"Napoleon once said, when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that 'To get power, you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.' Such pettiness and greatness are rarely found in one person." -- President Jackson Evans, The Contender
Never has a movie quote been more relevant for its time. Given the rare duality it suggests, the presidential nominee of the Republican Party should be seen for his exceptional unexceptionalism. Donald Trump continues to sicken the discourse of the election process, and threaten the life of a party whose president, senators and representatives once collectively saved the nation from its greatest existential threat ever.
Pettiness is a disease of character that targets temperament. Its symptoms are pathological insecurity, inflammatory behavior, rash perspectives, malignant speech and an anaphylactic reaction to truth. Trump is in a state of septic shock.
Like Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism, pettiness is a pathogen to virtue that causes contempt. Contempt is airborne, transmitted by puerile name-calling, denigrating insults and divisive propaganda. If left unchecked, it can rapidly spread before a response can be developed to combat it. I would wager that contempt has infected, afflicted and decimated more people than all other physical diseases combined.
Almost immediately after Senator Barack Obama became the nation's first African American president, the Republican Party unleashed a particularly infectious batch of contempt with a declaration of intent to destroy his presidency. Unfortunately, Republicans were not mindful about containing the contagion. No one bothered to monitor the vital signs of the party.
Soon afterwards, an indication of mutation occurred, and with it came the realization that a scourge was in the making. The Republican Party initially reasoned the Tea Party useful for debilitating Obama, as the upstart insurgents inflamed tensions by disseminating toxic rhetoric. The party of Reagan was seemingly unaware of the highly contagious ideology it had given rise to, and greatly underestimated its potential for outbreak.
The ulcerative dysfunction of our government and the political epilepsy of Republican Party leadership have become obvious consequential ills. Just as a neurotoxin attacks the central nervous system, striking the body with paralysis, contempt has likewise disabled the principles of the GOP. Rather than promote itself as the party of optimistic pragmatism, Republicans have instead become the party of contaminating petulance. It should be no surprise then that Donald Trump has emerged to be its standard bearer.
Years before, David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a Holocaust denier, tested the Party's resistance in 1989. Despite risking political capital on an otherwise insignificant election, both Presidents Ronald Regan and George H. Bush interceded to suppress Duke's candidacy for a state congressional seat in Louisiana. When asked why he came out against Duke and even suggested voting for the Democratic candidate instead, President Bush said, "I did what I did because of principle."
Principle. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system, a belief or a chain of reasoning. I would add that principles also serve as the foundation of character, and that the preservation of character depends tremendously, if not solely on one defining attribute: integrity.
Integrity is defined by the reliability of an individual, an institution, an organization or a corporation's adherence to a moral and ethical conviction for conduct. Integrity is also used to describe the condition, fitness and soundness of a structure.
Unfortunately, history provides much evidence that the avarice of power weakens the immunity of integrity. For the sake of the nation's aspiration of a more perfect union, the Republican Party needs to cure itself of its cupidity. It needs to revive its integrity by resuscitating its principles. I offer two for consideration, from one of its own.
Nine-term Republican congressman, one-time vice presidential candidate and Housing Secretary under President Bush, Jack Kemp once opined that, "The purpose of politics is not to defeat your opponent, as much as it is to provide superior leadership and better ideas than the opposition." He also said, "Democracy without morality is impossible." The principles defined by Kemp seem to be so lofty now, as to be stratospheric in reach for Donald Trump and the GOP. But quite literally, that fate of the nation depends on the Republican desire, will, recognition and conviction to put country before party. Rather than adhering to the petty, disingenuous support of its nominee as an electoral calculation for claiming the White House, the Republican Party, should -- must withdraw support from Trump, and immunize itself with a great act of integrity to preserve its existence. This would be an incredibly difficult thing to do, but the aforementioned film provides one more quote to consider to that end:
Principles only mean something when you stick to them when it's inconvenient.
-- Senator Lanie Hanson, The Contender