Commentary: What my Republican parents would do now
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my Republican parents, gone these many years. The two of them shared a set of conservative values, but they came by them by different routes.
My father grew up in the New Jersey suburbs of New York, his father being an engineer and inventor for Bell Labs. So my Dad’s conservative perspective grew out of the world of American business.
My mother grew up in a community of Swedish farmers in western Iowa. So Mom’s conservative views grew out of that Midwestern rural culture shaped by a set of Lutheran moral principles.
Both Mom and Dad believed in such basic values as honesty, integrity, patriotism, respect for the law, and doing one’s duty. They considered those to be conservative values. Maybe they are, or maybe they are just good human values. In any event, although I eventually became a Democrat, my parents’ “conservative” values are my values, too.
I’ve been thinking about my Republican parents because I feel sure they could never support what the Republican Party has become. All those values – honesty, integrity, doing one’s duty for the good of the nation, respect for basic American principles of government – have been betrayed by today’s Republican Party, the Party of Trump.
The polls say that the majority of Republican voters don’t see this “Trump Party” as having gone wrong. Big majorities of them think the problem is American law enforcement conducting a “witch hunt,” not the president and the Republicans in Congress waging an attack on the rule of law. They think that the American press is reporting “fake news,” not that the Trump Party is using lies and distractions to cover up a betrayal of the basic American values conservatives have always revered.
But I cannot imagine my Mom and Dad would be among those deceived. I see them, rather, taking a position like some of the nationally prominent lifelong Republicans who have recognized that the demands of the present crisis take precedence over their old partisan allegiance.
People like Steve Schmidt, who ran the campaign of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, who sees a “threat posed by a political party where conservatism is now defined by absolute obedience to a leader with autocratic tendencies,” and turns to the Democratic Party as “the sentinel of American democracy and liberty.”
Or George Will – arguably Mr. Conservative among pundits for the past 40 years – who says that, in view of “the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington,” that Americans must make sure that the Republicans are “reduced to minorities” in Congress.
Or Max Boot, a prominent Republican national security adviser, who says “I join …other principled conservatives, both current and former Republicans, in rooting for a Democratic takeover of both houses in November. Like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must first be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”
Or the conservatives Benjamin Wittes and Jonathan Rauch who, despite what they regard as the “imperfections of the Democratic Party,” declare that America needs a blue wave because “the Democratic Party is not a threat to our democratic order.”
I see my parents as Republicans like these — clear-eyed enough to see what’s happening, principled enough not to be comfortable with how their party has changed, and patriotic enough to put nation ahead of party. And (even if the polls are right that most Republicans have drunk the Kool-Aid and will believe whatever they’re told and follow wherever a party-gone-rogue wants to lead them) I imagine there must be a number of regular rank-and-file Republicans like my parents out there now.
I hope these principled Republican voters – given how the current Republican leadership controlling Congress has been making a mockery of their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – will follow the counsel of those Republicans quoted above:
Take power away from the party that has betrayed its duty to the nation, and give it to the Democratic Party, which is the only instrument available right now to defend our constitutional order.
The blue wave America urgently needs this November should not be thought of as the victory of one party over another. But rather as the victory of our basic American values over a political force that has shown itself the enemy of the gift our founders gave us.
April Moore, who ran for state senate in 2015, lives in Shenandoah County.