Looking into The Abyss

Updated with an editorial note, below.

(…) Trump pretty much represents the negation of everything I’ve argued about politics and ideology for the last 30 years. What he is attacking is not just “the establishment.” He is attacking a way of doing politics based on persuasion, consensus, compassion and inclusion. Those who argue that conservatism is fundamentally at odds with these values know nothing of conservatism. But Trump represents the confirmation of the worse conservative and Republican caricatures — a belief that cultural and religious minorities are threats, a belief that America should abandon its deepest values in the conduct of global affairs, a belief that the values and institutions of our government have failed, and that the times require a strong hand.

When Trump supporters say, in effect, “Tear it all down,” they are proposing to destroy things that I and others love about this country. At its best (and, God knows, it has not always been at its best) America shows a welcoming spirit, an example of how a great nation can be united by ideals instead of bloodlines, a place, as George Washington said, where “there shall be none to make him afraid.” We should love American traditions and institutions enough to repair them, not hand them over to an authoritarian wannabe, who is too ignorant to even understand the inheritance he is casting away.

Trump’s magical policy thinking, setting goals with no serious thought of how they might be achieved; his menacing encouragement of political violence; his disdain for ethnic and religious minorities, which has unleashed and emboldened racists and anti-Semites of every sort; his penchant for conspiracy theories, including a very dangerous vaccine denialism; his promises to conduct the war on terrorism by ordering war crimes, which would set up a constitutional crisis when the US military honorably refuses; his cynical manipulation of gullible religious leaders with tactics that border on blasphemy; his casual use of lies, which he defends even when exposed.

How does any of this return lost greatness to our nation? Sometimes I want to shake people (intellectually,not physically) who favor political “disruption” and ask: Disruption in favor of what? Look at what you are doing! Look at what you have done! The Republican Party is now firmly harnessed to the wild, uncontrollable horses of fear and exclusion. It has already sustained damage with Latino voters that may take a generation to undo. And now many Republicans will find rationalizations to support Trump. That is natural — the reality of politics in every time. Many people simply go with the winner. But this isn’t a normal time. I believe that the decision to support Trump, like an embarrassing tattoo, will follow them the rest of their lives. Republicans are not merely making a choice; they are looking into the abyss.

I also believe that men and women who opposed Trump with all the influence available to them — a political column, a primary vote, a serious, civil talk with a neighbor — will look back on this terrible time with some satisfaction. They will be able to tell their children they did all they could, at a time when it really mattered. Whatever the outcome, there is value in standing up — now, when it might still shape events — and saying: I am not reconciled to Donald Trump, and will never be.

At any rate, it seems that I have written another column on Trump, without intending it. But I hope you’ll read my column today and pass it around. I’ve written better things, but I don’t think the topic could be more important.

Michael Gerson, a conservative pundit and former speechwriter of George W. Bush

Update: As I’m rereading Gerson’s piece, with its spot on assessment of Drumpf and his supporters, I am tempted to ask him if he feels any responsibility for arguably the greatest humanitarian crisis in (modern) human history which he, as the Bush chief propagandist, helped unleash?

For the millions of deaths in the Iraq war and its aftermath? For the massive destruction and destabilization of the entire, already explosive, region? For ISIS, which grew from it? And, quite possibly, for Drumpf himself, whose political ambitions would not find a fertile ground if Americans were not gripped by fears — some justified, others not so much — created by the aftereffects of Bush’s illegal and immoral decisions?

So when he so proudly disavows his support for Drumpf, seeing in it a badge of honor, does it ever dawn on him that he is already complicit in — almost directly responsible for, in fact — this man’s rise to power, along with so much more misery?

He says:

I also believe that men and women who opposed Trump with all the influence available to them — a political column, a primary vote, a serious, civil talk with a neighbor — will look back on this terrible time with some satisfaction. They will be able to tell their children they did all they could, at a time when it really mattered. Whatever the outcome, there is value in standing up — now, when it might still shape events — and saying: I am not reconciled to Donald Trump, and will never be.

Let me point out that we, millions of us, opposed Bush with all the influence available to us in an effort, ultimately futile, to stop him from starting an illegal and immoral war of his choice. Yes, we did all we could, at a time when we thought it mattered. Where were you, Michael Gerson?

I don’t have to ask that, because we know.

I also know that he would never admit his responsibility in making the world a much worse place for most, and a real hell for others; and in creating this monstrosity which he now fearfully, but also self-righteously, opposes.

A conscience is a terrible thing to waste.


10 thoughts on “Looking into The Abyss

  1. $Amen$ However, I must say, Republicans now must reap what they’ve sown. This, the Trump creation, did not happen in a vacuum. It happened because of the Hitler-esque, ultra conservative bullshit the Republican Party has been spewing for years. When dogmatic religious conservatism, xenophobic paranoia, and hatred of the poor and disabled is at the forefront of your party’s message, you can’t be surprised that a Hitler has arisen from the depths to rule your party. So, to the Repuke-licans who rave about the wrongness of Trump, I say, Fuck you. You’re getting the monster you’ve made. Crying about it now is useless, you stupid, racist, mewling bitches.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m glad you’ve said it, so I don’t have to, Inspired. 😉

      I’ll just add that it is nice that Gerson has gotten in touch with his inner human — nothing clarifies things and awakens one’s conscience like a (proverbial and not) prospect of a hanging. I suppose it is better late than never.

      But it is hard to forget his beating the war drums for Dubya not so long ago, and glibly pushing the inhumane right-wing BS that, as you say so well, has created the Drumpfzilla’s triumphant march toward that very abyss which Gerson just now has noticed.

      It was Gerson who masterminded a lot of the pro-war propaganda, including the infamous “smoking gun/ mushroom cloud” phrase used to sell the gullible citizenry on the clear and imminent dangers of Saddam’s non-existent WMD. I remember his smug face, lying with the assurance of a seasoned con-man about the urgent necessity to invade Iraq. He, Kristol, Friedman (not to mention W, Cheney, and Rumsfeld) should be tried for war crimes; instead, they’ve either retired in comfort and peace, or are still punditing and peddling their corrupt ideas — even as their inevitable results stare them in their faces.

      Yeah, he is shocked, shocked, I tell you, to see that the chickens are coming home to roost. Who woulda thunk.

      Though even now, as his inner human is finally waking up, he still cannot resist being worried most about the future of his party.

      Gerson needs to shake himself up — intellectually AND physically — and come to grips with the fact that this is no longer just about his piddly party, which deserves to fall to pieces and disappear, along with its ideologues who have fueled its existence with their pathological views.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Excerpt from the article I posted:

    “Ultimately, Republican Party elites are nervous about Donald Trump because he has taken their “polite” “dog whistle” racism and replaced it with a loud speaker.

    The Republican Party and the “conservative establishment” do not disagree with Trump’s racism, xenophobia, prejudice and bigotry toward Hispanic and Latino immigrants, non-whites, Muslims and women. They are just embarrassed and aghast that Donald Trump has dropped the mask of racist gentility and exposed the racist id of today’s Republican Party and movement conservatism for the world to see.”


    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mhm. Had just finished a conversation with my husband on that very topic. The Republicans are most upset about the fact that Drumpf has beat them at their own game, openly perfecting it and taking it to its inevitable conclusion.

    I did a quick tour of the conservative punditry circus circuit tonight and see that its main preoccupation is Drumpf’s negative effect on their beloved party. Not the country, not the humanity, but the GOP’s uncertain future with / under Drumpf is what bothers them most.

    When I see that, I can’t help but think that, aw, this couldn’t have happened to nicer people…Rejoice, ye GOPers, you’ve finally gotten what you’ve been asking for.

    Too bad that the rest of us will pay for it, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Mental Health Help for Republicans | good marriage central*

  5. Pingback: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Trump | good marriage central*

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