Lying about Donald Trump has become an Olympic sport. Like the quadrennial games, strident anti-Trumpism comes with shady financial deals, sexual depravity, and lots and lots of melodrama. Sprinkle all that with beta male tears and spasmodic chest pounding, and you pretty much have the worst of NeverTrumpism.
The latest entrant in the Anybody But Trump game comes from James Kirchick at The Daily Beast. The thesis? Hillary Clinton is predictable and therefore more conservative (i.e., better) than Trump because cherry-picked quotations from Edmund Burke say so. Oh, and Trump is reeeally evil, says horrible things, and doesn’t want to conserve anything. Thus, implies the author, the fate of Planet Earth — nay, the universe! — rests on Trump’s defeat.
Yeah, okay. Repeating false narratives is like zombie Christmas to the unimaginative. But let’s dispense with several of the criticisms about Trump because — while I don’t agree that the fate of the nation hinges on any one person — much indeed is at stake.
Big Lie 1: Predictability Is Inherently Conservative and Therefore Good
The basis for Kirchick’s argument is that predictability is conservative (therefore good) while unpredictability is not conservative (therefore dangerous). And never the twain shall meet.
This is a beaut and a false dichotomy, because the ordered universe shows us each and every day that the predictable and unpredictable are necessary parts of life. Struggling to find the balance between these two realities is as natural as breathing and at the heart of every great story. Elements of both are evident in Trump. Common sense and self-respect demand an understanding of this basic fact.
This lie is also Exhibit A for Why Conservatives Lose. “How can we be losing?” you ask. “We have majorities in Congress, governors, and state legislatures! By the way, we are really, really smart and have loads of principles and believe in, you know, the Constitution.”
Hello, people. We. Are. Losing. The. Culture.
Society is family writ large, and the family is of course made up of individuals. Messed-up individuals equals messed-up families equals messed-up society. Added to that, when enough people feel unsafe (think Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando), it’s a shock to the collective body. No law — not even the Supreme Law of the Land — can make up for all that. So we must start with changing the culture.
We do that by instituting, or in some cases reinstituting, boundaries. We have to get our hands dirty to do this — literally and figuratively. We have to have walls. We have to have policy victories. That means having conversations, using language, and making decisions that cause a lot of people to squirm. We as a nation have been so brainwashed with self-loathing — the small nicks that precede a death by a thousand cuts — that it’s hard to see reality until we come out of the fog. But emerging from that fog requires many things, including someone willing to be unpredictable. It requires Trump.
Yet politicians, judges, and so-called intellectual bright lights shove aside the boundaries designed to protect the minds, hearts, souls, and bodies of this nation’s citizenry, because it’s preferable to pursue the comfortable “known.” How very quaint and safe-spacey. How very boring. And how very deadly. Why would we want to conserve that?
Trump doesn’t. To understand what Trump wants to conserve, first we have to leapfrog over the progressive mentality cultivated for more than a century to a time when the nation cherished its founding, sovereignty, and unity; when people felt deeply and understood viscerally the responsibility of self-government.
Next we fast-forward to the 21st century, and here we have Trump applying dynamic conservatism — a truly pro-united America mentality — to trade deals, energy policy, education reform, and border security. No wonder people are agog. We have not seen such a confluence of beliefs in a single, charismatic individual in decades.
As others have said before, that Trump is not your typical conservative is a feature, not a bug. So too is his unpredictability.
Big Lie 2: Trump Is a Horrible Human Who Wants to Destroy the World
Anyone paying half attention to the presidential election has probably heard the following descriptions of Trump, some of which are in Kirchick’s article: racist, demagogue, Khmer Rouge revolutionary, encourages violence, tyrant, likes dictators, fascist, disparages his own base, orange.
Maybe it’s floating around out there somewhere, but I’m still waiting for the article that finally declares Trump to be the spawn of Satan, if not Satan himself. Just get it over with already, instead of dancing around the issue. Until then, however, Trump usually gets the kitchen-sink treatment, with writers and others throwing every invective they can at him and then repeating them over and over and over again. It’s kind of exhausting, and most of what’s said about Trump just isn’t true. For example, did Trump say he loves the poorly educated who vote for him? Yes. Was he insulting them? No.
The best thing I can suggest is this: Forget the headlines and edited videos. Bypass the usual filters and just go to YouTube, search Right Side Broadcasting, and watch as many of Trump’s speeches and interviews as you can from beginning to end. Take him with you while driving, working out, cleaning the house, wherever. In those speeches and interviews, we see someone quite different than typically portrayed. I’ll briefly cover a few points, because we’ve all got to do some legwork.
Let’s Get Some Things Clear
First, Trump is genuinely fond of his supporters. He is also fiercely loyal toward them. He does not talk down to them. It’s ironic perhaps given his vast wealth, but he’s explained many times how comfortable he is with tradesmen and other workers because that’s who he grew up with as he learned about construction and real estate.
He jokes throughout his speeches and has a tremendous rapport with the thousands of people who fill large venues to hear him speak. When he calls some of his supporters — mind you, referring to exit poll data — “poorly educated,” it’s not condescending. People get it because he’s funny, and they know he loves them. They also know it’s true. They’re not as well-educated as others, at least on paper. He’s acknowledged that, too, saying that those people have life experience that’s just as important, if not more so, than college degrees.
Ever know someone who can say things that others can’t? That’s Trump. It doesn’t mean he’s a “tin-pot dictator,” just that the man is comfortable and knows his audience.
If you want to see real contempt for the American people, please refer to Hillary Clinton. That’s spelled H I L L A R Y C L I N T O N. Google her. If you call yourself a Republican, Hillary has declared you an enemy, on par with the National Rifle Association, health insurance companies, and the Iranians. And let’s not forget how viciously Hillary treated the women claiming unwanted sexual advances from Bill.
Second, when Trump refused to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin and instead returned the man’s compliments with “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond,” how is that anything but diplomatic and savvy?
I thought we wanted Trump to be tempered and presidential. Was Trump really going to offend the leader of Russia, a potential ally in the fight against radical Islam and major player in international affairs?
Third, when Trump questions Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ability to objectively adjudicate the Trump University lawsuit, he is justified. He’s not disparaging Hispanics or Latinos, either. It’s somehow completely acceptable, for example, for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to say that a “wise Latina woman … would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” but Trump can’t call out Curiel’s dubious ties to La Raza, an Hispanic organization dedicated to open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens?
If Curiel belongs to organizations that are either hostile to Trump or people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, what does it matter if Curiel is “highly respected”? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to find out who thinks so well of him and why?
As has been the case since Trump announced his candidacy, if he calls the sky blue, his detractors will say it’s anything but. It just doesn’t matter, because faults must be found and his campaign derailed.
Expediency, thy name is NeverTrump.
Kirchick tells his readers that while “no one, not even his supporters, can tell us how Trump might behave once in office,” he is absolutely certain Trump will upend world peace and prosperity and destroy the country. Sorry, sir. You cannot have it both ways.
What is true is that Trump is ambivalent about the labels “Republican” and “conservative.” At times, he vigorously defends his credentials, then says with characteristic flare and a shrug, “But who cares?” It seems clear that he subsumes those identifiers to one far greater, far more meaningful: simply “American.” Unfortunately that sounds a bit sappy to our jaded ears (thanks, Hollywood!), but it’s actually in line with our Founding Fathers. Men, by the way, whose views about America and liberty matter much more than anything some Brit-Irish gent says about conservatism.