Disagreements Are Not All Bad
It came as no surprise. The writing was on the wall, or should I say Twitter, for months. On Independence Day itself Justin Amash, Former Republican Congressman for Michigan’s Third District wrote in the Washington Post: “Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I'm asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us."
Amash’s departure from the Republican Party was inevitable since he stood in favor of impeaching Donald Trump. In a Twitter post on May 18th, he stated, "...President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.”
Over the 2 years since Trump assumed office, the number of his critics within Republican Party, commonly known as “Never Trumpers”, has dwindled. Trump’s last high-profile critics before Amash were Sen, Jeff Flake and Sen. John S. McCain. As reported by CNN, “The White House suggested it was time for Flake to retire.” The magnitude of that line alone cannot be expressed in words; it is clear to see that the Trump Administration, via internal pressure and the state parties themselves, have forced out anyone who disagrees with the President’s policy decisions.
American political history has demonstrated in the clearest of terms that a party or legislative body with the absence of dissent can lead to the worst abuses and excesses of political power.
One of the best-known cases of this was former Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy. In 1950, McCarthy made a speech in which he alleged that 205 communists had entered the State Department. This speech would set off a chain of events which would cost the personal lives and reputations of many. In 1952, following his election as chair of the Committeeon Government Operations of the Senate and of its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he began a long line of investigations alongside HUAC (House Unamerican Activities Committee) to expose alleged communists and communist sympathizers. This line of persecution was facilitated by the lack of dissent from the senate.
It took two years to finally end the hysteria and paranoia which Senator McCarthy whipped up within the American public-at-large and the Federal Government itself. Fortunately, a US Army Lawyer, Joseph Welch, stood up to the all-powerful McCarthy and said the famous words "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
Why do I mention McCarthy and McCarthyism? I do so because I worry the Republican Party can fall down the same path now that Amash, Flake, McCain and others are no longer able to dissent within the party. Whether you approve or disapprove of Trump is another matter; the issue is that without dissent the worst elements of any political idea or thought can come to fruition despite possible negative consequences.
Loyalty to a single person or singular party without question is dangerous.
Both major parties are not immune to this and if anything, I genuinely believe that political dissent within either party is becoming rarer and rarer. Internal dissent is vital and if both major parties do not have it, the results could be very damaging for not only the United States but the globe by proxy.
Disagreement introduces new ideas, illuminates issues within proposals, and assures that no individual possess too much power. No person, party, or idea is above dissent and that should never be forgotten.