Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Atlantic: Boycott the Republican Party

Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, in today’s issue of The Atlantic, call for a total boycott of the Republican Party. These are not bleeding-heart Liberals, or even NeverTrump Conservatives. Both Rauch and Wittes are respected for their non-partisan positions, and are fellows of the Brookings Institution.
This, then, is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy.
Their article makes a desperate but reasoned appeal for everyone to abandon nuance and go all-out against every Republican candidate.
We’re suggesting that in today’s situation, people should vote a straight Democratic ticket even if they are not partisan, and despite their policy views. They should vote against Republicans in a spirit that is, if you will, prepartisan and prepolitical. Their attitude should be: The rule of law is a threshold value in American politics, and a party that endangers this value disqualifies itself, period. In other words, under certain peculiar and deeply regrettable circumstances, sophisticated, independent-minded voters need to act as if they were dumb-ass partisans.
The discussion that makes up the meat of the article is worth reading. To summarize:
  • This is not about the Republican party’s extremism or even about policies.
  • This is not about Trump being awful (though he is), but about the Republican party being unwilling to check his abuses of power
  • Anti-Trump forces in Republican party have been shut out, and Trump owns the base now
This presents the Republican party as not just complicit by inaction, but actively operating to support Trump and his program of political destruction.

Here is their logical conclusion:
(1) The GOP has become the party of Trumpism.
(2) Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
(3) The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
And the final appeal:
We understand why Republicans, even moderate ones, are reluctant to cross party lines. Party, today, is identity. But in the through-the-looking-glass era of Donald Trump, the best thing Republicans can do for their party is vote against it.
We understand, too, the many imperfections of the Democratic Party. Its left is extreme, its center is confused, and it has its share of bad apples.
But the Democratic Party is not a threat to our democratic order. That is why we are rising above our independent predilections and behaving like dumb-ass partisans. It’s why we hope many smart people will do the same.
I hope this appeal gets some traction. We saw NeverTrump Republican Max Boot express a similar sentiment at the end of last year, that he hopes all Republican candidates lose. But seeing this from people who have based their careers on being non-partisan seems like a step forward.

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