One of the senior voices in the conservative commentariat has now officially changed his party registration from “R” to unaffiliated. George Will, who writes for the Washington Post, told PJ Media this week that he has formally quit the GOP and become a man without a party. The reason, as I’m sure you could have guessed already, was Donald J. Trump.
Conservative columnist George Will told PJM he has officially left the Republican Party and urged conservatives not to support presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump even if it leads to a Democratic victory in the 2016 presidential election. Will, who writes for the Washington Post, acknowledged it is a “little too late” for the Republican Party to find a replacement for Trump but had a message for Republican voters.
“Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House,” Will said during an interview after his speech at a Federalist Society luncheon.
Will said he changed his voter registration this month from Republican to “unaffiliated” in the state of Maryland.
“This is not my party,” Will said during his speech at the event.
While I’m sure I’ve brought this up numerous times over the years, I’ll risk repeating myself by saying that George Will has always been something of an iconic figure to me. I’ve long respected and admired him for his wordsmithing skills which place him high on the list of writers from the past few generations. His mastery of the English language combined with the ability to hone his arguments to a razor edge come from an era when people truly cared about effective communication and the art of writing rather than raw reporting of facts or emotional outbursts.
If Will wishes to leave the party over the selection of a single presidential candidate in one election cycle, I obviously disagree with him, but it’s his choice to make. Not being registered with the party robs one of the ability to help select the next candidate, not to mention the rest of the down ticket options, but doesn’t bar you from voting for conservatives in the general election. That’s his prerogative and he can choose to live with the outcome.
But his reasons are scattershot and, to my way of thinking, rather childish. He cites Paul Ryan’s endorsement of the nominee as a driving factor in his decision, but as with most of Trump’s detractors, he can’t explain how someone else’s decision impacts his own conservatism or the power his voice carries in the debate which will continue long past the time when Trump leaves the public stage.
And what of the impact of helping elect Hillary Clinton as we “grit our teeth for four years,” as he puts it? What about the Supreme Court? He manages an answer for that question as well.
PJM asked Will about concerns among Republicans that a Hillary Clinton victory guarantees another liberal justice on the Supreme Court. In response, Will said a Republican president is not “the answer” to a conservative-leaning Supreme Court.
“Sure, but I’m also concerned with the fact that I do not really believe Republicans think clearly enough about what they really want in judges. Republicans have given us Earl Warren, Brennan, John Paul Stevens, Burger, who was kind of mediocre, Blackmun. Having a Republican president is not an answer in itself,” he said.
With all due respect to someone I have admired for a very long time, that’s got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard tumble out of George Will’s mouth. Because a handful of justices appointed by Republicans over the years have turned out to be disappointments, that’s a reason to suddenly allow Democrats to begin selecting them all? These are the arguments of an otherwise brilliant person who has allowed their personal hatred of one candidate to blind them to the larger picture.
Leave the party if you wish. The days of Trump as a factor in Republican politics will end, either with a loss in November or after his time in office if he prevails. The national debate over conservative versus liberal values will continue after all of us are in our graves. Unfortunately, the real damage in the short term will come from those who allow this single moment in electoral history to blind them to the long term objectives.