I am a patient man, Donald Trump, but I have really had enough.
I know we are going into Super Tuesday's Republican primary elections watching you hold a significant lead over your main contenders. I'm not denying the phenomenon is occurring. I am merely--and painfully--befuddled as why it is.
I realize that many have run out of patience with politics, the insiders, and these folks are those who refuse to worship at the shrine of coalition and compromise. Yes, I recognize this is the realistic afterbirth of significant impudence over the last quarter-century that hates politics as usual. There is no need to spell it out here when David Brooks identifies this governing cancer with incredible insight.
But to see the seismic shift of popularity go in the direction of someone like Donald Trump is more than I can handle. The fact that he is running as a Republican is immaterial. This is no small-government, Constitutional vision conservative here. Trump offers a chance for Republicans to bully their way into the White House through especially brutal, authoritarian means. The manner in which Trump conducts himself on this quest is especially frightening.
Whether it is a declaration that news outlets critical of Trump will be sued in a money-grab (goodbye First Amendment on that one), or if it's one of the many vicious ad hominem attacks that Trump uses when opponents like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, or Ben Carson try to engage him in substantive debate and discourse...or whether he says "Wait and see" or "Trust me" when pressed on how he will execute his agenda (never mind that much of what he declares in his policy full-court press can't be done at the stroke of his pen but must go through Congress)...all of this is a run-roughshod spirit that takes no prisoners, allows for no counterproposals, and squelches the very idea of consensus.
Whether or not you are a Republican or not, a conservative or not, this much is true: If Trump gets the horns of the GOP nomination, then the party of Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan is officially dead. In its place is a select group of power whores who believe that might makes right. And the extent to which evangelical Christians have gone along with this uncivil bullying is mournfully frightening.
My friends, this is not how governing works. True governance begins with an acknowledgement that all people at all levels of decision-making capacity from Washington D.C. to American Falls, Idaho, have value and potential. These people may differ from you, but part of leadership is hashing through those differences and arriving at consensus. This is how politics works, whether you like it or not. This is how gentlemen behave. At the end of the day, we are all Americans, and we are all fellow image-bearers of Divine Providence. To throw in one's lot with someone whose words and actions deny those essential realities is shameful. And to say, "Well, the other side has been doing those things anyway,"...well, (1) that's a subjective take on the matter and (2) it's really neither here nor there. If you believe someone else is monstrous, you don't unleash a villain in response. You don't lower yourself in that manner. Ever.
It was when Ronald Reagan ran for governor of California in 1966 that he endured a particularly bruising primary battle with fellow GOPers. Reflecting on what Reagan went through, California GOP chairman Gaylord Parkinson espoused what became known as the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It was a credo that Reagan followed diligently in subsequent campaigns to the letter. I cannot recall a more gracious recent political gentleman than Reagan, whether you agree with his politics or not. He treated people as people, as treasured individuals, and they were valued whether they lined up with his values or not.
But Reagan is dead, and I fear that the party he re-energized is on the verge of leaving him and trampling the spirit of the political gentleman in the dust. It used to be that how you succeeded in politics mattered as much, if not more than, where you succeeded. Although Donald Trump has tapped into some legitimate worry within the electorate, he has done so by fracturing proper discourse and disdaining men of substance through a might-makes-right scorched earth policy of "insult now to insure power later".
Sadly, I feel he might have succeeded.