I recently began reading Atlas Shrugged for the third time. I have found when I am feeling rather beaten down by the big government advocates that re-reading this book gives me empowerment. It recharges my logic and gives me reinforcements on the battlefield of ideas. Among the many points that stuck out to me was the following dialog from Lillian Rearden in discussion with her estranged husband, Hank:
Lillian: “Suppose I wanted to tell you about the new novel which Balph Eubank is writing— he is dedicating it to me— would that interest you?”
Hank: “If it’s the truth that you want— not in the least.”
She laughed. “And if it’s not the truth that I want?”
“Then I wouldn’t know what to say,” he answered… “Why would you want it, if it’s not the truth?” he asked. “What for?”
“Now you see, that’s the cruelty of conscientious people. You wouldn’t understand it- would you?- if I answered that real devotion consists of being willing to lie, cheat and fake (emphasis mine) in order to make another person happy- to create for him the reality he wants, if he doesn’t like the one that exists.”
This is when it hit me quite clearly… that this is Trump 101. This is the unwritten rule, “the code” by which Donald Trump (A) lives his life, and (B) by which he expects others to abide. He believes he is showing his devotion to the cause by lying, cheating, and faking anything he has to in order to come out victorious. This is why it has been so puzzling to watch him contradict himself so often. After all, how can someone constantly violate one’s own integrity and not be ashamed? The answer is that he isn’t violating his own integrity because he believes he is displaying his devotion to the cause of winning, in the manner that Lillian Rearden understands.
On point B; Trump expects his followers, the party leadership, the media, and we conservatives to do the same for him. It explains why he has continued to attack Ted Cruz and his father after his non-endorsement. It explains why he delayed his endorsement for Paul Ryan. It explains his riffs with Megyn Kelly, John McCain, Morning Joe, CNN, and many others. He expects them to show the kind of devotion he and Lillian Rearden understand. In other words, even if you don’t trust that he is who he says he is, you should lie and say you do. Even if you don’t believe he is worthy of the presidency, fake it. If you notice an untruth during one of his speeches, look the other way. If you scratch your head when he says “Two Corinthians”, let it go! Don’t you want to win?
Unfortunately for Trump, the ends don’t justify the means. Not to a great many people, and certainly not to the majority of conservatives. The means are just as important and maybe even more so, because the means come from our morality and our morality is the basis of who we are. Of course, we love to win too, but if the only path to victory requires me to ignore that he is using a corked bat… I’m sorry I can’t do that. If beating Hillary Clinton means I have to bite my tongue when his foot steps out of bounds, then I don’t want to be a part of this team. I won’t lower myself and my standards just to score a win for the R.
Take some time and think about it. You will realize that sacrificing your beliefs in order to be on the bandwagon of the winning team isn’t really winning, is it?
Let’s imagine that your whole life you’ve been a Cubs fan waiting for the glory of victory. You’ve suffered with your team through the losing seasons, the almost’s, and the wait till next year’s. Then one day you move to Boston and the Red Sox go on to win the World Series. Did you really win if you jumped on the local team’s bandwagon? No. Nothing short of winning with the team you really belong to will ever satisfy your thirst.
So be true to yourself. Stand by your conservative values, and on the day when that honest victory comes, nothing will be sweeter.