Monday, July 20, 2020

A Never Trumper... No More?

Five years ago President Trump announced he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. He was one of 17 major candidates that entered the primary race, the largest presidential primary field for any political party in American history. The field was robust with many well known candidates with considerable experience in government. There was a wide representation of Republicans with more liberal candidates like Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and stanch conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Bobby Jindal. The field had young rising stars in the party like Marco Rubio and new comers like Ben Carson, the renown neurosurgeon. The experience was vast with nine state governors running in the field and five U.S. senators, among them was Carly Fiorina, a successful business executive. Among all this promise for the future of the Republican party, Donald Trump entered the race with years of media prowess, nearly unmatched name recognition, and a powerful real estate brand.

With all that "star" power he also brought with him a volatile reputation of toying in politics and a bad reputation for a quick temper, attention-grabbing celebrity feuds, and being a "ladies man." Trump was hardly the serious conservative that the conservative base was looking for and he was not the cooperative liberal Republican the establishment wanted to work with. So how did this dark horse win the race? I think in large part there were many on the right who had grown tired of politics as usual and were fed up with years of being labeled as bigoted haters by liberal media and politicians, while Republican leaders rolled over on the culture war. The phenomenon is like the kid who is continually bullied, who keeps taking the hits day in and day out, until one day the kid simply snaps and starts punching back. President Trump promised to be the one who would punch back, who wouldn't take it laying down. He was just the kind of junkyard dog that people were willing to put their bets behind. He became their dog in the fight and they were confident that he wouldn't back down.

To the shock of many in the nation, including myself, Trump was declared the presumptive Republican nominee in May 2016. Many in the Republican party couldn't understand the phenomenon that was responsible for his increasing support and hoped that Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio might inch him out, but by the end of the primary voting process, Trump had a commanding lead in the number of pledged delegates, ensuring a smooth process for being declared the nominee. However, at 44.9%, Trump had the lowest percentage of the popular primary vote for a major party nominee since the 1988 Democratic primaries.

Personally, this was a hard blow for me. I was VERY opposed to Trump during the Republican Party primary season and my feelings about the choice our party made are still conflicted. For years after, I considered myself a political orphan, perhaps I still do. My opposition to Trump at the time was informed by what I could see in his life and behavior that demonstrated to me that he didn't have a steady self-mastery, a proper humility, or a principled dedication to conservative principles. Beyond his character (not judging his heart, only his actions) I had serious concerns about what his leadership would mean for the greater conservative movement and ongoing culture war. I saw in Donald Trump an easy archetype of the false caricature the left has of Republicans. I'm afraid that this concern has been confirmed since President Trump was elected President.

President Trump's intemperate ways and twitter vomit, his very persona, has become the confirmation bias the left needed to prove their narrative of the Republican party as belligerent capitalist — racist —misogynist. His particular set of weaknesses have played perfectly into their narrative and the media has gleefully exploited it to the fullest. Before his election I considered the possibility that a Trump candidacy and presidency would do more damage to the Republican party in the long run, and therefore the conservative movement, than what the Democrats could do with the presidency; especially since conservatives had proven over the years that they are most effective in opposition to the executive rather than in the oval office.

One of my go to quotes at the time was: "If we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures."  ~ Alexander Hamilton

It's impossible to know for sure how far down this path of cultural revolution and the dismantling of our Constitution we would have traveled under another Clinton presidency, and of course I may have been wrong about which was worse, but one thing that was very clear to me then and has continued to be true, is the fact that neither path was a good one. I still regret the loss of what might have been the only good path and that was our party having chosen one of the many solid Republican candidates that had been passed over in the stardom haze of Trumpism.

President Trump's most committed followers have been passionately loyal to him and have regularly defend him even when he behaves petulantly and lobs his brash bombastic claims into the social media soup. This love affair with Trump has been bewildering to many on the left and the right, but what is absolutely incomprehensible to those on the left is the general support that the President has held within the rank and file of the party. This has become an even greater proof of their contrived narrative of the deplorable right wingers that inhabit heartland America. This has made it even easier for leftist who live in insular liberal population centers to dismiss the well-founded reasons for which President Trump has earned the general support of the party. After all, very few on the coasts have the inconvenient contradictions of having been personally acquainted with a discerning analytical Trump supporter.

From a former "Never Trumper," who happens to be a committed conservative and one of those "deplorables" who live in the heartland, I think I have a pretty good grasp of the reasons Republicans chose Trump as their bulldog in the political fight. These are three of the most basic:

1) CLEAN HOUSE: Washington has become toxic to the American system and Trump promised to be unpopular and “drain the swamp.” For this voters believed they needed a bulldog in the china shop, and Trump seemed to fit the bill.

2) CULTURAL PROTECTION: Conservatives have been vilified by the left as racists and bigots for generations and this is rapidly intensifying as the culture war ramps up. Traditional Christian Conservatives went from a majority culture to the minority counter-culture and with the left using tactics to silence conservatives the backlash was inevitable. Trump is part of that backlash. Someone they believed would fight for what is most precious -- freedom of speech, worship, and exercise of religion in public life. They were assured that Trump would appoint strict constructionist judges on the Supreme Court. All of which have been under attack by the left.

3) ECONOMIC PROTECTIONISM & NATIONALISM: Trump ran on a platform of economic protectionism. He promised to take on the globalist and protect American jobs and sovereignty. US manufacturing jobs have been particularly harmed by globalization and Trump promised to bring back those segments of our economy — thus the rust belt went for Trump. Immigration was part of this economic protectionism and protecting sovereignty. Voting your economic and sovereign interest against economic and governmental globalist has been labeled by the left as dangerous forms of nationalism and populism but to Americans whose jobs have been stagnated by globalization and illegal immigration, President Trump is being loyal to America first.

President Trump has been moderately successful in fulfilling his campaign promises despite being his worst enemy, and to the extent with which he hasn't been successful his base easily excuses him because of the continual implacable attacks from the left and their media allies. President Trump has serious leadership deficiencies and isn't the grand champion of the conservative cause that many on the right imagine him to be, but these realities are overshadowed by the extreme derangement on the left, and thus as a result the gloves are off on both sides of the isle and we are in an all out brawl.

With the election of Trump conservatives may have given up on the steady dedication required to win ground on the political stage and in the culture. Ultimately, they made a risky trade between the steady course and a short frenzied outburst of emotion. From the start I have listened to the extraordinary hope that Trump is capable of single-handedly cleaning house in Washington, exposing the corruption, executing justice, and beginning the essential work of restoring the integrity of our Constitutional government before it's too late. It was desperation to believe that a Trump could accomplish all this in four years by mixing up a political dog fight in Washington. What was more certain was that Trump at the head of the party and the nation would give the left the fodder they needed to catalyst their culture war to a whole new level.

Republicans have put too much of our energy into winning elections while drifting helplessly to the left on the shifting political and cultural sands. Regardless of the elections we've won, the party and the nation continue to move to the cultural left. Winning elections has not made Republicans effective at pushing back against the false narratives of the left and protecting Constitutional government, free markets, or traditional American values. President Trump, for all the hopes that were placed in him, has not been effective at this either. Without doing the hard work of steadying the ground under our feet, it is only a matter of time before we are out of the government for the duration and then our Constitutional government is truly in danger of being lost forever.

... So... now what? Do we vote for Trump?

The damage is done, the false caricature of the party that I feared would be verified, has been thoroughly cemented on the left and is gaining ground in the center; and so, this time around I don’t have that consideration in the mix when making my choice. So what is the primary consideration this time around?

I don't believe that the country can long remain united if the ideological divide continues to precipitously widen. I’m hoping for some way to peacefully coexist and for civil liberties to be retained, but I'm not very optimistic. My friends on the left believe that Trump is the greatest risk America has ever faced and that we will be united if he is defeated in 2020. I believe that the left is allowing the greater risks to rise in this mob movement that is rooted in cultural Marxism and is calling for an end to law and order and the destruction of the American system. President Trump may be uncouth and intemperate but he doesn't want to tear down the American system and he isn't threatening law and order, and for those reasons he seems to be the only speed bump in this road to the disintegration of the union.

Usually at this stage of the Presidential political season the news media would be covering the back and forth of Presidential candidates debating their public policy agendas. We'd be looking at the upcoming Presidential debate schedule and listening to candidates position themselves ahead of those debates. Today it looks like we may have a Presidential election without debate, we may even have an election without people going to the the polls.

The media is beginning to signal the game plan to avoid putting Joe Biden on the debate stage with President Trump. In the place of media coverage of the candidate platforms and records there is only one position that matters and that is the candidates support for the Black Lives Matter cultural revolution. In this political twilight zone the candidate who wants to get the U.S. economy back on track is considered reckless with human life. The candidate who speaks against the lawless tactics of Marxist cultural revolutionaries threatening to tear apart peace and order, threatening lives, antagonizing peaceful citizens, destroying property, and destroying historical monuments, is considered racist. But the candidate who is hiding in his basement, occasionally appearing in a video interviews and displaying an concerning lack of understanding about -- well, just about everything -- is the anointed presumptive nominee of the Democrat party.

The chasm in the country right now has become too dangerous a threat to turn over the White House to the leftist gaining control of the Democratic party seemly unopposed. Essentially the train has left the station and is seems like the only thing left, that has any hope of meeting the most important objectives — to defend our Constitution, and thus preserve our natural rights to direct the affairs of our own families unimpeded by leftist control — is to support President Trump in 2020.

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