A conservative takes aim at the Donald Trump presidency and how to move beyond it.
A veteran Republican senior adviser for George W. Bush, Wehner (co-author: City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era, 2010, etc.) published an op-ed column in the New York Times in which he declared that he would not vote for Trump “under any circumstances. I was perhaps the first prominent Republican to have taken this position, and I did so despite having voted Republican in every presidential election since I first became eligible to vote in 1980.” Here, the author explains why he considered Trump anathema as a candidate and why his presidency, if anything, has been worse than the author feared. He situates his argument within the broader context of American democracy, explaining how and why the citizenry can set right what has gone wrong. It’s an extended civics lesson of sorts, one grounded in American history, the balance of powers, and presidencies good and bad. Wehner also reaches back to Aristotle for foundational philosophies of the functions of government and the body politic. “Democracy requires that we honor the culture of words,” he writes, and later continues, “when words are weaponized and used merely to paint all political opponents as inherently evil, stupid, and weak, then democracy’s foundations are put in peril.” The author urges civility, moderation, and compromise, qualities that would seem to be at odds with the political tenor of the times, and he believes a return to a pre-polarization brand of politics would correct the course” He writes, “the task before us…is how we can rediscover, refine and recalibrate—and in some cases, reenvision and rethink—how we understand politics; to disentangle what politics has become from what it can be, to clear away some of the misconceptions, and to sketch a roadmap for recovery.” In response to the spirit of populist revolution, he offers a number of other “r” words to calm the waters and restore some rationality to the process.
A modest contribution to the groaning bookshelves about our divisive times.