Lesser of two evils is always the best choice
“No matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.”
— Lily Tomlin
“I’m out,” Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz said soon after the latest bombshell involving his party’s presidential nominee. He was among the earliest of more than 50 leading Republicans, mostly members of the House and Senate, who jumped ship after Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” containing increasingly vulgar comments about women surfaced last Friday evening.
By one count, more than 160 GOP leaders, Senators, congressmen, ex-cabinet members like Condoleezza Rice and Bill Bennett, the last two elected Republican presidents, the two GOP nominees since then and others who contended for the 2016 nomination…have opted out of supporting Trump since that fateful day a year and a half ago when he began his campaign.
They include Sen. Corey Gardner, GOP Senate candidate Darryl Glenn (though that may change) and Rep. Mike Coffman but, notably, not Scott Tipton. Reliably conservative elected officials from neighboring states are saying no to Trump, including Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Mike Crapo of Idaho and New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez, once a potential choice for vice-president.
Monday morning, Speaker Paul Ryan announced he was done defending Trump, cutting his charges loose to run with or from the nominee depending on what best suits political realities in their individual districts. It was an admission, too long coming from party loyalist Ryan, of the desperate straits the GOP finds itself in, that the speaker thinks his House majority is in danger along with GOP Senate dominance and that his party faces increasingly impossible odds, four weeks out, of defeating Hillary Clinton.
How’d it come to this… to a Republican Party in the midst of a civil war and teetering on the brink of irrelevance nationally? To a party where absurdities like Herman Cain and Ben Carson are treated as equals to experienced leaders such as John McCain, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and others? Where shutting down government and refusing to fulfill responsibilities like voting a Supreme Court nominee up or down are badges of honor rather than embarrassments?
You could begin with the “deals with the devil” that have been made over the years.
Start with the embrace of the most un-Christian of Christians, the hard core religious right. Add adoption of conservative talk radio as the voice of the party and pandering to Confederate flag-waving Southern conservatives. Toss in allowing the National Rifle Association to become the de facto voice regarding gun issues, turning party policies over to the minority in the Tea Party wing, attempting to foment doubt about the citizenship of a president “We the People” elected twice but who looks a little different that most of us.
That’s how we end up with a GOP nominee whose devoted base doesn’t seem to mind his flip-flops on issues, his tawdry treatment of women, his schoolyard bullying of opponents, his discredited leadership on the “birther” issue.
Another group must shoulder a good share of the blame.
Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said “All politics is local.” That means there’s a sizeable contingent of Main Street folks as responsible as Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
You know who you are. I don’t have to name names. You’re the Republican bankers, insurance brokers, retailers, restaurant owners, ranchers, education activists, real estate brokers and others who, instead of fighting back, sidelined themselves when the initial upheaval in local GOP politics took place back in the late 1990s.
I remember one of you asking, as we stood together in line to hear Mitt Romney at Central High School four years ago, “When are you guys (Democrats) going to get organized and change things around here?”
“Won’t happen,” I replied, “there’s too few of us. Things will change when people like you get up on your hind legs and take back your own party.”
We’ll soon receive our mail ballots. Here’s something, a comment to a recent political story in another publication, to keep in mind when sitting down to vote.
“We make difficult choices every day… the choice between a horrible job and one decent although not perfect. Between two cable companies or two cars or houses or insurance companies. I don’t understand this ‘lesser of two evils’ nonsense. The better of the two is still clearly the better of the two.”