Chris Vance once was the chair of the Washington state Republican Party. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate last year, and now is stuck in a bright blue state where conservatives are as popular as bedbugs. Trying another approach, he has come out with an op-ed announcing that he has joined the protesters in his state, which are challenging the President’s efforts to more tightly control immigration, refugees, and the threat posed by Islamic terrorists.
My crack (and indispensable) issue scout Fred found Vance’s article and passed it along, asking, “Does belonging to a party ethically require loyalty to its agenda? Or to its principles? Is belonging to a party inherently unethical? The Founding Fathers might have said yes.”
The answers to these are: 1) Belonging to a party, like any group, allows principled dissent and advocacy for more just and reasonable policies. When an individual cannot support any of a party’s agenda, then he or she has an obligation to go elsewhere. Can one element of the agenda, such as support or opposition to abortion, be a deal-breaker? Of course. 2) If a party member cannot support a party’s principles, than pretending to be a member of the party is inherently dishonest, a breach of integrity and unethical. 3) Democracy requires political parties to function, as all democracies have learned. The Founders would have disagreed, but we have had the benefit a couple hundred years of experience that they lacked.. The Founders also would have disagreed with allowing women to vote, blacks running for President, and children having Constitutional rights.
I doubt any of the questions apply to Chris Vance, however. What appears to be going on is that an unsuccessful politician has assessed the likelihood of conservative Republican going very far in California Northwest, and decided to re-invent himself as not just anti-Trump (that didn’t work, because he was anti-Trump during the campaign and still lost) but anti-President and pro-Left Wing Freakout. His real problem, judging from the column, is that Vance just isn’t very bright, or perhaps isn’t very skilled at hiding the fact that his core beliefs are adjustable.
Vance begins by saying,
I read a summary of Donald Trump’s executive order regarding refugees and immigrants. Then I read the order itself. And then I read it again.And then I went online and my wife and I became members of the American Civil Liberties Union. Sunday night, for the first time in our lives, we became protestors, along with thousands of other Americans, joining a rally in Seattle’s Westlake Park.
Sound like an Ethics Hero, no? No. The ACLU, by its own admission, has nothing to do with protecting the rights of would-be immigrants and refugees, because it concedes that non-citizens who are non-U.S. residents have no Constitutional rights. Nor should they have. “I read the order and joined the ACLU” is a non-sequitur, unless Vance is making a point that he doesn’t bother to articulate.
“Trump is in the process of turning the party of Reagan, who championed growth, free trade and active American leadership in the world, into the party of protectionism and isolationism,” Vance says as his first explanation. Well, that conclusion is open to debate on many fronts. Reagan was President 30 years ago, and conditions change; this President also champions growth but has different ideas about how to achieve it after the longest period of insufficient growth in U.S. history. His believing that U.S. interests should come before those of other nations and that foreign bodies should not have authority to dictate to this country is only “isolationism” to those who want to push the U.S. toward global government.
Mostly, however, this has nothing to do with his decision to join mobs in the streets who are part of a Democratic/progressive effort to prevent a duly elected government from having the opportunity to do what elections, the Constitution, political tradition and basic fairness demands: enact its policies and see if they work.
Why would a Republican joining the “not my President” chants of anti-democratic leftists and their naive tools be more ethical than the hypocritical Democrats already in the mob? (Reminder this is hypocritical because Republicans treating a new Democratic President this way before 100 days had passed would be condemned as racist, sexist, or unAmerican or whatever other label the Left could attach.).
Then Vance writes..
“And now, with his immigration ban, he is turning the party of Lincoln into the modern-day anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party.”
Wait, is this the party of Lincoln, or the party of Reagan? The Know-Nothing Party was the party of Millard Fillmore, and the claim that Republicans or the President are “anti-immigrant” like that short-lived 19th Century fringe party is a lie, a slur, and Democratic Party anti-Trump campaign holdover mud, deriving from the open-border advocates’ Orwellian habit of referring to illegal immigrants as immigrants, as if there isn’t a material distinction. The President and the Republican Party, and to that I would add anyone who has a functioning brain, believe that illegal immigrants should not be allowed in the country, and not be coddled or welcomed if they somehow get here. So do I, as I identify with one of those three.
All right, to be fair to Vance, why does he believe the Executive Order in question shows hostility to immigration generally?
In the fall of 2015, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, many Republicans — including me — said we should stop admitting refugees from ISIS dominated areas, mainly Syria and Iraq, until the FBI could adequately vet them and guarantee that they weren’t a threat. But many Trump supporters want to go much farther and permanently ban Muslims from entering the U.S. — and with his executive order, Trump has taken Step 1 toward doing just that.
Got that? Vance says he advocated something very similar to what the Executive Order aims at, but because “many Trump supporters want to go much farther and permanently ban Muslims from entering the U.S.”, he’s protesting. Vance argues here and elsewhere that Trump’s actual orders should be protested as if they were something entirely different because that’s what his most radical supporters want. That’s neither fair, responsible nor intelligent.
Vance then quotes the order, adding the bold:
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.
The Horror! Imagine: the U.S. would bar from immigrating foreigners “who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law”! This is the only sane and responsible immigration policy the nation or any nation should have.
“Why do you want to come here, Foreign Citizen?”
“Oh, I want to overthrow the government, and use violence to destroy your nation’s Constitution, which allows women, blacks, the godless and homosexuals to live as full citizens!”
“OK, fine, welcome to America!”
Vance explains further:
“This language sounds benign until you consider that many of Trump’s ‘alt-right’ supporters believe that Islam itself is a “violent ideology,” and that all Muslims want to place Islam and Sharia law “over American law.”
Ah! So a President’s statements and laws that he signs should be interpreted not according to what they say, but according to what “many” of that President’s most extreme supporters want it to say!
Vance unravels his credibility at every turn. To begin with, it is not at all extreme or unreasonable to argue that Islam is a violent ideology. It is; whether it is necessarily practiced violently is a different question. Vance, however, uses this false analogy, after calling qualms about Islam “nonsense”:
A generation ago religious bigots made the same sorts of claims about my faith, Roman Catholicism.
Do remind me, Chris: what were all those incidents of deadly radical Catholic terrorism “a generation ago?” You know, the Catholic radicals kidnapping young girls and beheading people? It’s all slipped my mind! And what was that thing they shouted out when they started shooting or stabbing or crashing planes? Ad maiorem Dei gloriam? Was that what they shouted? I can’t recall.
Vance also says that “Trump made his views crystal clear during the campaign.” Trump’s views have never been “crystal clear, \” because his words are never carefully chosen. Quick: is he really going to deport 11 million illegals? Will he really fire military authorities who don’t agree to torture prisoners? Is he going to get rid of Obamacare, or fix it? He was “crystal clear” that he would only appoint SCOTUS justices who would “reverse Roe v. Wade,” but his first nominee for the Court has no record of opposing abortion rights, but has often stated that he doesn’t believe it is prudent to oppose established judicial precedent. The claim that the President has made any position clear is laughable, until he actually signs legislation.
Then Vance defaults to complaints about Trump wanting to get out of NAFTA and the TPP. Is that what you’re marching against, Chris? Do you really think a President should be impeached because he doesn’t agree with you on trade?
Chris Vance is joining the protesters in the streets, hoping he can get some of their votes. But if a politician is going to pull this cynical stunt, he has to be able to make a serious argument for why he’s doing it so he doesn’t sound like a grandstanding, posturing fool. I’m sure his mob will be happy to have an extra Trump-Hate chanter, but there is nothing principled about Vance’s position.