As a lifelong Democrat it is with a rather sad bemusement to watch conflicted Republican politicians struggle with an acknowledgement that their candidate is actually disastrous for the country. Refusing to support him is laudable. However, refusing to participate altogether reflects a lack of moral compass or intestinal fortitude and should not be rewarded. Thus we are witnessing a slow trickle of Republicans removing themselves from the act of voting while similarly denying through legislative efforts others who wish to avail themselves of the privilege the right to do so. This is not only hypocritical but verges upon criminal behavior.
In politics, once you think you have seen it all you are bound to see something you both have never seen nor thought you would ever see. Unfolding before our very eyes at present is a spectacle that is so unfathomably surreal that it both defies logic and contorts the boundaries of propriety that seemingly have no lower limits. As Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and his hired henchman Paul Manafort stumble, bumble, and careen aimlessly around anything resembling a professional campaign or at the very least a blueprint for governing the inherent dangers accompanying their potential ascension to the pinnacle of power is taking its toll on of all constituencies Republican elected officials.
The continuing emasculation of one of the major political parties in a decidedly two-party system is proving too much for many Republican leaders.
The continuing emasculation of one of the major political parties in a decidedly two-party system is proving too much for many Republican leaders as the number of defectors and political participation dropouts threatens to further degrade public perceptions of our system of government, fueling even more polarization and cynicism. Partisanship and party loyalty are expected attributes of a two-party system. Defections are rare, withdrawal however is virtually unheard of. Yet increasingly we are watching leaders who want you to vote for them while they make decisions not to make a decision themselves. This is the height of cowardice.
Most Americans have been raised on the notion that the most important participatory event a citizen can engage in is the right to vote. Indeed, throughout the brief history of the country the violence accompanying the securitization of that right has been both painful and constant. Parents, such as myself, have stressed the importance to our children of exercising their dissent or approval of governmental institutions and processes through the ballot box. Without a shadow of a doubt voting has stood out as a shining example of the freedoms and liberties so precious in this democratic experiment.
If our leaders feel free to express a desire to basically “sit this one out” as a way of registering a distaste on the one hand for the opposition candidate equal to or greater than their own candidate we are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun aimed at the very system they represent. The insidious and perversely negative impacts of such decisions threaten to exacerbate the anger, frustration and fear powering distrust of our institutions and leadership.
I am leery of choosing between the lesser of two evils but I cannot refuse to participate in a system that leaves us with that option. We very well may be lurching headfirst towards a crisis in the integrity of the government processes and structure laid out by the Founding Fathers. That system has produced significant and positive recalibrations over the two plus centuries of its existence. It is not a perfect system but to quote Winston Churchill, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Opting out of the decision to make a choice between the two major candidates is a luxury only the truly privileged in society can afford. Republican elected officials are merely covering their collective rear ends and protecting their political careers. This is more about survival than conscience and hopefully their constituents will see it for what it is worth and vote them out of office. If it truly were a vote of conscience they would do what all of us mere mortals do: namely, vote for the lesser of two evils and hope for the best.
So to constituents who are currently represented by Republican elected officials who are attempting to walk this fine line it is in your power to not let them get off the hook so easily. Demand that they choose one or the other. Demand that they do what they were elected to do, which is to make difficult decisions.