Republican Ethics and Values

Well, I think I’m picking a fight I really don’t want to have, but I am looking for open, intellectual discussion and a differing viewpoint, so please keep it civil, as will I.

The simple question is this: How can an ethical person with good values support unethical behavior AND still be a good person? At what point are you own values compromised as you bend yourself into a pretzel to defend the unethical behaviors of your affiliated party members?

An example: An older colleague of mine defended Trump after the Charlottesville debacle by saying “racists ARE good people.” From where I’m standing, he just defended racism, which causes me to wonder about his own sense of ethics.

I have been spending a lot of time lately contemplating the Ethics and Values of the GOP in general. I don’t think I need to preface this with the widely-reported, innumerable scandals related to the GOP over the last few years. I think it’s safe to say the veil of “what Republicans are willing to admit is right or wrong” has somewhat dropped with Trump, considering you have to morally equivocate his behavior daily anew to support him.

I myself changed my life-long affiliation from Republican to Independent just before the midterms. Admittedly, I haven’t voted R in years but never had a stable address to switch party affiliations until recently.

Part of the reason for this dissertation and request for viewpoints is the ongoing struggle I am having with my parents. They support Trump whole-cloth, to the point if you don’t support him BLINDLY no matter what he says or does, you’re one of the bad guys. A great example is how in their eyes McCain went from “God’s greatest hope for America” to “LIBERAL TRAITOR” simply by voicing that perhaps some of Trump’s unethical behavior is…unethical.

I know my parents are good people and can cite a wide array of evidence as such. But they are older (mid-to-late 70s) and mostly house-bound with no “friends” or others to bounce ideas off of–and they only watch Fox News. So that means they are constantly smoldering over what someone is NOT letting Trump do, smoldering over what the libs are doing, smoldering over how people they will never meet–who will never affect them in any way–are living their own life.

We’ve (see: I’ve) established a moratorium on talking politics. Our relationship is tenuous already–their age means they need me to be around and their volatility on every political subject (which keeps them seething just below screaming pretty much all the time) means we simply can’t afford to talk about politics–my differing point of view will likely not be tolerated and will surely throw my dad’s blood pressure through the roof. The man pulled the car over and threw me out when I asserted that the Founding Fathers were Deists.

But they still say enough about politics that I know they will excuse everything Trump does, and often what their excuse is. In fact, he is the New “God’s best plan to save America.” When I point out his OVERWHELMING immorality, they just wave it off and say “God spoke through the mouth of an ass.”

The idea is if they can just excuse every un-Christian thing Trump does, somehow, the goodly Christian Republicans will save America behind the scenes. This of course doesn’t account for all of the other immorality running amok throughout the Right, all the way down to local politics where a REP was recently caught trading drugs and money for gay sex with a teenage boy.

Now–far be it from me to judge a political party by the worst examples available–which is why I have been pondering the entire core value/ethic identity of Republicanism. And I’m struggling.

Part of the problem is too many of their principles fly in the face of themselves.
Some examples (while trying to avoid Straw-Men):

They complain incessantly at how much a Democrat President spends on travel, while the last 3 republican presidents have gone on far, far more personal vacations at greater expense.

They complain about Dem’s running up the deficit, except it’s the Reps who always run it up (just look at it going now) after the Dems bring it down.

They say the are pro-life, but are against Planned Parenthood–an institution designed to help young women make informed decisions about having children. They oppose healthcare for pregnant women. They oppose funding for teachers for after the child is born. So when you peel it all away, it would appear the concern about pro-life is more about control over the female’s ability to make decisions rather than simply “WE VALUE LIFE.” None of this includes the GOP’s stance on gun control and the death sentence.

They oppose gay marriage because they so value the sanctity of marriage, yet have no issues with divorce or adultery.

Believe me–we can do this with the Democrats after. Remember I am an indy. I didn’t vote for HRC.

But I’m struggling to find the moral high-ground the Right keeps touting. And there seems to be a disproportionate amount of scandal involving the GOP as of late.

Am I thinking about it wrong? Can you support totally immoral behavior and still have a well-calibrated moral compass?

It’s a good question. In part it depends on if you believe in the ends justifying the means. As an example, if you want a conservative judiciary than I suppose Trump could be considered tolerable.

He might be, if there were any reason to believe that he’d install a conservative judiciary. But instead, he’s nominating people like Kavanaugh.

(speaking as a non republican)

The Republicans have wholeheartedly embraced the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. I think we can safely say that the core of the Repub party are not racist, are not homophobic, are not hypocritical spenders, but they are willing to stand side by side with those who may be.

Let’s take, ferinstance, the whole, there’s good people on both sides. There is a large section of the American public who feel that white people are being unfairly overlooked by progressives. They aren’t racists; they have no ill will toward others. But, they feel that these others are getting preferential treatment, sometimes at the expense of whites. And there is another group who are offended by attempts to get rid of all of the symbols of the Confederacy. “Sure the Confederacy had a lot of wrong ideals, but these were our ancestors, warts and all,” they will say “and you are trying to erase our ancestors from history”. Now I have no idea what the President really meant when he said what he said, but I can believe that there are a lot of good people in those groups. Unfortunately for them, they were marching beside actual racists. And so when the President complimented the good people without condemning the bad ones, he left himself open to justifiable criticism.

Same goes for right-to-lifers and sanctity-of marriage folks. I personally know many r-t-l’s who support planned parenthood - not so much the birth control stuff, but the education and prenatal services they offer. And are against the death penalty. And s-o-m’s who are not in any (other) way against gay rights. They believe that marriage is one man and one woman and is forever. And both of these groups are angry at the fact that they have to share the stage with religious zealots and homophobes but are willing to do it for the greater (in their mind) good.

It’s an age old political conundrum. Do the ends justify the means? Or are the means an end in and of themselves? The Republicans have chosen their side.


“I like beer!!!”

Probably because they see the extremists at least are fighting while moderates will just compromise and leave the slippery slope open.

But the means can *taint *the ends.

Shouldn’t a person have to explain why they want a conservative judiciary?

I’m not sure I get this question. I would assume it is because they are conservative, no? I mean I’m more or less liberal and that is more or less why I would prefer a more liberal judiciary.

I don’t think people need to justify their vote or party affiliation in any way. I’m just giving an example of why someone may vote or support someone that isn’t aligned with their own set of values.

Kavanaugh had a very solid pro-R, pro-right-wing record as a judge.

Chronos’s point is that Brett Kavanaugh is “right-wing,” not “conservative.” If “conservative” can mean whatsoever the present party leadership want, it has no consistent meaning. It loses any meaning that might be important to voters voting for “conservative values.”

I think it’s a legitimate question. I’ve heard a number of people justify their support of Trump and other Republicans by saying they’ll appoint conservative judges. But I want to ask those people what they think judicial conservatism is and why do they want it.

I’m guessing a lot of them have no idea. They just have a vague feeling that they don’t like the way things are in this country and they feel that somehow judges are involved.

These three points I will address.

Deficits and government spending–
One of the original ideas behind lowering tax rates was that the decrease in revenue would force Congress to cut spending. But when the majority of voters actively want things like Medicare, Social Security, etc. it’s very difficult to cut spending in any meaningful way. In addition, a lot of Republicans who are otherwise conservative have gotten brainwashed by the system into thinking that those programs are actually good. And in addition to that, all current government programs, no matter how small, have entrenched advocates who fight tooth and nail against any cuts, even symbolic ones.

The upshot is that, for a combination of reasons, it is essentially impossible for the true conservatives to actually reduce government spending in any meaningful sense. About all we can do is prevent further increases–and even that’s difficult.

Planned Parenthood is designed to produce as many abortions as possible. Any other revenue it derives from any other services – even though those services may be good in and of themselves – all that revenue goes towards the goal of keeping the organization open, so that it can continue to provide abortions.

Yes, it is good and desirable for pregnant women to get checkups, preventative care, etc. BUT–that is the responsibility of the woman and her family. It is not a legitimate role of government, and there should be no government funds spent on that, in any way, form, or shape whatsoever.

Teaching children has absolutely nothing to do with “pro-life.” You are conflating life itself with the quality of a person’s life. Furthermore, when liberals want more funding for schools, they virtually never consider the quality of outcomes. If you look at the per-student level of funding that the various states spend, and then you look at the state-level test scores, you will find that there is NO correlation between money spent and results. Some of the highest-spending states have the worst test scores and graduation rates.

There are a lot of hypocrites and non-Christians in the church pews. A true Christian opposes adultery as strongly as he opposes gay marriage, because they are both sins. But out of all the people who go to church every Sunday, probably only about 30-40% of them are actually Christians. A lot of people who claim to be Christians try to redefine adultery, so that they can feel ok about divorce and remarriage. But when they die, they will find themselves in Hell because of their sins.

These all sound fine and dandy for your personal beliefs, but if you seek to impose these beliefs on the rest of us, many will fight (metaphorically) tooth and nail, since in many cases your beliefs as policy will do great personal harm to us and those we care about.

Boy, I think the gulf of understanding between us may be too wide to cross. The single most effective way to limit abortions is to provide cheap and available birth control, especially to the young and poor. Preventing pregnancy on a wide scale will, by easy example, lower the amount of abortions.

Or, for that matter, shouldn’t they have to explain how Trump is a conservative?

There’s no reason that “conservative” has to mean “dick” the way it has become. It didn’t always.

  • Many Christian Trump apologists believe that Trump is a vessel for, rather than an example of, the divine. He is often compared to Cyrus, the pagan King of Persia who liberated the Jews from the Babylonians.

  • I pride myself on being particularly objective where politics are concerned and have voted mostly Republican (though i was a libertarian) in the past, but I can’t find a single defense for Republican politicians in the age of Trump. I’ve never seen such reprehensible Machiavellianism in my life. But if you peruse the comments section of Breitbart, you’ll see a people who genuinely believe they are on the high road. It’s a mind-boggling wonder to behold. So while I can’t forgive the politicians, who should know better, I can easily forgive Trump supporters who I see as simply ignorant. I can almost - ALMOST - forgive Trump who I see as a sort of Mad King George. Pence, not so much. McConnell, not at all.

Many or most of these folks live in such immensely different moral and factual universes from myself that I mostly don’t see any point in trying to discuss politics with them. There’s virtually no common ground to start from. Many of them are decent neighbors and coworkers, but from a political perspective, they’re from another planet, and the only thing to do is try to outvote them (and since they’re generally older, wait for their generation to pass).

Completely agree it would be utterly fruitless to approach them head-on. One dirty tricks approach that I think could work would be to have undercover liberals with a gift for rhetoric post pro-Trump messages on Breitbart and pro-Trump message boards until they become thought leaders at which time they slowly turn on Trump in a way that would resonate with the conservative mind. Given the readership of those boards I genuinely think it would be a great bang for the Democrats’ buck. And if we ever got outed at least we’d give them a conspiracy they were right about.

Ok so that probably wouldn’t work at all.