Posted on July 31, 2016
Republicans, No More
Sir Thomas wouldn’t fit in today’s GOP
During his speech at the Republican National Convention, Sen. Ted Cruz congratulated Donald Trump for winning the nomination, supported Trump’s idea of building a border wall, agreed with Trump’s most recently stated position on Middle Eastern refugees, and thoroughly denounced Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. It was more than enough to fulfill his pledge to “support” (not formally endorse) his party’s nominee. Nevertheless, his fellow Republicans roundly castigated him as some kind of traitor.
Cruz’s most fervent detractor has been none other than that unimpeachable authority on political decorum, Gov. Chris Christie (campaign slogan: “I’m from Jersey! Shut up!”). Christie characterized Cruz’s speech as “selfish” and accused him of disloyalty to the party. Rep. Peter King of New York parroted Trump’s baseless accusations from the primary campaign, calling Cruz “a fraud and a self-centered liar.” Finding a Republican in Cleveland who was willing to defend Cruz was like playing “Where’s Waldo.” It took Newt Gingrich, who’s no longer an active politician, to recognize that Cruz had given a basically pro-Trump speech, even though he never said the words, “Vote for Trump.”
Mind you, it was Christie, after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, who couldn’t keep is hands of President Obama during an extended photo-op, less than a week from Election Day, and at a time when Mitt Romney felt compelled to suspend his campaign in deference to the storm’s victims. Obviously, his problem with Cruz cannot be that the Texas senator isn’t sufficiently loyal to his party and its nominee. To get an idea of what Christie and many of his colleagues are really driving at, one might remember the alleged disloyalty of another politician, Sir Thomas More, in A Man for All Seasons.
In one scene, More’s friend, the Duke of Norfolk, tries unsuccessfully to convince him to go along with the crowd in support of King Henry’s divorce and remarriage. An exasperated Norfolk finally exclaims, “It’s disproportionate! We’re supposed to be the arrogant ones, the proud, splenetic ones, and we’ve all given in! Why must you stand out?”
Christie, King, and many other Republicans who hold themselves in high regard have gone far beyond supporting Trump, but have groveled and debased themselves at his feet. Christie in particular has allowed himself to be used as a stage prop, apparently in exchange for a payoff he’s never received, while dutifully referring to “Mister Trump” as required. How disproportionate must it seem for Cruz, a Tea Partier and relative political neophyte, to strut around so independently, with his insubordinate talk about voting one’s conscience?
Gov. Christie behaves like a pugilistic drunk, who tries to provoke innocent bystanders with the accusatory question, “You think you’re better than me?” That’s what he really means to say to Cruz, as much as he’d prefer to sound like he’s defending some principle or other. Where does Cruz get off, emerging from his primary defeat with his self-respect intact, after the proud, splenetic Christie has reduced himself to the world’s largest ventriloquist dummy?
Through much of its history, the Republican Party has been a place where a principled individualist like Sir Thomas might have felt at home. A man who was motivated by loyalty to God and country, and was absolutely faithful to the letter of the written law would have fit right in, even if many of his colleagues disagreed with his conclusions, or thought his methods to be unwise. That was before the GOP inverted itself, from a bottom-up grassroots party committed to government by the consent of the people, into another tyrannical, top-down party that thinks it exists for the purpose of preserving its own hierarchy.
Today’s Republican Party is just another organ of the elitist harrumphing class, that openly holds its own voting base in contempt, and has become so insular that it treats a temporary, partial shutdown of nonessential government operations as if it were a fate worse than global annihilation. Anymore, a predominantly Christian group of Constitution-waving citizen activists will elicit as hostile a response from the Republican leadership as it will from the socialist Democrats. What part of their message is it that’s so offensive? Exercise fiscal responsibility? Stop burdening us with so many regulations and taxes? Respect our fundamental rights to life, liberty and property?
The Republicans still make a pretense of standing for these same things, except that they give in, with remarkable and growing frequency. Nevertheless, they are arrogant, proud and splenetic, and they won’t stand to be shamed in contrast to those who so impudently stand by their principles.
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