Christine Flowers, 7/22/2016 [Archive]

The RNC Gave Us a New Definition of the Bully Pulpit

By Christine Flowers

As Heidi Cruz left Cleveland's Quicken Loans arena after her husband Ted gave his stemwinder at the Republican National Convention, she was escorted by security through a hostile crowd. Apparently, people in the audience were annoyed that Cruz hadn't endorsed Donald "I Call Him Lyin' Ted" Trump. They couldn't believe that the Texan actually gave his national audience permission to vote their conscience. They were in shock he didn't bring gold, frankincense and myrrh with him to the podium as a gift.

In other words, blood was coming out of their eyes, and wherever.

I've made no secret I was prepared to vote for Trump if the alternative was Hillary Clinton and a radical Supreme Court, but in return I expected humility, gratitude, empathy - things that apparently don't exist in Trumpland. Those blinded by the Orange Aura are incapable of graciousness. They are triumphalists, who demand absolute obedience. Their role model and high priest is named Chris Christie.

The show that New Jersey's governor put on in the convention was embarrassing. To see him prance around the stage like a trained monkey was demoralizing to me, who so admired the former federal prosecutor.

His prosecution of Clinton, who actually should be in jail, was simply theater to please his political master. We were supposed to be thrilled with this shrill takedown of the Democratic nominee. I listened, and, while I'm definitely no criminal law expert, I thought the only thing Christie could indict with his tirade is that proverbial ham sandwich.

I expect hostility, snark and threats from liberals. They have never shown, at least in my experience, respect for opposing ideas. They attack conservatives, particularly female conservatives, with a vengeance, and they aren't even very articulate when they do it.

I do not expect that same level of hostility from conservatives toward other conservatives. Yes, intrafamily squabbles are to be expected, and we even saw some major insurrection when Barry Goldwater threw his hat into the ring 50 years ago. There have always been disagreements among national-security hawks, social conservatives and free-market acolytes. Still, there was a sense of reciprocal respect, and that is why I finally changed my registration to Republican, after years of remaining in a party that ridiculed my beliefs.

Imagine, then, my horror to see Republicans doing almost exactly the same thing to people who didn't share their adoration of the party's nominee. Instead of understanding that decent men such as Paul Ryan were forced to make major deals with the devil to continue supporting the candidate and thereby save the country from Clinton, they demanded absolute loyalty, acting like red-white-and-blue clad Putins willing to exile dissenters to political Siberia.

On Facebook alone, it is virtually impossible to have a civil conversation with Trump supporters, because they will brook no opposition. Voting for him is not enough. We have to act as if Ivanka just delivered a virgin birth and Melania invented the English language.

And we must hiss and scream at a man who was ridiculed by the party's nominee, whose father was slandered, who reacted when attacked and whose wife was subjected to the misogyny of social media by the nominee himself.

I'm no fan of Cruz's politics. As an immigration lawyer, how could I be? Still, I admire the fact that he stood up in Cleveland and told the crowds they were not beholden to a man or a movement or a motto. He told them - us, in fact - that conservatism had noble principles worth pursuing and preserving, and that we needed to vote our conscience.

Perhaps that leads in Trump's direction. Perhaps not. But making a conservative woman fear for her safety as she travels through conservative crowds is abhorrent. It would be just as abhorrent if that woman were traveling through Philadelphia and threatened by liberal goons.

I can't wait until Nov. 9.

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© 2016 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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