I don’t often agree with David Brooks, but in his June 27 column in The News, “Republican or conservative? Today you can’t be both, you have to choose” I find a lot to agree with.
He illustrates traditional conservative thought and how the Republican party, as embodied by the Trump administration, does not conform to basic conservative precepts.
His take is that the current Republican party of Trump is based in “…tribalism…the evil twin of community. It is based on hatred, us/them thinking, conspiracy-mongering and distrust.”
He talks movingly about traditional conservatism as rooted in respect for the communities that we come from – family, religion, local communities, and how this has morphed into “market fundamentalism” and then tribalism.
I would like to broaden his scope a little, though.
There is a wealth of arguments that hold that a healthy, functioning democracy requires a process that balances the views of all citizens, liberals and conservatives. Importantly, this requires a process of compromise, where the opposite sides come together, understanding that nobody gets 100 percent of what they want.
Crucially, though is that this process requires that the opposing sides cannot regard each other as enemies to be crushed. There has to be an appreciation that we are all humans, all citizens with rights, and are deserving of respect regardless of our disagreements. It’s clear that this is not currently the case.
My agreement with Brooks is that the current Republican party has become the cult of Trump, and embodies all of the worst characteristics that are destructive of democracy.
This is not a “both sides do it” situation.
To return balance, the cult of Trump must be removed from power to leave some space for traditional conservatives to rebuild the Republican party into something that can be part of a healthy, functioning democracy.
If not, the future is grim.
Eric A. Gallion