Truth and the Vichy Republicans

Vichy Republicans. During his commencement speech at Stanford University, historian Ken Burns coined the term to describe Republicans who’ve endorsed their party’s presumptive presidential nominee even though they don’t think he’s qualified to hold the office.

In this extraordinary election year, it seems like Vichy Republicans outnumber all other kinds of Republicans:

  • Those who are happy with their party’s nominee and are happy to endorse him.
  • Those who are unhappy with their nominee and have publicly declined to support him.
  • Those who have nothing to say.
Stanford 125th Commencement Ceremony, Stanford Stadium.

Ken Burns speaking at Stanford’s commencement – 12 June 2016 (Image credit: L.A. Cicero, published on

If you fall into one of these three groups, I can respect that. Although I might not agree with you, I can see that your actions align with what you say you believe.

But to the Vichy Republicans, I echo Burns’ words: please reconsider.

I have some experience here.

  • I’ve stubbornly ignored my misgivings about (non-presidential) candidates from my own party, only to be humiliated when, once elected, they trapped themselves in scandals.
  • When my country — either its government, or people who represent it any context — does something to offend or injure people, I’m often quick to excuse the transgression and expect the offended and the injured to forgive.
  • In my professional life, I’ve aligned myself with the loudest, most persuasive person on the team, rather than with the position I knew was right.

So I’m not here to throw stones. But I can give you some advice.

Like the Vichy government in France, which chose to collaborate with the Nazis rather than resist them, you might find that it makes sense in the short run to “go along to get along.” But in the long run it hurts you and everyone else.

I know what you’re thinking. This guy is a tough rival. You don’t want to get on his bad side. And if he wins the election, won’t he be kinder to those who supported him?

No. This guy cares only about himself. And he’s so volatile that to stay on his good side you’ll have to twist yourself in knots — probably sacrificing your principles in the process.

You think you’re being pragmatic. You’re really being a coward.

If you honestly doubt this candidate’s fitness for office, stand up now for what you believe. Don’t take the path of less resistance in the hope that things will work out — in spite of what you know to be true. Lies have a way of being exposed sooner or later. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

This would be a great time for all of us — Republicans, Democrats, Independents — to show the courage of our convictions.

3 thoughts on “Truth and the Vichy Republicans

  1. Pingback: My hopes for my country | Leading Technical Communication

  2. radaghastblog

    “Vichy Republicans.” I love the term and agree with your sentiments, Larry. But it’s too late. The ‘Publicans have cast their nominating dice and Trump it is. (To me) it’s terribly sad that the ‘DCrats have such a poor counter-offer in Hillary. It’s time for Americans to leave behind the two-party shell game and come up with parties that really represent our (often very different) interests.

  3. Pingback: Try the knish | Leading Technical Communication

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