Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Today, on the eve of the midterms, I remember the late Jim Jeffords, U.S. Senator from Vermont, who in October 2001 defected from the Republican party to register as an Independent. The decision shifted control of the Senate to the Democrats for 18 months of George W. Bush’s presidency, until Jim Talent (R-MO) won a special election that reverted control back to the GOP.
Jeffords was clear in his announcement that he found his more moderate-to-liberal views increasingly out of step with the party he’d spent his career in, and that among his final straws were the size of the Bush tax cuts and his Republicans colleagues’ refusal to fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. He advocated for LGBT persons to have equal rights in the workplace and in the military, environmental protections, the assault weapons ban, and other positions that would have him labeled a radical leftist by Fox News today. He supported the attempts at a national healthcare system in the 1990s and, himself the son of a chief justice on Vermont’s Supreme Court, was one of only two Republicans who refused to confirm Clarence Thomas to the SCOTUS. One can only imagine how repulsed he would have been by Brett Kavanaugh’s performance throughout his hearing.
Jeffords’ move wasn’t motivated entirely by principle; after all, he was courted by Senate Democrats and received committee memberships or other concessions for agreeing to caucus with them. There were still moments that he voted with Republicans. Politics is ever thus; deals have to be made and compromises struck, and not all of them are cast in noble aims.
But when I say to you that there is not a single Republican worth supporting for high office this year it’s because Jeffords was one of the last of a dying breed when he retired in 2007, and the extinction event that claimed others like him has reached culmination, leaving behind only scavengers and devastation within the GOP ecosystem. There are no moderates remaining worthy of even a moment’s consideration. Those who have been labeled moderates have still agreed to remain Republicans and to support this cabal’s agenda regardless of any personal statements expressing concern about the tone, tenor, or tactics of their president; regardless of the evident far-right tilt their party has taken and the violence being done by the people they cavalierly empowered.
There is no Republican now in power or running for office who has not been infused, saturated, and branded with Trump’s moral failings or his savage modes of governance. If they didn’t wish to be, they’d have stopped being Republicans a long time ago.
All of them.