By James Clad
The American presidential election has a special resonance this year, not least because internal Republican disenchantment with the party’s candidate has the potential to rewrite the U.S. political map.
Although initially private, dismay at Trump’s excesses became increasingly public, especially in published expressions of distaste among foreign policy functionaires or, less often, in vocal dissent by federal and state legislators still conscious of the need for political civility.
The first joint public reactions by public figures of both parties occurred in February/March. But soon enough came the realization that even having Republican Party grandees promising not to vote for Mr. Trump wasn’t going to have much impact.
The only card left
More active support for his opponent, despite many reservations, became necessary. More recent “open letters” have therefore carried overt calls by Republican appointees for the country to vote for Secretary Clinton, now the only card left in the Stop Trump hand.
In the Trump campaign, fidelity to the mantras of American conservatism don’t matter so much. Demagoguery co-exists beside strands of tolerant common sense — such as Trump’s live-and-let-live attitude towards abortion, public religiosity or a constricted version of “family values”.
As Republican appointees during the George W. Bush administration, a few colleagues and I decided to ground our opposition to Trump in my sense of the damage he will likely do to American pre-eminence in Asia. This has attracted some attention and seems the best place from which we can try to sound the alarm.
But the deeper impetus to me, personally, for throwing my very modest name into the fray comes from years of growing disenchantment with the reactionary and obstructive mindlessness of national politics during the Obama presidency — a time when national TV reality show culture has become as debased as the country’s politics, mirroring it, degrading it.
James Clad is a New Zealand-born diplomat and lawyer, foreign correspondent and senior U.S. defense official. From 2007–09, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia in the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. He has been awarded fellowships at Oxford and Harvard, and was a professor at Georgetown University from 1995 to 2002.