Tuesday, December 8, 2015
On the Republican presidential campaign, some are saying that “Silly Season” should be over. But then the “Trump Spectacle” stopped being funny quite some time ago.
Since I became of age to vote, I have cast my ballot for the Republican nominee for President on every occasion (a total of nine times). I am proud to say that I was one of the first to join what became the Reagan Revolution, working as a teenager in the unsuccessful Reagan campaign of 1976 and then being chosen as the second-youngest delegate to the Republican National Convention which nominated Ronald Reagan for President in 1980.
The Republican Party is blessed with one of the strongest set of candidates ever presented for the highest elected office in our country. We have successful and innovative governors, active and effective Senators, demographic diversity, youthful vigor and wise seniority, and a host of interesting proposals to restore growth and leadership to the United States. Then there is Donald Trump, who displays none of this.
Those who know me, know that I am hardly a liberal-leaning critic or left-wing fellow traveler. Nor would I be characterized as someone who easily takes offense at typical political rhetoric.
Within the liberal echo chamber that is the American legal academy, I frequently sound a dissenting note. I often rebel against political correctness, especially when used as a trump card to suffocate dissenting viewpoints that make the academic elite uncomfortable. I share the frustration (and even occasional resentment) of a majority of Americans toward a political class that presumes it has all the answers (always more law and government) and insists that it holds the moral high ground (again always with more law and government), while it arrogates more power and revenues to itself.
I too am worried by this feckless President’s unstable foreign policy which has continually weakened our nation’s position in the world, lost so many opportunities to strengthen security, and failed to take sustained and meaningful action against international dangers.
It can be lonely in higher education to be an orthodox Catholic; defender of the unborn; supporter of free markets; believer in America as a force for good in the world; questioner about do-gooder campaigns that rely on imposing rules and building distant bureaucracies; and resister to judicial overreaching. It is often tiring and sometimes discouraging.
But no level of frustration, no justifiable venting, no disappointment in false promises by politicians, no discouragement about the hegemony of the cultural and media elite – none of this – can justify casting a vote for a person who repeatedly and flagrantly offends standards of decency and who exhibits no moral seriousness and uplifting principle.
Donald Trump speaks with contempt for women, making comments on appearance (and even beyond) that no gentleman would ever think, much less utter.
Trump regularly paints those in the minority or on the margins into his picture of scapegoats, an ignorant and cowardly posture that fails to genuinely engage with the problems facing our country.
When a prominent figure slurs Muslim Americans by repeatedly broadcasting the lie that thousands of them in New Jersey celebrated the terrorist attacks of 9/11, every decent person is morally obliged to speak up as a witness for the truth. When a presidential candidate speaks approving of an outrageously unconstitutional proposal to force persons of a particular faith to register with and be monitored by the government, anyone who cares about religious liberty should be alarmed.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters in this country have demonstrated repeatedly by their actions and their words that they believe in the American Dream. For those who are interested in the truth about American Muslims, including their own views as shown in polls, I refer you to one of my works on religious liberty, which includes considerable data on the vibrant and encouraging role of Muslims in our American tapestry (here).
And after I wrote a draft of this post and circulated it to some colleagues for comments, Trump went a step further and called for banning any Muslim from even visiting the United States. Beyond how outrageous this is as a matter of principle, it displays disqualifying foolishness as a matter of foreign policy. Turkey, for example, is a member of NATO and an ally in the fight against ISIS. Trump would ban anyone from Turkey from entering the United States. Indonesia is one of the fastest rising nations in the world, with soaring educational achievements and an exciting new democratically-elected leader. It is becoming an icon of Muslim democracy. And, of course, Trump would blacklist all of them.
Nor can casual contempt for Latino immigrants and falsely portraying nearly all of them as criminals be left unanswered. Our nation has always been strengthened by immigrants, who today willingly take jobs that others turn down, show an entrepreneurial spirit, and reflect powerful family values. While some entered the country without proper documentation (a matter of justifiable concern), they did so for reasons that every American can respect, that is, to build a better life for themselves and their families.
And now Trump undermines our national stand against terrorism by calling for America to engage in blatant violations of human rights and openly commit war crimes.
He boasts that he would restore water-boarding of terrorist suspects, not as an interrogation technique but for the very purpose of imposing torture on those who supposedly deserve it.
Without any prompting, Trumps volunteers on national television that we should respond to terrorist attacks by killing (“take out”) the families of any terrorist. If the United States were to initiate atrocities by executing parents, brothers and sisters, and children because a member of the family committed a violent act against innocents, we would have crossed the moral line to the same side as the terrorists.
Now and again, someone will ask me, who is voting for Donald Trump? The answer, of course, is that no one is. The voting hasn’t begun. Especially in this chaotic pre-primary season with an unusually long list of candidates, the polls are an unreliable predictor of what will happen once caucusing begins and primaries are held.
The Republican Party is the genuine party of hope and change, with candidates who offer not merely a celebrity image but actually have a track record of meaningful and positive change. Once the Republican nomination process actually begins, this is the message that will win; this is the face of the Republican Party.