Last night I came across this tweet from Tom Nichols:
To be fair to Tom, he’s been one of my favorite writers for some time now and I don’t mean to pick on him, per se. But it was this tweet that got me thinking about the group of Never Trumper’s and what I suspect is more than a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
I understand their central complaint: Trump is an uncouth lout who prefers trolling the left to decorum, and even dares to use louder dog whistles than their preferred candidates. I suspect it runs a bit deeper than that, though. The President paints with a broad brush, mostly because a lifetime spent in marketing and promotion has taught him that people react most viscerally to generalizations, not specifics. So when the President decries the corruption that runs rampant within the intel community and Department of Justice, he doesn’t focus on specific people until after he’s carpet bombed the departments. This often leaves the surviving members of that department fearing that their particular institution will be irreparably damaged. Most of the prominent Never Trumper’s have significant attachment to those institutions, could have prevented said carpet bombing by rooting out the corruption before Mr. Trump took office, and instead are complicit in its existence. They may be upstanding people of principle, but they will forever be tainted by giving the wrong people the benefit of the doubt.
The other issue I see consistently raised is that Trump has a unique negotiating style. You could call it, “take it or leave it, but if you leave it, I’ll do my best to nuke the road back.” It is confrontational, in-your-face, undiplomatic – and thus far, effective. After a generation of leaders who have gone the diplomatic route with middling results, this new tact may upset traditional allies and foes alike, but it has already resulted in a renegotiated NAFTA, the potential of a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, increased contributions from the other NATO countries and brought the Chinese and EU to the negotiating table.
On the domestic policy front, that same confrontational style has brought mixed results. The largest tax rewrite in a generation was prodded along by the President, but it comes with an increase in spending that would make most Democratic presidents blush. Full repeal of Obamacare remains a pipe dream, but the courts are largely being remade along constitutionalist lines because of the President’s unflinching resolve to nominate constitutionalists to the bench.
This is what puzzles me regarding the stance Nichols and his ilk are taking. Maybe they don’t understand how far to the left the Democrats are going. Most of us have suspected that “democratic socialism,” with all that entails, has been the aim of the Democratic party base for the past 50 years. If they acknowledge that we are engaged in a fight to prevent those who would push globalism at any cost, government control over every aspect of our lives and the attendant despair and poverty those changes would create from ever gaining power again, then how can they counsel voting for those same people? I’m not saying every Republican is a saint; far from it. But they are far better than the alternative.
I understand being frustrated with a President who, to put it mildly, usually acts like a spoiled 3 year old in a candy store. Many is the day I wish someone would take a hammer and do a Hillary to his phone. The pettiness and unnecessary feuds accomplish little. But at the same time, those same personality traits have laid bare the hypocrisy of the mainstream media for all to see, and forced Americans for the first time in 80 years to question just why their federal government has ballooned to the point that most of us have no idea just what it is doing. He is the first President in two generations to address immigration in terms the American people understand – and largely support.
The tension the Never Trumpers attribute to Donald Trump has existed in the country for far longer than they want to admit. Trump is only the manifestation of those anxieties. If you like, you can call him the right’s ying to the left’s yang of President Obama. Now, would I have preferred another man to fill the ying? Sure. But here’s the thing: only one of the other 16 people who ran for President in 2016 acknowledged that the fundamental divide between left and right is cultural, not strictly policy driven. To this day, the Never Trump faction still doesn’t seem to grasp this fact.
Perhaps one day, a third party will rise up to address not only the cultural differences but also the need for smaller, limited and fiscally responsible governance (my hope is the modern Federalists fill the bill). But until then, I will continue to vote for the Republicans. The reason is simple: as bad as most of them are, they’re still better than the party that wants to destroy both the nation and the fabric that holds us together.
Tom Nichols and his friends need to wake up to that fact, too, before history records them in the same paragraph as Benedict Arnold.