Mac Stipanovich: An open letter to my fellow Republicans – Florida Politics

Mac Stipanovich: An open letter to my fellow Republicans

Each of us wants to believe that if we were tested in some fundamental way when the chips were down — morally, spiritually, or physically — that we would pass the test.

But we do not really expect to be tested. That sort of thing only happens to people we see on television and read about in books, heroes and such. And if we were tested, surely we would know it. How could a literal moment of truth in our lives go unnoticed?

The answer is Normalcy Bias. That’s the sense that this day, this problem, or, in the instant case, this election is pretty much like any other, different only in degree, not in kind, that everything will be alright, notwithstanding overwhelming evidence to the contrary, because everything has always been alright before.

We analyze, rationalize, and temporize until we fail the test by not taking it.

Make no mistake, we Republicans stand on the threshold of a fundamental moral test in the 2016 presidential election, a challenge so serious as to be existential. As Ronald Reagan said in 1964, it is a time for choosing, and the choice, while clear, is one Reagan could never have imagined.

Hillary Clinton on the one hand; Donald Trump on the other. Scylla and Charybdis. The Devil and the deep blue sea. Or so it would appear.

But appearances deceive. Hillary Clinton is in the minds of many conservatives an ethically challenged liberal, hatred of whom has become a reflexive part of Republican liturgy. But as flawed as she may be, she is different only in degree from past presidential candidates. She is business as usual concealed by a little progressive smoke here and a few populist mirrors there.

Donald Tump, on the other hand, is different in kind, and dangerously so.

On a personal level, Trump is a boor, a bully, a carnival barker, and an embarrassment. Politically, by intent or instinct, he is a neo-fascist — a nativist, an ultranationalist, a racist, a misogynist, an anti-intellectual, a demagogue, and a palingenetic (sorry) authoritarian to whom clings the odor of the political violence he encourages.

He appeals to our fears, preys on our anxieties, and exploits our ignorance. A worse candidate to sit in the Oval Office for the next four years cannot be imagined.

And he is our responsibility. We spawned Donald Trump; now we must stop him. We must deny him the presidency by not voting in the presidential election at all or voting for Hillary Clinton if conscience permits.

A drop of a few percentage points in the Republican vote for Trump will be enough, which is why the pressure to conform, to toe the Party line, will be enormous. We cannot depend on our elected leaders to lead us. They, for the most part, will fold like cheap lawn chairs, cowed by fear and fueled by ambition.

It’s up to us. Each one of us is being tested, and the choice each of us makes matters, for ourselves, for our grandchildren. As bad as the cure for Trump’s Caesarism will be for the Party and for the country, it will not be bad as the disease, and both will survive.

So if anyone asks you, “Et tu Brute?” answer proudly, “Damned right.”


John “Mac” Stipanovich is a Republican lawyer and lobbyist who served as Gov. Bob Martinez’s chief of staff.


  1. This is B.S. Mac is just one of the Jebites that can’t get over getting their butts kicked. Trump is business man that understands the process as good as anyone, but shunned the political correctness like most of us would like to do sometime in our life. He said what most Republicans were thinking and the electorate responded to him? It’s really sad when people turn against the party they represent and are supposed to serve, just because they don’t have their way. No matter what they say, people like Mac are just not interested in the GOP, rather they are in it for their own self interests.

    1. We’re all interested in a GOP that most closely reflects our own values and goals for America. But Mac’s approach is continuing to not listen to the voters that have rejected the failed establishment. What is personal morality in a nation of Clintons and Gores and a party of Hasterts, Gingriches and Mark Foleys? There is no point in p!ssing on Trump’s voters at this stage of the game. Offering him conservative solutions to the problems that fester may be productive. Letting Hillary consolidate the Obama gains and purge her husband’s helpful compromises from public policy will lock Republicans back on their reservation for decades. Pay or play will not be merely health policy. It will be permanent reality.

  2. Donald Trump is the Ugly American. He is a reflection of everything th at is bad about each of us as an American.
    We need to look at Trump and see what we don’t like about him, then look in the mirror and ask which of his bad qualities do we also posess and how can we change ourselves to be a better person.
    If too many of us won’t make the effort to change ourselves, the the Donald will become our next leadrr and we will deserve him.

  3. What a load of crap – if you are a Republican you support the nominee – switch parties. Everytime a RINO or liberal says Trump is an embarrassment – there must be something good about him.

  4. I cannot think of a more unAmerican thing. Voting is a responsibility of the freedoms we have. But to actually call for people to NOT vote is even worse and symptomatic of the problems the Republican party refuses to face. The other party is actually encouraging voters and has been for some time. They will do whatever it takes to get voters to the polls (yes, their voters). If this is what someone who is considered more prominent in the party is calling for, then it shows how much leadership we lack.
    The problems with who we get to vote for happened because of this lack of leadership. Don’t be mad now because your complacency has made the party the victim of a hostile takeover. You should have defended, grown and protected the responsibility YOU had. To call for the behavior of the spoiled child (I am just taking my ball and going home). Is FAR worse than taking responsibility for your actions. Does anybody in politics even vaguely remember what responsibility really means? According to this article, I know the answer.

  5. Mac, I served as an appointee of Governor Martinez and I observed you for many years. I applaud you for this letter and join you in urging Florida Republicans to put country above party when the party has made a choice that is abhorrent not just on policy, that could be reconciled, but this is a moral choice.

  6. Stunning piece. This is the first and only moral argument I’ve ever seen from a Republican, that attempts to reveal what modern conservatives believe and think. I enjoyed reading opinion that discusses what is “in the minds of many conservatives”
    As a Democrat, conservative republicanism has indeed puzzled me for many years. Thank you Mr. Stipanovich, for an illuminating and very interesting read.
    Please, I would like to respond just a bit in kind, about what might be in the minds of many (liberal) Democrats.
    To many Democrats, Reagan’s doctrine/ philosophy challenged a more liberal Christian politic To us, Reagan largely represented an anti-Carter. Reagan now exists in our minds as just a hawk, and a bit of a hypocrite,
    We now see that conservatives hitched their wagon -actually, to a weak Reagan star.
    I think most Democrats look back and see in Carter something that still is desirable, something important that could and should be in the U.S. political DNA.
    Hillary was raised a Methodist. I think her involvement in that church facilitated her liberalism.
    All presidents are flawed of course. We can and will evolve. Our democracy was set up for evolution. Trump will be crushed, as he has not moral center. I’m an optimistic, Christian, Methodist spiritual citizen who believes that the good triumphs over evil. Call me silly, but I’ve seen war first hand, and I’ve been around a while now.
    Final thought: Overturn Citizens United. That’s a real issue. Nothing phony or distracting there. We need a SCOTUS that will do just that.

  7. As a recovering republican who now votes “D to block” like tic, tack, toe… you can see the election of Trump or someone like him from a mile away. Still it is as fascinating as it is frightening to witness. Every time I think the GOP has reached its nadir, it proves me wrong by going even lower. Republicans are on the wrong side of every issue. It’s what defines them. And now? You have “Donald Trump” as your presidential nominee. Good luck with that.

  8. Won’t be taking orders from an establishment paid lobbyist. Let all see how the estab repubs are actually anti-2nd Amendment, open borders and global warmongers for PROFIT. We’ve had enough of the jobs shipped out and $$ 4 an underclass of predators being brought into out neighborhoods in the name of diversity. No more – Trump 2016

  9. You spawned him, you prick, so you stop him. It should be like watching a pig fight a skunk.

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