Ever since I stopped being a Republican–back in May, 2016, when it became clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee–whenever anyone asked me about my politics, I told them that I am a “right-of-center libertarian pragmatist.”
I continue to hold to that description, and to right-of-center libertarian/classical liberal principles. But the older I get, the more pragmatic I am as well, and pragmatism is most certainly a political philosophy, right along with libertarianism/classical liberalism. And pragmatism demands–among other things–that when I make political choices, those choices should be governed not just by ideological/philosophical/policy considerations, but also by the consideration of whether my choices will cause me to be allied with decent and competent people, or clownish a**holes.
I disagree with Joe Biden and the Democrats on a host of policy issues. But the Democratic party has about as many decent and competent people as the Republican party has clownish a**holes. And the Republican party has LOTS of clownish a**holes.
And even if we put personnel aside, and ignore the fact that personnel IS policy, what precisely does the Republican party have to offer libertarians/classical liberals like me? More protectionism? More immigration restrictions and the demeaning of immigrants who truly made America great–immigrants like my own immigrant family? Separating parents from their children? Massive amounts of pre-pandemic deficit spending that put this country in a truly terrible fiscal situation? Tax cuts for an exceedingly tiny portion of the population that did nothing whatsoever to help bring about long term economic growth? Epic levels of corruption, indecency, incompetence, laziness, theft from the national coffers, and an undermining of national security on an extraordinary and frightening scale? The truly mind-boggling mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis? Assaults on democratic institutions, free elections and democracy itself?
How did any part of this parade of horribles make libertarians/classical liberals happy with the Trump administration? How will it make libertarians/classical liberals happy with a Republican party that promises to continue these awful policies? And why on earth should I celebrate such a despicable policy platform?
I recognize that my resolute and continued adherence to a policy of not associating with clownish a**holes means that I might have to accept compromises on other policy issues. I am fine with that. Making my politics clownish a**hole-free has helped me sleep well at night.
And I am in no mood to introduce insomnia into my life. I’ll look forward to the day when I can make political common cause with people who share my beliefs AND would make nice neighbors as well–independent of any political considerations.
Until that day, I intend to continue taking the measure of people, as surely as I will continue to take the measure of policies. Maybe at the end of the Biden presidency, I will find that I have been a fair-weather critic and a foul-weather friend of the 46th president of the United States.
So be it. I can think of worse outcomes.