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Divided We Stand
In the coming months, the anxieties of the nation will revolve around the presidential election. But the true gravity of the moment lies in whether or not voters maintain a divided government.
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A Nation Divided
I have written extensively about my distrust of both major parties as they currently stand. Neither party is relatively healthy enough to control (or dismiss) their populist and extremist wings. Rather, each party has continued to play off of the other’s excesses to excuse away their own.
Most voices of moderation and reason either get cannibalized by their own party in primary contests or sniped away by the opposing party. Has there been another point in modern history where there has been such a solid line of separation between America’s major political parties? How else do we describe such a hateful atmosphere where emotionally populist voters punish moderation and compromise while rewarding and celebrating performative partisan entrenchment?
Worse, both parties have adopted coercive visions that would use the federal government to impose their worldview upon the nation. Whatever comes out of this year’s election, there will be no victory for “live and let live” limited government or a moderate approach to navigating the significant differences in opinion and proposed policy held by a dramatically diverse populace.
A Serious Catalyst
There is little doubt to those honestly evaluating the current president that he has been a major catalyst for the degradation of our republic’s standing, the segmenting of America’s population into angry camps, and the growing sense of pessimism and nihilism in how Americans view their government. To honest observers, there are few merits on the president’s record alone for electing him to a second term, and scantly more for supporting any politician that has enabled him.
Unfortunately, neither Donald Trump nor his enablers exist in a vacuum, and it would be a consequential violation of prudence to ignore the realities of our political moment.
There Are No Adults in the Room
As I have written before, the Democrats have been the worst possible opposition to the rise of Trumpism. Not only have they continually refused to recognize their own part in building a federal government unmoored from founding principles and in feeding the flames that allowed Trumpism to rise, but they have so perfectly played the heel in President Trump’s political kayfabe that they are perhaps his most valuable asset in shoring up the support of the average Republican voter.
Trump never had a pivot, and neither will the Democrats. If given a historic mandate with the full rein of the federal government, we can easily assume they will continue to act as they have. And, judging by the chameleon-like campaigns of both Biden and Harris, the White House will simply become a rubber stamp for a progressive Congressional agenda.
The Republican Party’s sins under Trump, and even before Trump, are varied and many. There is going to have to be a lot of changes before Americans should ever trust them with unified government again. But the present state of the GOP doesn’t make the Democrats the adults in the room nor does it mean their control of the federal government would constitute a return to normal.
We Can’t Afford a Blowhard President or a Unified Activist Government
Neither party has a healthy vision for the future of our republic. Neither party has demonstrated more than a pittance of restraint, prudence, or even common decency.
Neither party, considered on their own merits, should be trusted with unified government. And, unified government under either party as they currently stand, would be disastrous for the health of our republic and would only serve as yet another catalyst in the ongoing dysfunction and decay of American society.
There is a lot of work to be done to fix our broken political institutions and reassert healthy dialogue in our political deliberations. But for cooler heads to prevail, the anxieties of our nation must be dampened to more manageable levels.
We cannot accomplish this if Donald Trump is re-elected or if Democrats gain unified control of the federal government. If the next four years is to be a time of rebuilding and renewal, then we can neither afford a blowhard president in the headlines every day nor a progressive activist government acting as a bellows on conservative fears.
Divided We Stand
The only possible path out of the populist nightmare America finds itself in is one that first maintains divided government. Yes, this means that center-right voters should vote for Biden, vote third-party, or leave that portion of the ballot blank. Donald Trump evokes too much hysteria, both for and against him, for a second term to be a healthy development for this country. He has to go.
But this also means that Republicans must maintain their majority in the Senate. All but the truest Trumpists should be retained until the next go-around.
The indignation against Republicans who consented to Trump’s leadership should not be forgotten. If they don’t clean up their act and return to principled representation, there should be a reckoning in future primaries when they can be replaced by those who champion a vision that represents center-right values. To engage in such reckoning now would be self-defeating to our values because we would be electing those who are hostile to them.
There is a growing center-right coalition that is beginning to chart a post-Trump course for conservatism. This development offers a lot of hope for a return to founding principles and a restoration of healthy function to our republic.
But before we can embark on that great quest, we must first demonstrate we can rise above the anger and emotion that has so animated our wayward conservative brothers and sisters.
If the same center-right voters who hope to lead conservatism from the clutches of emotion and anger grant a historic mandate to a unified Democratic government out of their own sense of emotional indignation, they will have no less stewardship of a principled future than anyone else in this angry, back-biting mob we still ostensibly call a nation.
Stay free my friends,