Ken Boessenkool: Enough is enough with Trumpism

I won’t tolerate casual Trumpism in my personal or political cohort anymore. Derek Sloan should not be in the Conservative caucus and certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to run for the leadership.

By: Ken Boessenkool

I’ve been firm but patient and tolerant of the populist conservatives @martha79453 and @henry83795 Trumpers in my life. 

No longer. 

My patience has run out. I won’t tolerate casual Trumpism in my personal or political cohort anymore. You are wrong, I am right, and I will countenance no arguments to the contrary. 

Let me be clear about what I am, and what I am not, saying. 

Before this week, our disagreement was between the importance of character and the importance of outcomes. I argued that in the long run lack of character would trump outcomes. You argued the opposite. 

And you had a point, to a degree. While Trump was in office good conservative things happened. Things that I like. Taxes were reduced, there were some excellent appointments to the Supreme Court, Operation Warp Speed was impressive, and many harmful regulations were eliminated.  

Fine so far as it goes. 

But it doesn’t go very far. Many bad things happened too. Needless trade wars harmed American jobs, flirtations with Russia and North Korea made America a global pariah, the catastrophic response to COVID-19 caused unnecessary deaths — it’s not routine to see nearly a third more deaths per day than died on 9-11. Not to mention the plainly stupid stuff like promises to build a wall on the Mexican border, or ban Muslims from travelling to the U.S.

For me, the bad outcomes outweighed the good. For you the good outweighed the bad. 

I had always thought the trump card was character. Since the beginning it has been obvious that Donald Trump is a bad man — a man devoid of character. To me, that was enough. I believe, then but especially now, that character trumps all else. Lack of character denigrates the office and lack of character denigrates the outcomes of that office.  

The particularly vile part of that character  is Trump’s tolerance of racism that came through in his responses to Charlottesville and the killing of George Floyd.  

This needs to be addressed squarely. There are too many of you who were cheering not just for the mob in Washington but but what the mob in Washington was wearing — brazenly proclaiming disgusting racism. If you are using Trump as a cloak to cover your racism, I have some words for you. 

For the love of God, stop. Your never-acceptable views will never become acceptable. Your views are despicable not just in polite society but in every other dark corner as well.  

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On the one hand, I don’t know how many of you need to be called out on this. On the other hand, the lack of police attention to the white racists looters in Washington this week compared to the police attention to Black Lives Matter earlier this year suggests racism is much more systemic than I understood.

But for those of you for whom racism isn’t the motivation — and you should understand that folks are going to find it difficult to believe you — even if Donald Trump had ended abortion, packed the Supreme Court with originalist conservatives, cut the size of government and the burden of taxes to pay for it, eliminated red tape — or whatever your list of perfection in government is — you still don’t have an argument. 

Character outweighs all of those things. Disrespect of the office; blatant lying; encouragement of racists; using the office for personal enrichment. It’s a long list. 

You may respond that all politicians lack character. They all lie, they all live above the rules they set, they all disrespect the office, they all use politics to get rich. 

And sure, we can agree there are examples of all those things. So while I think you are wrong that all politicians lie, are hypocrites, etc., I have been patient and tolerant of your view. 

But that is no longer possible. Trump’s bad character has has now been exposed as a lack of respect for democracy itself. Worse, this evil and bad man not only does not respect democracy, he incited a racist mob to overturn it. 

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And without democracy, literally nothing else matters in the realm of politics and government. Just saying you’re not a racist isn’t enough because on top of all that, Donald Trump is not a democrat. 

He deserves to be immediately impeached, immediately removed from office and prevented from ever holding office again. 

So what does this mean for us Conservatives? 

First, humility. There is an elephant in my room. I have not been perfect, I am not perfect, and I will not be perfect. I can only acknowledge that, try atone for past mistakes and be better. I can ask for forgiveness without expecting it to be given. More broadly, I think we need to be more open to giving second chances. 

Second, we need to separate character from partisanship. Let me be specific. The people I consider my most effective partisan opponents in the two political worlds I love most — Alberta and Canada — are Shannon Phillips and Gerald Butts. I will argue policy with them until I am blue (ha!) in the face. I will now be even more eager to point out that they are both people of good character — good people, good parents, good friends. 

Third, we need to do a better job of drawing lines when it comes to character. And we need to be most diligent within our own tribes. I will no longer countenance casual Trumpism. Derek Sloan should not be in the Conservative caucus and certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to run for the leadership of my party. Here’s what I wrote about O’Leary. And I have been pretty blunt about the dangers of conservative populists in my midst — the aforementioned @martha79453 and @henry83795.  

I am not arguing to outlaw these views. I’m not arguing that we cancel. What I am arguing is that within our various institutions we reserve harsh private and public opprobrium for bad character. And that we do so in the service of preventing bad character from ascending to leadership.  

American politics is sick. That sickness has many causes, with acceptance of bad character being near the top. If we don’t recognize that, and do something about it, it could infect us as well.


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