Morris: Confessions of a ‘Republican’
by Leo Morris
One day a colleague, whose intellect I had admired up to that point, confessed that she had some conservative instincts when it came to politics.
“But I just can’t go there, considering the people that would associate me with,” she said, referring to some of the rogues in the Republican Party who offended her delicate sensibilities.
So, I thought but did not say, there being no point, “You’re OK with the thieves, thugs and drooling half-wits on the other side of the aisle?”
One of the most important lessons in Logic 101 is that an idea cannot be responsible for who holds it. The idea must rise or fall on its own merits, regardless of what your friends or enemies think of it. It is either valid or not. Period.
To forget that lesson is to fall victim to the ad hominem fallacy, perhaps the most prevalent logic fault. This is the personal attack disguised as a rational argument. When an unwelcomed idea is presented, instead of offering evidence for or against it, you demean or belittle the person who offered it. Conversely, an idea presented by someone on your side must be accepted as gospel, no questions allowed.
If you embrace ad hominem, you will be a star on Twitter and other social media platforms and be enthralled with cable news, venues where ideas exist solely as fodder for idolatry and character assassination.
But if you resist it, you might be ready to join a political party. Democrats and Republicans offer, in broad strokes, two competing visions for this country’s future. You choose the one that best suits you, knowing you will find a lot of like-minded thinkers but also some people you don’t really care for.
I’ve never called myself a Republican, but I have voted for them so often I guess I might as well be one. That party comes closest to embracing the two ideas that most inform my political views.
I call myself partly conservative because I think we should be careful we don’t need them before abandoning traditions, and partly libertarian because I want the smallest, least intrusive government possible. I could hardly expect satisfaction from Democrats, who hardly ever encounter a tradition they like or a tax they don’t, so I have mostly voted for Republicans.
But with more and more misgivings as time goes on.
Maryann O. Keating, a fellow columnist for the Indiana Policy Review and one of its adjunct scholars, wrote recently about the role of a two-party system in preserving and enhancing social order in the long-term national interest.
She especially emphasized Edmund Burke biographer Jesse Norman’s warning against “the terrible experiences of countries with a single major party and, on the other hand, countries fractured by a multiplicity of different parties.”
I appreciate that strength of two parties, but I wonder how long we will have them or, if, indeed, we still really do.
I see Republicans trembling before cancel culture and apologizing to social justice warriors and acquiescing in the dismantling of institutions and demonization of long-held values and wonder if, somewhere, there is still a central vision being pursued, let alone an appreciation of social order in the long-term national interest.
I especially cringe at the GOP’s complicity in the growth and reach of government. I realize – I really do – that without Republicans, there would be no resistance at all, but their enthusiasm for the fight does seem to wax and wane.
Congressional Republicans proclaimed proudly that they were unanimously opposed to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion grotesquely misnamed “COVID relief” bill. But a number of them were happy to vote for grotesquely misnamed COVID relief packages when one of their own was president. All those bills added to the yearly deficits and national debt, which did not get to $28 trillion without earnest bipartisan effort.
And Indiana, we are told, will get nearly $6 billion from this round of relief, after getting $2 billion last time around.
While the state will “seek clarity” on what it’s allowed to be spent on “we’re certainly not going to turn that money down,” said Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray. No, of course not. Would any Republican vote to turn it down?
Thieves, thugs and drooling half-wits. They’re everywhere.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at email@example.com.