Viewpoint: Coney Barrett changes things for conservatives

By Gray Cox 

For many conservative voters, the imminent appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court brings two important consequences. First, it provides the longsought six to three conservative majority needed to overturn Roe v. Wade and Obamacare.  

Second, the appointment releases conservatives from the necessity of supporting President Trump to change the Supreme Court.  

His election served as an instrument for that shift in the court. But with that purpose now served, should this instrument now be set aside? Many conservatives have been long uneasy or outright disturbed by many of Mr. Trump’s policies, practices or character traits. This may be the moment to part ways with him. People drawn to this conclusion may include:   

  • Fiscal conservatives who may be profoundly disturbed that the Trump economy was fueled by unconscionable increases in the national debt.   
  • Christian parents who may want a president who does not model bullying and other vulgar and inappropriate behavior.  
  • Veterans’ families who deeply honor the suffering of prisoners-of-war like John McCain and sacrifices of those buried in Arlington like General John Mattis’ son. In public attacks on McCain and Gold Star Families and in private comments to Mattis and others, Mr. Trump has made clear he does not understand why people volunteer for service instead of dodge it. He can deny this. He denies lots of things like it that are on public tape. He has made his brand clear. He is a businessman simply interested in as much personal economic success as possible. People with fundamentally different goalslike honor and sacrificeare “suckers” and “losers.”  
  • Pragmatists who may view science as a useful tool instead of as “fake news” to be dismissed. Public health and the environment must be balanced with economics. But balancing values is not blindly and recklessly ignoring reality.  
  • Constitutionalists who may believe in the separation of powers and rule of law and condemn Mr. Trump’s ever more comprehensive claims to be in charge of everything, free to act as he will and immune from any prosecution or consequence. They may object to his business practices that shirk taxes, abuse his public office for personal profit and then game the law with hired guns. They may be particularly upset that he threatens not to respect the results of the election.  
  • Families of those killed by COVID-19 who believed Mr. Trump when he said it was nothing serious. Some stories are really heartbreaking. Many died who did not exercise care and precautions because they trusted the President. He insisted the pandemic was nothing to worry about and there was no need to mask up or maintain social distance. Mr. Trump is on tape admitting he knew this was false and that he only said it because he wanted to seem strong as a candidate in this election year. The pain of loss and the sense of profound betrayal will probably motivate a number to refuse to vote for him again.  
  • Taxpayers dealing with the pandemic mess who must deal with the economic and health care crises resulting from the President’s failure of leadership in this pandemic. His failures leave us with the highest death rate in the world. We have 5 percent of the world’s population, but 20 percent of the world’s COVID-19 deaths. The result?  We can’t return our economy to normal, we can’t return our kids to school safely and many of us can’t even go safely to vote at the polls. Why? Because with more than 7 million people infected and over 200,000 dead, President Trump’s deception and incompetence have made us the world’s number one basket case for COVID-19 

To everything there is a season, and a time for everything. For many who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, that season may have ended.  



Gray Cox lives in Bar Harbor and is a member of the faculty at College of the Atlantic. 


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