A Reluctant End to All that

Our heartfelt affinity for the Republican Party has been lifelong, but it somehow seems to go back even generations far further than that. It feels so strange and discomfiting, therefore, to have it come to an end on a swelteringly hot night on the Kansas plains during our late middle age.
The very first inkling we ever had of politics and economics and foreign affairs and all the rest of that real world grownup stuff came way back when we were playing in a sandbox while our parents lamented the landslide loss of Barry Goldwater in the ’64 election on a black-and-white television, but even then, to borrow a slogan of that long ago era, we knew in our heart that Goldwater and our parents were right. Our mom was the third daughter of an Oklahoma City street cleaner who had kept her and much of the rest of his extended family well-fed and cleanly-clothed through the Dust Bowl days by means of New Deal patronage, and her vote for Goldwater was her first and only act of rebellion against that otherwise lovable old Yellow Dog Democrat, and our dad’s dad was an admirably autodidactic Oklahoma oil-field whiz who had inculcated in his son a sense of self-sufficiency and individualism that would make him a life-long Republican, and after four years of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and Vietnam War the ’68 election had convinced even our elementary school-aged selves that as usual our parents were right about everything.
By then the folks had relocated us to Kansas, a state that except for that ’64landslide and the New Deal landslide of ’32 had been reliably Republican ever since the “Bleeding Kansas” days when the Republicans were against slavery and the Democrats were hoping to impose that “peculiar institution” on this defiantly “Free State” and they fought it out with a bloody ferociousness that presaged the Civil War, and we soon fell in love with its subtly gorgeous topography and ruggedly individualist and autodidactic ways and even its godawful climate and especially its political obstinacy. Pretty much everything around here is named after some Republican or another, including our Sedgwick County that was named after a Union general who boasted right before being killed by Confederate sniper fire at the Battle of Spotsylvania that “They couldn’t hit a bull elephant from this dist…,” and the combined influence of our parents and Kansas and our own defiantly individualistic sensibility and instinctively ravenous interest in history had led us to believe that the Republicans and our parents are usually right about everything.
By our teens we were proudly serving as interns to Republican Sen. Bob Dole, who had previously been the “right wing” “attack dog” of the the vice presidential candidate of Republican nominee Gerald Ford, who had become the incumbent following the disgraced resignation of President Richard Nixon, along with a couple of good friends who would become the future Democratic and Republican governors of Kansas that we had we had our ideological disputes with but hope to remain friends with, but in in any case we continued to vote a straight Republican ticket every November. Most often it was reluctantly, given the various candidate’s deviances from that Goldwater philosophy we we knew in in our hearts was right, but in every case it was with a good feeling that at least it was better than what the Democrats had on offer.
This year, though, what the Republicans have on offer is a fellow who just a few years ago was identifying more with the Democrats and is a self-described billionaire and serial adulterer who claims to have reached that dubious status by running gambling casinos and strip-joints and professional-wrestling and other reality show embarrassments and boasts about the married women he’s bagged and the Democratic politicians he’s bought off and mocks the handicaps of disabled  reporters and supports the Obamacare’s individual mandate and questions the North Atlantic Treaty that won the Cold War and dismisses the undeniable heroism of the prisoners of wars that we’ve reluctantly supported in past campaigns, and is now supported by that war hero we once served as interns who was previously the “establishment” villain of the anti-Republican insurgency but is now a supporter of the self-proclaimed “anti-establishment” candidate 9n  this crazy year, and who just yesterday helped boo  off the stage of the Republican National Convention the failed but genuine Goldwaterite Republican that we had reluctantly pined our last-ditch hopes on.
Our pop woke us up Thursday morning with a call asking what we thought about that lone hold-out Goldwaterite Republican senator’s ambiguous failure to endorse the Republican nominee, and we could only assure him that at least we wouldn’t be voting for the at least equally awful all-but-certain-Democratic nominee. By the time we rubbed the sand from our eyes and logged onto the internet we found an interview by our longtime party’s all-but-certain nominee interview with the New York Times where he was once again threatening to undo the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that our pop had help helped  maintain  the post World War II peace that he fought for as an Air Force officer and cold-warrior defense executive, and we could only assure him we won’t be voting for that damned Democrat. At this point on a sweltering Kansas night in our late middle age there are no other options, and we can only hope that our parents and Kansas and what’s left of the Republican party and whatever’s left of the resistinance to the undeniably godawful Democratic Party will forgive our vote for none of the above. By now the only definition of “Republicanism” is an aversion to that godawful woman who is the the all-but-certain nominee of the Democratic party, and we we can proudly claim that we were were ridiculing and opposing her since way back when the official Republican nominee was contributing to her campaigns and phohy-balony “family foundation” and telling his fawning interviewers what a great Secretary of State and President of the United States and front-row  guest to a their his third wedding she would be, but we’d like to have something to vote for as much as we need something to vote against.  Despite their admirably Church of Christ ways our parents are leaning toward the thrice-married and proudly adulterous casino and and strip-joint-owning and six-times bankrupt and otherwise unorthodox and very recent Republican, and given how very godawful the the Democratic alternative is in this supposedly binary election we can hardly blame them, but we’ll be voting for none of the above. Which is where we find on ourselves on this sweltering Kansas evening, and we can’t say we like it at all.

–Bud Norman

The Constitution and the Evil of Two Lessers

The argument most frequently made by our many Republican friends who are reluctantly supporting their party’s presumptive nominee is that he at least might just appoint more acceptable Supreme Court Justices than the Democrats’ presumptive nominee, which was bolstered somewhat by his announcement this week of a slate of impeccably conservatives judges he might consider, and there was already no denying that anyone his likely opponent might point would be quite certainly just downright awful. The argument is therefore somewhat persuasive, therefore, but still not at all reassuring.
There’s something unsettling to our hide-bound conservatives souls that the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee would even feel obliged to offer reassurances that he might consider an impeccably conservative jurist for the Supreme Court, for one thing. Past Republican nominees have always been assumed to be conservative in their picks, even if their track records of making correct choices has been inconsistent at least far back as the usually reliable President Dwight Eisenhower’s pick of the infamously crazy-libera-if-lifelong Republican Chief Justice Earl Warren, with all of sorts of disastrously squishy moderates being picked by Republicans since then, but in every case we could at least console ourselves with a certainty that a Democratic pick would have been even worse. In this crazy election cycle, though, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had good reason to be reassuring his party’s more hide-bound base that he’s still likely to be at least somewhat better than the Democrat’s presumptive nominee.
Earlier in this ever-shifting race he had suggested that his partial-birth-abortion-loving federal judge of a sister would be a “wonderful” pick for the Supreme Court, and during a Republican debate had defended her by saying that “Judge Alito” had “signed on to the same bill” that she had about the issue, even though they’re called Justices on the Supreme Court and they don’t sign bills, and his concurrence with Trump’s sister was on a minor point and in no way endorsed her partial-birth-abortion enthusiasm, which is such a complicated bunch of nonsense that even a successful Supreme Court litigant such as vanquished rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could not explain it to a gullible public. He also told once of his constant interviewers that he’s want to appoint Supreme Court nominees who would vigorously investigate the presumptive Democratic nominee’s highly dubious e-mail practices, which we still hope are already being investigated by all the authorities that are actually legally charged which such duties, and on many other occasions he’s exhibited a similar unfamiliarity with what Supreme Court Justices are properly called and what they actually do.
There’s also the matter of the presumptive Republican presidential nominees’ many other statements about the Constitution that our hide-bound Republican souls find troubling. For obvious reasons we are First Amendment purists, and his past widely-applauded boasts that his media critics will have “problems, such problems” once he re-writes the libel laws makes us doubt his commitment to the First Amendment, and his fealty to the Second Amendment seems quite newfound and malleable, and his praise of the “wonderful” Kelo decision that allows rich folks such as himself to gain eminent domain over some less well-heeled losers’ property rights raises serious doubts about his commitment to the Fifth Amendment, and it’s hard to imagine this crazy cycle’s presumptive Republican nominee nominating anyone who might restrain his own executive powers.
Given the presumptive Republican nominee’s long track of disregarding marriage vows and contractual agreements and basic standards of decency and any statements have e made just the other day, we also wonder how very committed he his to considering anyone on the list of potential candidates he has just announced. The list seems cribbed from the usually reliable Heritage Foundation and a radio talk show he’d previously mocked for his lower-than-“The Apprentice”-ratings, and if any of the “best people” that the presumptive Republican nominee promises he’ll hire had looked into it they’ll notice that one of those potential appointees has been constantly mocking him on “Twitter,” and we can’t shake a certain suspicion that it’s all as negotiable as anything else has been in the presumptive Republican nominee’s life.
Our reluctantly supportive Republican friends have been touting that list of “possible” Supreme Court nominees the same way they touted his impeccably conservative tax plan, which called for a cut in the top tax rates, and just as they try to explain the self-described-billionaire-who-won’t-release-his-tax-returns sudden shift to calling for a soak-the-rich system that the self-described socialist and seemingly vanquished Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling for, and in this crazy election cycle it is plausible, but not at all reassuring. The argument that the presumptive Democratic nominee is worse yet is still somewhat persuasive, but even to our most reluctantly friends who are supporting the presumptive Republican nominee it  cannot be at all reassuring. If there’s the slightest chance that something better might prevail, no matter how imperfect, we’ll be looking for it.

— Bud Norman