I have worked as a special assistant to Presidential appointees in both Democratic and Republican administrations. I’m a lifelong Democrat, though I have voted for and made campaign contributions to Republicans. My closest business partners are both Republicans who have run for office, one of them successfully. To paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s icy assessment of his opponent for the Vice Presidency, Senator Dan Quayle, I served with Republicans. I knew Republicans. Republicans are friends of mine. And Donald Trump is no Republican.
We're talking about the Republicans from Eisenhower through the two Bushes, not the progressive Republicans from the era of Abraham Lincoln through the early 20th century. For decades, the post-WWII Republican party consistently stood for limited government, a strong national defense, and strictly limited government spending, minimizing or even eliminating the budget deficit and consequent borrowing. Republicans also claimed to be the party of personal responsibility and consistently claimed that respect, character, and family values were paramount.
Trump and his chaotic, incompetent administration have violated every one of these principles with rampant corruption and self-dealing, human rights abuses, and an avalanche of mis-statements and outright lies along with insults of elected officials, world leaders, and journalists. As for fiscal responsibility, Donald Trump has brought the same catastrophically poor judgment that landed him in bankruptcy court six times. The only way he knows how to make money is to renege on commitments and make others pay for it, with bankruptcy just one example. If he had that option as President, he would have used it by now. Instead, under his leadership, we had a staggering, unprecedented trillion dollar deficit BEFORE COVID-19 took a wrecking ball to the economy and Trump signed a staggering, unprecedented $2 trillion prop-up-the-economy bill, just before he fired the highly respected independent overseer assigned to make sure the money was allocated as intended. I note that this is also the first time in American history that Congress felt it necessary to put a specific provision in the legislation to make sure Trump did not take any of that money for himself, his family, or his companies, after the President refused to commit to excluding his own interests on his own.
President Trump has violated every principle that Republicans have stood for over the past 70 years. Instead his shrinking support comes from people who mistake his bombast for strength and his insults for attacks on the elites they believe look down on them.
You know who else knows Republicans? Joe Biden. He took some heat a few months ago when he suggested he could work well with Republicans. That was unfair. He was talking about the kind of honorable, constructive statesmen and women he knew in the Senate, people who understood that we all have the same goals: a safe, strong country with opportunities for everyone who can take advantage of them and support for everyone who needs it, with the only disagreement the best way to achieve those goals. He was talking about Republicans who knew that the best way to restore credibility to the Republican party during Watergate was to acknowledge the crimes of the Nixon administration. He was not talking about the Republicans who — except for Mitt Romney — would not even call witnesses in the impeachment trial and twisted themselves into knots to try to explain why the explicit findings of the Mueller Report and the uncontradicted testimony of witnesses in the House hearing did not meet the standards for treason. Respected Republicans like George Conway, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Wilson recognize this with their support for Biden through the Lincoln Project. They say, “President Donald Trump and those who sign onto Trumpism are a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our Republic. Only defeating so polarizing a character as Trump will allow the country to heal its political and psychological wounds and allow for a new, better path forward for all Americans.”
It’s not a coincidence that the Republican party’s current election strategy is primarily based on voter suppression, with a side order of racism and fear-mongering. They cannot win any other way.
This means the 2020 election is not about Democrats vs. Republicans. Joe Biden is closer to the principles of the real Republican party than are President Trump and the Senators and Representatives who enable him. This election is about integrity vs. corruption, science vs. hokum, and dark money oligarchs vs. small-d democracy. Indeed, the core, foundational issue in this election is democracy itself, and Joe Biden will be the only candidate on the ballot who will ensure that the grand ideals of Jefferson, Madison, and Adams will endure.