This week there was a sea change in American politics.
And it is a sea change. Indiana going to Trump is as good a dividing line as any, since it pushes him from “unlikely frontrunner” to “presumptive Republican nominee” status. And in American party politics, the leader of the party is always the man most recently nominated for President, win or lose.
So I will just say it. The Republican Party has changed this week from one dedicated to Burkean small-government conservatism that seeks ordered liberty for all to one defined by nationalism, big-government protectionism, and populism. There are many reasons this has happened, and few are blameless. But it has happened. So what is the crux of the matter?
Nationalist Populism is a rebuke of conservatism. It seeks raw power for power’s sake, and in order to gain it, it sacrifices principle to popular whim and will tolerate and promote anything that will enable it to achieve power–from racism to fear of “the other” to moral anarchy. It is not the only ideology popular today that does so, but it is currently the one held by the presumptive leader of the Republicans.
Most people were raised to see politics as a war of “sides”, and I’m no exception. So it is tempting to think we (that is, those of you who are similarly inclined) can deal with four years of this. But principles apply to everything. They must apply to how I respond to Donald Trump’s rise. And so what else can I do? This election from the Republican side has become a line-in-the-sand moment between Party and Principle. Because Trump’s ideology is so at odds with what Republicans have to-date said they stood for, there is no way to reconcile both. Either way, we lose the battle. We either lose by rejecting Trump and enabling the Democrats to win, or we lose by supporting Trump and sacrificing our principles in order to “save” them. The only choice that remains is how we resolve our private war.
And so, until the party is reformed, it is no longer my party. I counsel anyone who considered voting for any of the other Republican nominees to consider the same. This moment too is a line-in-the-sand moment for you. And because politics has become so pervasive in our society, it will affect how you live the rest of your life.