Long before the Republican nominee for President entered politics, he was the public figure I disliked the most. Visceral antipathy for a self-centered man who embodies the worst excesses of U.S. popular culture. Exactly what we don’t need in a candidate for any sort of office, let alone the Presidency. His wealth doesn’t impress me. I wouldn’t want to play golf with him, work for him, or have him represent me on Olympia’s city council.
Believe it or not, there are sane Republicans in our midst, so how does one make sense of the Republican Party nominating him? Historically, the R’s have emphasized personal responsibility (too often at the exclusion of institutional racism and other limiters, but I digress). Most R’s believe their life circumstances are largely determined by daily decisions to get a quality education, develop marketable skills, respect the laws of the land, and out work others. That’s John Kasich Republicanism.
And yet 14 million R’s fell for a counter explanation for why they’re not prospering. The Republican nominee for President substituted the dire threats posed by illegal immigrants and Muslims for personal responsibility for economic advancement and public safety and tens of millions mindlessly abandoned their party’s core values. Possibly the quickest, most radical, and disheartening political transformation of a major party in our nation’s history.
In the past week, as a blessed respite from this dystopian novel of an election, the polls and associated headlines finally show slippage in support for arrogance and divisiveness.
And yet, I can’t celebrate this positive turn of events because even if the Republican candidate for President withdraws today or tomorrow, he will have accomplished more than I thought possible. In fact, so much that it leaves me questioning whether my fellow citizens are as rationale, welcoming, and hopeful as I always assumed. When he withdraws (power of positive thinking) or loses, I will not be joining in the racuous celebrations that will spontaneously erupt across the fruited plains. I’ll be too busy rethinking what I thought to be true about my fellow citizens.