As a Republican Voter, Here’s Why I’m With Hillary
Now is a time for choosing.
Mitt Romney, not very long ago, channeled Ronald Reagan’s legendary Barry Goldwater stump speech in an attempt to encourage Republicans to vote against Donald Trump.
In his plea, Romney suggested in Ohio we choose Kasich and in Florida we choose Rubio. And after Rubio dropped out last Tuesday, Avik Roy said it’s time for “all conservatives,” to unite around Ted Cruz. Mitt Romney himself has hopped on board with this idea.
The big thrust of these messages is clear: anyone but Trump.
But what difference, at this point, does it make?
With Rubio gone and no plausible frontrunner outside of Donald Trump, it is clear the people have spoken. Without some establishment party voodoo, it seems he will be the Republican nominee. And you know what? That’s totally fine.
It’s time to concede and do it with grace and humility.
In HBO’s Game Change, it chronicled the happenings of the 2008 election wherein John McCain ran against Barack Obama and chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.
The folksy charm of Palin was positively demonstrated in that film, giving a solid rationale for why they chose her. There were good strategic reasons for her tapping. Palin, truly, is a star.
In the final scene of the film, McCain’s staff is preparing for him to give his concession speech. While surely disappointed, they were portrayed in the movie to be humble and gracious. McCain would have been a good leader for the nation, but it was not his time. However it actually was in reality, Palin was shown in the film to want to give her own concession speech making a spectacle of the event and putting herself center-stage.
Steve Schmidt, a staffer for McCain, had to sternly scold Palin informing her there was just no rationale for her to do this. He said:
Governor, this country has just elected the first African-American President in the history of its existence, and it is the concession speech that will legitimize his succession as Commander-in-Chief. It is a serious and solemn tradition, and John McCain, and only John McCain, will be giving the speech. This is how it has been done in every presidential election since the dawn of the Republic, and you, Sarah Palin, will not change the importance of this proud American tradition!
The divide between the real-life John McCain and Sarah Palin is obviously great. John McCain is a statesman, Sarah Palin… is a provocateur.
In one of the final exchanges in Game Change, reflecting on his loss and the prospect of Sarah Palin’s future political career, he said to political advisor Rick Davis: “there is a dark side to American populism. Some people win elections tapping into it. I’m not one of those people.”
Those words, even though they are from a film, are exceptionally potent. And, more than that, they are especially telling.
Today, this is our choice. We have the choice between someone experienced in statecraft or a celebrity provocateur. It’s not that being a celebrity ought to disqualify you from being a politician. Quite the contrary, as politicians can be excellent political actors. It’s to say, instead, that turning politics into a reality television show is, in essence, a devaluation of our process and great tradition.
If you are like me and you voted for John McCain, believed that he is not only a great man but also was a good candidate, then take a moment and reflect on where his party was then versus where it is now.
Of course, to many, the Republican party has been problematic for a long time. And also the current divide we are seeing is indicative of several decades of discontent and political strategy. But it has not always been this way. Republicanism has deep roots in American political identity and has, at various times in history, been the progressive party for a variety of reasons.
Right now, those like me who might have historically self-identified as Republicans need to reflect openly and honestly, thinking on the options available and what this might mean for our country. In my opinion, there is only one safe option which not only seeks to maintain political stability, but also reflects a concession rooted in humility and grace.
That, to me, is to support Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.
She is not a perfect candidate and is often troublesome for a variety of reasons. But she is a loyal American and is committed to the American project as it has been developed by not one, but both of our parties, over our brief history.
While not perfect, she is strong. While troublesome at times, she is self-aware. While a Democrat, she is All-American.
The vaguely secessionist anti-establishment rebellion mounting is a reflection of that dark side of populism the fictionalized John McCain mentioned in Game Change. Republicans who believe America is still and always has been a great country need to reject this movement and stay committed to our enterprise.
There is good reason to be a populist and this is indeed a new populist moment. But it is a moment deserving of a better class of leadership and much better messaging. Messaging that is inclusive and tolerant as well as leadership which reflects our exceptional characteristics rather than our worst.
No, I don’t believe Donald Trump is Adolph Hitler and I also don’t believe he’s a fool. I do believe, however, that this dark side of American populism he’s aggravating, while a national spectacle, is an international embarrassment.
Hillary has the know-how and she gets things done. She has a message which champions American exceptionalism without suggesting we are perfect or without sin. She says we can all rise together, rather than extending that right to the few. She is clear and direct and willing to change her mind to reflect not only her new way of thinking, but also that of her constituencies.
Best of all, she is channeling the greatest of the imperial virtues: loving-kindness.
These are the signs of strong leadership.
As she said during her victory speech after Florida primary, we need to “defend our country, not embarrass it; we need to engage our allies, not alienate them; and we need to defeat our enemies, not embolden them.” Protecting national security and international stability must never be an after-thought, let alone trivialized or jeopardized.
But more than this, we need to show America has a kinder side and is open to the love of our neighbors, as well as ourselves.
Trump’s rhetoric, in my opinion, disqualifies him from consideration. If you are a serious person and believe these are serious times, I implore you to concede that this Republican race is done and support Her.
Trump frequently claims he is a unifier and also can be Presidential. But when? When will this happen? The way he has ran so far proves he is not interested in unity and he is not interested in stability. In Hillary’s words, the way he speaks, “doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong.”
It’s time to concede to the fact that Republicans have lost this election. It’s also time for all Americans of good conscience to unite around a candidate to stop someone who is obviously against our mutual self-interest.
You can support Hillary without believing she is a good person. You can support Hillary without believing she is the best person for the job. You can support Hillary even if there is someone more exciting you wish were or is running. There is, as she says, a difference between running for President and actually being the President.
Reject that dark side of American populism and choose to keep America whole. If you believe this nation and its mission is greater than either of the two political parties, please choose to support a custodial candidate. Don’t be red or blue, be red, white, and blue.
There’s an old quote from Bill Clinton: “Whatever’s wrong in America can be fixed by what’s right in America.”
So think on Clinton’s words and remember, as Reagan said, this is indeed a time for choosing.
You know what? I’m with Her.