The Federalist Society is an organization composed of politically conservative lawyers; Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito have been members, reflecting the legal orientation of the membership.
I have found myself disagreeing with the positions of the Society far more frequently than I have agreed, but I completely agree with a recent essay by Paul David Miller, titled “The Moral Collapse of the Republican Party,” published in its magazine, The Federalist.
Miller calls the party’s embrace of Trump “an obvious, avoidable, epic blunder.”
Embracing Trump, as almost all the party’s leaders have done, is a colossal, world-historical, vast mistake; an inexplicable failure of moral courage; and a repugnant act of institutional suicide. It is shocking to see such rampant self-destruction sweep through the ranks of a once-great party.
After providing a “roll call” of sorts, in which he identified political figures who have obediently endorsed Trump, Miller notes that most of the holdouts–Romney, the President Bushes–have ended their political careers and have nothing to lose.
By embracing Trump, the Republican Party embraces the man, the ideas, and his fate. Whatever legitimate grievances underlie Trump’s appeal—such as frustration with the pace of globalization, or with the culture of political correctness—have been tarnished by Trump’s overt hostility to basic norms of republican government. The party has given away all the high ground it had against the increasingly illiberal and autocratic progressive left by nominating the only person in America who embodies an equally clear disregard for equality under law.
If Trump loses—which he probably will—the Republican Party will lose with him, and it will deserve its loss. The down-ticket damage will be all of Trump’s doing, with the party’s open complicity, and much of the gains at the state and local level in recent years will be undone.
If Trump does lose, and if he takes a significant number of down-ticket Republicans with him, many Americans (including this one) will breathe a sigh of relief. But that outcome is by no means assured–and that’s what keeps me up at night.
It is worse if Trump wins (and I think he has a higher chance of winning than most polls say): a Trump victory vindicates Trumpism—already dangerously on the rise—and permanently transforms the Republican Party into the party of white grievance, nativism, and belligerent nationalism. America will no longer have a party of limited government and classical liberalism. Losing the presidency but recovering a party dedicated to the ideals of ordered liberty is far preferable…
[W]hat surprises me is that they want the Republican Party to win no matter what the party stands for, even if the party flirts with white supremacy and proto-fascism. I held out the hope—now, I see, hopelessly deluded and naïve—that politicians understood that there is a line you don’t cross; there comes a point at which principle really does come before party; that the good of the nation should come before partisanship; and that when your party starts to go off the deep end, you jump ship.
Many of us have done just that–we “jumped ship.” Some earlier, some later, depending upon when we saw the party becoming something very different from the responsible center-right party America still needs. We can only hope that–faced with the reality of Trumpism–many more follow. Before November.