Break On Through (To the Other Side): Part II

Are the Republicans who are declaring that they’re “with her” quietly admitting an inconvenient truth about the man who was declared victorious over Al Gore sixteen years ago?

Notice the common thread that runs through the words of pro-Clinton Republicans: they’ve declared that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is “completely unqualified” for the White House, and has “undermined the character of the nation.” Could it be that on a very subtle psychological level, these Republicans are acknowledging that the last member of their party to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was indeed an epic screw-up, and that the bigoted billionaire would equal, if not surpass, Dubya in his dimwittedness?

Yes, a number of these GOP-for-Hillary types backed the likes of Jeb Bush and John Kasich  during the Republican primary; some of them backed Mitt Romney in 2012. Presumably, these folks believed that Jeb, John and Mitt could not have possibly botched things as badly as Bush did a decade ago. Now, facing a choice between Clinton and Trump, these Republicans find they can no longer lie to themselves. They know that a President Trump would be an icon of incompetence, just as President Bush was before him.

Even the Republicans who haven’t officially coalesced around Clinton are subtly stating that the left was right about the right all along. When former Romney adviser Avik Roy says that “the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism,” he’s quietly admitting that Bush was among those who pandered to white-nationalist sentiments when he bonded with the bigots at Bob Jones University during his 2000 campaign–the same bigots who presumably cheered as Bush turned a blind eye to the black bodies floating through the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit five years later.

It’s good to see so many Republicans haunted by the Bush years. The Republicans who praise Clinton’s foreign-policy chops obviously remember what foreign-policy foolishness did to this country. The Republicans who regard Clinton as a climate champion obviously remember how Bush’s war on science made casualties of us all. The Republicans who revere Clinton’s rationality and clarity obviously remember when Bush seemed to be in a perpetual fog.

Bush infamously inquired, “Is our children learning?” Thankfully, some Republican adults have learned how dangerous it is to have obvious incompetence in charge–and that one cannot in good conscience give power to an obviously incompetent candidate just because that candidate has an (R) next to his or her name.

Yes, these Republicans will probably never openly admit that guilt is eating them alive. When they hear Trump trashing the Khan family, they remember the nasty jokes they used to tell each other back in the day about Cindy Sheehan. When they hear Trump spew racist hate, they remember how they used to avoid questions about Dick Cheney’s raw hatred of Nelson Mandela. When they hear Trump promote talk-radio sewage, they remember the days when Bush pledged allegiance to Rush Limbaugh.

Having said that, Republicans who recognize the similarities between Dubya and the Donald–and who do not want history to repeat itself–are truly putting “country first,” even if they’re motivated by guilt. The past cannot be changed, but the future can certainly be improved.

George W. Bush was perhaps the single worst President in United States history; only a Republican who was in a coma between January 20, 2001 and January 20, 2009 can deny this. Those who bore witness to Dubya’s destructiveness during those years have a moral obligation to make sure that someone as incompetent as, or even more incompetent than, the 43rd President never has the opportunity to degrade our democracy as Dubya did. The Trump campaign has revealed that there are two kinds of Republicans: those who are willing to live up to this moral obligation and those who don’t give a damn about anything but themselves.

If you have any Republican friends who are facing this particular “time for choosing,” borrow a line from that famous Reagan speech, and ask them to think about this election as a choice between “[preserving] for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or [sentencing] them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” What do you think will ultimately govern their choice–guilt or greed?

UPDATE: More from Catie Warren.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.