Dante’s Republicans

Well whaddaya know. George Will, Republican establishment maven whose pronouncements some view as akin to received wisdom, has declared that Donald Trump’s landslide defeat is the only hope the Republican Party has for the future. Now, people are free to agree with Will or not, according to their inclinations. I myself hope Donald Trump wins the election in a convincing landslide and, by winning, banishes the Republican establishment to power’s trivial hinterlands. I regard such an outcome as the only hope the nation has with respect to both our extraction from the quicksand into which we are currently sinking and vitalization of what might become a principled Republican party.

Among the interesting particulars of Will’s declaration are his statements that the Republican Party needs to kick over talk radio’s influence and “get right with minorities.” These eye-catching statements are at odds with other statements his cohorts have made over the past year in general, and throughout the presidential campaign in particular. Such other statements suggest that Republicans need, above all, to remain faithful to the Constitutional principles they ascribe to what they have settled on calling “movement conservatism.” The single thing they all have in common at the moment is their evangelical rejection of their party’s legitimately elected nominee.

But here is what Will’s edict called to my mind: Dante’s Inferno. Specifically, I visualized the Canto III image of Hell’s Vestibule in which Dante sees a large group of naked figures chasing a blank banner that flutters and waves about, eternally, just beyond their reach, as they are tormented by wasps and hornets. Dante learns that these figures are people whose perceived self-interest, in life, motivated their failure to choose principles. They opted, instead, for the main chance -- never mind that they were both dismissive of principled consistency and blind to what the main chance would finally turn out to be.

At its heart, the battle in this election is over whether or not this nation will return to the self-governing conception its Founders hoped their earnest efforts had established. The Democrats do not espouse any such conception, instead regarding themselves as elected monarchs. Establishment Republicans do not reject the Democrats’ conception; they merely hope to contest for the throne. Their governing principles are obscure, vary from time to time, and flap overhead -- forever -- just beyond reach. It is occasionally surprising that they -- George Will among them -- seem not to understand themselves well enough to see that fact. 

Well whaddaya know. George Will, Republican establishment maven whose pronouncements some view as akin to received wisdom, has declared that Donald Trump’s landslide defeat is the only hope the Republican Party has for the future. Now, people are free to agree with Will or not, according to their inclinations. I myself hope Donald Trump wins the election in a convincing landslide and, by winning, banishes the Republican establishment to power’s trivial hinterlands. I regard such an outcome as the only hope the nation has with respect to both our extraction from the quicksand into which we are currently sinking and vitalization of what might become a principled Republican party.

Among the interesting particulars of Will’s declaration are his statements that the Republican Party needs to kick over talk radio’s influence and “get right with minorities.” These eye-catching statements are at odds with other statements his cohorts have made over the past year in general, and throughout the presidential campaign in particular. Such other statements suggest that Republicans need, above all, to remain faithful to the Constitutional principles they ascribe to what they have settled on calling “movement conservatism.” The single thing they all have in common at the moment is their evangelical rejection of their party’s legitimately elected nominee.

But here is what Will’s edict called to my mind: Dante’s Inferno. Specifically, I visualized the Canto III image of Hell’s Vestibule in which Dante sees a large group of naked figures chasing a blank banner that flutters and waves about, eternally, just beyond their reach, as they are tormented by wasps and hornets. Dante learns that these figures are people whose perceived self-interest, in life, motivated their failure to choose principles. They opted, instead, for the main chance -- never mind that they were both dismissive of principled consistency and blind to what the main chance would finally turn out to be.

At its heart, the battle in this election is over whether or not this nation will return to the self-governing conception its Founders hoped their earnest efforts had established. The Democrats do not espouse any such conception, instead regarding themselves as elected monarchs. Establishment Republicans do not reject the Democrats’ conception; they merely hope to contest for the throne. Their governing principles are obscure, vary from time to time, and flap overhead -- forever -- just beyond reach. It is occasionally surprising that they -- George Will among them -- seem not to understand themselves well enough to see that fact.