I left the Republican party a long time ago for a number of reasons, one of which is that I didn’t want to be part of any organization that had Arlen Specter as a member. The man this magazine famously named “America’s worst senator” eventually bailed and hooked up with Team Jackass, but I didn’t see any real reason to come back. Still, for all the angst regarding the presidential primary and the endless largely phony us-and-them theater of base vs. establishment, I cannot remember a time since the Alex P. Keaton years when the Republican party has seemed to me so attractive.
As you may have heard, earlier this month I was a guest of the William F. Buckley Jr. program at Yale, which was the focus of some truly boneheaded protests. That was silly, and I felt a little embarrassed for the Yale kids. But at the dinner afterward, I felt a little envious of my Republican friends, especially those in Nebraska, when Senator Ben Sasse gave his talk. A very smart young man at my table — a young man not given to political crushes — said that he’d never heard a politician give a speech like that, and he was right: Senator Sasse is in possession of a living mind open to original thought, and he has spent part of his first year in the Senate thinking seriously about what the Senate really is, what it does, and what it should do. That sounds like the sort of thing that everybody in Washington ought to be doing, and maybe it is, but there isn’t to my knowledge anybody in elected office doing it with the intelligence and rigor that Senator Sasse applies to his job. My young friend seemed ready to quit his job and go to work for Senator Sasse; I didn’t blame him.
And though conservatives’ internal debates sometimes get a little silly and theatrical, practically the entirety of the meaningful political discourse in our country is taking place on and among the Right.
And though conservatives’ internal debates sometimes get a little silly and theatrical, practically the entirety of the meaningful political discourse in our country is taking place on and among the Right. Our argument is Mark Levin and George Will and Reihan Salam; the Left’s debate is Franz the Eternally Wounded Transgender Activist at Amherst vs. Caitlyn the Eternally Wounded Women’s Studies Major at Yale on the subject of which malevolent pronouns turn literary criticism into rape. Take a little time some afternoon and read an issue of National Review cover to cover and then do the same thing with The New Republic. Listen to Justin Amash talk for five minutes and compare him with Bernie Sanders. And if Amash isn’t your thing, check out Cole, Martinez, Abbott, LePage, the ladies and gentlemen of the 38 state legislatures under full (30) or partial (8) Republican control, or one of those 32 Republican governors. The Republicans aren’t having a meltdown — they’re suffering from an embarrassment of riches. White Protestants? Yes, pretty much all the white Protestants. But what about: black Mormon women from Utah? Right here. Millennial women from New York? Meet the youngest member of Congress. Gay California tech titans? Team Cruz.
On the other side, what? The Teamsters?
Call me crazy, but the Republicans look pretty good, if you bother looking.
— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review.