but not all of us have to submit to Mr. Trump’s threats, or his advances, or convince ourselves that having beaten us he will someday lead us forward and make us happy.  He may have won, but we owe neither him nor the party he presumptively will lead allegiance. 

There is no disgrace in being beaten.  There is only disgrace in pretending that switching our allegiance is something we want to do, or should do, or are afraid not to do.  The only disgrace is cozying up to a man of Mr. Trump’s manipulative arrogance and asking to be taken in.  Or, to repeat the degenerate image Mr. Trump gave us when gloating over Mitt Romney: kneeling before him and willingly doing what he asks.

Will the convention give us an honest candidate?  I hope so, even as I doubt it.  Would I vote for a solid conservative third party?  If such a one were to arise, of course. It would hardly be a wasted vote even if it were simply a gesture.  Would I vote for the opposite party, or simply not vote?  Perhaps.  But what I will not do is submit to the new Republican Party Stockholm Syndrome and willingly cast my vote for my arrogant assailant and captor.  No, not under any circumstances.

John Agresto
Author of Rediscovering America: Liberty, Equality, and the Crisis of Democracy.

John Agresto, was my oldest daughter's professor at Kenyon College, the former President of The Madison Foundation and then President of St John's College, Santa Fe Campus.

Upon his retirement from St John's, he was called to reconstitute the Iraq University System by President Bush and wrote a book about his experience, which was not a gratifying one.

John is one of the brightest men I ever had the distinct pleasure of calling my friend and he has always spoken out because he is one of the most principled men I have ever met, an Italian version of my father.

John is now retired, lives in Santa Fe and has written his latest book, which I have read, and reviewed many memos ago.

I asked John to come and speak about his book but he demurred and said he no longer does a lot of traveling.

I also told John, I would respond to his essay though, I apologize in advance,  I am not as erudite.

My response:

I understand John's discomfort with the loss of the high principled ideals Conservatism sought by embracing The Republican Party, though personally I am not a party person.  I never thought Republicans should have touched all the social issues (3rd rails) they did because I thought it was a losing battle and they would ultimately fall on their sword, as they have, and John acknowledges. John is Catholic and his adherence to his faith has driven him to support certain issues beyond where my less adherence to my Jewish  faith would have me venture.

That said, I do not see Trump in the same light as John and am willing to be less rigid in my judgement of him .  Why?  Not because I find him less repugnant and boorish as John but simply because Hillary is far more dangerous and after 8 years of Obama even more so.  As a stand alone, following a successful presidency, Hillary would be more tolerable but after Obama, I have to ask myself how much more punishment and ravages can our Republic endure?

I believe I am principled, have standards but I am unwilling to maintain these standards by allowing Hillary to win by default.

Trump has moved the Republican Party to the center in some ways, some to the right in other ways but he is the candidate disgusted conservatives have chosen because the Republican Party has  failed to measure up to the challenge. Politics is a nasty business and Republicans, like Goldwater, Dole, McCain, Romney and yes, even George Bush 41, were too Patrician, too unprepared, lacked cunning or  whatever, so we enter battle with The Donald, who, based on his efforts, appears prepared to give more than he gets and I am willing to give him my vote, cross myself like a pretzel, and pray he will become the president we need at this time in our nation's history.

I have sent this to John before I posted.

What I watched tonight was more Liberal hypocrisy and pandering  on The House Floor and it made me sick as they violated House rules and pranced, preened before TV in their blatant, puerile display of showmanship.


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