No, The Atlantic, Conservatism Means Backing Republican Nominees

A recent piece in The Atlantic recommended that “If conservatives want to save the GOP from itself, they need to vote mindlessly and mechanically against its nominees.” This is foolhardy. Not a single point of the syllogism the article’s co-authors generate holds water:

“(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.”

This plan comes from two co-authors claiming to care about conservatism; if they were die-hard Liberals, it would look exactly the same. But I think it worth re-affirming that this is especially wrong-headed for Maryland Republicans. If we like Larry Hogan, we should go out and vote this November for Larry Hogan.

First, because there is no hard or monied link between the people we Marylanders elect to govern ourselves and President Trump’s (debatable) relationship with democracy and the rule of law. No Maryland Republican delegate has made himself an agent of Trump’s; few enough publicly defend our President’s volatile and enigmatic statements and actions to even be called reliable defenders.

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If the desired effect is to strengthen the democratic process and rule of law, then “mindlessly” voting out honorable and wise Republicans in the state of Maryland will cause no such thing. The individuals we know and vote for—delegates, state’s attorneys, state senators—are not complicit in any nasty agenda of President Trump’s simply because six years ago he joined our party. The two phenomena are essentially unconnected. Trying to link the two in a cry for nationwide “mechanical” lever-pulls for Dems seems just dishonest.

Second, we all remember that the policies that affect us most closely are going to be crafted and passed in Annapolis and in our home counties. For the next four years, someone will be residing in the Governor’s Mansion either devising forty-four new excuses to take money from us, or letting us go about our lives and livelihoods ever more unburdened by bureaucrat regulation.

I’m not about to consign myself, my friends, and my family to a materially worse future because I want to spite the White House. That’s what they did in Virginia last fall—polls suggested that two-thirds of those who cast their vote with the President in mind cast their vote against the Republicans. This seems like an ill-advised way to govern ourselves.

But the most buffoonish argument of The Atlantic here is that the Republican party, to be (allegedly) saved from its self, must have its nominees go down in defeat indiscriminately. Their supposed vision of a Republican party poised for future success and conservatism is one comprised of Donald Trump, sitting in Pennsylvania Avenue with his Cabinet, and a nation full of dispossessed Republicans. Nothing could more permanently unite the brands of “Trump” and “Republican” than such an outcome.

Anyone genuinely concerned about President Trump’s failings should hope that he has honest and blunt critics in power on both the Left and the Right. Such a statesman is Governor Hogan. He did not endorse Trump when he was up for election; he has openly critiqued Trump since. Punishing a good and honorable man like that because, at the end of the day, the same letter is next to both of their names, is foolish. What is important is having a party based on ideals and principles, and having forthright voices like Governor Hogan’s in the spotlight is what’s keeping the party from degenerating into a cult of personality.

But still the authors want us to “send the Republican party a message” about disliking Trump? For those of us for whom that does apply, the way to do that is to . . . send the Republican party a message. Talk to delegates or party operatives; show up at events and voice your thoughts. And when the time comes in November, be prepared to vote not against one man, but for principles: for fiscal responsibility, for letting people keep the money they have earned, for a Maryland changed for the better.

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