The Republicans we need

Really enjoyed Nicholas Kristof’s column earlier this week:

Just as deer populations need wolves or cougars to keep them healthy, Democrats benefit from predatory Republicans.

America needs a robust center-right party to hold progressives like me accountable. Cities and states run by a single party slide toward poor governance, and conservatives are essential to push back at flabby thinking on the left — like California’s Proposition 10, a populist rent control proposal that might backfire and magnify homelessness.

Unfortunately, the principled version of the Republican Party in Congress has virtually collapsed, a crisis compounded by the death of Senator John McCain. Republican leaders in Congress actively resist providing congressional oversight and are no more than the president’s poodles.

Sure, there are still many principled individuals within the party, but as a national institution the Republican Party is hollow. It is no longer about an ideology; it’s about shining President Trump’s shoes. And that is the fundamental issue hanging over the midterm elections.

Yes!  I love this metaphor.  As I’ve written many times, I want a healthy, robust, thoughtful Republican party that advances smart, good-faith arguments for more individual rights, less government regulation, and meaningful respect for more traditional values.  I don’t want the Republican version of these things, but I think the more liberal version will end up being better for a thoughtful, good-faith debate.  Alas, the current Republican party is soooo far from this.  Kristof’s column continues on to catalog the many failings.  This is just not good for Republicans, Democrats, or our democracy.

My one objection to Kristof is, “Sure, there are still many principled individuals within the party.”  Ummm, no.  If he means elite NeverTrump pundits, they are hardly “within the party.”  The party is characterized by either authoritarian ethno-nationalists or cowards who refuse to stand up to them for fear of losing their own power.  The latter do not count as “principled” in my book.

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