I know a large number of active and dedicated Republicans. Many of these people also happen to be educated, thoughtful and intelligent.
They know things about American history. They know things like the reasons for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They know things like how a bill becomes a law.
Like I said, these people are smart.
Too often partisan differences get defined by one side, or the other or both as the problem being those stupid people in the opposition. Republicans have gotten comfortable calling many in the Democrat party the “intellectual elite.” I am intellectual enough to understand what they mean when they say it, and they often have a point.
But how do the intellectual Republicans cope with the leader of their own party these days? It is hard for intelligent folks to follow the lead of someone who clearly isn’t. That struggle occurs for many every day in the workplace, the classroom, the playground, and even within the family. We have all been there. Sometimes it is hard for the followers to follow when the leader is so, well, wrong.
In this way, Donald Trump is making life way too hard for my smart Republican friends. How do my Ivy League pals cope with the president not knowing much about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War? Not everyone is a presidential history buff, but most presidents are. I realize there are plenty among us who could not care less if our head of state knows much about nineteenth century American history and politics. Most Americans don’t know much about it either.
But it’s worse than just that. During the interview in which he announced his ignorance of what occurred in the war between the states, he also proclaimed his supremeness by implying America could have avoided the war altogether had he, or someone like him, been around.
Smart people do not appreciate those who are clearly not smart proclaiming their smartness. I have spent my career in government and politics so I see this phenomenon occur with some regularity. Though rarely with this sort of intensity.
Next, President Trump added a great addendum to his “F” in American history by announcing his lack of understanding about the reason for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In keeping with a now identifiable pattern, he went on to commit to resolving this mysterious conflict by assuring the world he would “get it done.”
That should calm everyone.
I have seen conflicts get resolved by third parties who did not know or care what the conflict entailed. I normally refer to that as “parenting,” and not “diplomacy.” I was great at the former. My dad trained me well. He was the father of seven. His dispute resolution tack usually ended with the old man saying “…or I will give you something to cry about.”
Who knew Middle East peace could be so simple?
I am convinced that the brainy Republicans who are my friends, fueled with their understandable embarrassment by this repeating form of stupidity, are the key to recovery. Maybe they can train him. Maybe they can keep this from becoming normal. He is the entire nation’s leader, but he is their political leader, and therefore only they are positioned to effectively intervene.
In the end, leaders are only as good as the people who follow them. And most Republicans I know are now better than their leader.
And then came the healthcare vote.
While his basic American ignorance is worrisome, none of it compares to his handling of the top domestic issue we collectively face. The House passed the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) on a 217-213 vote on Thursday. It is the passage of a bill in the first of two chambers in congress. It contains a policy that will not even be considered by the U.S. Senate. In legislative speak, this is affectionately known as “dead on arrival.” That is important.
It’s important because a House vote on a bill that is DOA in the Senate is no cause for a White House Rose Garden party. But the party raged on anyway, with Trump declaring the day as the official death of the sinister Obamacare. It looked like a rocking good time too. Who wouldn’t want to go to a Rose Garden with a gaggle full of men wearing the same suit, all of whom are nervously pretending to have won the big game before the second half has even started?
We are counting on the real GOP braintrust here. In this case it wouldn’t be bad for you to be called intellectually elite. Because America needs you to start acting a little like you are.