If the Party only had a brain, heart, and the courage of its better convictions.
In a provocative piece published in the Washington Post earlier this week, Larry Summers argued that the candidacy of Donald Trump posed a serious threat to democracy. In short, he argued convincingly that Mr. Trump’s candidacy represented a mindless Republican-led march down the primrose path to dictatorial democracy. In reading the piece, I could almost hear him singing “if only Republicans had a brain” in the background. (Or maybe that was just me humming.)
Across the country this past week, more thoughtful Republican-leaning voters were also telling pollsters that they wished the Republican Party had a heart. In a recent poll, 62% of these voters said that “reducing poverty” was “extremely” or “very” important. Unfortunately, the leading Presidential candidates don’t seem to care, and the Republican-controlled Congress has not advanced any meaningful vision for improving federal anti-poverty programs.
The failure to advance any meaningful policy reforms is indicative of the lack of courage in the modern Republican Party, or at least a lack of courage in its better convictions. The Party purports to support federalism, but this principle is abandoned (even faster than Chris Christie abandoned his convictions) whenever States adopt policies that conflict with the Party’s religious, moral, or cultural predilections. Similarly, the Party purports to stand for fiscal responsibility, but it has been just as profligate as the Democrats and offered no plan for reforming the entitlement programs or our tax code. And despite its opposition to Obamacare, it has offered no meaningful alternative for improving access to healthcare. All roar and no bite.
Fortunately, a handful of Republicans have demonstrated some courage in the last week. They have publicly stated that they would not support Mr. Trump if he were the Republican nominee. Perhaps they can help the Party (re)discover its heart and brain as well before Mr. Trump marches into Cleveland with a majority of the delegates in tow.