The second incomplete debate of 2024 Republican Presidential candidates will take place this coming Wednesday, September 27, at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. The worst yet highest-polling candidate in that field will skip this debate, as he skipped the first. This time Donald Trump says he’ll fly to Michigan to pretend that he supports striking auto workers. (Real labor President Joe Biden will join the UAW picket line in Michigan Tuesday.)
The Reagan Foundation certainly won’t mind Trump’s absence from its hallowed grounds. As Politico reports, the Reaganites have declined to invite Trump to previous speaking events at Simi Valley because Trump contradicts much of what Reagan stood for:
One member of the foundation’s board of trustees, granted anonymity to discuss internal foundation matters, called Trump a “spoiled brat in a sandbox.” “So many of the things that Trump did, and what he stood for, are just not consistent with the Reagan philosophy,” the board member said.
“I wouldn’t want to condone what Trump had done by inviting him to speak,” this trustee said. “That would be sort of an acceptance of his behavior over the years.”
…For at least some members of the board, the adviser told me, Trump “drives them nuts.”
“The legacy of Reagan, fair or unfair, right or wrong, was ‘shining city on a hill’ — upbeat and positive and have a beer with Tip O’Neill,” the adviser said. “And Trump is Voldemort. He was the opposite. He wanted to burn everything to the ground, attack people.”
It’s that choice, as much as any policy distinction between candidates, that Republicans are making in the run-up to 2024. It’s the tension between a sunnier brand of conservatism and the more menacing, grievance-fueled politics of Trump. It’s the difference between a former president who, upon announcing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, wrote, “I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead,” and a former president who has cast his election as the “final battle” to reclaim a country that is “rigged, crooked, and evil” [David Siders, “‘Spoiled Brat in a Sandbox’: Inside the Feud Between Donald Trump and the Reagan Library,” Politico, 2023.09.22].
I remember the good old days when Republicans at least elected politicians who believed in and brought out the best in America. Now they’ve turned into a cult dedicated to the worst in America.