Time for Republicans to return to conscientious conservatism

Sen. John McCain

Marco Levytsky, Western Bureau Chief.

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Thus spoke U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his speech before Congress declaring war on the Empire of Japan the following day. Since that time, the phrase “a date that will live in infamy” have been immortalized in the historical annals of the United States. However, it surfaced again following the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, following a speech by outgoing President Donald Trump. It too was described by many as a “day of infamy”. Some of the sources, like current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were predictable. But others were not. Chief among these was Tim Graham, the executive editor of NewsBusters and director of media analysis for the Media Research Center (MRC) — an American conservative content analysis group founded in 1987 by L. Brent Bozell. The organization rejects the scientific consensus on climate change and criticizes media coverage that reflects the scientific consensus. Graham is co-author with MRC President Brent Bozell of the 2019 book “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump” as well as the books “Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election and How to Prevent It From Happening Again in 2016” (2013) and “Whitewash: What the Media Won’t Tell You About Hillary Clinton but Conservatives Will” (2007). He wrote the 1996 book “Pattern of Deception: The Media’s Role in the Clinton Presidency.”

This is what he wrote following the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building:
“For four years now, we have scolded liberals who claimed repeatedly that President Trump is an authoritarian who would make democracy die in darkness. But the riot of Trump supporters at this late date, deluded with the bizarre notion that Trump won in a landslide, suddenly falsifies our critique. Democracy was under siege by people wearing Trump hats and waving American (and Confederate) flags… No arrogant scold with a microphone and an expensive peacoat compares to thugs who make the U.S. Capitol Police draw their guns. Right now, we should call this what it is: a day that should live in infamy.”

For many other long-time supporters of Donald Trump, this was the breaking point – the last straw. Thousands stormed the Capitol Building following Trump’s speech in which he once again baselessly claimed the election he lost was fraudulent and urged them to march on the Capitol and demand that Congress reject certification of the election results. They broke the windows, broke into the chambers and roamed freely carrying off furniture. One woman was fatally shot by police as she tried to break through to a room next to the House of Representatives chamber. Three more died of a stroke, heart attack and an unnamed “medical emergency” while a fifth – a police officer — succumbed to his injuries in hospital after reportedly being hit on the head with a fire extinguisher by rioters.

This was an unprecedented act of violence directed at a bastion of U.S. democracy. Questions arose as to how Capitol Police could have been so unprepared and how the rioters were allowed to break in so easily. Questions also arose about Trump’s mental state – his stubborn refusal to accept the results of the election and prevent a peaceful transfer of power. There were immediate calls for Vice President Michael Pence and a majority of the cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to remove a President who “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”. Although President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20, many fear what the unpredictable Trump may do in the last days of his Presidency. There has also been talk of impeaching him once again and by the time people read this editorial, Democrats in the House may very well have initiated the second impeachment proceedings against Trump. That, however, will remain an empty gesture unless Democrats in the Senate can convince enough Republicans to join them in gaining the two-thirds majority to convict him and only if that conviction contains the stipulation that he can never again run for office.

Though unlikely to happen, that would actually be a very welcome development for the U.S. Republican Party as it would help them in removing the Trumpist cancer that has invaded their body politic.

Although the Republican Party stands for conservative values, it has not historically stood for white supremacy like many of Trump’s supporters. Neither has it stood for cozy relations with dictators like Vladimir Putin, and it most certainly has never stood for rioting and storming government institutions. True Republicans have stood unequivocally behind the U.S. Constitution and have always respected a peaceful transition of power – which is the cornerstone of any democratic state.

While many Republicans who supported Trump in the past are turning away following the riot, there still are some who remain loyal primarily because they don’t want to alienate Trump’s base. Chief among these is Texas Senator Ted Cruz who was joined by five other senators and 121 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, all Republicans, in objecting to the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

But you can’t let the tail wag the dog. It’s time for the conscientious conservatives in the Republican Party to take back the reins of power. There is room for conservative values, just as there is room for liberal ones, in a stable democracy. One may disagree with political opponents on matters of policy, but one does not demonize them.

We are reminded of the late John McCain, a decorated war veteran who suffered five years of torture in a North Vietnamese prison and exemplified conscientious conservatism throughout his entire adult life (quite unlike Trump who avoided military service on 5 separate occasions, each time claiming to have bone spurs and who later infamously led the multi-year smear campaign against Obama claiming that he was not American-born). During McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign a supporter came up to him at a rally and said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not — he’s an Arab.” Her comment prompted McCain to immediately shake his head and take the microphone from her.

“No ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
How true. It’s John McCain Republicans should adopt as a role model – not Donald Trump. Then, the United States will return to the core values that made it such a great country in the first place.