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March Issue of The Atlantic Encourages Readers to Be Deliberately Partisan

by Wes Messamore, published

In a shocking and disappointing read of the March 2018 issue of The Atlantic, two of the magazine's contributors, editor Jonathan Rauch and contributor Benjamin Wittes, both advocate deliberately blind partisanship going into the 2018 midterm elections.

The title of the piece is, "Boycott The Republican Party," and it is shamelessly subtitled: "If conservatives want to save the GOP from itself, they need to vote mindlessly and mechanically against its nominees," as if the (R) or (D) next to a candidate's name in the newspapers is really all anyone needs to know about them.

It's a point of view that stands in diametric opposition to the principles of independent voters - thinking of and treating political candidates for public office as individuals, not as members of a party; as individuals who are responsible for their own actions and voting records and who each have unique personal merits (or demerits), resumes (or lack of experience), and histories.

They begin the article by polishing their non-partisan bona fides as if to lend credence to their current advocacy for the most low-minded partisanship possible. They say:

"We have both spent our professional careers strenuously avoiding partisanship in our writing and thinking. We have both done work that is, in different ways, ideologically eclectic, and that has—over a long period of time—cast us as not merely nonpartisans but antipartisans. Temperamentally, we agree with the late Christopher Hitchens: Partisanship makes you stupid. We are the kind of voters who political scientists say barely exist—true independents who scour candidates’ records in order to base our votes on individual merit, not party brand."

Well what kind of journalists and political analysts that could write such a thing as the above paragraph, go on to write this bit of ridiculous, intentionally, consciously narrow-minded, partisan tripe(?):

"This, then, is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former)."

The Republican Party is inherently corrupt so we must vote against all Republicans, even non-corrupt ones? Wouldn't that be a recipe to make it more corrupt?

What if there was a non-corrupt Republican and even stalwart Trump critic with an (R) next to his or her name – say Rep. Justin Amash (MI) or Sen. Rand Paul(KY) – running against a very deeply corrupt Democrat who votes against the voter's conscience on some major issues?

Are Wittes and Rauch suggesting there is no such thing as a good Republican politician and no such thing as a bad Democratic politician? Or are they just saying voters shouldn't bother to find out? Or are they just saying even if voters think the Republican is better they should still pull the party lever all the way down the ballot?

Their article is unconscionably partisan. It's the exemplar of one of the worst aspects of American politics.

They go on to say:

"We’re suggesting that in today’s situation, people should vote a straight Democratic ticket even if they are not partisan, and despite their policy views. They should vote against Republicans in a spirit that is, if you will, prepartisan and prepolitical. Their attitude should be: The rule of law is a threshold value in American politics, and a party that endangers this value disqualifies itself, period. In other words, under certain peculiar and deeply regrettable circumstances, sophisticated, independent-minded voters need to act as if they were dumb-ass partisans."

That last sentence should be a total non-starter for voters who are genuinely committed to non-partisanship. It's absurd on the face of it.

And these guys are both willfully ignoring the examples of rampant deep corruption and threats to the rule of law in Democratic Party politics. This whole shtick of "We're not partisans, but we want you to support one party no matter what the facts are," is so comically self-contradictory, infantile, and degenerate, it's hard to know what to do with it other than to mock, scorn, and then ignore these obscure peddlers of partisanship.

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