Introducing Republican Voters Against Trump, the Lincoln Project, 43 Alumni for Biden, Right Side PAC & the Bravery Project

Vote! It Does Makes a Difference!

Casting a vote can have both/either symbolic and/or pragmatic effects.

Optimally, a vote would be both symbolic and pragmatic, not only sending a signal but contributing to practical outcomes.

One may vote pragmatically with an aim of influencing one or more practical outcomes. Generally, the greater the gravity of a particular issue, morally and practically, the more one may feel justified in being a single-issue voter.

Because voting involves prudential judgments, generally, it can be eminently defensible however one chooses to cast one’s vote, whether symbolically, pragmatically or focused on a single issue. (Roman Catholics should be especially attentive here, as any given POTUS vote that doesn’t formally cooperate with evil is not likely to constitute anything other than an extremely remote form of material cooperation. This is because the causal chain between a given POTUS vote and individual evil acts is so very tenuous and such acts are so highly contingent).

Symbolic votes can help shape conversations as a means of conveying one’s prophetic witness for or protest against competing interests or stances. More often, perhaps, they’ll be cast with an aim to more so influence future outcomes, less so with any real hope regarding immediate efficacies.

Pragmatic votes, of course, can be aimed toward immediate outcomes, whether avoiding clear and present dangers or advancing particular goals, whether incrementally and cumulatively over time or with immediate effect.

Nowadays, it often seems that, when it comes to choosing between various candidates, voters feel as if they’re faced with a choice among the lesser of evils. Rather than embracing candidates because of personality strengths, character traits, specific competencies or even particular political postures, voters are otherwise only really hoping to empower what might ensue vis a vis executive administrative teams, legislative agendas and/or judiciary selections.

So, another voting distinction, in addition to voting symbolically, pragmatically, single-issuedly or strategically (whether aimed at outcomes over time or more immediately), is that of supporting a party or coalition’s ticket or even entire slate – not BECAUSE of, but – IN SPITE of their nominees.

Prudential judgments and political strategies can vary widely, even among those who largely agree regarding the morality of any given reality. For example, take that most contentious of issues – abortion. Two voters can aspire to precisely the same practical outcome, let’s say in this example, of immediately reducing the number of abortions and ultimately eliminating them, yet disagree strategically regarding how to best realize that outcome? Specifically, voters can disagree regarding – not only the relative likelihoods, but – the past or future (in)efficacies of court-packing, judicial strategies, overturning Roe, criminalization, birth control health coverage, etc Now, surely, most can conceive of how two voters, both of large intelligence and profound goodwill, can navigate the very same constellation of facts and putative counterfactuals, can probabilistically project the very same array of un/likely outcomes and, yet, prudentially arrive at different conclusions regarding the most (counter)productive strategies – politically, legally and practically?

Another dynamic that regrettably pollutes political discourse is all or nothing and either-or rhetoric. Again, we should be thinking more so in terms of least and most likely outcomes, less so in terms of worst and best case scenarios. After all, it’s not as if minority positions are politically impotent, especially in a federal polity designed specifically to thwart the tyranny of the majority?

To wit:

Regarding the economy, it’s not as if a long-established regulated capitalism is in jeopardy of becoming even a Western European Democratic Socialism, much less a totalitarian socialism or communism. This is not to deny that some political rhetoric focuses way too much on dividing up the golden eggs, while so much is otherwise over-concerned with nurturing the golden goose. It’s only to recognize that the most likely case scenarios, based on the country’s historical political give and take, don’t justify the prevailing political hyperbole, e.g. that we’re on a slippery slope to communism.

Regarding taxation, by consensus the tax tables have generally been progressive, only differing in terms of degrees, where marginal rates vary. Those rates will need to be raised and to become less regressive in order to dig ourselves out of the massive deficits and debts incurred by this administration, some unavoidably and some most imprudently.

Regarding healthcare, there’s little chance of a wholly socialized approach with single-payer and single-provider, much more likely a public option along side private alternatives.

On and on, whether regarding crime & punishment, war & peace, policing & the military, energy & the environment, the 1st & 2nd Amendments, immigration, voting, safety nets, etc. While the range of policy choices can certainly be wide, historically, the range of policy outcomes has inevitably been narrower, the pace of change more incremental and never as apocalyptic as hysterically portrayed by our country’s ideologues, right and left! Such people facilely & cynically misapply epithets to all who stray from their narrowly conceived policy prescriptions, even to those who otherwise share the very same moral stances and societal aspirations! They casually toss around labels like baby killers, warmongers, communists, and on and on and on. Enough!

As a general rule, the saner voices of dissent regarding a given politico likely will be those from within one’s party, the more serious forms of critique likely will be those from within a candidate’s inner circle of most senior advisers.

In 2020, those most serious forms of critique come from a growing list of Trump advisers turned detractors, which is striking in “its size, the seniority of its members and the vehemence of their critiques” and whose “proximity to Trump has brought a devastating level of detail and credibility to their appraisals of his tenure.” [1]

To wit:

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who calls Trump a “f….ing moron.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis who said Trump “tries to divide us.”

Former Chief of Staff John Kelly called Trump “an idiot” and said “I think we need to look harder at who we elect.”

Former National Economic Policy Council head Gary Cohn who said Trump “was a professional liar.”

Former Trump Alt-Right advisor Steve Bannon said Trump “is like an eleven-year-old child.”

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton stated “I don’t think he’s fit for office.”

While space doesn’t permit, the snippets, above, from those senior advisors, are emblematic of stances they’ve expressed and documented more at length in interviews, books & elsewhere. And they aren’t inconsistent with the concerns previously expressed by 50 senior Republican national security officials in 2016, which they’ve reiterated and expanded for 2020. Nor is it inconsistent with that mountain of evidence as has gushed forth for over a thousand days from all manner of sources, including news cycles, POTUS Twitter feeds, transcripts of Congressional testimony, etc, although others may reasonably interpret it differently than I. Those stances, in my view, have been credibly, diligently & dutifully set forth in Bolton’s book. McMaster’s book will be released in September. Finally, while requiring a more critical eye and some degree of skepticism, Michael Cohen’s book should not be cursorily dismissed. After all, why would he risk libel and defamation suits from his extremely litigious ex-boss, if he did not believe he could prevail on the merits regarding the veracity of the book’s claims?

Update:

Thu, September 24, 2020

More than 200 retired generals, admirals endorse Biden, including some who served under Trump

In 2020, such voices of dissent certainly include RVAT, the Lincoln Project, 43 Alumni for Biden, Right Side PAC and the Bravery Project.

To wit:

RVAT

Republican Voters Against Trump

These are Republicans, former Republicans, conservatives, and former Trump voters who can’t support Trump for president this fall.

Lincoln Project
https://lincolnproject.us/

We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party.

Right Side PAC
https://ballotpedia.org/Right_Side_PAC

Right Side PAC was formed by Matt Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, and Anthony Scaramucci, who served as Trump’s White House communications director. Borges said the group was a complement to the Lincoln Project, another super PAC formed by anti-Trump Republicans. Scaramucci said that he was “very confident that we can convince a large group of Republican voters that Biden is the right person to vote for if they want to stay true to their principles and to the legacy of the Republican Party.”

43 Alumni for Biden

43 Alumni for Joe Biden

Principles matter more than politics. That’s why we, a group of alumni who served President Bush, and other Republican presidents, governors, and Members of Congress, support Joe Biden for President.

Bravery Project

About Us

We’re conservatives and Independents standing up and choosing to be brave by publicly declaring that Donald Trump and his enablers don’t represent us–that Trumpism is destroying this country.

August 31, 2020 Update

Biden’s GOP endorsements show cracks in Trump’s coalition as a steady stream of GOP endorsements this year for Biden — highlighted by the early emergence of The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, two groups trying to peel away GOP voters from the President — has surged into a torrent over the past two weeks.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/01/politics/us-election-biden-gop-endorsements/index.html

Conclusion:

I get that there will be many intelligent, goodwilled people who will vote for the 2020 GOP ticket IN SPITE OF Trump, whether symbolically, pragmatically or single-issuedly. And they won’t share the degree of concern that those dissident former advisers have instilled in me, perhaps not finding them as credible as I do.

I also reckon there will be some people who will vote GOP “because” of who Trump is but am not willing to generalize about either their intelligence or goodwill, as that would require a case by case analysis (which would admittedly be animated by an enormous degree of curiosity & incredulity).

I’m just here to suggest that persons of equal intelligence and similar goodwill can, in an eminently defensible manner, vote for the 2020 Democratic ticket IN SPITE OF Biden. And, I’ve no quarrels, generally, with those voting Democratic “because” of who Biden is, although that invites nuance and qualification beyond our present scope.

When it comes to risk-reward calculations and tradeoffs, however one imagines a person or a nation might best thrive, one is obliged to first ensure that this person or nation survives?

Some justified their 2016 vote for Trump based on the rewarding prospect of stacking the judiciary, suggesting that any risks attendant to his occupying the Oval Office would otherwise be mitigated by him being surrounded by adults. On one hand, that gamble has most assuredly paid off in terms of a substantially reshaped judiciary. On the other hand, the adults have left the building – McMasters, Bolton, Tillerson, Mattis & Kelly and more! Scores of other GOP faithful, including Romney, have issued warnings.

In 2016, 50 senior Republican national security officials issued a letter stating “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.” Here is what they had to say:

quote: The undersigned individuals have all served in senior national security and/or foreign policy positions in Republican Administrations, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. We have worked directly on national security issues with these Republican Presidents and/or their principal advisers during wartime and other periods of crisis, through successes and failures. We know the personal qualities required of a President of the United States.

None of us will vote for Donald Trump.

From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.

Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.
In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign affairs and “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”

Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President. In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust.

In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commanderin-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. end quote

Again, when it comes to risk-reward calculations and tradeoffs, however one imagines a person or a nation might best “thrive,” one is obliged to first ensure that this person or nation SURVIVES.

Serious people of large intelligence and profound goodwill, who have been in a much better position to know this, are telling us that Trump as POTUS poses a grave existential threat to – not only our Constitution, but – the planet, itself, by way of his command of our nuclear arsenal.

If that was all less obvious in 2016, in my view, it’s more so in 2020.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell did not sign the 2016 letter, above, from national security officials opposing Trump, but since then, Powell has made his disapproval of the President clear. Most recently, Powell pledged his support for Biden in 2020, calling Trump a liar and saying Trump is bad for the country. [2]

For more than 40 years George F. Will has been a leader of conservative political thought. Will won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977, was a contributor for Fox News from 2013-2017: “The president’s provocations — his coarsening of public discourse that lowers the threshold for acting out by people as mentally crippled as he — do not excuse the violent few. They must be punished. He must be removed.” [3]

Please vote Biden in November, as if your life depended on him getting elected.

Citations

[1] Josh Wingrove https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-24/from-bolton-to-mattis-trump-faces-aides-turned-adversaries?srnd=markets-vp

[2] Mariam Morshedi https://www.subscriptlaw.com/blog/conservative-voices-against-trump

[3] ibid

Reflections Regarding Political Discourse

Although I’m independent, that’s just my temperament. I really like our two-party system & I truly welcome such discourse, especially that of family & friends, even when I don’t feel like contributing.

In some cases, our parties should be collaborative. In some, though, they best be competitive. Such collaboration, competition & criticism generally fosters better outcomes.

I choose to focus on WHY my family & friends vote this way or that. I honestly cannot recall any such WHYs that I would find either objectionable or wholly unreasonable.

The likelihood that such votes will produce the outcomes each voter desires (or fears) is an entirely different question. In retrospect, I’ve been so wrong about that often enough over the decades that it tempers how much confidence I invest in my own inclinations (or against others’).

It’s true that some retweets & shares might display various types & degrees of crassness, stereotyping & oversimplification, but I haven’t seen cruelty or hatred in my (admittedly pruned) social feeds. I don’t let inartful moments become defining moments for my family & friends, especially when they are in no way reinforcing moments regarding people I’ve knowned & cherished, many since childhood! That’s some insurance that it won’t be done unto me, either.

And, by default, I choose to charitably interpret all tweets & posts from family & friends as truly aspirational expressions or as deeply felt voices of prophetic protest, which is to say that, while virtue twerking exists, we’re in no position, in principle, since we shouldn’t judge, to know if that’s what’s going on in any particular person’s motives.

re the crassness, stereotyping & oversimplification, most commonly it presents in the form of all or nothing and either-or thinking for realities that otherwise present in degrees, also in sweeping over-generalizations wholly lacking nuance and, sadly, in superficial interpretations that mischaracterize situations & caricature persons but which could’ve been clarified or corrected by digging just a little deeper & fact checking. So, when I use the characterization of “not wholly unreasonable” or inartful, that only means I resist judging others’ hearts. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily congratulate them for using their good heads well. Honestly, there’s not sufficient time in a day to provide fact checked corrections to the amount of garbage that populates even my pruned social feeds.

Among the most crass expressions are those that indiscriminately apply the term murderers to all sorts of persons in abortion debates. Over-against such discourse consider:

Trump ‘is so much anti-life,’ Kentucky Catholic bishop says in abortion discussion

“For this president to call himself pro-life, and for anybody to back him because of claims of being pro-life, is almost willful ignorance. He is so much anti-life because he is only concerned about himself, and he gives us every, every, every indication of that.”

Bishop John Stowe,
Diocese of Lexington

https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article244796347.html

Well, one can concede Trump’s not truly pro-life, yet still feel his judicial appointments might advance the cause.
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Why we shouldn’t call women who’ve had abortions murderers

Why We Shouldn’t Call Women Who’ve Had Abortions “Murderers”

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On March 27, Tommy Scholtes, the spokesperson for the Belgian Episcopal Conference, condemned the professor, calling his words a “caricature” of Church teaching.

“The word ‘murder’ is too strong,” he insisted. “It presupposes violence, an act committed in the consciousness, with an intention, and that does not take into account the situation of the people, often in the greatest distress.”

“Such formulas do not really help the Church, particularly in the context of the Pope’s call for life,” Scholtes continues. “For, on the other hand, respect for life remains, of course, at the center of the doctrine. But the Pope also calls for mercy: We must show understanding, compassion.”

BELGIAN BISHOPS REFUSE TO CALL ABORTION MURDER

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Calling abortion murder invites violence

Calling abortion murder invites violence

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Conservatives Call for Civility, But Claim Democrats Want to Murder Babies

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/civility-later-abortion-republicans/

Many Dems share the goal of reducing the abortion rate & numbers with an aim toward eliminating any need for same but cite evidence that criminalization doesn’t work, is counterproductive & becoming increasingly unenforceable (hence bad law). Calling them murderers offends charity, incites violence & departs from the truth, i.e. it’s a lie, hence a defamation. There’s a difference between a moral stance and a prudential strategy re how to best realize an outcome.

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Abortion extremism will yield more laws like New York’s

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-catholic/abortion-extremism-will-yield-more-laws-new-yorks

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I don’t think abortion is murder, and neither do you

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/steve-chapman/ct-perspec-chapman-abortion-murder-williamson-homicide-0429-20180427-story.html

Those who suggest differentials in punishments for women vs providers are justified are being disingenuous & condescending toward women.

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We must never allow that woman to perceive the Pro-Life movement as a bunch of angry self-righteous Pharisees with stones in their hands, looking down on her and judging her.

Cardinal O’Malley

https://www.bostoncatholic.org/news/cardinal-sean-omalleys-pro-life-homily
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As for the practical implications of abortion votes:
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/08/18/biden-harris-abortion-2020-election

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/08/26/donald-trump-abortion-election-2020-pro-life

https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/do-pro-lifers-who-reject-trump-have

As for the facile correlations between city politics and crime:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/06/24/fact-check-linking-city-violence-democratic-politics-reach/3248102001/

Is President Trump Correct In Saying Democrat Mayors Run The Most Violent Cities?

My Personal Outlook

Worldview Default Biases

1) Theologically, my approach (default biases) is Incarnational.

Descriptively, a theory of Truth.

Hence, my socio-economic-politico-cultural vision embraces Christian humanism.

In our vital affairs & essential orientations, approaches are optimally traditionalist, while, in our speculative pursuits & accidental orientations, optimally, they’re boldly progressive, all governed by prudentially applied subsidiarity principles ordered toward a human dignity, recognized in the realizations of solidarity, compassion, humility, disinterestness, blessedness (objective beatitude or AMDG) & joy (subjective beatification).

Ergo, my default biases are

2) Philosophically, a pragmatic, semiotic realism.

Descriptively, a theory of Knowledge.

3) Socially – optimally, familial & suboptimally, NGOs.

Interpretively, ultimately an Ecclesiology & theory of Unity.

4) Culturally – pluralistic.

Evaluatively, ultimately a Soteriology & theory of Beauty.

5) Economically – optimally, communal & suboptimally, regulated capitalism.

Normatively, ultimately a Sacramentology & theory of Goodness.

6) Politically – optimally, anarchical & suboptimally, classically libertarian (as, alas, we are not angels).

Transcendentally, ultimately a Sophiology & theory of Freedom.