As I watched the final night of the Republican convention, I experienced a weird emotional ride. First there was Ivanka Trump, undeniably intelligent, poised, articulate — and apparently compassionate, thoughtful, and “aware”. She did a spectacular job introducing Donald Trump — so spectacular that I was thoroughly softened up and open-minded to Trump as he took the stage. I would never vote for him, but maybe, just maybe, I could accept him without enormous angst. Ivanka pushed me that far.
Then Trump took the stage and ten minutes later I was feeling a sense of overwhelming despair that this man could rise to such a position in our country. I believe he will never become President, but he might, and if he does . . . But even if he never becomes President, the fact that he has secured the nomination of one of our two major parties is already beyond comprehension.
Fortunately for me — there is a voice out there that has articulated what I’m feeling, and it’s not a democratic voice. It belongs to Chris Ladd, lifelong active Republican party member, who blogs at GOPLifer.com. Ladd has just submitted his resignation letter to the Republican Party. You can read the entire letter here.
Meanwhile, here is the section of the letter that articulates precisely what I feel when I contemplate the Trump candidacy.
From his fairy-tale wall to his schoolyard bullying and his flirtation with violent racists, Donald Trump offers America a singular narrative – a tale of cowards. Fearful people, convinced of our inadequacy, trembling before a world alight with imaginary threats, crave a demagogue. Neither party has ever elevated to this level a more toxic figure, one that calls forth the darkest elements of our national character.
With three decades invested in the Republican Party, there is a powerful temptation to shrug and soldier on. Despite the bold rhetoric, we all know Trump will lose. Why throw away a great personal investment over one bad nominee? Trump is not merely a poor candidate, but an indictment of our character. Preserving a party is not a morally defensible goal if that party has lost its legitimacy.
Watching Ronald Reagan as a boy, I recall how bold it was for him to declare ‘morning again’ in America. In a country menaced by Communism and burdened by a struggling economy, the audacity of Reagan’s optimism inspired a generation.
Fast-forward to our present leadership and the nature of our dilemma is clear. I watched Paul Ryan speak at Donald Trump’s convention the way a young child watches his father march off to prison. Thousands of Republican figures that loathe Donald Trump, understand the danger he represents, and privately hope he loses, are publicly declaring their support for him. In Illinois our local and state GOP organizations, faced with a choice, have decided on complicity.
Our leaders’ compromise preserves their personal capital at our collective cost. Their refusal to dissent robs all Republicans of moral cover. Evasion and cowardice has prevailed over conscience. We are now, and shall indefinitely remain, the Party of Donald Trump.
I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”
I am not prone to writing partisan political pieces on this blog — but today there is a threat out there that is larger than simple politics. It is a threat to our national character. Chris Ladd has articulated it perfectly.