Dear Republicans, Are You Really Going To Make Us Ride The Trump Train All The Way To Hell?
Republicans, we need to talk.
I’m concerned about the toxic direction of our country, and the consequences that could follow. I anticipate it's going to get chaotic and potentially violent in our society, so I'm sharing this out of love and to help us move toward health and away from sickness.
Together, we can prevent a bunch of terrible things from unfolding and pave the way for a better future.
Contrary to my hope that this problem would sort itself out through the political process, I’ve realized that the trajectory we're going down won't change unless enough people, particularly Republicans, and independents across generations, speak up and share their stories so that we can better understand our past and alter our future.
I want Republicans to understand how their party has alienated me and what they can do about it.
"The refusal to have our illusions taken away is the cause of much of the suffering in human life."
And, I want Republicans to see the real reasons behind their problematic and incomplete assumptions, as to why numerous Republicans and independents didn't vote for Trump and some voted for political rivals instead. For example, Trump lost Georgia, not because of some middle-of-the-night shenanigans, but because 25k people voted Republican down-ballot but didn't vote for Trump (Biden won Georgia by 13k votes).
Yeah, there were many unfair things in the election (as there were in the last and will be in the future), but like my dad always told me growing up, life isn't fair. Accept it and face it. Stop whining. Take ownership of your life, your community, and your country.
The irony is that the Republican party used to tell me it was the party of responsibility, but all Trump has done is blame and NOT accept responsibility. And Republicans have gone right along with it and it is escalating the American Crisis.
Before I share my story, let's talk about the stakes.
“What is now happening hasn't happened before in our lifetimes but has happened many times throughout history—typically, just before civil wars. In my opinion, this is a VERY big, bad deal yet most people are quietly going along with it… At the time of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, I estimated the odds of a civil war as about 1 in 3—I now estimate it a bit over 1 in 2.”
Bad things are coming down the pike. And I can foresee the many horrible ways this unfolds.
"I've interviewed a lot of people who have lived through a civil war and they all say the same thing. "I didn't see it coming."
Republicans, you need to make the right choices now because making them later may be too late. If you're in the habit of making poor choices, it will be impossible to make the right one later on. Your track record on this matter over the past 7 years isn’t good. This is the problem when we compromise with wrongdoing; we become corrupted.
But, let’s rewind for a moment. Remember this Trump joke from 2016? Turns out, Trump had his loyal supporters figured out from the beginning.
"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible."
Is your ultimate allegiance to Donald Trump? Is there anything he would do that would break your support for him? And are you willing to go along with the Republican Party wherever it takes you?
Even if it leads to civil war?
Perhaps we're already in the middle of it.
“A person who is not inwardly prepared for the use of violence against him is always weaker than the person committing the violence.”
Here’s the thing. If you’re not ready when evil comes for you, you’ll bend the knee so fast, you won’t know what took over you. And it will come from a direction you won’t expect and that you were not prepared. And the most nefarious part; you’ll likely believe you’re doing good while easily doing evil.
Every small step moves you forward until eventually you’re saying and doing things you never imagined, and things your past self would have scoffed at.
Collectively and systemically we’re making a series of big and small choices that are degenerating our society. And while both sides are playing their part, I want to focus on the Republicans in this post.
My Political History; Severing My Carte Blanche Allegiance to Republicans
Born in 1984, I inherited the Republican Party from my parents. During the Clinton era, we heard Rush Limbaugh talk about how much character mattered. Pastors said Clinton was unfit for office.
In 2012, I remember having conversations with Republicans about how they were hesitant or unwilling to vote for Mitt Romney because he was a Mormon. In retrospect, this dynamic would ring quite hollow to me as Republicans, several years later, would cast their votes for Trump instead.
In 2016, there was enough cover for Republicans to vote for Trump while not supporting his atrocious character and behavior. Many Republicans did make limited arguments for limited Trump support, around Supreme Court picks for example. To those who made this argument, and stuck to it by not voting for Trump in 2020, I appreciated your willingness to collaborate but not collude. I was deeply disappointed in those who just created new cover stories and voted for Trump.
In 2020, the Supreme Court had a Republican majority, and Republicans quickly demonstrated to me that character didn't matter to most of them in 2020 or in 2016. Their desired ends justified the means. What Republicans communicated to me through their actions was that winning and control mattered most.
The cost of losing was too much for Republicans and like Isildur in Lord of the Rings, they took the ring of power for themselves.
A key moment for me in 2016 was when the underlying issue made itself apparent, even when the cover stories, to suggest otherwise, were widely available.
The following comes from an essay in Christianity Today by Ed Stetzer.
"--the people of God, who are called to hold to the highest standard of morals and ethics, now rank as the highest group percentage-wise of those who say that these things don’t necessarily matter. This is a problem of huge proportions.
Now, it would be one thing if those individuals said, “Integrity still matters, but, man, we are stuck with two people who have integrity problems, and I am going with ________ in spite of my integrity concerns.
That would be making a hard choice while keeping your beliefs.But that’s not what happened.
Instead, to support a candidate, many actually changed their view. Remember the question: “an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed transgressions in their personal life.” When that was Bill Clinton, Evangelicals were “nope” but now that it’s #Trump, they’re “yep.”'
Those telling us character mattered, ended up sacrificing principles for their selfish desires, like the man they followed. Tribal (secular) moral reasoning was used by Republicans when they said things like, “They were not voting for a pastor but for a president.” It was not unlike the tribal moralism we used to justify our invasion of Iraq.
Most Republicans and Trump were not Moses taking America to the promised land. He and they were Pharaoh. Bunches of them. If there is a benefit to our moment, it is the clarity of who is and is not a Pharoah.
"The reason people like negative freedom (the autonomous individual) is because if I already have serfs, or slaves, or wives or whatever it might be. I am oppressing people, therefore I don't want the state to stop me from doing that."
But regardless of Republican's hypocrisy, I take what they said seriously. Because despite it, they were right; character does matter. But I didn’t know how to integrate it. I’m still working it out. This article is one step in my process.
In tandem with my own past horrific experiences with toxic narcissists, hurting others and reconciling with these people, and Trump’s chronic wreckage of broken relationships and businesses, Trump lost my vote before he ever took office. His fruit was rotten.
I voted for Bush in 2004 (my first presidential election), McCain in 2008, and Romney in 2012. But in 2016, Trump freed me from this Carte Blanche allegiance to the Republican Party. And for this, I am grateful.
In 2016, I did not vote for Trump, but I committed the cardinal unforgivable Republican sin of voting for Hillary Clinton. If their character didn’t matter, I was going to vote for the less threatening option. My take was different than most Republicans who thought the opposite or thought I should abstain. I got my hands dirty for pragmatic reasons.
Why didn’t I abstain or vote for a write-in candidate? For me, it was a symbolic gesture that my allegiance was no longer to the Republican Party whose allegiance was now attached to Donald Trump. In Georgia, it was a risk-free decision because I expected Trump to win Georgia and the election. If I knew my vote would have altered the outcome, I probably would have abstained. That changed and deepened four years later.
Because of Trump’s firehouse of falsehoods in 2020 before Election Day, about the election being stolen (while Trump was in power), it became apparent that something bad was going to culminate.
It was clear that I was not going to vote for Trump but his persistent lies and the risk of an unclear election result seemed like the making of a worst-case scenario. So I wanted Biden to win, and to win clearly without a doubt. Confusion is the context for bad actors to make bad things happen.
So once again, I cast my vote for a Democrat, now in 2020; for Biden. Unlike my 2016 vote, if my vote would have been the deciding vote in 2020, I’d do it again.
And I was right. Something horrible happened on Jan 6th, 2021; the insurrection. It’s a miracle it was not much worse.
For a brief moment after January 6th, it looked like Republicans would do the right thing and impeach Trump, communicating to his terrorist loyalists No! and banning him from ever holding office again. Tragically, all but a handful of courageous Republican leaders relented and bent their knee to Trump. They kissed the ring and sold their soul.
I made note of those who sold their soul, how they sold it, and noted those who stood courageously. I also noted those who did wrong on Jan 6, acknowledged their wrongdoing, and have changed their ways.
What about the 2021 Georgia runoff? While I probably voted for Republicans, Perdue, and Loeffler, in the 2020 general election (I can’t remember) I voted for Warnock and abstained on the other (I was uncomfortable voting for Ossoff. I know, I’m complicated). But the point is, because of Jan 6, I flipped my vote.
Fast forward again.
“I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort baby eagles, I want control of the Senate.”
In the 2022 mid-term elections, Trump cratered the seemingly inevitable win that parties get after they lose the prior presidential election. And the midterms were a disaster for Republicans; the results and many of their candidates.
How did I vote in this midterm? If the candidate stood up to Trump’s election lies and pressure, I voted for them. If they perpetuated his lies, I voted against them. My vote was a mixed selection of Democrats and Republicans. For me, this became the central issue above all others. No point in discussing what color to paint the house if someone is planning to burn the house down.
And, for a moment after the midterms, the lack of success by Republicans (particularly Trump-oriented ones in Purple districts) seemed to release the party from his grasp.
But the Republican's contempt for the mainstream media and their hated rivals, the Democrats, was too much to resist. And they welcomed Trump back into the fold after multiple indictments for his chronic and morally abhorrent behavior. His lagging support spiked back up and we were all reminded who still owned the Republicans.
The Placating Continues
"I get letters... from faculty... and they say you know when I get tenure... when I'm an associate professor... when I'm a full professor... if you're a professor already, you're the most protected person in the history of the planet... it's almost impossible to provide people with enough protection so that they feel safe to speak... It is not safe to speak and it never will be. It's even less safe not to speak... Do you want to pay the price for being who you are and stating your mode of being in the world or do you want to pay the price for being a bloody serf who enslaved him or herself? You'll just be a miserable worm at the end of about 20 years with no self-respect, no power, no ability to voice your opinions, and nothing left but resentment because everyone's against you because you've never stood up for yourself.“
When this step of pushing back against Trump from the Republican Party is done, we can actually have a productive conversation about how the Republicans can defeat Donald Trump.
Why Share This?
"This is not a house of confusion."
This essay is about clarity, my story, and less about persuading; although I hope it does that too.
As someone who is highly agreeable, it's uncomfortable to intervene in this direct way. I'm painting the end-of-the-road picture because I believe the contrast between where we began and where we are going is one powerful tool to shake us loose from our delusions and deceptions.
Extreme sides of the spectrum help us see more clearly.
I'm a consequence of Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. I want the Republican party to see me, as a casualty, so they will change.
While there may be opportunities in the future to collaborate with Republicans, I won’t collude.
This is a letter to remind myself because when the chaos escalates I’m going to forget. If 2020 had not happened, it's possible I would have voted for Trump. But that year reminded me why I should not. And to be clear, it was because I was reminded of Trump's selfishness, deception, and trail of broken relationships.
Republicans are abdicating their responsibility to a five-year-old-acting tyrant. They can’t say no to their screaming child so they give him everything he wants. If I did this with my kids, our home, school, and community would be a nightmare for all who interact with them.
The root problem here is not Trump. He's the symptom of the problem; most Republican voters want what Trump is giving them. This must be dealt with. Our Legal system is taking this problem seriously since it’s been abdicated in the political sphere.
Trump showed remorse in his apology after the locker room talk video. But otherwise, he has chronically and utterly failed to acknowledge or demonstrate remorse for any of his wrongdoings since. Salacious conjecture, selfish ambition at the cost of others, and the way he treats people and talks about them are wrong. Trump is the epitome of selfishness, name-calling, and essentially all behaviors that my 5-year-old kids have demonstrated, but in an old man with followers and power.
Republicans, you are alienating the people who value character and you are making domestic terrorists at home in your party. Is that the future you want?
It’s time to tell Trump No. and it’s time to tell his loyalists, and particularly his domestic terrorists, No! And you must do it virtuously and without tribal moralism (bad for you to do it, not for me). This gives us the moral authority to face other issues in our society.
The Hershel Walker episode in Georgia was another bizarre moment of Republican hypocrisy; Republicans supported a candidate who was against abortion but paid his girlfriend to get one. Bethel McGrew nails the point home in her article from 2022.
"[Republicans] should consider carefully what it would mean for Walker to win his seat while still cynically whistling past his own child’s graveyard. Winning hearts and minds is not a substitute for strong pro-life legislation. But neither is legislation a substitute for winning hearts and minds. Do conservatives want to be known as the people who believe in something, or not? Do we want to be known as the people who hold our leaders accountable, or not? And even for Walker’s own sake, if we believe in such things as souls, then how is this not enabling the further corruption of his soul, by rewarding lies with a Senate seat? Which is a greater evil: That an already hopelessly corrupt man gain power, or that a man who might yet be saved from full corruption gain power?"
Trump's carte blanche supporters are what give him his power. He is a projection of themselves; their desires, fears, and contempt. A symptom of a rot in their hearts. Letting the rot grow hurts people. Virtuously saying no gives us a chance to heal. But we can't skirt around the issue and sneakily move on. We have to face and acknowledge it.
Once Republicans acknowledge their problem and defeat Trump, then we need to have another conversation about how we got here, how we prevent threats of tyranny from happening again, and what we’re going to do to rectify the root societal corrosion.
So, What’s Courage Look Like?
In the Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he describes the one person the interrogators feared.
Here’s what that person believed.
"'From today on, my body is useless and alien to me. Only my spirit and my conscience remain precious and important to me."
Confronted by such a prisoner, the interrogator will tremble. Only the man who has renounced everything can win that victory
'But I am not afraid of anything. I would be glad to be judged by God right this minute.'"
Christians should lead the way out of hell instead of towards it.
Christian Republicans Will Have Regrets. Start Making Amends Now
“Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Our goodness degenerates when we choose evil and when evil affects us. We can slow down our corruption and we can bolster our morals up on an anti-evil foundation. But on our own, we cannot build our goodness on a regenerating for-good foundation. And thus, Christians have steadily degenerated, becoming that which they despise, often while thinking they are good.
"we live in a world of chaos, death, and disorder. The authors of the Bible use a common ancient image to depict to this reality; the sea dragon. In the story of the Bible, humans are deceived and align themselves with the power of chaos and death. And when they do, they become themselves, sea dragons; snaky monsters."
You are becoming the monster you are fighting against. In 5 or 10 years, when you are talking with a nonbeliever or someone of another religion about Jesus, you'll discover why your ultimate allegiance to Trump was a mistake.
On all the occasions I've maintained relationships with toxic narcissists I've been left with horrible endings. I thought I could navigate the red flags. I thought these people would shortcut me getting what I wanted. But ultimately, my effort to grab the cheese only ensnared me in the trap. As a Christian, I have deep regrets about what I said about people, how I treated them, and the things I did.
This is what happens when we play with sin instead of seeing and dealing with it directly and fiercely.
"You may talk about the lofty virtues of human nature, but there is something in human nature that will mockingly laugh in the face of every principle you have. If you refuse to agree with the fact that there is wickedness and selfishness, something downright hateful and wrong, in human beings, when it attacks your life, instead of reconciling yourself to it, you will compromise with it and say that it is of no use to battle against it."
"I wish the church was known more for their sweat and tears on behalf of their communities rather than even their political positions. I'm not one who believes that we need to divorce ourselves from the political arena but neither do I believe we should be sacrificing eternal impact for short-term political gains. I believe God wants to work through the church to influence our communities, but also to influence the bastions of power in our nation. The influence has to be earned and its earned through the sweat and tears on behalf of our communities."
The Road to Hell: Discarded or Radicalized
If you're not actively having conversations with Democrats, you'll likely be startled (if you're not mocking them) to think that from their perspective, Republicans are moving towards fascism. And they're concerned, as they should be because Republicans are putting more meat on the bones of their arguments.
There are historical precedents for the type of behavior we are witnessing in the Republican party that ends up in dark places. Perhaps that won't happen here, but for many, it certainly feels as if it is moving in that direction.
And if it doesn’t happen, it won’t be because people are unwilling or didn’t try, but because we have a strong enough constitution, institutions, and population to prevent it from happening. Enough people from both sides will need to choose to do the right thing.
And, consider the practical reality that’s likely to follow your choice to go to hell. Many Christians supporting Trump (as well as how they are supporting him) are blind to their potential future. After Christian Republicans are no longer needed, they’ll be discarded by Trump and his loyalists (just look at what happens to those who leave the loyalty circle of Trump or how Trump has mocked Christians behind closed doors).
Here’s a historical parallel in its worst and most extreme form.
“Hitler, who in 1928 had loudly proclaimed his movement to be Christian, had come to regard Christianity with active hostility. Its morality, its concern for the weak, he had always viewed as cowardly and shameful... By 1937, then, Hitler had begun to envisage the elimination of Christianity once and for all. The objections of church leaders to the state's ongoing sterilisation of idiots and cripples infuriated him.“
Trump isn’t Hitler, but Trump's domestic terrorists are moving in that direction (did you see, alongside a cross, the gallows and the Camp Auschwitz shirt at the January 6th insurrection?). The extremes may not always be a realistic expectation of our future, but they help us sober up to the possibilities so that if it is a possibility, at any level big or small, we can swiftly recognize and address it.
Last year, I finished reading a book called A World After Liberalism: Philosophers of the Radical Right (affiliate link). I wanted to understand the far right’s ideology and to my surprise, I not only came to understand it, I also shocking realized how seductive it was.
“Almost everything written about the "alternative right" has been wrong in one respect. The alt-right is not stupid; it is deep. Its ideas are not ridiculous; they are serious.“
As an outspoken Christian, I’ve been aware of and engaged with the critiques of Christianity from progressive liberals. But it wasn’t until I read this book that I got a deep dive into the critiques of Christianity from the radical right. It was disturbing. You can listen to an interview with the author here, and read a summary article of the book here.
Not only does the radical right despise Christianity, but it also provides an alternative religious foundation oriented toward human supremacy, usually grounded in racist hatred.
“The alt-right purports to defend the group interests of white people, who it believes are the compliant victims of a century-long swindle by liberal morality.”
“The United States is in the midst of a major transition from a country whose population is majority white to a country whose population will be majority non-white. The United States will be the first country to go through this, but others are going to follow. Canada is likely to be next.”
“… do not be deceived. Behind its online tantrums and personal attacks are arguments of seductive power. The alt-right entices through an appeal for fairness (an ideal it otherwise questions) and a rejection of double standards (a tactic it otherwise condones). It complains that identity politics is a weapon used to protect and celebrate certain groups, and to deconstruct and demean others.“
“They appeal to Spengler's fear that Western culture, having once possessed the strength to shape Christianity in its own image, has slowly succumbed to its egalitarianism. They share Evola's hope of a postliberal order that will restore the archaic basis of social life. They invoke Yockey's belief that critical rationality has been smuggled into the soul of American culture by biblical religion. They echo Benoist's claim that Christian monotheism alienates believers from nature and history. And they rally to Francis's call to build a political movement that dispenses with the false consolations of faith. Their arguments amount to a serious critique of Christianity…“
Encountering this deeply rooted set of ideologies was startling. As was the additional insight from Rose, earlier in the book.
In 2016, and because of Trump, Rush Limbaugh took a turn into this new ideology (as did the Republican Party). It was a shift away from what Rush spent his career defending. In a January 20th, 2016 monologue Limbaugh concluded with the following.
“Nationalism and populism, not free market orthodoxy, are the heart of the Republican Party and it’s most viable path to electoral success.”
He’s essentially saying Republicans can no longer win using their traditional ideas so they have to tap into emotions and a form of collectivism. He gave up his ideals as opposed to giving up power.
Limbaugh would be given the Medal of Freedom by Trump at the 2020 State of the Union, just a few months prior to the pandemic breaking out in America. A year later, and weeks before his death, Limbaugh dismissed calls to end the Jan 6 violence from fellow Republicans perpetuating several lies in the process. And so, Rush and the Republican Party boarded a dark train into hell.
This reminds me of another quote from Barbara F. Walter’s Civil War Ted Talk.
"The people who tend to start civil wars, especially ethnically-based civil wars, are the groups that had once been politically dominant but are in decline.”
Rush never got off the train to hell. But, at every moment we can all choose to get off and help others do the same. It’s not too late.
I shared that quote above from Trump about not losing voters if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue because the way totalitarianism works is that what the totalitarian leader says is true, is made true. If it’s not true, the followers make it true.
So we all have a choice. Accept Trump’s lies and make them true (building our society around the lie) or reject the lie and push towards truth and against corrupt power, wherever it may be found (inside us, in our group, or outside of our group).
On that note, I will leave you with Hannah Arendt’s words from the Origin of Totalitarianism.
“…totalitarian propaganda methods, is foolproof only after the movements have seized power. Then all debate about the truth or falsity of a totalitarian dictator's prediction is as weird as arguing with a potential murderer about whether his future victim is dead or alive-since by killing the person in question the murderer can promptly provide proof of the correctness of his statement. The only valid argument under such conditions is promptly to rescue the person whose death is predicted. Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it. The assertion that the Moscow subway is the only one in the world is a lie only so long as the Bolsheviks have not the power to destroy all the others. In other words, the method of infallible prediction, more than any other totalitarian propaganda device, betrays its ultimate goal of world conquest, since only in a world completely under his control could the totalitarian ruler possibly realize all his lies and make true all his prophecies.”
- Upcarta Thread: My Take on What's Wrong With Our Society
- Resources: Did Trump Win the 2020 Presidential Election By A Large Margin?
- Listen: The Election Nobody Asked For (The Dispatch Podcast)
- Listen: A Crisis Is Coming (The Commentary Magazine Podcast)
- Abortions Have Increased Significantly Since Roe v. Wade Was Overturned
- Listen: The GOP Flirts With Civil War (The Dispatch Podcast)
- Read: Jan. 6 Convict Tells the Truth About Trump: He’s a Cult Boss
- Read: Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis turns on ‘malignant narcissist’ ex-president