“A document from a lost civilization”

Stuart Stevens 30-year veteran strategist for the Republican Party on the Ezra Klein podcast:

I went back and I re-read George Bush's acceptance speech in 2000, and it reads like a document from a lost civilization. It's all about humility, service, compassion. That person couldn't win 15% with that message in a Republican primary [today].

Also:

Look, you don't have to be a racist to support Donald Trump, but you do have to be comfortable with getting something from Donald Trump that is more important than having a racist as president, and I think that's very telling. It becomes all transactional. And one of the things that conservatives always accused liberals of is situational ethics… Donald Trump is the ultimate in situational ethics. ‘We're just going to have this bargaining, we're just going to have this transaction, and I'm going to get something.’ It never works. It's Faust. Mephistopheles not only takes your soul, he doesn't deliver.

This is the heart of Steven’s contention, and a strong one, I believe, to withhold support from this president.

(From the perspective of persuasion, "racism" is a tough accusation argue, not because it's untrue, but because virtually no one thinks of themselves or someone they support as racist. So let’s replace Stevens’ example here with any of Cassian’s seven deadly sins: take your pick. Steven’s argument of “transaction” still stands.)

Historical and contemporary examples make me think that the compromise of decency, virtue, and constitutional norms will have far more lasting effects on our democracy than any political gain that may have been acheived through this Faustian bargain. Appointing preferred justices may be good, but the costs of transparently transactional powerbrokering will outlive them.

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