Michael Gerson used to write speeches for George W. Bush. For sixteen years, he has carried the Republican flag for George W. Bush and against Barack Obama. But he writes in the Washington Post that Americans of both parties should not vote for Donald Trump, a man who represents everything that is antithetical to American ideals:
His political theory, such as it is, is “us” vs. “them.” The “them” may be Republican elites, or liberal elites, or migrants or Mexicans or Muslims. Trump would be elected on the promise of fighting, rounding up, jailing or humbling any number of personal and political opponents. Take away this appeal, and there is nothing left but grasping, pathetic vanity.
What is most appalling about Trump is his monumental ignorance of how government works:
The single most frightening, anti-democratic phrase of modern presidential history came in Trump’s convention speech: “I alone can fix it.” A Trump victory would be a mandate for authoritarian politics. Trump’s ambitions would be bounded by strong legislative and legal institutions and by his own risible ignorance of real leadership. But a Trump administration would be a concession to the idea that America needs a little more China, a little more Russia, a little more “so let it be written, so let it be done” in its executive branch.
Now Republicans appear to be coming home to Trump. And, in the process, they are normalizing him:
It is almost beyond belief that Americans should bless and normalize Trump’s appeal. Normalize vindictiveness and prejudice. Normalize bragging about sexual assault and the objectification of women. Normalize conspiracy theories and the abandonment of reason. Normalize contempt for the vulnerable, including disabled people and refugees fleeing oppression. Normalize a political tone that dehumanizes opponents and excuses violence. Normalize an appeal to white identity in a nation where racial discord and conflict are always close to the surface. Normalize every shouted epithet, every cruel ethnic and religious stereotype, every act of bullying in the cause of American “greatness.”
Gerson refuses to come home. Integrity is not a Republican virtue. He is of a rare breed indeed.