Email Exchange With a (gasp!) Republican

Reading time – A while   .  .  .

A while back my pal Dan Wallace and I had an email exchange and it occurred to me that you might like a peek inside the back-and-forth with a slightly right of center Republican and bona fide smart guy.

DW

Jack,

Read to the bottom of the story.  You’ll find yourself agreeing.

http://www.newsweek.com/2016/08/19/letter-paul-ryan-donald-trump-488877.html

Dan

JA

Just read it – thanks for sending this – it’s spot on.

The piece confirms all the insanity I’ve read about Trump. Other than the angry people who delight in his hatred, those who know anything about him and his pathological behavior already know enough. But will that be enough for America?

He continues to get billions of dollars in public attention. It’s always that way – we humans love a freak show. We love the outrageous. We love movie special effects of things blowing up far more than we care about anything that requires mental energy. We have far less interest in learning than in being entertained. Could it be that Sesame Street trained generations of Americans to expect that they would always be informed through drama, songs and rhyme so that now we collectively are unable to think for ourselves or hold a complex idea in mind? I read an article a couple of years ago about how young people – I think this was about college age students – seem to have an increasingly difficult time holding two conflicting ideas in mind at the same time. What does that say about our culture and our society and the America we are shaping with our bumper sticker and 140 character communication? Frank Luntz must be very proud.

I’ve wondered over the past few months about the political considerations that are driving Republicans to line up with Trump instead of doing what is the obviously right thing to do, like your clothespin idea – to put one on your nose when you vote for Hillary because Trump must never become President. The question now is whether leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are vertebrates and are able to stand up and be counted when it counts. I have my doubts.

DW

I think McConnell is a dope, and I have no sympathy for him whatsoever.  I don’t think Ryan is a dope, and I have a lot of sympathy for him.  But I still think he’s handling this completely wrong(ly).

JA

Be fair, now:

McConnell is a slimy, conniving dope.

Ryan is also scheming (he’s the guy with a budget plan that had no numbers in it; he’s the guy who won’t privatize social security but whose plan would privatize social security), but he has that pleasant, schoolboy face and a soft voice. Not a dope. Just spineless.

The Republicans engineered this travesty over the course of 40 years and, to mix metaphors, they are reaping what they sowed. Both of these boobs was a part of making that happen, so I haven’t any sympathy for either of them.

On the other hand, I have lots of sympathy for you and me, because everywhere I look I see Trump’s face and reporting and commentary about him and it’s intolerable. Should either of us acquire narcolepsy, we can just imagine 4 years of Trump’s pathological attention grabs from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That oughta keep us awake. And very anxious.

The more I look, the more I don’t like Hillary. The choices this year are simply dreadful, but the imperative that there must never be a President Trump overrides everything. We can survive Hillary. I’m not at all confident we can survive Trump. So, pass me some clothespins.

DW

Yup. 2016: The Year of the Clothespins.

Note: I asked Dan for a description of his bona fides so that you might understand where he’s coming from and why you might be interested in his views. Here is his reply:

DW

Before going off to the Harvard Business School and launching into a 30-year career consulting, raising capital and running businesses, I spent 5 years doing political work with what used to be known as Moderate Republicans.  This is a species that has since become extinct, which is to say that when Chris Christie is being described as a Moderate Republican, hell has indeed frozen over.  I mean people in the Chuck Percy/Everett Dirksen mold.

I did most of my work for Slade Gorton, a highly respected member of the US Senate.  He and the other candidates and officials I worked for believed that it was pretty much none of the government’s business who was praying to whom, when and where, and what was going on behind various bedroom doors.  They believed in prudent spending, which is to say that they thought spending money we don’t have is to be frowned upon, and that when confronting even something that seems like it really ought to be done, it is worth asking why the Federal government (which really means taxpayers other than the ones who are going to benefit from whatever it is) should pay for it.  And as members of the Greatest Generation or early Baby Boomers, they believed that the world is a dangerous place in which America needed to remain a strong and vigilant force for good.  They were probably a little naïve about the degree to which, other than our role in WWII, we really have been a force for good, but their beliefs on this front were pure and their intent honorable.

I believe that this set of principles actually reflects the views of a large middle swath of the American people.  That, of course, simply means that like anyone else, I’m convinced I’m right and that everyone else secretly agrees with me.  But at best, I just barely squeezed inside the left edge of the Republican tent.  Even in the early 1980s, when I did my political work, I could already feel the party picking up the tent and moving it way to the right, and I’ve been shivering in the rain ever since.

Is Dan shivering in the rain alone? I don’t think so.

News flash to Joe Scarborough: The nation is not shifting to the right. Only the righty extremists are moving that way. The vast majority are shivering in the rain with Dan. Think: Charlie Christ, Richard Lugar and so many others.

It’s way past time for tent relocation.

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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