I think we need some time apart. Yes, yes, I know we’ve been together since the 1980s. We used to have so much in common — winning the Cold War, free enterprise and most of all a can-do attitude about America. Our closest friends — the Reagans, the Bushes and later the Romneys — were admirable, and how proud we were to be in their company. What nice, upstanding types they were. We believed in standards, civility and — how quaint! — facts.
Sure, there were stressful times. Not every four years was a victory party, but there were so many witty and interesting people to lift our spirits — William F. Buckley Jr., Irving Kristol, Jeane Kirkpatrick — and what fun we had defending Western civilization and skewering moral equivalence. It was inspiring. And along came the younger idealists — that nice Paul Ryan and the whip-smart Arthur Brooks.
The surly ones were on the left. Nothing was ever good enough for them. The grass was always greener on the other side of the Atlantic.
Then our relationship got, well, difficult. In lieu of interesting discussions, there were arguments. Yelling. Accusations. Feelings of betrayal. Instead of fighting the Democrats, we spent precious time and energy fighting one another. No more “Firing Line,” not even “Crossfire.” It got worse: One book after another by know-nothing talk show hosts, the loudmouths in talk radio, the conspiratorialists in the blogs. Suddenly it became chic to be angry and ignorant, and awkward to step outside the conservative cul-de-sac. Folks who had been preaching the gospel of personal responsibility became professional victims. The MSM! The MSM! Enough with all the whining.
Between all the nasty language about our immigrant neighbors and the ranting about China, it has become tiresome. Everything’s a conspiracy. Scientists, journalists, foreigners and the miscellaneous elites — can they all be out to get us?
You really need to get the whole Trump thing out of your system. The denials and lies, the name-calling. One day it’s cut taxes, then it’s raise them. One day wages are too high, and the next day Trump can’t see how people get by on so little. Yes, release his tax returns; no, then again, don’t. I get a headache just trying to keep up with all the excuses and contradictions. Pretending to be someone else, admitting it and then denying it — that’s all too weird.
Now that Reince Priebus fellow now goes around saying all that evidence of Trump’s mistreatment of women is just evidence of a plot by political opponents? Really!? (He sounds like a liberal who won’t “judge” anyone and makes excuses for all sorts of bad behavior. “It’s when people live in glass houses and throw stones that people get in trouble. ... It’s not necessarily that people make mistakes or have regrets or seek forgiveness. It’s whether or not the person launching the charge is authentic in their own life and can actually be pure enough to make such a charge.” I confess, I haven’t a clue what he means.) Then he sounds like Chicken Little, saying the country will be destroyed if we take up with an earnest conservative. Whenever he is on TV, the poor man looks like he’s making a hostage video.
I remain a realistic conservative, a believer in America’s ability and obligation to do good in the world; in the wonders of the free market — including free trade and legal immigration; in limited but energetic government (although not all centralized at the federal level); and in the rule of law and individual rights. Until you get your act together, however, I think some private time would help. I’ll enjoy being independent (still and always a reform-minded conservative) or maybe see if there are any new parties starting up. That Ben Sasse fellow from Nebraska seems awfully smart and well-grounded.
You work on your anger management issues. Turn off Fox News and turn on the History Channel. Make some friends who don’t think just like you. Tolerate some iconoclasts. For heaven’s sake, get rid of Trump and get his cult followers out of their trance. No more excuses for bad behavior, and no more pretending we can hide from the rest of the world. Then let’s talk, maybe in December. By then you should have plenty of free time.
Yours, Right Turn
Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.