The final Trumplican straw

It's come to this: Boycotting the Commission on Presidential Debates

I took this photo at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 2011.


(This is the opening essay from this week's edition of my Sunday Note, which is brought to you by Armory Square Ventures. See their message in this week's newsletter.)


I DON’T LIKE PUBLIC CONFRONTATIONS WITH FRIENDS. I prefer quiet conversations, away from the spotlight. Cajoling, convincing, etc, are my methods of choice (public figures are a different matter; see me slam anti-vaxxing Aaron Rodgers, for example; or not-fit-for-office Dr. Mehmet Oz running for the Senate in Pennsylvania).


So, for the past five years, since Donald Trump came down that escalator and made America worse, I’ve been quietly trying to convince my Republican friends to speak up against everything ruining the party they grew up in (or converted to when they made their fortunes and suddenly found they dislike paying taxes). These include, but are not limited to: xenophobia (remember when Republicans liked immigrants?); white supremacy; public, open, unashamed racism; hating non-evangelical Christians; anti-globalism; anti-intellectualism; anti-scientism; attacking women’s rights; actively harming the lives of the poor and marginalized; and so much more. None of these started with Trump, he just accelerated and amplified the worst tendencies of the Republican party.


But this week, something happened that has finally convinced me to confront my friends in public. I won’t name names here, but I am calling on my Republican friends to actively denounce or leave their beloved party.


I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t the phony wall, or the Muslim ban, or mishandling the pandemic, or the Big Lie, or even the Jan. 6 insurrection that sent me over the edge. It was the announcement by Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, that she is calling for a boycott of the Commission on Presidential Debates.


That the GOP would boycott the most staid, down-the-line, bipartisan organization shocked me and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Trump critics in the party.


I asked Rina Shah (@RinaInDC), a lifelong Republican who bravely spoke up against Trump, putting #CountryOverParty and costing her some friends and business opportunities, about this latest outrage. She wrote:

"By refusing to appear on the debate stage, the RNC wouldn’t just be hiding from the American public but would be attempting to engage in what they believe is a winning strategy for the 2024 Presidential election overall. If there are no CPD debates in the lead-up to Election 2024, it’s the American public, writ large, that will lose out — on one of the only major opportunities we have to see and hear the real substantive differences between both major party candidates. Not only is that bad for our democracy because of the risk of increasing civic disengagement in the American electorate, but also because the entire race would then naturally shift focus to each candidate’s personality traits instead of their policy positions and how they’d govern.


If the RNC does indeed require their nominee to refuse participation in these debates, they’re outwardly displaying what many of us Washington insiders have seen coming down the pike for the past decade: a GOP that’s becoming increasingly unserious about governing and doesn’t believe in having to proving to the American public that they’re a party with the ideas and solutions to lead our country forward during and after one its most difficult chapters."


Hillary Clinton was 100% right when she described that famous “basket of deplorables.” Under today’s Republicans, the deplorable has become the tolerated, the acceptable, the celebrated.


I know you love your tax cuts, buddy, but the time to speak up is NOW.


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