Our Best Stuff From a Week of Spirited Debate

Happy Saturday! Some weeks, the news cycle forces us to focus most of our attention on one big story: the Afghanistan withdrawal, the Democratic infighting over spending, January 6. And some weeks, one big topic just kind of happens. This was one of those weeks. And I want to highlight it because it represents an important part of our mission at The Dispatch.

You probably heard our spiel a few times during our two-year anniversary celebration a week ago, so I won’t belabor the point. But too often our national discourse emphasizes heat over light. Everything is binary, we’re all polarized, and it’s easier to insult people from behind a keyboard than to their faces. We want to change that. Healthy debate is a vital part of our political process, and we’ve all seen what happens when it’s not. But we got one very important healthy debate this week.

Jonah wrote a column about how there are few good options for principled conservatives. Donald Trump’s lingering hold on the GOP is intolerable, yet it’s not exactly easy to support a Democratic president who campaigned as a centrist but has put forth an aggressively progressive agenda (not to mention the Iran appeasement or the Afghanistan debacle). His (somewhat qualified) solution? It’s time for a third party. He got a fair amount of pushback from friends and former colleagues, including several writers at National Review. Charlie Cooke argued that those who left for the third party would get all the blame if it were to give Democrats more power, and Dan McLaughlin wrote, “The battles that Jonah wants to fight are very much worth fighting. But the place to fight them is in Republican primaries.” Meanwhile Michael Brendan Doughtery expressed concern that, while Jonah’s pitch was for a short-term party that would cause some short-term pain to the Trumpified GOP, it would suffer from “mission creep.” 

Those pieces addressed Jonah’s column thoughtfully, and he responded in kind. In his midweek G-File, he addressed each argument, conceded the points he agreed with, and elaborated further. “I know where all three of my friends are coming from and I have nothing but respect for them,” he writes. “But I will just say broadly that I think the rush to defend the GOP from threats to its electability is a symptom of the problems facing conservatism.”

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