I have to admit that my favorite cable news talkers are the conservatives who have abandoned the Republican Party because of Trump. Among my favorites are Nicole Wallace, who was communications director for George W. Bush, Steve Schmidt who was John McCain’s campaign manager, and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough. Wallace and Scarborough both have shows on MSNBC and some of their guests are other conservatives who have dropped out of the party.
So over the past weekend—before the bombs and synagogue shooting— a friend told us about a book she was reading by a conservative named Max Boot. He’s another never-Trumper who quit the party. She thought that progressives could learn from his perspective by combining some of his economic ideas with progressive social ideals. We’d never heard of him. So I looked him up, and found out he is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a global affairs analyst for CNN.
The next morning I turned on CNN and there was Max Boot talking about the fear-mongering coverage by FOX News of the caravan of immigrants moving toward the U.S.border from Honduras. “It is demagoguery,” Boot explained, “It is also, I believe, racism and nativism really pandering to the fears of Trump supporters and Fox News viewers who tend to be older white males who are alarmed about the supposed invasion of dark-skinned newcomers coming to America.”
Boot went on to complain that the GOP under Trump has gone from being conservative with a white extremist fringe to one where white nationalism is at the heart of the party and the true conservatives have been pushed to the side — part of the reason why he left.
One thing I hear over and over from these conservative former Republicans is that it’s not enough any more to say of Trump that “I like his policies, but I hate his tweets.” That’s simply a way of ignoring what’s going on in the Republican Party and the White House as racism and demagoguery has become the norm. They also say that Trump’s overt admiration of dictators and his snubbing of our democratic allies overseas is pushing us in a dangerous direction.
So it was synchronicity when I turned on the TV and there was Boot, who I’d never heard of, before being informed about him the evening before. But now all the media attention is going to the crazies, the bomber Sayoc we now know wanted to “go back to the Hitler days,” he former boss said. He wanted follow and lead the white supremacist. He wanted to lead the foot soldiers. Then that story gets overtaken by another Trump supporter who killed eleven in a Pittsburgh synagogue.