The fact that I now follow David Frum on Twitter, little more than a year after writing an entire post of condescending sighing about one of his articles, has demanded a bit of reflection.
Granted, we live in a time of strange portents. Still, I wondered whether or not I was too unfair. Frum is now one of a small number of prominent Republican critics of the Trump presidency, and seems to be doing a fine job of it. Certainly I appreciate that. But does it suggest that I was unfair to judge him so harshly before, especially as it seems like only integrity can motivate his current defiance of partisanship?
I don’t know. I can’t really see much fault in my assessment of his November 2015 article. Re-reading my post, meanwhile, I find that I did characterize him as a consistent and sincere critic of party dogma, overall, and allowed that even the article in question began with an unusually thoughtful basic idea (for either major party).
So, perhaps I wasn’t entirely unfair; if it was still a bit unbalanced for my only mention of the man to be in so negative a context, I can correct that now. Though massively long, Frum’s recent essay “How to Build an Autocracy” is lucid, somewhat frightening and perhaps just a little bit inspiring.
From a practical standpoint, I was particularly interested by a conservative Republican’s version of the “resistance checklist” which has appeared so often from the left these past few months:
- Get into the habit of telephoning your senators and House member at their local offices, especially if you live in a red state.
- Press your senators to ensure that prosecutors and judges are chosen for their independence—and that their independence is protected.
- Support laws to require the Treasury to release presidential tax returns if the president fails to do so voluntarily.
- Urge new laws to clarify that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president’s immediate family, and that it refers not merely to direct gifts from governments but to payments from government-affiliated enterprises as well.
- Demand an independent investigation by qualified professionals of the role of foreign intelligence services in the 2016 election—and the contacts, if any, between those services and American citizens.
- Express your support and sympathy for journalists attacked by social-media trolls, especially women in journalism, so often the preferred targets.
- Honor civil servants who are fired or forced to resign because they defied improper orders.
- Keep close watch for signs of the rise of a culture of official impunity, in which friends and supporters of power-holders are allowed to flout rules that bind everyone else.