Fights Worth Having

What happened to the G.O.P. in 2016 could happen to the Democrats in 2020.

Comments: 201

  1. Take heart, Mr. Stephens. While it is true that today, 85% of Republicans support Trump, it is also true that there are far fewer people calling themselves Republicans than when Trump was inaugurated. According to Gallup’s party identity poll (which it has been taking for many years), 31% of voters identified as Republicans in February 2017. That number is down to 22% in their most recent poll in January 2018. Those 85% of Trumpists come from a party that has shrunk by 1/3 since Trump took over the Oval Office.

  2. Hopefully the poll is right. But past results show polling to be a very flawed 'science.' (e.g. Hilary 'win' 2016; Dewey 'win' 1948). People a) change their minds daily b) lie to pollsters c) don't even know their own mind half the time d) sample populations are of the wrong kind or too small

  3. I agree with you, Pete. Many people lied to pollsters about supporting Trump in 2016 because they were embarrassed. I hope they are still embarrassed.

  4. Actually the national polls were quite accurate. Hilary won the popular vote by about the 2-3% spread she had in the polls on the even of the election. Some of the more focused state polling was less accurate.

  5. What Stephens highlights, at each end of the political spectrum, is that the American Experiment is predicated entirely upon 'representation' - and the Founders' Intent regarding representation was clearly expressed by G. Washington, when he held up the Constitutional Convention over the issue: https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/enlarging-the-house-of-rep... Part of our rolling Trumpster fire Code Red is related to the House being artificially limited to 435 members and the concept of 2 party control, which leaves most voters feeling remote/detached from too few legislators representing too many constituents; legislators who are easily captured by special interests, with party leaders passing out plums and favors based on which legislators are best at fund-raising from those interests. The U.S. population has more than doubled since 1950, with the U.S. now more populous than all nations but China and India - the House should be larger (with today's communications, all the legislators don't even have to be in D.C. to conduct business) reflecting the oft-revered "Founders' Intent", making Americans more likely to know/see their representatives. A bonus will be the emergence of more political parties/coalitions, and the inability of special interests to buy off legislators - which is why the parties and special interests will try to suffocate such ideas.

  6. Great idea, thanks for sharing.

  7. Well said, Bret. I really believe most Americans don't recognize that they want change. But gradual change. And if you look closely enough HOW politics functions in this country it really is the same no matter which party is in power. But I think Trump plays by a different set of rules, no rules actually, than everyone else on both sides. Even the people working for him are getting vertigo from him day in and day out. Sooner or later they can't stand the nausea and dizziness and resign. And eventually it trickles down to the voters as well. Oh there will always be a base, immune to the symptoms from the chaos and constant change in the ride's trajectory. It's like watching TV and only watching reruns of the Simpson's. Eventually you either get tired of it or the same episode comes back around again. And you have three choices: Continue to watch,change the station, or turn off the TV. All it will take is a few voters opting for the second or third options to end this. Trump's strategy is to try and get them to keep watching. Nausea and dizziness are very uncomfortable. No matter what your political beliefs. Eventually some say No More, stop the ride,I can't take it any more. Remember all it will take is 80,000 voters.

  8. A flower in buttonhole I'm wearin' In my deep tribute to Ms Charen A spirit I admire Put her feet to the fire, Of such followers Trump is barren!

  9. well said

  10. "By contrast, MAGA Republicans — whether of the fully or merely semi-Trumpified varieties — detest NeverTrumpers with an animus they can scarcely extend to liberals or progressives." Charen's column was excellent. So is this one. MAGA Republicans are turning into their wing of the party into a cult of personality. Hear no evil, see no evil, but do a tremendous amount of evil because of their no-holds-barred support of the president for whatever he says and does, no matter if it's shredding the Constitution. Bet Stephens, you also have much to offer on the internecine war between "old" and "new" Democrats. It's never good to trade debate and compromise for a purity test of ideology. So doing risks creating a far left Tea Party of its own, another faction to gum up the works of government. The fact that Charen got booed at CPAC was abhorrent, particularly in light of all the breaking political news of this week. When the GOP rebuilds as it will have to, once Trump's reign of nepotism and self-dealing have ended, it's going need people like Mona Charen. Just as Democrats, now and in the future, are going to need all shades of liberalism to present a united front.

  11. Christine McM I agree with you. Thank goodness there are some Republicans who actually have a spine. I have great respect for them. I've been a member of the Democratic Party since the 60's. Since the early 2000's I've been saying we need younger members, we keep recycling the same ideas over and over and depending too much on large "white papers" and not enough on door-to door one-on-one discussions with voters. I would call all 3 of my sons "Independents", but they do vote Democratic because its closer to their values than the Republicans. Independents don't even have a voice. Not really. Lots of work to be done with both parties.

  12. @wolf201: Thanks. Compared to you, I'm a relative newcomer to the Democratic party which I officially joined in 2011. Prior to that I was "unenrolled" or independent, and prior to that I was actually Republican, but of the now far gone William Safire/Jack Kemp variety, fiscally conservative but socially liberal. I don't recognize today's shrill parties, both of which have traded problem solving for conflict, demonization, and policy drift. Without a united message--and God knows there's a ton to include--Democrats won't be able to regain power because of the forces so much polarization has unleashed (see Edsall's column today also).

  13. Thank you ChristineMcM. Both my sister and brother are or have been Republicans. Neither of them even recognize the party any more. My brother tho at one time was a registered Republican does think we should have Universal Health care coverage. He used to work in the insurance business and thinks its the most logical answer. I appreciate all the Republicans who I know who now no longer are registered as such. They just want common sense policies. I do appreciate your intelligent comments. Thank you.

  14. Mr. Stephens says that America will have a right of center party. That would serve America well along with a left of center party. But what it has is an extreme right party and a left of center party. Right now I only see 2 possible senators that fit the right of center not extreme right members of the senate and one congressman ( who is not running for reelection), So how does the Republican party reclaim itself as proper for our 2 party system?

  15. No one ever questioned that old-style conservatives had "principles;" they just so often seemed to be so wrong-headed respecting what political, economic, and cultural answers made sense and were effective in the modern world. Still, it is refreshing, at least, to see that, somewhere, such principles do continue to exist. What is remarkable, however, is how little of it there is on the right and among Republicans, especially among people who have any power. And that is the critical element: for Republicans, maintaining their desperate grip on personal power and economic gain motivates the vast majority of them. Ethics and the public good have nothing to do with it anymore.

  16. William F. Buckley had fights with his own side? Precious few in fact. He may have fallen out with the John Birchers at one point but otherwise he was solidly on the side of every bit of Republican craziness and is one of the architects of the current Republican condition.

  17. Ah, yes, Buckley was as good at Republican craziness as anyone on the Right, but at least the man had style and a certain kind of wit. He was worth watching if only to watch him twiddle the pencil around his wicked grin while in debate. No one alive today even comes close.

  18. Buckley was against Reagan and others refusing to give up the Panama Canal.

  19. I am worried about the trends that Mr. Stephens describes. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties seem to moving towards the populist extremes. And while populism has a superficial appeal, it has always failed as a governing philosophy. But the rejection of traditional politics on both sides is quite real. My only hope is that the Republic has survived huge divisions an crises before. Let's hope we survive this.

  20. In my view our political parties have become struggles more than celebrations of belief. It is reminiscent of facing a horribly tangled fishing reel and trying to recover the useful thread it once contained. Unlike the fisherman who can hack off the mangled mess and replace it with fresh line, we cannot do the same. We are forced to disentangle it strand by strand. There is no nascent third party waiting on the shelf for us to rediscovery comity. The task will be long and difficult and the outcome remains unsure but we have little choice. Now, where is that thread of reason we can pull out first?

  21. Alright, Mr. Stephens, if this American reader could learn to focus it might be a step in the right direction, followed by a diet of some bright mind cells. I rarely give 'advice' on the basis that it might be crummy, and the only time I heard from Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a memorable booming 'Top O' The Morning' on the phone; a feel-good moment and a happy one. In the midst of all this Enlightenment, Joie de Vivre and Bunnies, there is 'Common Sense', which appears to be resting flat as a kipper on the National Kitchen Floor. My neighbor and I are going to vote, and she is going to show me how to bake a peanut-butter pie to bring to Our Town. While slices of this dessert are going to be shared, we are not going to be carrying our political choice on our sleeve. 'The fabric of an open society is more frayed than most people realize'. This sounds right, and while our County grows closer and closer apart, we appear to be reaching the heights of anarchic level in contemporary history.

  22. I don't know if Bernie Sanders can be classified as belonging to what the author decries. Since when was returning to the New Deal socialism? I must say that you Americans sometimes define political ideology in an odd manner from the rest of the world. The fissure in the Democratic party at present perhaps reflects a debate centered not on ideology, but pragmatism. Hasn't said party recently experienced the consequences of copying the GOP? The writer suggests that true liberalism is at peril, yet one cannot think that his definition is a more antiquated one from the 18th century, than that of T H Green. Let the Republican party be itself, Mr. Stephens, there's no good reason the Democrats should emulate it.

  23. Once again: thank you. Very helpful piece, and a strong reminder to stay in the fight - in my case, with my left leaning friends.

  24. Trump isn't leading or orchestrating this populist revolt, he's simply reflecting it. This uprising started in 1968 when Nixon won the Presidency. It was amplified with Reagan's 1980 victory. Solidified with Trump's unexpected 2016 triumph. The foundation of this revolt has been the working class. They are fed up with Democratic Party. Liberal policymakers have been slow to address or even to recognize their plight. This error of omission is fueling a worker class backlash that will be impossible to stop. Right now Republicans who attack Trump are in reality attacking their own constituents. Hence their silence. MAGA Republicans are in it to win, by any means necessary. Trump will be gone one day. They will still be here. They will wait him out & in the end achieve all of their goals. Their plan is simple. Control the Supreme Court. Controlling SCOTUS is the grand slam that ends the ball game. Control SCOTUS & you destroy the liberal agenda once & for all. The legal arm of the conservative movement is probably the best organized, most far-reaching & far-seeing sector of the Right. They truly are in it — and have been in it — for the long game. Control the Supreme Court, stack the judiciary, and you can stop the progressive movement, no matter how popular it is, no matter how much legislative power it has, for decades. Long after Trump is gone, the right will be relying upon the judiciary — and behind that, the Constitution — to protect, enlarge, and consolidate their gains.

  25. Your analysis may be correct, but that leaves us with the far right agenda of no compromise, anti immigrant, anti clean water anti clean air, anti fair wages, anti fairness, anti public safety, anti science, anti public education, anti cost effective health care and on and on and on.........

  26. Progressives know this. It's why the smartest ones are supporting the Democratic "Blue Wave" movement, even if the Democratic candidate isn't "pure" enough - and turning up for special election in greater numbers.

  27. Answering all comments. For everyone who disagrees with me lets review the past 9 years. During this time the DP lost the Presidency, both House of Congress, SCOTUS, the majority of state legislatures, Governorships, & most important local offices. The GOP gained about 1,000 seats in state legislatures. In 24 states, do Democrats have almost no political influence at all. Republicans control of a record 68 percent of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation. The GOP hold more total seats than they have since 1920, well over 4,100 of the 7,383. How we have dealt with China? Over the past 40 years, & all of the shiny forecasts about China trade, every premise of every policy, all of it, has been a lie. Between 2001 & 2015, around 3.4 million U.S. jobs, 75% of which were in the manufacturing sector, were lost as a result of the trade deficit with China. Jobs have been lost in all 50 states. Rising American dependence on Chinese products coupled with unfair Chinese trading practices have hollowed out the US manufacturing sector. China violates every rule there is on normal trading relationships. We have a trading system that does not work. Period. What have Democrats done to protect the working class once the cornerstone of our party? Absolutely nothing. Why is the Democratic Party in shambles? One reason. Working class voters are not buying what we are selling. That's a fact that can't be denied. We can't turn this around if we continue to ignore their plight.

  28. The reasons I’ve admired the “never trumpers” is that while I have not often agreed with their political and social views, they caused me to think and rethink my own views. But if there are no principles at the heart of ones argument— which is the case with the Trumpkins— we all lose, including me. We need alternative views but they have to reflect commonsense principles...right and wrong.

  29. Senator Feinstein is 84 years old. I am grateful for her service to the country.

  30. If for no other reason, Mr. Stephens' column is notable for its frank observation that there is no longer a functioning Left in America. Not Sanders (duh), not Pelosi, not anyone out there on the horizon. Which, of course, makes the head-exploding paranoia of Dana Loesch, Mitch McConnell, and Super Right Man Ryan all the more amusing. Whatever the partisan case, Stephens' call for common-sense, common-decency morality, inclusive and sane, supportive of all stations of humanity, is powerful and a great relief in this terrible political age.

  31. The two major political parties in America demonize each other? The situation appears a controlled civil war, or if not that bad, something of a sports rivalry, a situation in which each side hopes to rack up more triumphs than the other, but in which each side is probably more destined to lose, which is to say each side loathes the other and is increasingly full of self-loathing because the world really favors neither side. America appears a country in which right wing Christian/white dominance is fading, but it has essentially been an absurdity to pour on the diversity of races, ethnic groups, religions the left has been calling for, not to mention to hope millions will be united in some sort of socialistic solidarity, some sort of nurture over nature remaking of the American man especially, along lines not remote from the plan the Soviets had of New Soviet Man. In face of this wrenching of country from side to side politically, this failure of governmental conception, corporations for all their historical ugliness have been taking off, neither for any religious or national or cultural insularity (thus against right wing), but with little tolerance for left wing socialistic, nurture over nature nonsense (after all corporations at best depend on a highly educated workforce and clear conception of individual talent and an honest, scientific answer to the nature/nurture question). Thus something of scientific, libertarian, communalism the winner in nation.

  32. Point taken. But center and left of center can only rage against the current administration till the ballot box. The rage is not a solid army, rather a spectrum. Frustration at leadership on both sides of the aisle for mendacity and deceit at what passes for leadership, and lack of response and cohesion for the opposition, ratchets up emotions. Those who oppose the current regime can only hope for a focused and rational opposition to emerge rather than a counterpart to the current GOP. Analysis is so much cleaner than actual governance.

  33. Mona Charen showed real political courage to speak her convictions at CPAC.She has made sense to me in the past and I am not a Republican.I have to call you, however, on your statements about California liberals not endorsing Diane Feinstein because she is not liberal enough.The simple truth is that she is too old.I can say this because we are the same age .Were she elected and finished another term she would be ninety!That is old-she has served with distinction- she needs to retire.

  34. That is ageist thinking. And she doesn't deserve that.

  35. Couldn't agree more. To suggest that the California Democratic Party refused to uniformly back Sen. Feinstein because she is not sufficiently liberal, and not because of her age or the plethora of excellent candidates is to impose your narrow world view of left vs right.

  36. To Rough Acres- unless you are 84 as I am don't talk to me about ageism!Every day you realize that you are losing some of your abilities but you forge ahead and are profoundly grateful for all the tasks you accomplished when you were youthful and vigorous.

  37. This is another column--and there have been quite a few over the past 12-18 months--that warns us not to let party extremes take over. The last thing the Democrats need is their own equivalent of the noxious "Freedom" Caucus. The impressive high-schoolers now forcefully lobbying for better gun control laws recognize the needs for compromise. We should all hope that the "adults" can follow their lead.

  38. This is advice Hillary Clinton should have heeded when Bernie Sanders was nipping at her heels. Her pivot to everything Left of her traditional positions weakened her. Her flip flop on TPP is the best example, but the usual laundry list of "fixes" that crept into her campaign totally weakened her in election against Trump. Never Trumpers had no place to go. If she had ran as Senator Clinton, it would have been a different result.

  39. I have been following this whole debacle with great interest. And I tend to agree with Bret and today's political atmosphere. Tho I'm a Democrat, I'm also a reasonable person (or hope others think so). I do get annoyed with many people on the far left. Some are also Clinton haters to the point that they have gone over the cliff. They are not interested at all in bi-partisanship. Of course I'm more than annoyed with Trumpers. For the first time in my life, I find myself swearing at the TV. What is interesting is that there is a group that seems to be coalescing, Many Dems who share many of my beliefs, some Republicans and I say good for them, and the generation coming up. Or, perhaps, we have a large group of Republicans who don't have a spine or moral underpinnings. They sit back and stay quiet while our Federal Government is being dismantled and all the norms and we've created over 240 years are being thrown out the window. I am a strong believer in our system of government, and at the moment, its holding firm. We can disagree with policies, hey that's human. But its time for a change in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. I'm not sure where it will go, but hope that grounded, civic-minded people will enter this fray.

  40. The fact is that most Americans are not as inflexibly right wing as Ms. Charen. Trump won because some of his positions on day to day issues were close to traditional Democratic Party positions. What is so wrong with a political party actually listening to what ordinary citizens want? And why does Ms. Charen dislike Marion LePen? Is it her fault her almost dead grandfather was anti semitic? Or because today's LePen is not to the extreme right on economic issues?

  41. The stealing of the Supreme Court seat by Mr. McConnell (R) in favor of a rabid right wing justice in Neil Gorsuch makes reasoned, deliberative thought and above all patience for slow, but progressive change almost impossible now for Democrats. (See L. Geenhouse's article in today NYT) I believe in the Enlightenment values Mr. Stephens writes about. For example, I support Diane Feinstein's re-nomination. But I can tell you there is very little stomach for such nominees among the Democratic electorate. But to my fellow Democrats: we need a sober minded, level headed patriot of strong moral stature to run for the presidency in 2020. We need to heal, and bring together the 70% of the populace who have not lost their minds to authoritarianism - and live the values of liberal democracy taught to us as children. We must not forget that these are the same values so many Americans long suffered and died for.

  42. I am a centrist who leans left on social justice and right on fiscal sense. That is a balancing act that I accept will always be imperfect, but should always be the goal. Practicality, pragmatism conscience and soul. I will never agree with hardcore conservatives. But I can respect people who are conservative, and respect the ideals and philosophy of the right, even as I believe it wrongheaded. So I can respect Charen's dismay and repulsion of what her party has become, even as I continue to abhor her ideas. Charen calls out the Machiavellian, the people who think any means is fine as long as they get where they want to go. What the GOP has taught the Democratic Party is that Machiavelli wins. We have a right wing court because of it. We have districts shaped like the constellation Draco. We have minority party control nationwide and have effective;y instituted One Acre, One Vote., since territory controlled has more sway than population. We have politicians who hold their noses and look away from both stellar incompetence at leadership combined with stellar competence at graft, corruption and personal enrichment. You don't want the left to adopt the methods of the right? You are going to have to prove that America accepts another way to win.

  43. Cathy, I share your values about social justice on the left and fiscal sense on the right (or at least what it used to be on the right). I'd be willing to bet many people have a hard time figuring you out, because you can easily see their and understand their point of view. Understanding, of course,does not necessarily imply agreement, but can form the basis of compromise. Ideologues and extremists are very good at pointing out problems (real and imaginary) but are equally poor at solving them, precisely because of their insistence the other side is bereft of intellect and devoid of morality and reason. Until Republicans are willing to vote for a pretty good Democrat instead of what they know in their hearts is a pretty bad Republican, we won't see any progress on that side of the fence. The same goes for the other side as well. The three horsemen of the political apocalypse (that have been riding into the United States for a decade now) are: 1) Ideological litmus tests, which destroy political parties 2) gerrymandering, which suppresses and distorts the will of the people 3) big money in politics (via Citizens United and its kin) which corrupts everything in its vastly oversized influence Best wishes in your continual balancing act.

  44. Thanks for this post, Kathy. But I have to ask, these days, from those who claim an allegiance to fiscal conservatism -- what does that mean?

  45. Compromise has become an alien idea. Politicians on both sides of issues don't budge and nothing gets done. The Republicans elected a reality television star with no governing experience and some in the Democratic party are suggesting Oprah Winfrey or George Clooney as their party's candidate in 2020. Whatever happened to training and experience. We yearn for purity but ignore ability. Leader of the free world, how hard could it be?

  46. Just one quick comment - perhaps conservatives’ time would have been better spent analyzing about how THEY keep hurting those they claim to help - yes I mean the middle class, coal miners, the uninsured etc. AND, how they sow division within the country to accomplish those ends. I’d buy that book!

  47. Maybe Bret Stephens identity as an intellectual beacon of conservative ideals exaggerates his sense of the importance of the intellectual left or right in this country. We are not a nation divided by conservative and liberal ideals. Stephen's stereotyping of the right and left equivalency is also inaccurate. To claim that the U.S. spends 30% more on health care than the average wealthy nation, 40% more than our neighbors to the north is an honest claim, clearly enforced by the data, not perpetuated by left wing ideology. That Canadians get significantly worse health care or have to spend endless time in lines to receive it is a lie perpetuated not by ideologues, but profit takers. The claim that giving huge tax breaks to plutocrats will help the middle class is another lie, supported by profit takes, not ideologues. To claim that climate change needs urgent attention and is caused by carbon based energy is irrefutable, not ideological. To claim the idea is a hoax fabricated by scientists seeking funding is a lie perpetuated by profiteers of the energy industry. No right wind intellectuals engaged in this either. The claim that easy access to guns, especially guns designed for the mass killing of human beings do not contribute to gun violence is a right-wing lie that helps the gun industry sell guns. Whoever the conservative and liberal intellectuals are, they play very little role in our actual politics.

  48. I am Canadian and am always amused by characterizations of our Health Care by opponents south of the Border. Yes, there are sometimes wait-times and guess what they are not determined by whether you can pay to go to the front of the line but the seriousness of your condition. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, treatment began immediately. Our government spends more on health care because it is funded through taxes not paid through insurance. The ACA was a progressive step for the US to catch up with other industrialized nations but only a first step.

  49. I agree with Bret Stephens. In particular when he says, "As for the other side, it thinks it knows what’s True." Beware the idealogue regardless of what side they are on, as they are all dangerous.

  50. I would argue that both "sides" think they know what's true ideologically. As a liberal I think the Dems have a very weak case to offer to the public in 2018. They have failed to mentor younger candidates that could inspire millennials and they have taken down powerful voices like Al Franken's that spoke to the common good by denying due process in the heat of the hysteria of #metoo. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Chuck Schumer all signed on to that debacle. It is unfortunate that we are stuck with only these two parties to vote for. Neither gives voters a sense of hope re leadership that is truly dedicated to the common welfar and the ability to make democracy work.

  51. I’m not too worried about the Democrats becoming the mirror image of Republicans. The far-left is loud but fairly marginal; the bulk of the most energized resistance to Trump is from center to center-left good government types: https://democracyjournal.org/arguments/middle-america-reboots-democracy/. There are almost no examples of a far-left candidate winning a Democratic primary, much less a general election.

  52. The U.S. doesn't have a long-term domestic strategy, similar to what we have for national defense. So we neither define nor discuss realistic solutions to the "fights worth having": 1. Expanding health insurance to all. Unfortunately, the Tax Act is expected to increase this number by 13 million over a decade, from around 28 million to 41 million. 2. Reducing costs of healthcare. Unfortunately, the various ACA sabotage efforts will add around 40% to the costs on the ACA exchanges, raising the subsidies while the after-subsidy cost remains capped (e.g., harm to taxpayers but not those receiving the subsidies). 3. Reducing premature mortality in the poorer southern states that (incidentally) refuse to expand Medicaid under the ACA. 4. Getting assault rifles off the streets and funding more police for soft targets. Only yesterday the President proposed meaningful action consistent with what Democrats have proposed all along. 5. Making the economy more inclusive, via expanding higher educational opportunity. We've been setting records in household net worth since late 2012, but over 50% of that wealth goes to the top 1%. Instead of raising taxes on the rich and using that to fund college educations, we instead force students to borrow at ever-higher tuition prices. If we can agree on the goals, bad policy that goes the opposite direction can be stopped.

  53. In regard to #5, expanding educational opportunity is not a solution for society at large to economic disparity and unfairness. It is a solution for some people, individually. The "college for everyone" movement won't work, in part because of the dynamics of competition: the more people who have four yr. degrees, the more other people needed to get higher degrees to distinguish themselves from the crowd. I agree that college debt is obscene (my word) and can amount to a form of indentured servitude. Advanced education, specific training and finding ways to lay the groundwork for lifelong learning and development could succeed in broadening opportunity beyond those who get four yr. degrees. Better pay, returning dignity to all work, would be the quickest way to reduce gross inequality of incomes.

  54. While I agree with the column's core premise that negotiation and compromise are good and religious belief in the complete Truth of one's cause is bad, I cannot agree with the idea that we need the GOP to be a center-right party. We already have one of those: the Democratic Party. Stephens calls Diane Feinstein's loss of the Democratic nomination "depresssing," but it was plainly was not. She voted to invade Iraq, she supports the Patriot Act, she supports the death penalty, she supported a constitutional amendment to allow criminal punishment for physical injury to the flag, she opposes legalization of marijuana (suggesting it is a "gateway drug"), she supported expanding FISA to limit judicial review - etc. While she has clear left-center views on other issues, the ones listed are sufficient reasons to reasonably deny her a Democratic Party nomination, and far from "depressing." It is good to negotiate and compromise, but when you start from a position on the right, you wind up settling for results far to the right.

  55. Excellent post! In my view though her center-left position is confined to pro choice. She never met a war she did not support and she denied guns to others while she obtained her own concealed weapons permit. So much for her view of gun control, ok for me, but not for you. us army 1969-1971/california jd

  56. It’s not that conservative #NeverTrumpers shouldn’t express distaste for Trump’s persona, so unthinkable for a U.S. president. It’s that regardless of what they believe, he’s going to be around until 20 Jan. of either 2021 or 2025. Most people on the right realize this, so don’t see value in spending an INORDINATE part of their energies in wringing hands. It could make some sense if there were other Trumps awaiting power, but there is absolutely nobody on either side who credibly aspires to the presidency who is within galaxies of Trump in retrograde persona. Trump is unique – in our entire history as a nation. So what are those who make such a point about their rejection of him guarding against? Trump represents an historical discontinuity that offers the opportunity to do things we may not get to do again as a people and nation for generations. Most of us #PoohPoohNeverTrumpers want to get on with doing those things while the discontinuity remains open, instead of merely squandering the opportunity to address the profound national needs and failures that summoned the discontinuity and Trump, by consuming SO much energy merely in outrage and complaint. Reasonable people might look out to 2021 or 2025 and conclude, based on the evidence, that America will be a far more prosperous, more libertarian, less taxed, less intrusively governed nation that has re-grown the resolve and skills to confront and resolve global issues instead of forever kicking cans down roads.

  57. If it’s done right, we’ll be far better off in so many ways than we were at the end of the Dubya and Obama eras, more reliant on ourselves and less on an increasingly collectivist, intrusive governance by elites who KNOW how we should conduct our lives, and ALSO will have learned the price we must pay for allowing our political discourse to become SO dysfunctional that a Trump was necessary to mend it – and less likely to make the same mistakes until we again forget and need ANOTHER discontinuity to fix what we break. It’s understandable that the most excessive on the left would be a gibbering mass of “resistance” that offers little-to-nothing of value in moving us forward, because that vision of 2021 or 2025 denies their own ideological desires. But the Charens and Brets of the world give all the appearance of people who recognize what a good omelet looks like but just can’t bring themselves to break the eggs necessary to make it. Some need to get around to deciding whether they want to fully participate in bringing about that vision, or simply want to be thought of as politically correct.

  58. Dream on about being better off in 2020 than 2016: the chaos in the White House, the empty chair in the Oval Office and the GOP self obstruction of Congress will eventually cause a national political and economic crisis and the current regime will be swamped out of office.

  59. "Some need to get around to deciding whether they want to fully participate in bringing about that vision, or simply want to be thought of as politically correct." Just remember, folks, it's all about the "frame". In Richard Luettgen's framing of the discussion, "principles" are now just an expression of political correctness. Think about that for a moment. Every time a reader/writer in this forum, or anywhere for that matter, asserts a positive value, based on reason, and a moral and ethical code that rejects Trumpism, he or she is merely being politically correct. Mind-boggling.

  60. Kudos to Ms Charen for speaking the truth. You quote that 85% of Republicans still support Trump. But 85% of Americans do not. We cannot forget that that many millions of Trump voters were not Republicans. They were disallusioned Independents and Democrats. They are now more disallusioned than ever. These are the voters the Republicans need to fear. Hopefully the Democrats have learned their lessons and woo back these voters And do not forget, Trump is only in office because of the Electoral College. The Electoral College serves no purpose any more. It has given us two Presidents that the majority of voters did not vote for.

  61. I guess I have never taken a presidential-approval poll, but the up/down vote doesn't provide oportunity for nuance. "Do you approve of the job the president is doing on issue X?" "Yes or No" Does anyone love everything any elected official is doing? When we are our most partisan selves, the answer is likely yes. But in our quiet moments the answer is no. There are many who were originally NeverTrumpers who have chosen to support aspects of the Trump presidency while continuing to call out his worse impulses and those of the party. I don't see that as selling out. After all, isn't this what happens every primary season? You pick your favorite candidate among several and generally end up coalescing around the party nominee. I would put many at the National Review in that column. I, for one, applaud Ms. Charen for her courage. It's a travesty that many of those at CPAC booed her - or at least they were most vocal. I'm hoping her courage will get others on the right AND LEFT to do the same, as it seems Mr. Stephens is encouraging.

  62. I've always believed that we need a strong center. There will always be extremes, but most of us are not. Thinking, caring conservatives can keep Democrats from socializing everything (roads, prisons, public schools, and health care, in my opinion, should not be for profit) and imposing burdens that are counterproductive. Democrats must keep reminding conservatives that no, no, you with your inherited wealth, your daddy's important contacts, and all that adoration or expectation shining in your parents' eyes, you didn't exactly get where you are by yourself and your employees do not live by bread alone. I still think that it's Bill Clinton's fault. He was so to the center to be practically a Republican himself and this seems to have driven Republicans far to the right in search an an identity. If Trump is where they've landed, I am sure those with a heart and a brain have much to resist and ponder.

  63. "I've always believed that we need a strong center....most of us are not [extreme]." "I still think that it's Bill Clinton's fault. He was so to the center to be practically a Republican himself." Wanda, you're faulting Clinton for doing exactly what you've always believed we need? If Republicans rushed to the wingnut zone in response to a centrist Democrat, whose decision was that? It appears you yearn for "a strong center" maintained by a tug-of-war between extremes (Democrats who would socialize everything versus conservatives [I take it you mean Republicans] who would operate as entitled plutocrats). In this scenario, a president leading from the center, if Democrat, would once again botch that utopia because, in your analysis, Republicans lack the spine or vision to capitalize on an opportunity to cooperate, and must instead seek an oppositional identity at all costs. Presumably, however, an imaginary centrist Republican in the White House would display the balance, probity and collegiality needed for success. In today's House and Senate majorities of Trump mini-me's fearing their next primary challenge or town hall meeting, where exactly do you see such paragons?

  64. "What happened to the G.O.P. in 2016 could happen to the Democrats in 2020." It kinda sorta happened to the Democrats in 2016, didn't it? The Never Clintonites helped make President Trump possible by writing in Sanders, voting for Jill Stein, staying home, or actually voting for Trump, on the theory that this would "send a message" and teach us Clinton supporters a lesson. I wish my party HAD learned a lesson, to wit: Do not look to ideologues for consistent support in a hard-fought election. They will bail the moment your candidate fails to fully meet just one of their 1,001 criteria. There are people on all sides who believe "in the power of reason, the possibility of persuasion, and the values of the Enlightenment." We need to find each other--ASAP. 2020 is less than two years away.

  65. Not really, no. CLinton lost by losing WI, MI and PA. As a resident of the last, I can tell you that she did not make nearly the effort in PA that Obama did. Not even close.

  66. Her brilliant political consultants advised her to campaign in Texas, where she had zero chance and to not bother appearing in person in either Wisconsin or Michigan. No wonder she lost in both states very small margins. Sanders was not a candidate in the general election, so he clearly did not pull a single vote from Clinton. It is possible her support of war and wall street over the poor and middle class led to her defeat. us army 1969-1971/california jd

  67. "That’s why NeverTrumpers matter; why the Trumpers know they matter (which they prove every time they feverishly assert the opposite); and why progressives who dismiss NeverTrumpers as politically irrelevant are wrong. The United States is going to have a right-of-center party in one form or another, and it matters a great deal whether that party is liberal or illiberal, capable or incapable of shame." Bret: This is the crux of the matter.

  68. maybe usa could be a center party if the extreme left gets on board

  69. "That’s why NeverTrumpers matter; why the Trumpers know they matter (which they prove every time they feverishly assert the opposite); and why progressives who dismiss NeverTrumpers as politically irrelevant are wrong." This summary isn't quite right, and, in addition, seemingly ignores the most important question derived from that misunderstanding. First, even granting that we are here engaged in generalization, I think it is incorrect to say that progressives "dismiss NeverTrumpers". My counter generalization is that progressives view the Nevers as vitally important, and that they have mostly sat quietly for far too long. And, second, that relative inaction brings me to the question: What are the Nevers doing; what do they plan to do -- actually do, for example in the upcoming election? Vote straight Republican, again, as by habit; go third party; sit home, all of which are essentially constitute a vote for Trump? If it's any help, my own view is this: Were I a Republican (a la Bush, Reagan, etc.) I'd cross party lines. Were I a Democrat and Trump was leading the Democratic ticket, I'd cross party lines. Bluntly put, no responsible political party should contenance a Trump. Time to put country over party! So, what exactly are these Nevers going to do -- talk, write Op/Eds? Mr. Stephens?

  70. It's not necessarily intolerance that causes people to vote against Feinstein. A thoughtful person can reasonably think she is just too old for another 6 year term. Many businesses require leaders to step aside after age 65. The Senate seems to think we need 80 and 90 year olds. Are we to think that an Orrin Hatch (gushing praise for Trump), or John Conyers (wandering around in his pajamas) are intellectually the men they once were?

  71. She really needs to step down and give a younger able mind the position.

  72. It's absolutely true that we need good people on both sides of the political spectrum, and most especially need people who value reason. The problem comes when we try to define reason and reasonable. Are people on what is called today's far left unreasonable when they advocate single-payer health care? Should they be lumped in with the Second Amendment absolutists of the far right? The 85 percent of Republicans supporting Trump don't think choosing rabid populism was a mistake, and neither does the Republican Congress. They will argue that conscience demands support for assault weapons, deporting children, and cutting social programs. And they will gloat every time a judge who supports their views gets appointed to the court. At that point, what many of us would call "populist illiberalism" becomes the law of land, and pious notions of poetic justice and conscience winning in the end get thrown under the bus.

  73. republicans embrace representative government by a select few - not democracy democrats also endorse representative government by a select few - but with more input from all voices we do not have a true democracy where all persons have equal voice - one person one vote to decide the outcomes of elections NPV would be better than the electoral college outcome

  74. This is a great column. Extremism in any form is not helpful or needed in a Republican Democracy. Compromise is necessary to run a Republican Democracy.

  75. Stephens makes a valid point that the only hope for this country advancing from the stagnation we are mired in is if the right and the left compromise. Neither side can win any culture war. The people will determine the culture regardless of the laws. The "losing" side will always instantly become the resistance. But where Stephens goes wrong is in his dredging up of the false "equivalency" argument in which both sides of our political spectrum are equally wrong. Facts are facts in spite of Trump's attempt to introduce "alternate" facts. Hypotheses can be tested and proved or disproved by independent analysis. And there is no defense of Republicans supporting Trump's constant daily lying. It just exacerbates the tearing apart of the social fabric of our society. Republicans always propose alternate solutions to many of society's problems. The only true way to compromise is to try these alternate solutions and measure if they work. For example, let's evaluate the effectiveness of supply side economics. It has been tried several times, both on a federal as well as a state level. Has it ever worked? The evidence is that it has not, yet Republicans continue to push it as gospel. If Republicans cannot be convinced by evidence to change their positions they cannot be reasoned with. And that is where we are. The Republican party is in dire need of a reformation in which logic and science are brought back into conservative thinking replacing blind partisan faith.

  76. Anthony writes, "Compromise is necessary to run a Republican Democracy." Um, there is no such thing as a republican democracy...certainly not in today's political climate. For the current republican party, hatred of democracy is a core principle. Maybe what Anthony meant to write was "Democratic Republic". That is the United States...or, at least, used to be before republicans took over the government.

  77. One more conservative offers advice to liberals on how to kill the Frankenstein the right helped to create. When I hear Messrs. Stephens, Brooks and Douthat encourage all people to vote Democratic in November to remove Frankenstein's enablers then we'll know they're sincere.

  78. vote for independent progressive moderates of either party if you really want to save america for future generations

  79. "independent progressive moderates" from the Republican Party, Independent ? They're all in cemeteries. The only thing left today is Russian-Republicans.

  80. Democrats should take Mr. Stephens' advice with the same level of import the Red Sox would give to advice from the Yankees.

  81. The Democrats need a good purging to drive the detritus of the Democratic Leadership Council (read the Clintons and their camp followers/hangers on) out of the party. This way they can stop being Republican Lite, which just enables the unending craziness in the one time party of Lincoln. FYI- Bernie Sanders is not a wide eyed radical. He is where the Democratic Party stood that brought the New Deal, The Fair Deal, The New Frontier and the Great Society to this land. The party that helped create the broad Middle Class in this country, that sent GIs to College and made it broadly available to the masses. Same for home ownership. Same for Social Security which is NOT broke and is not a Ponzi scheme. The Republicans need to return to their roots as the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Gerald Ford, and turn their backs on the crazies that have dominated since just after Eisenhower.

  82. The Republican lite that brought us obamacare and a deal with Iran, protected abortion rights and unions and understood that climate change was real? Of course I'd prefer Bernie's policies. But I'd rather win with a sane and reasonably progressive candidate than lose with an idealist.

  83. David Gregory writes, "he Democrats need a good purging to drive the detritus of the Democratic Leadership Council (read the Clintons and their camp followers/hangers on) out of the party." When you find yourself in hole...first, you must stop digging. Rather than work within the Democratic party to produce change, Bernie supporters would rather destroy the party. The reason the Democratic party has moved to the right is the success of the propaganda campaign on the right that pulled in so much of the country. If Bill Clinton had a Democratic house for all 8 years of his presidency instead of just the first 2, he would have supported more progressive programs. Same with Barack Obama. Here's a clue...it doesn't matter how much honesty and integrity you have as a store owner if your advertising doesn't work well...and everyone is buying from the charlatan next door. And it's not that the charlatan has what people want...it's that he's convinced everyone that your goods are tainted. And people who should know better...so-called progressives...are buying that false advertising. So, they stay home and don't vote...or worse, they vote for Trump to send a message. Yeah...some message.

  84. Bill & Hillary Clinton presided over the destruction of the Democratic Party while serving and enriching themselves. While there is a propaganda campaign for the right, much of what both did was as destructive if not more so than anything Rupert Murdoch could have dreamed of. Bill Clinton signed off on gutting controls on Wall Street, Banking, and limits on Media ownership- not any Republican. Hillary voted for the Joe Biden authored Bankruptcy Bill that made student debt the mess it is today, voted for the Iraq War, was a 24/7/365 toady for Wall Street and has yet to find a war she didn't like. Bill Clinton lost his Congressional majority after Democrats in Congress passed tax increases that brought about a balanced budget. Advised by DLC geniuses, they ran away from their actions rather than owning up to them and telling voters they were necessary to bring the deficit under control. This allowed Newt & his cronies to take control.

  85. This is an excellent column. I would make an important distinction between ideologues and ideals. It's important to be aspirational, to have ideals and be willing to fight for social justice. It is when one refuses to compromise or shouts down the opposition in the name of righteousness that we lose our way. Preventing an opponent from speaking is just another type of assault.

  86. Laurence--Preventing hate speech is not an assault. The hate speech, itself, is an assault, and not covered by the 1st amendment.

  87. I'd like to see an honest Republican ask their own why they're fundamentally opposed to democracy. Why do they work full-time to suppress the vote via voter ID laws, restricted voting hours, polling places and voter access in poor neighborhood and expanded access in white neighborhoods, the unConsititutional gerrymander, Crosscheck state voter file purges using false positives, and a refusal to address Russian hacking and general manipulation of 'black box' voting machines that lack an audit trail ? What kind of political party refuses to even look in the mirror for a second or two to admit that tyranny of the minority is their official political modus operandi and that have fundamentally rejected the will of the American people, freedom of voting and representative democracy ? It's fine if you want to be a Republican and fight hard for unfettered greed, deregulation, the 'free-market', small government and other traditional or conservative ideas, but to actively suppress democracy shows that the Republican Party has been reduced to the Russian-Republican Party, hellbent on tyrannical power with little to no interest in America, except as a decrepit 3rd-world petro-state where Republican oligarchs and a czar run a corrupt oligarchic, oligopolistic economy that feeds the 1% while happily abandoning the Grand Old Peasant class to Grand Old Poverty and political professional wrestling. The real question is why has the Republican Party officially adopted Russian 'democracy' ?

  88. Socrates asks, "The real question is why has the Republican Party officially adopted Russian 'democracy' ?" A good question. A very good question. But not the topic of this article. And Bret was not defending today's version of the republican party, so why should he have answered that question? So...what does it say about someone who changes the topic to something they find more comfortable?

  89. Answer, because they could while they have a stooge who they know is owned by the Russians in financial debts to the tunes of billions. They just want to blow up the debt and take tax cuts for their highest donors.

  90. As to voting rights, I think deep-down, many Republicans view minorities and recent immigrants as second-class citizens who are fundamentally undermining “our culture.” In their view, it is okay to deprive certain people of their voting rights because it restores America to 1900 or some other WASP-privileged golden age.

  91. Bret Stephens was one his way to producing one of the most persuasive, well-argued op-eds this paper has published in quite some time. But he lost me when he compared the divide between NeverTrumpers and Trumpers to the rift taking place within the Democratic party. As Charen made clear in her address at CPAC, her disappointment had nothing to do with policy. She was rightly slamming the GOP for hypocrisy--for failing to heeds its collective conscience. The split on the left is all about policy. Democrats are fighting over how progressive the party's agenda should be, and how aggressively it should be pushed. There are no Roy Moores or Donald Trumps on the blue side of the line. It's true that "sometimes the fights most worth having are those with our own side." But as Mona Charen seemed to understand, not all fights are created equal.

  92. Well argued to note the difference between policy debate and the sacrifice of character for electoral success. Conservatives, however, no doubt justify their Faustian bargain as in the interest of policy (think Supreme Court appointments.) I ask, and not rhetorically, are liberals exempt from that temptation?

  93. "There are no Roy Moores or Donald Trumps on the blue side of the line." Funniest post of the day, thanks NA!

  94. You're welcome, Jeff NYC! If yours is an ironic response, name one.

  95. Brett Stephens is well-spoken and a voice of moderation on the topic of American political parties, But he overlooks a central fact. In the United States today there are issues that have no political solution; that cannot be compromised. The main ones are abortion and the right to own and fire weapons. These are matters of life and death. If they were conflicts between countries, they could only be resolved by war. In the United States they could be resolved only by secession, as was done in the run-up to the Civil War, or by one side overwhelming the other electorally.

  96. The 2nd Amendment is clear about a "well-regulated militia" that does not seemingly exist except in the Red Dawn fantasies of too many people. It's time to apply those words that are now apparently only selectively worshipped. Conservatives and their family members get abortions, of course. HIPA laws prevent us from finding out who and how many. But such conservatives (some of whom are politicians) are too craven to go public because anti-abortion absolutism serves their petty personal ambitions. Your civil-war solution denies reality. Honesty is the solution.

  97. It's so aggravating when conservatives, even reasonable ones, laud moderate democrats and praise their ability to compromise. As a conservative, I suppose i would have the same attraction to a strain of the opposition party that now, through compromise, resembles the republican party of the 1970s, when fealty to big business and tax cuts didn't encompass the right's entire ideological spectrum. The progressive wing of the democratic party isn't perfect and at its fringes it does resemble the fanatics of the right. But at least it's not ready to compromise what's left of decency and selflessness into oblivion.

  98. I am agreeing with you more often than I would have ever expected, which means at least one of us is changing. And I think we'd agree that's probably a step in the right direction.

  99. The current political fights in the U.S.? Both political parties never tire of declaring themselves to be for the truth, and both never tire of denouncing the fake, false, fraudulent, the perpetual hoaxes and corruptions of current existence. Yet both political parties have a peculiar theory of truth: The truth depends for its existence on massive censorship of dissenting viewpoints, control of the message, constant narrative that the truth is obvious therefore there is no point in even giving a hearing to anything else. Essentially both political parties have an ironic conception of truth: Something which is so self-evident yet apparently so fragile that repeatedly it is in danger of being swamped by the false and censorship and control is necessary. Essentially for all human emergence from religious points of view, the whole battle of good against evil, when it comes to theory of truth we are still entirely religious, that the truth is a good which is in danger of perpetually being swamped by the evil of the false and the good must war against the false by all means necessary, that no amount of control, censorship, containment is enough to win the day for the truth. In this vicious, low and cowardly atmosphere I declare any person degenerate whose viewpoint depends on the censoring of other viewpoints. If your truth is so fragile it depends on censorship then perhaps you are not for truth at all but rather for your own petty advantage. Does truth really need a war?

  100. Charen, Will, Kristol -- and, obviously, Stephens -- they are among those intellectual conservatives who refused to imbibe the Trump Koolaid. And, yes, progressives need to learn the same lesson and resist their own side's willingness to engage in sound-bite politics and policy.

  101. Brett is right to champion Mona Charen’s opposition to moral decay. However, he is wrong to draw a parallel between AntiTrumpists vs ProTrumpists and the problems in the Democratic Party. The Dems big problem is not in confronting the #MeToo movement, but in confronting the clash between raising funds from big donors and raising votes. The GOP has resolved this problem by choosing big donors that have succeeded in creating a well-oiled propaganda juggernaut that drowns opposition in a flood of misinformation and scurrilous sleaze. They’ve made voters irrelevant because their supporters can be stampeded like lemmings by the Hannity’s, Limbaugh’s, Fox News, Twitter, Facebook, and fact-free TV harangues. The Dems are tempted to follow this well funded lead, but there is opposition. There is confusion over whether this conflict is about sanity and reason or about who pays the bills. Sanders and Warren are not about cramming crazy ideas down voters’ throats, but about escaping thralldom to special interests so sanity and reason can play a part.

  102. It is no accident that a person as morally bankrupt as Donald Trump would seek "loyalty" above all else in his subordinates - even above competence, and certainly above humanity. This trope is now prevalent on both sides of the aisle, but is perhaps more pervasive among those who still call themselves Republicans - the dehumanization of those who are not unthinking supporters of "our tribe". Barack Obama used to remind us that one must be prepared to compromise with one's opponents, even - perhaps especially - when you know that you are right. And there are moral "bright lines", actions or positions which are unconscionable in advancing one's interests (e.g., "stealing" a seat on the Supreme Court, destroying access to healthcare). Republicans, and especially Donald Trump, love to deride such scruples as weak - but the energy of their derision belies their conviction.

  103. Feinstein is also 85 and will be 91 at the end of the next Senate term. That's a pretty good reason not to endorse her, apart from Mr. Stephens' argument

  104. If the core Trumpists are 15-20% of the population, they may comprise a very influential large minority if not a small majority of what is today’s Republican Party. If one calls the Trump core right-of-center, it seems impossible for this core to be liberal as discussed by Stephens. It may be the only way to solve this dilemma is to create a new center-Right party, isolating the Trump core. What is perhaps most distressing about Stephen‘s comments is equating people like Sanders, Warren, and other more progressive Democrats as similar to the Trump core: not believing in reason, the possibility of persuasion and so on. To the extent that the Trump core remains in the Republican Party and is supported by the likes of Ryan, McConnell, etc., one wonders how the Democrats can work with the Republican Party and can accomplish anything that resonates with the majority of American voters, whether it is gun safety, tax policy, health care, or dealing with inequality and precarious state of most wage earners.

  105. Only in the current GOP can a person speak honestly and act with the personal integrity expected of all adults and be considered and lauded as "courageous".

  106. Excellent column save for this: "a parallel contest is taking shape within the Democratic Party, most visibly in the rift between traditional liberals and the social-justice warriors of what used to be the far left. Dianne Feinstein’s failure this week to claim her party’s nomination for the Senate seat she’s held since 1992 is another depressing indication that the rift is widening." The Sanders wing is not the left wing analogue to Trumpism. Nor is Diane Feinstein the Mona Charen (or Brett Stephens) of the left. Diane Feinstein is 84; said she would retire; and should do so, The refusal to endorse her is a desire for fresh blood. Note, her opponent was not endorsed either.

  107. I hope Winston Churchill was right when he said "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."

  108. This column suggests a parallel question for the Democrats: should they purge the more radical leftists? Should they encourage them to leave or create conditions under which they will "self deport"? The answer is no. The Republicans will still find new ways for vicious attacks and would, if necessary, pretend the radical elements were still present. Indeed, they would invent them. Beyond this, the fringe elements help to inform in the middle and identify problems that would otherwise go unnoticed and unaddressed. If we ever get to some form of universal health care insurance, the farther elements on the left should get at least grudging credit. Even if the methods proposed as solutions don't always work, the more distant left at least pursues ideals of equality, justice and a decent life for all (the far right does, too, but operates under the belief that it can never be reached except through individual action, property rights and big paychecks for themselves, selfishness as a virtue). Of the 85% of professed Republicans who say they still support Trump, at least half of that number represent a "ha! ha!" vote: they love Trump because 99% of Democrats loathe his very existence, cultural warfare. The rest of Republicans like the tax cuts for the rich and the anti-immigrant stance. Are Republicans even patriots any more if they are willing to risk everything, the survival of the nation, to be against abortion and for tax cuts? That's a question they need to ask themselves.

  109. I would have thought that I was a progressive Democrat until I moved to Berkeley in 1990. There I was seen as a conservative due to my pragmatic views, as the progressives shot themselves in the foot voting for Nader, then trying to blame us liberals for the Democratic downfall. I rarely agree with Stephens, but after experiencing the irrationality of progressive DINOs, I believe he is correct.

  110. I agree regarding NeverTrumpers; but disagree that there is a parallel situation on the left. The left is not in a fight between far left illiberals and traditional liberals; it is in a fight between left wing "progressives" (not far left - they are in no way as extreme as the far right-wing movement that Trump commandeered), and Clinton Democrats, who marginalized liberalism to pursue neoliberalism and moderate conservatism, distancing themselves from their former base, the working class. Post WW2 liberalism - a combination of social liberalism and traditional liberalism, minus the laissez-faire approach to economics - is virtually unrepresented by either side. Clinton Democrats have taken the Democratic Party to the brink of irrelevance by marginalizing liberalism and buying into conservative economic and even social principles, and the progressive left, while socially liberal, lack the balance that post WW2 liberalism would provide because it lacks commitment to civil liberties and some checks and balances on government power. Post WW2 Liberalism can only make a comeback on the left if it is embraced by up and coming political and philosophical leaders, and many of them don't even remember a time when Democrats were liberal. Still, there are a few geezers left who have not given up on fighting for liberalism on the left. And it sure would help if NeverTrumpers became allies in repudiating the demonization of liberalism and liberal government on the right.

  111. I consider myself ideologically liberal but more of a moderate when it comes to the actual practice of politics. So a small piece of me wants to agree with Mr. Stephens' criticism of Democratic activists in this piece. But anytime I hear someone making this argument (no one has the sole claim to "Truth"), I would encourage them to carry their same argument back to the '60s (either 19th or 20th century) and see if it holds up.

  112. Stephens uses Mona Charen's respectable stand against the right-wing extremism to engage in false equivalency to bash the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Just because the right wing of the Republican Party has gone off the deep end does not mean the left wing of the Democratic Party has done so. While the right wing is arming teachers, building a border wall, shredding international agreements, cutting social security and medicare while expanding the deficit to reduce the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, the progressives are working for universal health care and access to college, addressing climate change and trying to raise the minimum wage. While this agenda has probably been strengthened by the radicalism of the right, and there may be a few on the far left who refuse to work with centrists on principle, any divisions on the left are minimal compared with the unifying force of opposing Trump's disastrous presidency. Just because the right wing has gone to Crazy Town does not mean the left wing will join them there.

  113. If we're talking Jill Stein or the quaint notion that Bernie Will Yet Sweep To Vic'try, yeah, it actually has. Pretty tired of the screaming at Diane Feinstein from people who've no idea what she's accomplished, and seem to think throwing out the knowledgeable and competent is a Always A Good Idea. By the way, any of you folks ever wonder about the recent Leftiah tendency to demonize women with whom you disagree?

  114. Diane Feinstein is in her eighties. I don't consider the California party's desire for political renewasl a 'depressing indication that the rift is widening', just common sense.

  115. An excellent column from Mr. Stephens, demonstrating, again, the NYT's wisdom and foresight in getting him to "jump ship" from the WSJ and providing a solid beat-down of those Puritanical Progressives who cringed openly when he became a columnist at their precious paper. If the GOP is to remain relevant as the center-right standard bearer in American politics once the dust settles after the Trumpist's conflagration burns out, it needs to understand that both Moynihan and Buckley would have been early and loud NeverTrumpists.

  116. I believe that Barack Obama was an ideal centrist President would could never gain any traction with Party of No Republicans. America had a centrist for eight years and look how well that worked. He is still very popular and respected by most Democrats and probably could beat Trump hands-down if an election were held today. In many respects, the lock-step Republican attitude toward Obama produced Bernie Sanders. Maybe a realization dawned on many Democrats early on that another centrist (Hillary) wasn't generating much enthusiasm in the Rust Belt and in the heartland. So, why not fight fire with fire. I'm not sure that Bernie could have defeated Trump but at least it would have been a barn burner of a campaign. However, Trump's victory and his first year in office has convinced lots of independent voters that draining the swamp is the last thing we got with Trump. Maybe a less exciting and non-bombastic centrist has more of a chance to bring Americans together than whirling dervish in the Oval Office. Anyway, what's so great about breaking all of our institutional norms? This bread and circus stuff is really getting old.

  117. I agree with you, except in I'd like to add one small nuance in your Sanders theory. You see, Obama knew income inequality was becoming a problem in America. It was not big news when Sanders made it a focal point in his campaign. Obama chose not to pursue the issue in 2012 because, in his opinion, it had bad optics. Romney was busy telling everybody the moochers were getting too many handouts from the government. If Obama started talking about income inequality, it would have been thrown back in his face as another effort to give a handout to moochers. He'd already gotten zero support with Obamacare. Actually, as you know, he got zero support on everything. It wasn't the climate for an income inequality message. But, that didn't stop Sanders. I'm sorry we have to endure Trump for the short while, but after 'birtherism,' I came to realize the right has become entirely unhinged. We need a shakeup, and people like Stephens, instead of fixing the problem in his house, just likes to tell Democrats that they are just as bad. Well, we are not. If we could just get the Sanders and Clinton brands of Democrat to stop sniping at each other, we'd be a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, we can't seem to get a little lock-step of our own going.

  118. One reason Dianne Feinstein did not receive an "endorsement" is voters are tired of career politicians. This is often more newsworthy on the Republican side, and therefore not mentioned in the media. Of course it is far better for conservatives to promote a rift in the Democratic party beyond reality.

  119. It should also be noted that Ms. Feinstein is well along in years, and the country might benefit from younger folks leading us into the future. This is coming from another senior citizen, and not meant to be ageist at all. But it will benefit the Democrats to have younger people in place to go forward.

  120. Both parties (but especially Republicans) tend to think that their electoral victories are due to support for their policies instead of dissatisfaction with the policies of the opposition party.

  121. "As for the other side, it thinks it knows what’s True. It considers compromise knavish. It views debate — beyond its own tightly set parameters — as either pointless or dangerous. And while it sees itself as the antithesis of Trumpism, it is, in its raging intolerance and smug self-satisfaction, Trumpism’s mirror image." I despair of my fellow Democrats. They have no idea they've been fed by Republican opposition work and foreign trolls, and that their hatred is being carefully cultivated by people who do not share their purity monster. Democrats, if you want to defeat people like Bret Stephens who believes the tax cuts are righteous and the environment isn't all that serious, don't boycott the NYT and hating on him, stop cannibalizing your allies. Listening to him is useful. Gail Collins does a good job in their Conversations. Monbiot put it well: "I should confess that sometimes the left drives me round the bend. The meetings, the posturing, the infighting: it can be infuriating. The old adage that the right looks for converts while ***the left looks for traitors is all too often true.***" http://www.monbiot.com/2018/02/22/wheel-of-fortune/

  122. Indeed, being booed at CPAC is an honor. It's making a negative work in reverse. If one cannot be sure of where someone stands by the company they keep, perhaps observing their foes can help. Those who have been booed, persecuted, and ostracized by CPAC, Trump, Ryan, McConnell et al. for me have been awarded a recommendation of sort, a backward compliment. Mona Charen is one of those conservatives of integrity, who principles have not been for sale. She entered the lion's den and spoke truth to power. A true profile in courage. We need more Mona's and less sycophantic Republicans who continue to kowtow to Trump. The man is a disgrace to this nation. DD Manhattan

  123. I guess one could say that this old timer (me), a rather liberal Democrat in spite of my age, considers among my closest friends Republicans of the "old school." Although the term was not around several decades ago, these kind people were "Never Trumpers" as they remain today. How is that possible? Well, they like thousands of others have moral compasses with senses of justice and fairness, are compassionate and empathetic. Mr. Stephens points out that just because one has an "R" after her or his name that does not mean that they are bigots, racists, philanderers, or hypocritical Christians who save the unborn at the expense of the living. In other words, we should not impugn these folks because of the inept being sitting in the Oval Office. If we do, we are no better than those who judge us ruthlessly just because we read the Times and watch MSNBC rather than read Breitbart News and watch FOX and company. Thank you, Mr. Stephens, for words well written.

  124. That all depends on how you define fights that are worth fighting. When Vladimir Putin fights his foes end up in prisons, hospitals, mental institutions, urns and coffins. When Donald Trump fights his foes end up smiling and smirking at his tweets and speeches. When Barry Goldwater fought and lost in 1964 he begat Ronald Reagan's occupation of the White House from 1980-1988. When Hubert Humphrey fought and lost in 1968 he begat George McGovern in 1972. Mona Charen is none of the above. Nor is she a Buckley, a Moynihan or a Stephens. Mr. Stephens pretends to mean well toward the pink Bolshevik American liberal left-wing. But the road to Hades is paved with golden good intentions.

  125. What bothers us liberals about Ms. Charen and indeed about Mr. Stephens himself is they act as if they had not part in creating the Party of Trump. To the contrary, both have cheered at every step along the way. Is the Party of Trump racist at its core? Well, Ms. Charen and Mr. Stephens had to be blinkered not to see the racism endemic in the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan began his first presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi and won by talking about “welfare queens.” Is the Party of Trump anti-intellectual? Well, where have Ms. Charen and Mr. Stephens been all these years while Republicans fought against climate science and even the theory of evolution? Is the Party of Trump bigoted? Both Ms. Charen and Mr. Stephens are old enough to remember 2004, when George Bush won a second term, in part, by placing measures outlawing gay marriage on state ballots. So great, you’re both late converts. But can you acknowledge your prominent roles in creating what you now claim to hate?

  126. Diane is 84. I am 72. I favor a younger brain to deal with current problems. There is dignity and intelligence in knowing when to exit the stage and join the audience. Trump is another of us over 70 who needs the hook.

  127. Putin agrees with Bret Stephens. His disinformation campaign discovered that both right wing and far left were amenable to propaganda. If you know "what's True", it's much easier to influence you to believe that the other side is evil. Advantage - Russia.

  128. Trumpism is anti-conscience. Tradition, particularly economic- and christian-based traditions, (skewed white) have provided structure to the GOP for the last century. How can the GOP hope to salvage that?

  129. Standing ovation for Mr. Stephens from this traditional liberal! He is right about his own tribe, and equally about Democrats, who would do well to listen, before (again) snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Liberals of Perpetual Outrage are alienating all Republicans, and many Democrats as well. The identity politics movement has gone beyond the correction of past evils, and has become an outright racist, sexist attack on anyone with the misfortune to be born with White Privilege or the Original Sin of having a Y chromosome. Anyone who believes in applying the rule of existing law to immigration is labeled a Nativist/Racist. The Democratic leaders, especially Nancy Pelosi, have made it clear their most important priority is to admit more (illegal) immigrants. I sympathize with Dreamers and believe in a path to citiizenship, but our first priority should be helping Americans. It's time to return to the traditional Democratic values, going back to FDR, of helping the little guy, who is disadvantaged by a rigged economic system. We must see that all citizens have access to health care, education, and a fairly compensated job (backed by unions) regardless of color, religion, ethnicity, or beliefs. Return to those values, and we will see an overwhelming Democratic victory fueled by the return of many Trump voters. Stick with identity poitics and illegal immigration, and lose (again) to Trump. Its' that simple.

  130. Even Bannon, acknowledges the truth in what you post. "As long as the democrats engage in identity politics---I've got them." Democrats can do as you urge them to do and return to their working class roots---and start winning elections again. Or they can follow the advice of the dopey Joy Ann Reid and ignore white males in particular and the entire working class in general---and watch Trump get reelected. Oh, and anyone on either side of the aisle who thinks they have heard the last of Bannon, will soon find out how sorely mistaken they are.

  131. This is a confusing column. Charen appears to be a no-compromise Conservative who stands for what's "True" on principle, regardless of the aggressive Trump-over-principle compromisers in her party. But, when it comes to Progressives, Stephens holds that they need to abandon principle in order to support their party's power broker/compromisers? Does Stephens think John Kelly is right about the Civil War's "cause"-- a failure to "compromise"? And, is that Charen's "failure", as well?

  132. The other think NeverTrump's do is give a future landing spot to the Trumpers. A kind of future plausibility deniability. That 85% approvable rating Corrupt Donnie has will magically shrink once he is out of office.

  133. Stephens nails it with his description of the fissure within the democratic party. Nowhere is it more obvious than on the gun issue. Just read many of the comments here in the NYT. People recoil at the adamant insistence and self righteous indignation of Huckabee-Sanders or Stephen Miller, yet indulge in identical absolutism when it comes to their various solutions to the "gun problem", including deleting the 2A and "lock them up". As Bret says "it is, in its raging intolerance and smug self-satisfaction, Trumpism’s mirror image." It's also the means by which the DNC manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory so reliably. This is not to excuse or support the GOP, who've collectively lost their minds in supporting the unregistered foreign agent currently in the oval, and giving him a pass on high crimes and misdemeanors (to say nothing of treason). But the GOP is not nearly as divided and doesn't dither 1/10th of what the democrats do.

  134. So, of course, the so-called progressives are not going to like this article. They are not going to like it because it hits a little too close to home. Okay...that's inaccurate...it hits very, very close to home. How many "progressives" voted for Trump when they couldn't have Bernie? How many progressives agreed with Stein that it was better to elect Trump than Clinton. How many progressives take exactly the same line as the Trump base...our way or the highway. How many progressives ate up every word of the alt-right and Russian bot propaganda machine...and are still doing so. The difference between Trump and his followers...and Bernie and his followers is: Bernie. Could the reason that the alt-right and Russia did not go after Bernie be that they realized many of Bernie's followers were as unreasonable as the typical republican...and could easily be influenced by hateful lies? Sheeple are the same, whether right or left. They want to be led. If their first choice is no longer in the game, then maybe with some good old-fashioned political lies, they can be co-opted by the other side. That said, I can't let old school Democrats off the hook. They have capitulated over and over again to the republicans...and that has to stop. Democrats need both principles and backbone...along with reason and the ability to compromise.

  135. Trying to have your cake and eat it too? You criticize and complain about true democrats who refuse to accept republican-lite Clinton. Then you turn around and say that corporately owned, mainline democrats, must stop capitulating to republicans. So sorry, you can't have it both ways. Sanders, Warren, and a very small handful of others, are about the only democrats with anything resembling a spine. You cannot compromise with the likes of Ryan, McConnell, and Cruz. Obama finally learned that lesson---years too late You should too.

  136. It’s an old game to argue that the far left and the far right are basically equivalent, and more similar than they acknowledge, because their adherents are equally uncompromising and prepared to exert authority, silence dissenters, and impose their ideology on The People. Trotsky made way for Stalin. The Chinese Communists, once they gained power, eliminated or forcefully “reeducated” any person who could be defined as bourgeois. And yes, Ms. Charen showed great courage when she spoke out at CPAC, criticizing Trumpites, and wrote her column for the Times. But far-right Trumpites and far-left Bernie Bros are not equivalent. One group, when gathered into rallies, applauds speakers who preach nativist hatred and racism, and who call on Jesus Christ to lead the battle against Muslims. The other group gets all excited about government-supported healthcare. They like Medicaid. Any political party that could rally behind Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, the NRA, devout Mike Pence, devout Scott Pruitt, and their allies is, well, just plain stinking. Corrupt. Profoundly unAmerican. Dangerous not only to US citizens but to the whole world. Sorry. As a moderate Dem, a disappointed Hillary supporter, I’d take Elizabeth Warren and Bernie over Donald Trump any day.

  137. I recently read a column by Max Boot, a conservative columnist for the WaPo (and who used to write for the WSJ and Commentary): "If This Is What Conservatism Has Become, Count Me Out." He expresses thoughts similar to both Charen and Stephens. Go read the comments posted underneath his column. They're vile, hate-filled ad hominem attacks, similar to the way that conservatives have attacked liberals on Fox News and other conservative media for many years. A big part of me is enjoying watching the conservative movement implode and cannibalize its own. And I'm finding it hard to have sympathy for Stephens, Boot, Charen, Brooks, and all the rest of the "reasonable" conservatives who are horrified to see what has happened to their movement. Why? Because the conservative movement has been speaking/acting this way for 20+ years! But they could dismiss and/or ignore it, because the overt hatred and wacky lies were "only" coming from "fringe elements" like Breitbart and the Federalist. However, they failed to notice that the garbage was actually more widespread than that; Fox News has been this divisive, conspiratorial, and hate-filled all along. The only difference now is that the rise of Trump has normalized abhorant behavior, brought it to the surface where they could no longer ignore it. This NOT a new conservative movement; it's the same hate-filled conservative movement that you've been blindly supporting all along. Welcome to the woke world.

  138. I applauded Mona Charen and will applaud any no-Trumper Republican for challenging what has become a majority of quiescent Trump toadies in the GOP. But I would also like to see Brett question why Republican members of Congress refuse to exercise oversight or even try to rein in the rampant corruption of this administrationm, the flagrant influence peddling of Jared Kushner, the profligate travel expenses and office "redecoration" of Cabinet secretaries, the amount of money spent on Trump's golfing weekends in Florida and New Jersey. And I would like to see Brett's rhetorical skills focus on the real fight worth having, namely Congress' failure to address Trump's dereliction of duty, if not treason, in giving aid and comfort to our Russian enemies. As the Economist points out, while his intelligence chiefs have long viewed Russia's cyberwarfare as a security threat "at no point did Mr. Trump express any concern for the safety of American democracy."

  139. Sadly enough, I think fighting the populist threat fiercely is what Democrats thought they were doing when they nominated Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. And we saw how that turned out.

  140. I admire you, Mr. Stephens, and I greatly admire Ms. Charen for how she stood up against intolerance and fascism in her party. And I’m a lifelong Democrat and former Californian. Not all of us on the Left choose to only think about ourselves. Some of us, who think long and hard about patriotism, realize that, in a democracy, we have to strive for a middle that somehow takes all of us into consideration. If only the other side did so. As for Dianne Feinstein, I’m one of her former constituents, beginning when she withstood the horrors of the assassinations of Moscone and Milk in San Francisco. She acted with dignity. However, I believe many in California feel that she no longer represents most Californians. It’s not about age; it’s about money. She is very, very rich, and white. I believe Californians, and other Democrats outside the state, want leaders who better reflect the populace and want to see money out of politics, on the left and the right. Believe it or not, many of us don’t honk along party lines. We think about all of us. All the GOP seems to do is to hate just about everybody. A party like that is just scary. I’ll opt for inclusion, even if somewhat extreme, of hate and exclusion any day.

  141. Feinstein is rich and white? What about her qualifications? What about what she has stood for and done? I don't live in California, but I believe those are the factors that matter. Not her race or income.

  142. The Dems need a strong, clear message. Here is what I believe it should be: The overriding Democratic message should be the same one that Bernie Sanders put forward on campaign financing and the need to rid our political system of big money's influence. IF we are able to get big money out of politics, then many of things Americans favor overwhelmingly can be accomplished legislatively. Until then, the 1 percent who now use money as speech will have the biggest megaphones and continue to call all the shots.

  143. Too bad Mr Stephens, like so many never-Trump conservatives, has to mar an otherwise sensible article by straining to find an equivalent in the Democratic Party to the insanity and loss of reason and principal that now afflicts the GOP and the conservative movement. In citing the failure of the Democratic Party in California to officially support Dianne Feinstein he stretches the point a good bit. It's certainly true that some of Feinstein's positions on policy have been jarring for many Democrats, such as her misguided support for George W Bush's tax cuts back in the day. But the fact is California Democrats may simply want a fresh face, someone of a new generation to carry on the fight. There are far too many octogenarians in the Senate in both parties and its way past time for them to finally surrender the perks and prestige that come with membership of that exclusive club in favour of a younger and, perhaps, more energetic generation.

  144. I think you might be over-thinking the reason Sen. Feinstein didn't receive the backing of her party, Brett. A lot of us think that six-term, 80-year-old Senators have done everything they can for their country, and it's time for them to step aside. Apparently, Senators Grassley and Feinstein didn't get the memo.

  145. As someone who is himself working well past "retirement age" I see no inherent problem in octogenarians continuing to work in the congress. Nor is age a bar to sensible representation of the people. After all Bernie Sanders is also no spring chicken. However, there does come a time when a fresh face and a new approach can be valuable and in this congress dominated by old white men that time is now. It is time for congress to reflect the reality of the American population, and quite honestly old white men and women are no longer the majority in this country. Why do they continue to have all the power and all of the rewards? Not that they should be ignored or neglected but they should not and cannot be dominant to the exclusion of everyone else.

  146. Bravo, Bret Stephens!

  147. I saw her performance. That was a pretty liberal thing to do!

  148. That was a human thing to do. Or have we been reduced to mere political cariacatures?

  149. I agree that the op-ed published by Mona Charen was a very good one. But there is also a failure by Mona Charen and her Conservative-Never-Trump to recognized their responsibility in the raise of Donald Trump. She worked for Ronald Reagan. Remember the welfare queen? Which was a lie. Which Ronald Reagan was always making sure to tell that she was black. All the policy which hurts the American working class. Causing anger, despair which was exploited by a demagogue like Trump to get elected years later. And do not gorget all the bigots, the segregationists, the racists who were welcome with open arms by the establishment of the Republican Party when they left the Democratic Party.

  150. Conservatives have always assumed that whatever serious moral danger American society faced emanated from the left. Turned out they were wrong, but only by 180 degrees. Bret still has not asked himself the question, what in the conservative mind makes it open to Trumpism? He devotes his column to again warning that the left is moving toward extremism, as in the shocking example that California Dems did not endorse an octogenarian for re-election. Stalinism must be the next step! Lately this has been a common theme of anti-Trump conservative columnists who are struggling with cognitive dissonance. Bret, when your own house is on fire, your attention should not be on whether your neighbor’s lawn needs cutting.

  151. It would be nice if there were a “Left” and a “Right” to wax philosophically about anymore but there is not. The corporate-ocracy has obscured any real philosophical or humanistic difference. Both sides endorse endless war and “free trade”, neither side endorses universal healthcare, or free college tuition, or repealing the Second Amendment to substantially improve the lives of millions. What we get are shades of grey. There are those that demean and assault women on both sides. There are those who are comfortable in their right to white privilege on both sides. And, given the sordid drama of the 2016 elections, there are those who would pervert the electoral process on both sides. What we are looking at is the changing of the guard, generationally. The Millennials will inherit the Earth while the Baby Boomers fight to keep them at bay. The nation should always have a center left government with a substantial center right opposition party. Any listing to an extreme is destabilizing. Ethical moral, and patriotic motives should be the backbone of either side. Corporatism destroys this balance leading to the presently obscene and destructive income inequality. Moderate Republicans with consciences should abhor this condition as much as so called Liberal Democrats. The Democrats whiffed and now the Republicans are championed by a lying, opportunistic buffoon. Parsing partisanship is foolish at this point. The question to be asked of any and all is: “Have you no decency?”

  152. I believe Dianne was denied CA party endorsement, not the nomination, which she will likely win. As a lifelong Dem, I am sick of the purity police. They are reminding me of the 2009 Tea Partiers.

  153. Be sure and vote in the primary!

  154. One thing I didn't like about Obama was his refusal to 'fight' for his Supreme Court judge. He knew how important it was. So, why didn't we see him focus bright light on that, talk non-stop about the Constitutionality of his and his appointee's rights, and go to the Congress and lead and stage a dramatic 'fight' for him? No, he's not the fighting kind. And look what we got. No, being quiet and intellectual and well-reasoned only goes so far in this world. We're seduced by money; just about all of us. How much are Bill and Hillary worth now, compared to before his presidency? And the Obama's? Yes, easily had we all are. So, we must fight against our baser instincts: selfish greed. We have not; we have embraced it. Our current President is probably the best (worst) example of who the Americans are. Lost, self-centered, angry, vain, self-pitying tools of great destruction. Too harsh? Nah, that is US, today. What to fight for? Compassion, healing, equality, ecology, community, honor, respect, housing, health care, common good, tax policy, etc. So much to fight for; we're probably intimidated by that, intimidated by the responsibilities of being a citizen in a democracy (we don't have the time or energy). Trump is so bad, such a liar, cheat, greedy fraud, fake that many are starting to rebel. Slowly, reluctantly, starting to rebel. We've forgotten how. It's over 100 years since workers died in the streets for a 40 hour week. We don't know how to fight. Now or never.

  155. Agree about the failure to fight tooth and nail for his nominee. Early on, I thought he took a carefully reasoned, moderate in the extreme approach - because as the first black President, he would be attacked as some sort of extremist. Well ,they attacked anyway, and there was not a thing to lose by fighting for the Justice position. We lost badly. There are very few people still working who have any memory of Union organizing, any sense of how much people risked to secure living wages, and benefits that stabilized family life.

  156. The problem or challenges expansively growing within the Republican Party are fueled by misogyny, racism and classism. Republicans and Democrats have to come to terms with how Trump and his ilk used this fact to manipulate and cajole a large majority of Republicans to vote against their own interests. Trump doesn't care about abortion rights, fighting racism, sexism and creating economic and educational opportunities for the American Public. He cares about his wealth and ego and ONLY his wealth. Putin recognized this and played to Trump's weakness, his adolescent narcissism. I urge Americans of both parties to give up your fascination with his irresponsible Twitter outbursts. Hold Trump accountable for his dishonesty, greed and his manipulative behavior. He used you. We need to hold him and every politician who looked the other way accountable. We owe it to the coming generations. We don't have to allow horrid historic acts to repeat themselves. We can learn from our mistakes and move forward wiser and respectful of the gift and responsibility that aligns with freedom,

  157. That 85% of Republicans supporting President Trump comes close to the purity of authoritarian countries where people don't have the right to vote. The Republicans have more and more in common with their Russian friends. In past elections in Russia, 100% of the people in Chechnya voted in favor of United Russia, but in the last election in 2012 President Putin's party took a comparatively paltry 99.51%. In that last election in 2012 fraud included ballot boxes appearing at voting places before the election already full of votes, busses filled with "voters" being shuttled from polling place to polling place so "voters" could vote, again and again: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/04/vladimir-putin-majority-co... Do you think this Republican "solidarity" with the Russians and Putin is why the Republicans in Congress and Trump don't want to really get to the bottom of the Russian interference in our presidential election in 2016? I'm beginning to think that all the Republicans are on the take with the Russians. I'm beginning to think that the Republicans realize they need the help of the Russians to retain power in the U.S. and that's why the Republicans don't want to do anything about the obvious threat the Russians pose to us in the November elections this year. The very idea that President Trump has not held one cabinet meeting about Russian interference and the Republican Congress doesn't care is outrageous, no, Mr. Stephens?

  158. The phrase I want to tease out of this fine pice concenrns liberals discounting Never Trumpers. To tyhe contrary, I, a liberal, admire them and indeed, have my hopes pinned on them. They hold the power to, at nexrt election, curb the power of this horrifying man.

  159. Mr. Stephens is again making a false equation between Trumpies and liberal Democrats who merely assert that the the corporate wing of the Democratic Party has outlived its usefulness. He is writing from that fantasyland in which there is simply no knowledge of conservatives in other nations who would, for instance, never suggest that socialized medicine be ended in their countries.

  160. "The fabric of an open society is more frayed than most people realize, and it is coming unraveled from more than one end." I agree with much of your article, but think there's more to it than that. We were taught there were three branches of government: executive (this one not won by popular vote); legislative (after working eight years to oppose President Obama on everything, now working to destroy his legacy and please their 'donors'); and judicial (Garland's pirated seat going to the pretender Gorsuch). But I've come to realize there are two other distinct branches of government: corporate and the NRS (and their goals are not ours). And possibly yet a sixth: Russian (yet to be determined). Yes, the fabric of our society has too many rips and tears to offer much, if any, cover for We the People...

  161. Feinstein is one of the country’s most conservative Democratic Senators, in one of its most liberal states. The last poll I saw had her beating her main challenger by thirty points. This is not exactly a harbinger of violent revolution. Yes, her more liberal constituents are frustrated with her. As a moderate Democrat who hates Trump, I myself am frustrated with her, and happy that her challenger is nudging her to the left. But she’ll never be anywhere near Bernie Sanders. If anything, given how many more Democrats are running this cycle, it’s notable how few are challenging Democratic incumbents. The few here and there have gotten inordinate attention, but the vast majority of the left is showing remarkable unity. We are fighting together where it matters, the ballot box.

  162. I also hate to say it, less I -another senior - be called out for agism - but she is 84. She's be over 90 when the next term ends I have great respect for her abilities, but Democrats need new and younger faces, and I wish some of the old heads had recognized their responsibility to pass on the power- to search out and encourage a new generation of politicians. IF you don't find a graceful end to public office, eventually you will be shown the door.

  163. If there were only Republicans in the U.S. and Republican ideas throughout the entire world would Republicans still be fighting and fidgeting among themselves?

  164. Only sheer illiteracy about what the Enlightenment was could allow someone to write that it "champion[ed] social solidarity for the sake of empowering the individual." In fact the Enlightenment was radically individualistic—'sapere aude—championed its notion of Truth, yes with a capital T, and resented having to ever compromise with what it saw as the forces of irrational conservatism, which were made relevant only by their residual inherited power. Which, ironically, is what Bret Stephens and NeverTrumpers (who, just be the numbers are poltically irrelevant, and no, facing angry comments in reply to your column in the national paper of record is not the same as Stalinism) are: relevant only because some residual locus of power hasn't been swept away by the changing tides of history.

  165. There is so much nonsense in this column it's hard to know what to unpack first, but let's start with the supposed moral heroism of Mona Charen, who said what she said at CPAC because she's a hocking a new book, the premise of which is that the Republican Party and movement conservatism have nothing to do with the rise of Trump. This is, of course, errant nonsense, given that the Republican Party and movement conservatism since Reagan, and this includes Charen, are distinguishable from Trumpism in no way whatsoever, except perhaps table manners. In any case, Charen's supposed apostasy at CPAC was less a declaration of principle and more like the first stop of a promo book tour.

  166. Progressives have issues with their politicking, true. Hopefully, they won't trip over themselves. But it's simply ridiculous to compare their problems with that of the conservatives. There is no Trump-like figure elsewhere. No progressive in the news has sold their souls & their country to an adversarial foreign power for office. No one doing so will be tolerated either. Today, the conservatives are a band of treason enablers.

  167. There's a difference between behavior and policy. Republicans seem able to tolerate really awful behavior if they get the policies they like: tax bills, rolling back of regulations, court appointments to curb social welfare, restrictions on voting, etc. Democrats are less likely to tolerate awful behavior, even if it means sacrificing those who might advance the policies they'd like (Al Franken comes to mind). I'd much rather be a Democrat than a Republican.

  168. Agreed - the philosophy of the respective parties have evolved over the last 150 years. The GOP today bears no resemblance to that of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt. I believe that the GOP is substantially focused on sustaining the power of the elite (to the detriment of the labor movement, the poor, uneducated, and people of color) represented by the wealthy and large corporations manipulating the divisiveness of the nativists in their favor. Western Europeans, in contrast, have long recognized the social responsibility of governance for the general welfare of its citizens - as demonstrated by low cost universal health care, low cost higher education, and social safety nets (child care, min wage, etc). These features are unthinkable in the dog-eat-dog GOP world. We have our Constitution and values, but they are not working today.

  169. Stephens conveniently overlooks the fact that one of the reasons that Feinstein was denied endorsement (not nomination) was because she is 85 y/o. If reelected, she would be 91 when her term expired. It is time for new blood and new energy. Absurd. Put another way, had Boxer not retired, Kamala Harris would not be on the national scene today. Times are changing. This is not the time for fence sitting. It is time to decide which side you are on.

  170. Thank you!!! We need candidates who are younger and more in tune with changing social conditions, who are living the problems that party insiders have long lost touch with. Please, Democrats, open your eyes! Experience has value in politics -- knowing how to navigate the legislative process is important -- but I don't recall Congress being a lifetime appointment!

  171. All "liberals" or moderates, or progressives, were turfed out of the Republican Party by the 1980s. As Reagan said about the Democrats "I didn't leave the party, the party left me." If Stephens wants to believe that he can claim to be a "conservative," he is not really in touch with where the movement is today. Similarly, the Democratic Party is now one that favours identity politics over economic reform, consigning Sanders, et al, to the outer reaches - Bernie isn't considered a Democrat by many "Democrats." Virtue signalling, e.g., "wasn't 'Black Panther' wonderful," is less "taxing" than universal health care. The new New Deal is not played with a deck of picture cards, i.e., indicating social and economic ranking, but with colour cards. Throughout history, the "real enemy" has always been those who claim the same mantle but are somewhat different. Catholics and Protestants claim the same Gospel, but to be a Protestant in the reign of the Sun King - or to be a Catholic in Elizabethan England - OMG - and don't forget the Thirty Years War! What was the fate of a Menshevik in Bolshevik Russia, or consider the fate of a Shia in Sunni Islam - and visa-versa? Purity demands sacrifice - of others.

  172. You state that "Bernie isn't considered a Democrat by many 'Democrats.'" But isn't that a reasonable presumption given that he has never been a member of the Democratic party?

  173. Yup, he only caucuses with them. Count the number of "Democrats" in the Senate without Sanders and King. Yes, Purity demands sacrifice, and sanctimony.

  174. "When Trumpism fails, as it inevitably will, who will be the Republican Adenauer?" A better question would be: Who would foot the bill for the next "Marshall Plan"?

  175. Nice article,however your assertion of an equivalent dynamic in the Republican and Democratic parties is patently false. Trump is Not an extreme Republican; he does not adhere to conservative economic or cultural principles; he barely recognizes them. He is an aberrancy the GOP foisted on us by virtue of the exhaustion and mendacity of their ideas, and he filled the void because of the desperation of the dwindling middle class, and the failure of the media to do it's job and reveal him for the charlatan he is. Contrariwise, the Democrats need to simply return to their roots. Your example of Elizabeth Warren as an extremist can only be viewed as such through the prism of the Wall Street-tainted Democratic Leadership Council. Many Democrats now are so afraid of rejection by the moneyed center that they don't even offer their strongest position at the outset of a debate. Professor Drew Westen wrote convincingly of these matters in the NYT during the Obama terms. Ideally, the Republicans now should jettison the political Abyss they have embraced, and return to many of the Reagan conservative themes, but without the demagoguery of supply side economics being sustainable. The Democrats, as Howard Dean once said, need to return to being the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

  176. He didn't actually call Warren an extremist. He was pretty down on social justice warriors so maybe you think that applies to Warren but I'm not so sure.

  177. I would agree. The Democrats took over the governing wing of the GOP during the Clinton administration, allowing the Republicans room to simply obstruct. When you serve two masters, you serve neither. I would love to see the Democrats simply advance the interests of the 90% of the country that is not particularly tied to how the Dow Jones performs on any given weekday. Thanks for your comment.

  178. Here is a paragraph to contemplate from a book review in a recent -Economist- about how democracies come to fail: For much of the twentieth century, politics worked because most practitioners subscribed to two vital norms. First, mutual tolerance, or the understanding that competing parties accept one another as legitimate. Second, forbearance, or the idea that election-winners exercise some restraint when wielding power, rather than treating politics like war. Eclectic Pragmatism — http://eclectic-pragmatist.tumblr.com/ Eclectic Pragmatist — https://medium.com/eclectic-pragmatism

  179. As the Man of La Mancha so eloquently put forth, there are fights worth having even if they are unwinnable. Some of history's most famous and noble people have fought those fights and sometimes died for having done so. As for the "Never-Trump" faction of the conservative side of the aisle, we'll see if it is for real come the midterms. I have my doubts.

  180. Bret Stephens says of the "social-justice warrior" faction within the Democratic Party that "it thinks it knows what's True. It considers compromise knavish. It views debate -- beyond its own tightly set parameters -- as either pointless or dangerous." This would be alarming if it were true. But I don't know of any such faction within the Democratic Party. I believe that Mr. Stephens doesn't know any such warriors either: If he did know them, he would name them, and he would quote their statements rather than presenting a distorted caricature of their statements. Mr. Stephens knows that the most effective way to oppose this supposed faction would be to name and quote the members. The fact that he doesn't do so is good evidence that he can't find members any more than I can.

  181. Mr. Stephens mentioned specifically the Democratic Party refusal to endorse Diane Feinstein, a longtime hard working Senator.

  182. Maybe he means students from elite colleges who are so threatened by other points of view they ban them from their campuses. They’ve come a long way from Berkeley’s FreeSpeech Movement. And as a former 22 year old idealist, I threw my votes away on McGovern, then John Andersen....and so it goes. Now a senior, I crave politicians who will compromise and not get stuck in their corners.

  183. Interesting. At some point in the reading, I was reminded of the PBS documentary "American Creed." This was a balanced, explicitly bipartisan film seeking to re-create a fiction regarding American cultural unity. In other words, the film is propaganda highlighting ideals of the American mythos that may or may not have ever existed. Both Bret Stephens and Mona Charen remind me of this film. There's a pleading appeal from the conservative right to convince people that their view world is still sound and justified. The tragically funny part about "American Creed" is the role argued by Bret Stephens is actually played by Condoleezza Rice. You can't help but taste a bitter irony when Condoleezza Rice is begging the conservative case for cultural unity and social cohesion. Look, I respect people of conscience regardless of their politics but we can't ennoble an ideology without conscience. Liberalism, particularly Clintonian liberalism, is imperfect but Trump is a sideshow to the conservative purpose. Wars and tax cuts do not become us. In my lifetime, the only thing conservativism has delivered is strife and hardship. Trump didn't write the tax bill. He probably didn't even read it. The Obamacare obstructionism predates Trump. Merrick Garland predates Trump. Failure to act on Sandy Hook predates Trump. Hurricane Katrina predates Trump. I could go on endlessly. Conservatives ceded their conscience long ago. Getting booed at conference makes no difference.

  184. Not the smallest sign that Stephens has a point is the, "I'm not that far Left!" Folks, still yellng at the Clintons and what they are pleased to call, "neo-liberalism." Sometimes the numbers are the numbers, folks.

  185. The flip side danger is that the Charens and the Kasichs of the world will soon be lauded and pushed by the Media as Reasonable People Who Should be Supported. Liberals and other sensible voters should not be fooled. Just because they are not so morally corrupt that they fail to see the nakedness of the Emperor does not make the policies and social perceptions these people do support any better. We are talking about someone *invited* to speak at CPAC, after all.

  186. I submit that if the columnist went back to the Clinton 90s and read some of Chsren's work from that period he would not be lauding her allegedly high principles.

  187. Great piece. Like of most of yours. Never voted Republican after Vietnam (Marine Corps infantry officer with a hatred of the right wing and its fanaticisms). But you are so sensible. I wish you the best in staying so.

  188. Mr "walker2191", I suggest that you read Max Boot's book "A Road Not Taken" to see how two Democrat Presidents, Kennedy and Johnson, got us involved in Vietnam. Both ignored Ed Landsdale"s advice on how to more successfully mitigate a counterinsurgency without resorting to a full scale war. The Republicans in 1969 inherited a mess created by two Democratic presidents. True Nixon could have ended it sooner than it did but please do not suggest that Vietnam was about right wing fanaticisms. Goldwater, the Republican nominee, was soundly defeated by LBJ when Goldwater suggested we bomb Vietnam back to the stone age, which of course is what LBJ did. I saw it first hand while flying over 102 missions over the Ho Chi Minh trail, Khe Sanh during the siege and other forgotten locations.

  189. I take exception to your assertion that progressives dismiss Nevertrumpers as irrelevant, to the contrary. But what is disturbing is how few Nevertrumpers have found a voice especially those that have credibility and influence and sit quietly on the side lines. By your definition I am part of the rift in the Democratic Party, I was and remain a Bernie Sanders progressive. However that did not stop me from voting for Hillary Clinton or working the phone banks for her campaign. Maybe Bret if other conservatives like yourself would try to engage progressives in a dialogue as opposed to slamming us and telling us that we do not listen we might just surprise you. Republicans folded their arms when Obama got elected, now they have ear muffs on.

  190. While I agree with you, Steve, I do not think Stephens was talking about a progressive like you in this column. There are some progressives, some of which I consider friends, who will not budge and will not vote for any democratic candidate and will not comprise. It's one thing to want to shift the party more left. It's another when you're willing to have Trump because there is no party that's left enough for you. I don't think you're part of the latter. But I believe Stephens is speaking about those who are.

  191. Very well said. This article attempts to be moderate but in fact is very divisive itself.

  192. Steve, for what its worth, I'm exactly like you. Sanders in the primaries, Clinton in the general. If RamsinaLazar is correct, and there are gazillions who will not budge, then we are in trouble. But, I believe that is not correct. Most people who refused to vote for Clinton have learned their lesson now. The biggest problem we have is that the two factions of Democrats, Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters, are having trouble finding middle ground. So weird, considering they watch Republicans grind their molars to a pulp while standing in lockstep with Trump. Democrats need to become a little cagey, a little more clever. Sadly, their dissembling skills are lacking. Stephens will never talk to us. He truly sees us as being just as bad as the Republicans.

  193. Hilarious to see Stephens vainly try to pretend there is some "center right", oh-so-readonable and moderate ideal that seeks "compromise" and would work with "The Left" he so eagerly denigrates as "too radical" for daring to believe they know anything true or acting like "Do-Gooders" (Heaven forbid anyone actually know their consvience, mean well or seek the Common Good!). He trashes Warren as too radical without any, you know, evidence or explanation (I guess "conservative" reafers understand his dog whistles), pretends Sanders is practically Bolshevist for advocating such wild and crazy far-left insanities like decent healthcare for all (Stephens must not travel or read enough to see that other, less "conservative" modern countries are rather successful at that crazy idea). It's always about the waste of public money with these guys (until they get power, then it's all about the theft of that money for themselves). If this is the new "Conservative", destined to inherit the ashes of the Trumpo-Putin-Republican Party, he will wait a very long time for his day. Human evolution is moving on, spurred by a general awakening to the damages wrought by the ultimate Trumpian travesty resulting from a decades-long descent by "Conservatives Without Conscience" to fascism, who won total power with lies and corruption and, in so doing, sold their souls to their "conservative" devils. We see them now, we know what they do, and we will not tolerate their mendacity much longer.

  194. He doesn't "trash" Warren, you just failed to understand the context of his entire article, which is not surprising given that you clearly "think that you know what's True". Warren is a far-left liberal. Charen is a centrist conservative. For decades, centrists from both parties worked together to make compromises between the more extreme positions of their respective parties. The far left and the far right do not compromise, with anyone. That is the entire point of this article and you very clearly illustrate the problem, which is the crisis of our democracy right now. There are too many people who believe they are right, and they refuse to compromise.

  195. @Paul, what bothers me are people who call Warren a "far left liberal." Really? A woman who single-handedly fought the big banks ripping off consumers? This is far left? Do you like getting ripped off by our financial institutions? Do you think the banks were not responsible for the 2008 financial crisis? Even Alan Greenspan blames them, and he's the very best pal in the whole wide world of the banks. Fine, whatever, Warren is a hippie radical leftie. Don't complain when you get taken to the cleaners in another scam.

  196. Charen's principled stand is duly noted, although a small point in the overall embrace of dogmatic conservatism (not subject to discussion), where the truth is usually subject to a changing interpretation, usually convenient for the narrow interests of the moment. And a key in politics, compromise, is still viewed as 'treason', however stupid it sounds, and is. Still, the NeverTrumpers must be recognized and supported if sincere in wanting to change the current climate of corruption in Trump's pluto-kleptocracy.

  197. Wonderful column. But we might need to start a third party. If nothing else, the perceived possibility of a third party may be necessary to curb the illiberal extremists on each side. Could a third party comprised of liberals from the left and the right sufficiently agree on matters such as infrastructure, regulatory policy, and society’s safety net so as to field candidates and govern? I think so. Pay heed to the lessons of the late 19th and late 20th Century with infrastructure - it’s not about the public underwriting the risk for private enterprise or using taxpayer money to grease political compromise. It’s applying principle and practicality to know when public ownership, or private ownership under common carrier principles, is appropriate. We need to forge a clear majority consensus involving left and right on the safety net in any event. I used to do the law of government for a living. I want to convince you that it’s a mistake to always view regulation more as a quantity than a quality. The burden of compliance can and should be continually reengineered to make the burden lighter and more sensible from the viewpoint of the person regulated. The question whether any regulation is appropriate, and the viewpoints of everyone affected on how best to regulate, should always be well-considered.

  198. Our Constitution and the political system, while it does not legally mandate two major parities, never the less it will only allow two, no more no less, major political parties of any significance to exist and able to span multiple elections. Yes we can have a temporary split like the Bull Moose party or a morphing like the Whig to the Republican, but we will always settle into a two party system. In a parliamentary system, the parties form coalitions after the elections, in our system we need to create those coalitions before the elections. In a parliamentary system the Tea party, would be an independent party that after election would form a coalition with the Republican party to govern. Since our system will not allow this to happen, attempting to create a third party will likely result in a temporary splitting and create a spoiler party. For that reason, it is better to work within the party system and use primaries to effect the change. The Tea party was able to do that and the "Freedom Caucus" has become very similar to a minority party in a ruling coalition of a parliamentary system.

  199. I agree with third parties in principle. At present, however, any third party that siphons away the Democratic vote serves as an enabler of Trump's undeniable extremism. Perhaps we NEED Democratic extremism to return to a reasonable middle ground.

  200. Bret, excellent column. As a liberal California Democrat, I find it interesting that the tone and content of so many of the posts in reply to your column well illustrate and support the very points you make. Moderation, civility and compromise are critical qualities in a democracy, and it would be wise for members of both parties to remember that.

  201. Democrats tried that. Lost everything: House, Senate, presidency and SCOTUS. Lying and cheating -- not to mention theft and treason -- *work* in politics now. Carnival barking, sheer malice and WWF circuses won in 2016. Trump Rules! This year's election is the end of us (US) or the beginning of something new and good. And, one hopes, Mr. Mueller and his team of patriots will make the difference.