Several months ago, I wrote a column here saying I feel sure that my parents – who were lifelong Republicans – would never support what today’s Republican Party has become. They had values important to them – e.g. “honesty, integrity, doing one’s duty for the good of the nation, respect for basic American principles of government”— values that today’s “Trump Party” has betrayed.
And as genuine American patriots, my parents would never put party ahead of nation.
And I indicated I knew that among the rank-and-file Republicans there were likely a number of Republicans like my parents in wanting their parents to become something true to their conservative values again.
It is to those principled Republicans that I wish to speak.
I’ve recently been having an imaginary conversation in which Mom and Dad ask me what I think they should do to help achieve two important goals Dad describes.
“We’d like to help protect American democracy,” Dad says. “We can see how our party has been trying to help a president -- who has contempt for the Constitution-- put himself above the law. We want to help make sure our great American system survives.
“And second, we’d like to help change the Republican Party back into the decent conservative party America needs.”
At that point in our imaginary conversation, I asked them: “Are you willing to be a bit bold? Are you willing to take a risk?”
It was my father who I imagined answering: “I’m sure the risk is nothing compared to the risks my generation had to take to protect this ‘land of the free’ by winning World War II. What’s the risk?”
And I replied, “Just the risk of not having all your friends and neighbors being pleased with you.”
And then I told them what I’d recommend they do to help their country:
“You can engage with other decent conservatives to help them see that they’re supporting a president and a party that are trampling on genuine conservatives values. Your neighbors might not like to hear what you have to say. But because you’re conservatives and Republicans, maybe they’ll listen to you. Especially if you proceed gently and respectfully.
“But it’s an essential task: our nation needs to get all its decent people supporting what’s decent. And America’s in trouble because that’s not the case now."
Then I came up with a second way they could help achieve their goals.
“If the Republican Party is going to become the conservative party the nation needs, decent conservatives need to choose leaders with integrity. This is a moment when Republicans need to be separating the sheep from the goats.
“So test your Republican leaders. Like in my area, that means asking people like Delegate Todd Gilbert, state Senator Mark Obenshain, and newly elected Representative Ben Cline to make clear what side they’re on in this battle over the soul of America.
“Ask them, ‘Are you OK with what this Trump Party has been doing?’ Ask about specific troubling things that this Republican president, and his Republican allies in Congress, have been doing — things like obstructing justice, tolerating corruption. And all the lies.
“Those leaders who share your concerns -- and are willing to do something about them — you should support and work with to transform the Republican Party into one worthy of your respect.
“But those who stand with the Trump Party, or refuse to give you an answer, you should work to replace with conservatives with integrity.
“Admittedly, they may be afraid to buck their party, regardless of how scandalous and un-American its behavior. They may fear they’d sacrifice their political careers.
“But they’ve all taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. An oath is supposed to be a sacred promise that means a lot more than ‘I’ll do it if it doesn’t cost me anything.’ Anyone who doesn’t honor an oath taken with their hand on the Bible does not have the integrity necessary to redeem this Republican Party.
“Re-electing such people will only perpetuate the moral corruption of your Republican Party.”
I miss my parents and wish I could work with them toward these goals. But even if it’s true, as the polls suggest, that most Republicans 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.