There is an extremely interesting article over on Politico this week, Never Trumpers Will Want to Read This History Lesson by Joshua Zeitz. In it, Zeitz argues that Never-Trumpers, the honorable Republicans who find themselves walking away from the GOP rather than give aid and comfort to the criminal organization it has become, may be in for a pleasant surprise. He says that they most closely resemble the Democrats of the 1850s who became so disgusted with their Party’s domination by Southern slave masters that they found themselves joining the newly formed Republican Party.
It wasn’t easy for them, says Zeitz. But, to their amazement, they found they had common cause with equally distressed Whigs. More, they found they could now think and act in new and more creative ways. “In the process of abandoning their party allegiance, most Democrats-turned-Republicans disenthralled themselves from political prejudices that no longer made much sense,” he notes. “In Congress, they avidly supported distinctly Whiggish policies like the Homestead Act, the Land-Grant Agricultural and Mechanical College Act and the Pacific Railroad Acts, all of which established a foundation for the country’s post-war economic growth. On some level, the war catalyzed this political realignment. But something equally fundamental may also have been at play: Having concluded that their former Whig enemies shared their fundamental commitment to the good of the nation, ex-Democrats freed themselves to imagine a larger space for political collaboration.”
The Never Trumpers, he says, may find similar relief in the Democratic Party. They may be able to think of new ways of addressing our social problems, and challenge existing Democrats to examine their own dogmas critically.
If so, then it would be a very good thing, indeed. Let’s just hope that it won’t take another Civil War to do it.