There are some silver linings for conservatives in the wake of the Donald Trump nomination and consequent discrediting of the national Republican Party establishment. Ignore the dominant political wisdom and the talking points parroted on the major news networks. Also be clear on one thing: stating there are unintended benefits deriving from his nomination does not in any way imply this writer’s support for Trump’s candidacy – under any circumstances. However, the negatives of his candidacy – if not the deep character flaws of his candidate persona – explain or will engender benefits because they either reveal hidden truths or confirm deep-seated fears.
First, Trump’s nomination has validated conservatives’ long-held suspicion that the Republican establishment’s central principles are personal financial gain and the satisfaction of naked ambition. Clarity as regards the truth is always a good thing. Let go of the fantasy you’ve clung to the last 25 years. The Republican Party was not, never was, Ronald Reagan’s party. Reagan was the historical aberration, a fact which might explain the deep admiration for his role. Within the present-day Republican Party as we now know it, ideology ceases to be the animating force and is merely the tool with which to identify the gullible or naive as marks. Whether Trump has been pitching his “university,” his “steaks” or his “vodka,” and now his “candidacy,” he has consistently been good at one thing: identifying marks who will buy his story. Republican voters are merely his latest victims. Nothing new here, just move along.
The second benefit, however, comes from the revelation of the character of the legions of Republicans who have bought tickets on the Trump Train. This is going to become the GOP’s answer to the Taggart Express (the doomed train in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged). Huge swaths of Republican elected officials, activists and other party enforcers (including media opinion leaders such as the cheerleaders at Fox News) have tripped over themselves to publicly profess their fealty to Lord Trump. They have gone far beyond proclaiming their “support for the party’s nominee” without naming Le Grande Orange. That is the key. This year, we’ve seen elected officials and media celebrities, the most powerful opinion leaders out there, go in a seeming heartbeat from excoriating Trump to endorsing Trump, to becoming his thuggish enforcers enthusiastically disparaging and threatening anyone who resists getting on board.
The targets of these vile targets are not merely the stated heretics (e.g., the Bushes, Ted Cruz, National Review). They are their followers, their donors, their advertisers.
These tactics are the equivalent of immersing oneself in a toxic brew the residue of which cannot be removed. While poor judgment or being the victim of a fraud is personally forgivable (even if it may reveal the unsuitability for elected office), the enthusiastic bullying by men such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to curry favor with the Trump Establishment reveals dark character flaws which, I argue, make such men and women unsuited to lead the conservative movement.
Not this year. Not next year. Never again. (Or, #NeverAgain.)
Don’t accept the claims that they were duped by Trump. Rubbish! Trump is not making these people change. This isn’t Trump’s fault. Trump is merely identifying, and exploiting, their terminal, vulgar ambition. This is actually a yuge public service – Trump is doing something we’ve tried to do for decades, and he’s succeeding! He’s gotten these people, the collaborationists, to take off their stage masks to reveal their dark character which was always there.
It is such personal imperfections which disqualify them from public life.
The silver lining is that Trump has unmasked these disqualifying, deep, irredeemable flaws, and in a wide cross-section of the Republican establishment. Collaboration with Trump will not merely be a scarlet letter on the public resume; it will be the Iron Anchor of Doom which should forever keep this most deformed group on permanent double-secret probation from a politically-active and now thoroughly insulted conservative populace.
But what about the large segments of the Republican primary voters (not all of whom are registered or self-identifying Republicans, given the prevalence of the open primary or same-day-registration primary) who enthusiastically turned out for Trump?
I argue that these voters will also soon face their reckoning. Despite their numerical superiority (for now), Trump voters bear the direct responsibility for making America choose between two deeply and viscerally unpopular candidates.
What happens, you ask, when people start jumping off the Trump Train? What happens when they ask for forgiveness, another chance, perhaps?
As such, anyone who associates with Trump this year should not be allowed to claim a momentary lapse of reason, a mistake or error. After Trump either loses in November or gets elected and shreds the Constitution, the economy and what remains of civil culture, there will be many who will ask for forgiveness.
The reality? They will be seeking to avoid responsibility for the destruction they enabled.
No matter how numerous these crowds may be, their numbers do not entitle them to absolution. They have thoroughly discredited themselves, by risking our nation’s future in their selfish pursuit of personal gain. These character flaws should permanently disqualify them from serious consideration for any leadership role ever again.
Political forgiveness requires sufficient political contrition, of which its sufficiency is to be measured by those who publicly demonstrated the courage of their convictions and withstood the torrents of threats, abuse and actual reprisals from establishment leaders and their downstream bullies.
And conservatives should now view their neighbors, their friends and family, through a new and demanding character test. Did you stand up to Trump? Or did you grab a stick and join the marauding looters? Hold them accountable, conservatives.
And you can do that now. You don’t wait until November. You hold them accountable, starting today, when you make decisions:
- With whom to socialize;
- With whom to do business;
- Where to shop; and
- Who to hire, and who to fire.
Conservatives must learn to stop feeding the hand that bites them. Because right now, that hand is beating us like a rented mule.
Images courtesy of Gage Skidmore.