Sturm: Reflections of an Anti-Trump GOP Delegate
November 6, 2016
It's been a rough past few months, and I'm not just referring to the alarming presidential contest between the two most egomaniacal, morally compromised and disliked candidates in electoral history.
Perhaps it's divine intervention that I've been intermittently away from my column to care for, mourn and deal with the affairs of my mom, who passed away before I attended the Republican National Convention as a Colorado delegate.
A staunch critic of GOP elites, I ran to be a delegate (at my mom's urging) because I wanted to help select a presidential nominee who'd unite the "Party of Lincoln" around its bedrock principle: the democratic self-government of a free people.
My pre-convention column argued for allowing delegates to vote their conscience — for Donald Trump or whomever — yielding the strongest nominee to oppose Hillary Clinton, whose Espionage Act violations and cover-up make her the most brazenly dishonest presidential candidate since Richard Nixon. Her election would advance the banana-republic notion that the powerful are above the law.
The column elicited severe rebukes, the most scolding from Trump supporters. While Clinton backers played the "liar" card, Trumpsters told me to Think Again, grow up and get over my "high-falutin ideals." I was called an airhead, globalist and RINO, and my columns were bashed for being "so formulaic they're almost unreadable."
In Cleveland, I was among the troublemakers who protested the RNC's Mao-like suppression of dissent regarding the party rules, which had produced the weakest presidential nominee in modern GOP history. I left dispirited, feeling like a Republican in name only. Now with Election Day nearing, my swing state's mail-in ballot awaits my vote for president, the most gut-wrenching of my life.
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As expected, the election has been an ugly slugfest punctuated by predictable surprises — leaks about Trump's taxes and the 11-year-old video of his grotesque, predatory boasting, and WikiLeaks disclosures revealing Clinton Inc. corruption. The biggest shocker is that each party nominated the one candidate the other could beat.
Meanwhile, a real electoral bombshell hit: Obamacare premiums are skyrocketing nationwide as consumers, providers and more insurers desert the law that's hurting those who can least afford it. It's a debacle foreseen by critics, though not their media "fact checkers."
In steamrolling his signature policy reform, President Barack Obama relied on "the stupidity of the American voter," as Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber notoriously boasted, getting away with false claims including: premiums would decline, illegal immigrants wouldn't get subsidies, not one dime will be added to the deficit and "if you like your plan, you can keep it."
In an illuminating New York Times interview, White House aid Ben Rhodes (whose brother is president of CBS News) boasted similarly, describing the manipulative tactics used to sell Obama/Clinton foreign policies, including the unpopular Iran nuclear deal, which guarantees the mullahs will eventually get their nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Describing the White House spin machine, Rhodes bragged, "We created an echo chamber" of "prominent Washington reporters and columnists" to "carry our message effectively … saying things that validated what we had given them to say." Hence, "warmonger" was the smear assigned to Iran deal critics.
Here's the undemocratic playbook used to short-circuit the honest debate on which national consensus depends: make false claims, spin the media, co-opt the bureaucracy to evade laws/break rules, stonewall investigations, smear adversaries, and label self-inflicted controversies "phony scandals" until the truth becomes any story that sticks.
Consequently, no one's ever held accountable for the resulting wreckage: unaffordable health insurance, dying vets, terrorist attacks, sanctuary city tragedies, IRS harassment and murdered U.S. diplomats and border guards. Not surprisingly, only 19 percent of Americans say they trust the government most of the time, down from 73 percent in 1958, according to the Pew Research Center.
That's because Washington is so politicized, even institutions charged with equal enforcement of laws have been sullied. Dueling media accounts of the FBI probes into Clinton's national security-imperiling violations and the Clinton Foundation's pay-for-play practices reflect the smoldering rift between disgruntled FBI agents and their higher-ups at the Bureau and Justice Department.
Filmmaker Michael Moore described Trump as a Molotov cocktail thrown at the self-dealing ruling-class system. Clinton, who preaches redistribution of wealth while living like a monarch off her public office, personifies the politically corrupt status quo. Worse then her sense of entitlement and lying is her quarter-century of behaving as if laws are for the little people, not the echo chamber's aristocracy.
Unfortunately, inside the echo chamber the aristocrats can't hear the Molotov cocktail-hurling legions outside. Though I shudder at the thought of President Trump, and worry about his authoritarian inclinations, I'm rooting for the little people to burn down the chamber.
Think Again — at the risk of sounding formulaic, might the introduction of an aggressive pathogen like Trump provoke a healthy antibody reaction, helping restore the checks and balances necessary for the democratic self-government of a free people?
Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. She welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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