I’m thinking about becoming a Republican.
I’m serious. I’ve been thinking about it for some time now. Maybe the best chance I have to make a difference in the world is to become a Republican.
Not because my politics have veered to the right as I’ve gotten older. Quite the opposite. I voted twice for Obama and am disappointed that he didn’t pursue a more broadly liberal agenda. I’ve voted for one of America’s only Muslim congresspersons at least four times. I think economic inequality presents a greater long-term threat to human existence than ISIS. I would describe myself as a humanist and a social democrat.
No: The only reason I want to become a Republican is that I want the crazy shit to stop.
Somebody inside the party has to call out Donald Trump for the weak-minded bully he is. A Republican has to stand up and abhor the content and the context of this hand grenade of a TV commercial Trump’s lobbed into the public square:
Where’s the Republican outrage over this stinking pile of Trump? There is none. Go ahead: Google “republicans against Trump” and see what you get. The Republicans Against Donald Trump Facebook page has fewer than 1,200 fans.
Oh, we’ve heard the squishy sound of Republican establishment handwringing about how terrible Trump is for the party. But no one’s really come out and blasted Trump; ex-Senator John Danforth is about as high-profile a figure as you can find who’s said anything even slightly negative. That’s because the Republican establishment’s goal seems to be “ditch Trump, but make sure all the reactionaries he’s appealing to will vote for whichever morally compromised candidate we have to nominate.” Only Jeb! Bush has deigned to call Trump “a jerk,” a blow that landed like a sniffle. Nobody likes a bully, but Jeb! is the guy all the other kids secretly want to see get his ass kicked.
And Democratic outrage doesn’t matter. The more outraged the Democrats, the more delighted Trump and his reactionary minions. Democrats can vote for their side in the general election—that is, the just-barely-left-of-right-wing side of our one-party system—and hope to win. But it’s not as if the Democratic candidate is going to be a paragon of reason and consistency, either; she’s making deals with monsters just to get elected, too.
No, Democrats can’t stop the wave of anti-American jingoism whose leading edge is crashing across the apricot-tinged brow of its front-runner. Republicans could do it, but they won’t.
That’s where I come in.
If I go Republican, I can do what every right-thinking, decent Republican American should do, which is call the whole lot of them, starting with Trump, a bunch of weak, craven powersuckers.
I’m not looking to get elected to anything—I know that’s not going to happen—but maybe I can fight for change inside the party. I have to believe it’s possible, because I number among my friends a lot of Republicans, and I know them to be smart, decent, compassionate, and—yes, I’ll say it—progressive people. People whom I can’t imagine supporting whomever the GOP will eventually nominate in 2016.
Just imagine it, though. Even if you’re a Hillary fan, imagine a Republican you have to think about—a candidate that, in another context, you could vote for, just as you voted for, say, Dick Lugar for all those years before the Republicans ditched him for not being ignorant enough to help slouch them into the 19th century. Imagine a campaign between two decent human beings who respect each other but disagree on how to get things done. Imagine having to think about it for a minute—to actually have to make a choice.
So I think I’m going Republican. What’s the downside? Maybe I can actually say what a lot of Republicans are thinking. Maybe I can help start a liberal revolution inside the Republican party; I mean, they’re already awfully proud of being the party of Lincoln, so they weren’t always led by xenophobes. Maybe we can get back to that.
And maybe if that doesn’t happen, I can encourage them to do the other thing every decent American Republican should do when our party nominates a weakling bully:
Vote for the Democrat.
Trump photo by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.