Donald Trump has the GOP quaking in its boots, but not U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.). He just proved some Republicans have a backbone, dumped Donald Trump and endorsed the Libertarians’ Gary Johnson instead.
In an interview with the New York Times, Scott Rigell explained:
‘I’ve always said I will not vote for Donald Trump and I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I’m going to vote for the Libertarian candidate.’
Scott Rigell is just the second member of a strangely flaccid Republican Congress who declines to support Donald Trump. Sen. Richard Hannah (R-N.Y.) recently denounced Donald Trump and endorsed his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in an open letter.
Richard Hannah and Scott Rigell can afford to defy the GOP leadership and break ranks with their colleagues on Capitol Hill. Both of them plan on retiring from Congress at the end of their respective terms.
Rep. Scott Rigell still supports the GOP’s failed “small government” agenda.
By throwing his support behind a Libertarian White House hopeful like Gary Johnson, Scott Rigell shows he still backs the GOP’s decades-long “small government” agenda. Inspired by the Libertarian author Ayn Rand and the memory of President Ronald Reagan, right-wingers have long sought to make the U.S. government so small they could drown it in Grover Norquist’s bathtub. They’ve been cheerily starving federal programs and regulatory agencies of funds for decades.
There’s just one problem. After three decades of tax cuts for the rich and belt-tightening for everyone else, people have come to realize something. That “rising tide” still hasn’t lifted our boats, what’s “trickling” down isn’t drinkable, and that “giant sucking sound” of good jobs leaving the U.S. keeps getting louder and louder.
In fact, Donald Trump’s insurgent candidacy has revealed that many GOP voters really don’t want “small government” at all. They want the secure economic future envisioned by Bernie Sanders, but only for white people.
When Donald Trump says he wants to “make America great again,” he’s harking back to our pre-Civil Rights Era herrenvolk Democracy. In the mid-20th Century, white people in the U.S. became upwardly mobile and enjoyed a broadly-shared prosperity. But women and people of color served as the shock absorbers for this lurching new industrial economy. When a man got laid off, his stay-at-home wife could find a temporary job until the plant re-opened. When we needed new highways for suburban commuters, black neighborhoods were torn apart to make room.
Republicans refuse to admit they helped create “FrankenTrump.”
When the Civil Rights movement demanded that our nation’s prosperity be shared more equally, the GOP saw an opportunity. Using the Southern Strategy to foment dog-whistle racism. They’ve gotten white people to vote against public programs for decades. We all benefit from these programs and having a social safety net. Yet the GOP somehow convinced us that “lazy” and “undeserving” black and brown people are taking advantage when they should be working.
Really, we all should be working. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough good jobs that pay a living wage.
Now, the chickens have come home to roost. It’s fine for Libertarian-leaning Republicans like Scott Rigell to claim they’re not racist and to stand on their “small government” principles. It’s all well and good for them to denounce Donald Trump. The problem is, their form of ruthless capitalism favors the strong over the weak, the rich over the poor, and the powerful over the rest of us. It celebrates “freedom” while allowing no freedom to those who lack the power to defend theirs. It scorns “big government” while celebrating big corporations that increasingly rule as unelected governments that are accountable to no one. It props up a dog-eat-dog system that requires winners and losers. And now, white people are among the losers.
Small-government Republicans like Scott Rigell may claim to feel disgusted with Donald Trump, but they still helped create him.
Featured image: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images.