Thomas Paine on the GOP’s Infidelities

From chapter 1 of Thomas Paine’s 1794 book The Age of Reason:

“But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”

Paine’s insight shows why many Republicans have been deeply unhappy for the last four years. In order to maintain their standing in their group, Republicans have had to profess things they do not believe on crowd sizes at inaugurations, government spending and deficits, sharpies on maps, bump stocks for guns, the importance of character in leaders, freedom of the press, trade policy, antitrust policy, and more.

While being a political independent has its drawbacks, it also has an important benefit: I have never had to be mentally unfaithful to myself, and I never will. This has been good for my emotional health as well as my professional integrity.

Many Republicans are in poor shape on both of those fronts right now. What will they do when the Trump era ends? Has a genuine philosophical realignment taken hold in their party? Or are most Republicans just having a fling they will regret in the morning? My guess is that for many Republicans, the answer will be a little bit of both.


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