The sparks from Donald Trump’s pyrotechnic midden pile of a campaign have now chased several relatively sane Republicans into Hillary Clinton’s corner. Just this week, former GOP California gubernatorial candidate and 2008 John McCain surrogate Meg Whitman endorsed Clinton, adding her name to a list of GOP turncoats that includes high-ranking former advisers to Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and McCain, as well as George W. Bush treasury secretary Hank Paulson. On the heels of these unprecedented and mostly unexpected crossovers, what have Beltway sages inferred? That this is the perfect time for Clinton to move right.
New Yorker Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza proffered the idea that Clinton should offer the GOP establishment a SCOTUS pick.
Ross Douthat, the New York Times’s prematurely grumpy conservative columnist, fretted about the Democrats’ merely superficial beckoning of Republican voters: all the patriotic pageantry of the convention, and Democrats’ now-frequent reminders that Trump’s signature policies are actually radical departures from GOP orthodoxy. To really court disaffected Republicans, Douthat says, Clinton needs to include “ideological inducements,” not just rhetorical ones.
This is, of course, preposterous. As The New Republic put it, any policy compromises from the Clinton camp would be like allowing Republicans to declare the terms of their own surrender. Republicans have many reasons to flock to Clinton, including one or all or a combination of the following:
— They reject the risks inherent in putting a crybaby with poor impulse control into the White House.
— They wish to disassociate themselves from Trump’s blatant bigotry.
— They recognize the long-term advantages of installing Clinton as “an enemy we know” over “a psychopath we can’t reason with.”
— They are fearful of Trump’s complete lack of ideological mooring.
— They are suspicious of Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin.
— They are terrified of his romance with violence as a political tool.
— They realize that his middle-finger-first approach to negotiations will destroy the balance of power among nations.
— They understand how Trump’s fascistic campaign will resound with future chroniclers and wish to be on “the right side of history.”
— They have faith in Clinton’s core tendency toward moderation and consensus, and her basically conservative inclination to avoid radical change.
— They have genuine respect for Clinton’s long résumé of foreign and domestic policy-making and believe she will work with them to create legislation that benefits all Americans.
That’s a lot of reasons! Clinton does not need to supply any more. Politics doesn’t have a mercy rule, some mechanism by which the losing side gets to inflate itself with a little artificial dignity. Dignity is earned the hard way: by doing the right thing, and doing it over and over again, because it’s the right thing to do, not because you sense the opportunity for gain.
Those Republicans who have thrown their lot in with Clinton probably will benefit, policy-wise, in the future; the Clintons are nothing if not loyal, and I am one of those who believes she is personally inclined to incrementalism over revolution, compromise over partisan victory — look at her record on marriage equality, or the Iraq war, or her support for welfare reform. Frankly, as a progressive, that concerns me! But there’s no need to give her a push on a rightward drift.