Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In Search of Leadership

Today’s primary voting happens in the context of Donald Trump rallies becoming more and more unsettling, with threats of violence and the kind of rhetoric that most of us believe is bad for the nation.  And therein lies the most troubling element of this campaign.  Donald Trump may be leading the GOP delegate race and he is “winning” many of the states in which he is competing for the nomination, but Trump’s victories are won with vote totals that have not yet exceeded 50%.  The totals of Trump’s opponents show that over 50% of the Republican voters want someone other than Trump but that’s not how these contests work.  As mainstream Republicans realize they are headed to a convention with a leading candidate who does not represent a majority of their party’s voters, they are seeing that there is a reckoning at hand.

The most troubling element of this reckoning is the failure of most mainstream Republicans to condemn Trump.  Mitt Romney took a brave step to oppose Trump; very few followed him.  A few Republicans are distancing themselves.  For example, Marco Rubio is willing to say that it’s getting harder and harder to consider support for Trump, should he secure the nomination.  But, honestly, that’s about it.  Congressional Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are publicly silent on the Trump issue, even while they make behind-the-scenes plans to help Republicans who are seeking re-election to Congress to find distance between themselves and Trump.  They are so afraid to lose that they are unwilling to lead.

It may be that when the Republican party gets to their August convention they will be willing to have some hard conversations about who they nominate to lead the nation.  But it would be disheartening to have to wait that long.  And if we need to wait that long, how confident can we be in a party that let it come to this?  

I’m a Democrat and I should be amused at the disarray in the Republican party.  I am not.  I believe that a vibrant democracy requires public debates of a range of ideas; we must give serious policy proposals a full airing before we commit to solutions.  Disagreements must be cordial, with neither dismissive rhetoric nor  threats of violence in the mix.  The genius of our nation has long been in our ability to compromise.  When we have failed to do so, as we did in the Civil War, the results are spectacularly awful.  To know this about ourselves and still take the risk is a dangerous move to the edge of a slippery slope.

1 comment:

Secretariat said...

The Republicans are paying the price for their romance with the religious right!