Nearly 20 years ago this politically disinterested European met and fell in love with a young Republican political scientist from Idaho fresh from her time working in a congress ran by Newt Gingrich. This was my introduction to American conservatives and their political ideology.
I learned about compassionate conservatism orthodoxy, how if we just built the system to run better without government idiocy we would create a rising tide that would lift the boats of everyone’s lives to a better place. And so together we celebrated as Bush scraped through against Gore and settled in to watch the good start to happen.
But something got lost.
Conservative ideology has always had an element of necessary cruelty that demands that for things to run right, some programs that the aged, afflicted or poor rely on would have to go –or be drastically cut in some cases. But I was always assured this would be a temporary ache, the throb would subside, and inevitably more would benefit than suffer.
Somewhere along the way, around the time they -the GOP- stretched their tent to adopt the Tea Party, Republicans seemed to no longer consider cruelty an unfortunate side effect -cruelty became essential to the plan and necessary for success.
The more cruelty, the better things will eventually be, the greater the economic penance the greater the eventual rapture. Conservative no longer meant minimizing government, it meant maximizing destruction all under the guise of betterment.
“Conservative” stopped standing for moderation and instead meant wanting to destroy whatever “The Libs” cared about.
Libs like clean air… Great let’s maximize pollution even if it is wasteful and unconservative.
Libs want to help refugees… Great let’s shut them out even if we previously were for hard working families joining the American dream.
Libs want people to have healthcare… Great let’s turn down federal dollars that could be helping poor Utahns.
No longer a hesitant and heartsick Abraham climbing the mountain with Isaac but now a sacrificial cult vigorously embracing the pain and suffering they deem necessary to guarantee a good harvest for their tribe.
I have watched as the benign and benevolent political church of so many friends and family has transformed itself into a cult demanding absolute loyalty to both ideal and leader. A political church that revels in destroying the institutions created by BOTH US political parties that raised generations out of grinding poverty in the 20th century. That created the American economic miracle and changed the face of human existence we hoped forever.
Every now and again a few people like Jeff Flake escape the compound, but the unfortunate fact is that the GOP has found their Jim Jones and like all cults, sooner or later it is going to implode. I will not however bank on that expectation.
My hope is that the upcoming midterms will create a harsh but needed humbling for the GOP and send from Utah a mixed delegation led by a strong freshman senator who’s willing to finally create oversight of the President. But if Romney doesn’t stand up to this president, I’ve hedged my bet by voting for a Democrat.
This registered Republican will be voting for McAdams. I may not agree with all of his positions but I believe he is a listener, that he’s honest, hardworking, and compassionate. Most importantly, he puts people first. I would rather someone I disagree with but trust represent me, than to buy the wares of a snake oil saleswoman who will carry on with this brand of conservatism based on cruelty.
The Republican Party needs some contemplative time in the wilderness, they need to wean themselves off the powerful drug that is Trump’s destructive “base”, expel the Tea Party cohort -like Mia Love- and rediscover their noble heart. The GOP can win my vote back but until then I will temporarily lend it to whoever I think will do the best job of holding the current regime accountable and in check.