(In which I try to convince you Christians that a Democratic Congress would not be the worst thing for America)
Two years ago, conservatives began a grand experiment: electing a morally repugnant man in order to further a moral aim. To save unborn babies, evangelicals and many other conservatives voted for Donald Trump. Donald Trump has now given them their second Supreme Court judge, a man of dubious moral character himself, and the hope is now kindled that someday soon, abortion will be illegal again.
That abortion itself won’t ever become a thing of the past, or even become less common, doesn’t seem to have been factored in much. That more women will just be permanently injured or will die having unsafe abortions is either ignored, or it’s part of some kind of ethical calculus in which the extinction of Planned Parenthood is worth various other less savory results of a strong-man leader with both congress and the courts in his pocket. It’s worth thousands of (already born) children being ripped away from their parents and kept in cages (because their parents were doing more or less the same thing our great great grandparents did). It’s worth reporters being called the enemy of the people, and the assault of journalists being encouraged by the President of the United States. It’s worth the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, being ridiculed by the President days after a hurricane that left thousands homeless and three thousand dead. It is worth women who’ve been sexually assaulted being mocked (by the President, it goes without saying). It’s worth despots being praised, and democratic leaders and 60-year-old alliances abandoned. It’s worth white nationalist rallies, it’s worth Democratic leaders and liberals being mailed pipe bombs, and it’s worth massacres at synagogues. It’s worth a President responding that “there is blame on both sides,” and Anne Coulter and other conservatives theorizing about a liberal hoax.
I guess to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs. I just didn’t expect conservatives, and Christians especially, to be ok with quite so many eggs. Increasingly, it turns out, traditional conservatives are not ok with it. George Will, a conservative columnist I have rarely agreed with on anything, has called for both houses of congress to be taken over by the Democrats. So has Max Boot, another conservative, who says the Republican party is now “a white-nationalist party with a conservative fringe.” Trump has set the tone, the Republican House and Senate have followed along like sheep, and with the darkest demons of our natures loosed, now all over the country conservative newspapers are endorsing Democratic congressional candidates. The Arizona Republic has endorsed Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat, not because she’s liberal (she isn’t) but because she is the most likely candidate to be bipartisan. The Des Moines Register has backed a Democrat because the only alternative is an eight-term incumbent who’s shown himself to be an unrepentant racist and (luckily) a completely ineffective congressperson. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, and the Houston Chronicle—all conservative papers traditionally backing Republican candidates—have abandoned Ted Cruz and called for the election of Beto O’Rourke as the only politician who “seems interested in making deals or finding middle ground.”
There have been other periods in our history when one party’s had all the power, and it always drives the party out of power crazy, but I don’t know of another time when it was so horrible and hopeless. The Republicans who’d publicly despised Trump when he was a crackpot in the primaries, then who promised once he got the nomination to keep him in check if he became the President, have pretty much all bowed before him since he was elected. The only ones who take him to task are those who are retiring and don’t have to worry about being voted out of their jobs. There has never been a time it was more important to balance a government with a loyal opposition. Trump and the Republicans do not treat Democrats as if we are fellow citizens, but like we’re a foreign enemy. This is why it was so important to them to deny Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee even a hearing, let alone a vote on the Senate floor. It justified gerrymandered voting districts, and in the Democratic districts left over, suppressing the vote altogether. No holds barred, because it’s an existential, good vs. evil battle.
Which is, pardon me, fucked up. Sorry. Effed up.
I first learned the term “loyal opposition” in high school in Canada, with its parliamentary government, and no executive branch. This is the name for the party out of power, and they are so called because it’s important to remember that we may all be of different opinions and have differing ideas on what is best for the country, but we’re all on the same team. We are united in our love for our country and our fellow citizens. As soon as basic loyalty is questioned, we’ve taken a dark turn. The Republican Party and Donald Trump together have taken this turn. That’s why it’s so important that there are people in control of congress who really will keep Trump in some kind of check. Who will, among other things, hold him to account for his lies. Without them, Republicans will continue to only wag their fingers and shrug at his increasingly plutocratic and white nationalist agenda (what else do you call the abolition of birthright citizenship and suppression of the African American vote?) I don’t know how long it will take evangelicals especially to realize that the Republican party is not God’s ordained army. That concern for the health of the planet isn’t a secularist plot and that poverty and illiteracy and a huge gap between rich and poor are the signs not of a great nation but a dying one. There seems to be a remnant. Maybe there’s a little hope. A smidgen.
I’ve gone on long enough. I’d wanted to get this out a week ago. Go vote. Do the right thing. Join the smidgen.