Three years ago today I submitted my resignation to my local GOP organization. I had been a precinct committeeman for the past decade in suburban Chicago, volunteering on state and local campaigns. It was fun. I enjoyed it. Republican politics in Illinois had been a breath of fresh air after moving from Houston, where the party was a rogues’ gallery of cranks, grifters and racists. That all ended here with the grifters taking full control at the national level, cutting off any avenues of defensible support for the party.
Events of the past three years have only reinforced my decision to resign.
Our leaders’ compromise preserves their personal capital at our collective cost. Their refusal to dissent robs all Republicans of moral cover. Evasion and cowardice has prevailed over conscience. We are now, and shall indefinitely remain, the Party of Donald Trump.
I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”
What Emanuel did in the Navy Pier case is what the Democratic Party does more generally in the places it dominates. Behind a veneer of populist concern, Democratic officials create legislation granting themselves paternalistic power over other people’s lives. They use that power to appoint their loyal clients as gatekeepers, doling out favors and permissions in a manner that promotes their influence. In a wider economy that is busy ridding itself of its burdensome middle-men, from the stock broker to the travel agent, Democratic politicians are the last dinosaurs in the forest.
And recently, using the Epstein Affair as a backdrop, a glimpse at the scale of our challenge, stretching beyond party labels, to clean up a dangerously corrupt, and increasingly unstable political system:
When Nancy Pelosi rolls her eyes at the naivete of the anti-Trump resistance, she’s not concealing any cold, cynical, 16-dimensional chess approach to fighting Trump. She doesn’t find Trump any more troubling than Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell ever did. If Donald Trump had run and won as a Democrat, she’s be doing exactly what Paul Ryan did for him. Pelosi and her class have already decamped to Moneyland. And if you find the Democrats’ ties to Moneyland troubling, you’re not ready for the briefest glance into the rollicking political brothel being run by Republicans.
These have been tough years for democracy. We have much work to do and few allies to share the load. We will prevail, but not likely in a peaceful fashion, and perhaps not soon. It’s going to be tough, but there’s no price too high to preserve representative government.