Brugger: Does the end justify the means? | Columnists
Republicans who do not openly and loudly oppose Janice McGeachin and Trumpism are guilty of winking at the system of ethics, even moral values, they claim to cherish. In fact, they often accuse Democrats of getting rid of those same moral values.
Here in Idaho, we have a local group of Trump cronies who exemplify the National Republican Party. I shudder to think of how they would rule. Gun control? They would have us all bear arms to give deadly weight to our claims. Religious freedom? It seems that they favor the public sponsorship of fundamentalist Christianity. Education? Just the basics and professional skills, please. Forget critical thinking and “elite” scholarships paid for with taxpayers’ money. Statutory right? While the regulation of professions seems inconvenient when complying with it, it is necessary quality controls that ensure consumer confidence. They would remove the regulations.
Being silent on the alt-right gives the appearance of approval. Why wouldn’t reasonable Republicans issue them a stronger challenge? They are guilty of ignoring the evil means to achieve the end goals they traditionally prioritize. They say the end justifies the means.
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I remember being appalled when Hillary Clinton answered a question about Bill’s sexual misconduct while he was Governor of Arkansas. She said it was so important for her husband to become president that she fired them. She believed that the end justified the means.
Can it be so essential that typical Republican political positions dominate that it is permissible to support a totalitarian cult of personality rather than the traditional American ideal of political give and take? Do they think the alt-right and extreme libertarianism will stop at moderation?
Trump’s political popularity comes from a well-conceived illusion of unlimited power. Steve Bannon helped Trump create a pseudo-reality in which any opposition to the alt-right is delusional. Fake news and malevolence characterize their opposition. The world is currently firmly aligned against the leader of a nation using the same power playbook.
Politics, of course, is about making decisions based on some degree of power. In everyday life, we prefer the least brutal application of force possible. Using crushing tactics on a minority produces resentment, anger and retaliation. A collaborative political strategy is effective in maintaining peace.
The motivation within the alt-right is resentment. The point of view is that others have taken something from them and they want it back. A drawback of their position is that there is no common goal other than freedom. Without action against vaccines and masks, they form a group without a common cause.
There is also always the need for power. The strength of our country has been that power has traditionally oscillated between conservatism and liberalism, but has never been absolute. When a person or a group acts from a place of resentment, crushing the adversary becomes the goal.
Abandoning the idea that the end justifies the means is risky. The Democrats faced a similar situation in the sixties, and Richard Nixon reshaped the Republicans to win. But the extreme left has been brought under control. Our government will never be perfect, but our Constitution contains everything we need to peacefully work toward a balance.
Idaho is in a unique position. Our elected officials within our state, our candidates in the November elections, and our congressional delegation have the power to significantly weaken the alt-right through ethical means. They can openly oppose Trump and his strategies. They can oppose his sympathizers in Idaho. This election year, they can make it the cornerstone of their campaigns and actions. They will still have the power to pursue their traditional agenda, but they will not have to back down because they will remain silent about the dangers of the alt-right.
Linda Brugger, retired Air Force Reserve, Democratic leaning and community activist can be reached at [email protected]