Trump and the Dearth (and ultimate Death) of Traditional Conservatism
Time for some tough love, Trump Fans.
The Conservative movement (such as it was) has met its match in one Donald J. Trump.
The erstwhile reality show star has surged to the top of the crowded Republican field and stayed there… causing (deserved) heart attacks to the entrenched (somewhat) Right-leaning political class as well as “Well, Crap… there goes the Country” shrugs from those of us lay people who actually see him for what he is (and the movement that has gained ground because of him, for what it is).
There’s no real way to sugarcoat this… so I’m not going to try. As The Donald would say, “Deal with it”.
Everyone (even most of his supporters) know that Trump is little more than a first-rate carnival barker with an unusually keen talent of self-promotion. Does he truly care about this country? Well, at least as much as the fact the he lives here, so he cares about it by extension.
Trump made an offhanded yet terribly despicable remark about the majority of Mexican immigrants being thugs, murderers, and rapists during his campaign launch. (Note to self… from now on, the working definition of Trumpesque should be “anything said that is off-the-cuff, yet terribly despicable”) .
In saner times, such grotesquely silly blather would have put an immediate end to his presidential ambitions. Instead, God gave us over to our national craziness and now we have: Trump!, the viable candidate.
So, I know, I know…. those of us on the Right are sick and tired of being sick and tired with the ‘leadership’ of the GOP. We have generally tried to elect folks who promised to stand up against the Leftist Dystopia that President Obama has ushered in. Only… when they get to D.C., they (nearly unanimously, nearly immediately) become drunk with power and evolve into the self-serving class of political elites. And many of their cronies in some of the Right-leaning media outlets end up becoming apologists for them as they Cocktail together and share a laugh.
Conservatives are frustrated, and rightfully so. They are angry at their political leadership (rightly so) and angry that their way of life seems to be slipping away (misplaced anger) and angry that no one will stop this wave of decline (misguided anger, here).
Enter Trump (the near textbook demagogue).
Now, “Conservatives” have found their savior in the most unConservative candidate to come along in a long time (heartfelt apologies to Jon Huntsman and John “the Second Coming of Hunstman” Kasich).
Trump carries a yuuuge stick and bloviates rather loudly. He promises to Make America Great Again. How, you ask? By the simple virtue of his Trumplike Trumpiness. If a celebrity candidate saying they can change things and bring hope to the nation through nothing but the sheer force of their own personality sounds eerily familiar to you… you can certainly be forgiven.
The way I see it, Trump’s support comes from three disparate (but frighteningly seeming to merge) camps.
- The Let.It.Burn crowd of “Conservative” would-be revolutionaries
- The genuine (if misguided) True Believers
- Straight-Up White Nationailists
My gut (and a few dealings with said folks) tells me that the most self-aware of Trump’s fans (camp 1) truly do get it. They do understand how much of a joke Donald Trump is. So why do they still support him? They think they are being strategic. They think the only way to revive Conservative governance is to destroy the Republican Party once and for all. Trump is nothing more than the blunt instrument of these too, too clever puppet masters. They are downright giddy at the fact that, because of Trump, the GOP is headed towards implosion.
(Side note: glee at the destruction of anything is hardly a Conservative outlook… but, that’s an entirely different issue)
Problem is, they are plain and simply wrong.
This is basically the same crowd who advocated voting for Obama over Romney because they thought they could get the pendulum to swing back further rightwards if we allowed the President to continue his Leftist, Statist agenda. (Which raises the question of why these same people are complaining at the GOP’s seeming inability to stop that same agenda. Wasn’t letting it happen all part of the plan??)
Most folks in this crowd are pretty much CINO’s (Conservatives in Name Only). They have absolutely no clue what Conservatism is and has come from. Instead, they are basically taking a slightly watered-down version of Randian Objectivism and calling it Conservatism. Some are former Libertarians who got tired of always losing at everything (no offence to my libertarian friends). Most are college age or a little older. Most are white. Most are males.
They are basically angry, white males – but their aiding and abetting of actual white supremacists is mostly unintentional.
The second camp are what I would call True Blue Believers in Trump. These people are former Conservatives who honestly don’t realize that they are not Conservative anymore. Their Conservatism, such as it was, has been replaced by a kind of Populist, Nativist, Economic Protectionist, Nationalism. Now, actual historical Conservatism, being the “negation of ideology”, has room for many disparate thoughts…. but populism, nativism, economic protectionism, and nationalism spring from the opposite of a conservative worldview.
This second group is well-meaning, but misguided and being led astray by a typical “Strongman” (and there has never been an historical Strongman who has led his nation to true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy ends).
If you find yourself in this second camp, I urge, admonish, strongly and emphatically encourage you to take a step back and really examine your beliefs. Take a look at historical Conservatism… read some summaries of what Burke and Kirk and Nisbet had to say. If your political inclinations are stronger and more important to you than the enduring things these men wrote about… you may not be conservative to begin with. To be fair, that’s the question I had to face. And I decided that I was still conservative… but that the Modern American Conservative movement was most decidedly not. (Convenient conclusion, no?).
In all seriousness though…. most of the crowd in Camp 2 are also religious in general or Christian specifically.
So, here’s an even harder question you need to ask yourself:
Are the teachings of Christ compatible with Modern American Political Conservatism.
For me, the answer was a sad and emphatic, No.
But, you need to search yourself and your own convictions. Pray and seek guidance… but, if you claim Christ as your savior, you need to come to the place where you are willing to walk away from your political inclinations if they end up being at odds with living out the Christian faith.
Furthermore… if you find yourself in Camp 2… run, don’t walk away from Trump.
Why, you ask? Because of Camp 3.
You do not need to go very deep into the internet to find that Trump’s ascendancy has emboldened and made mainstream a pernicious and insidious White Nationalism movement. This isn’t a joke. It’s not hyperbole. I am not some “Establishment Goon” trying to poison the well.
Trump’s apparent popularity is giving cover to the rising of a racist and sinister minority.
So… if you are a Trump supporter, you may not be a White Nationalist…. but, believe me, many of your fellow supporters are. I have run into some in comment sections of erstwhile Conservative web-sites. It’s ugly out there. And more than a little scary.
In closing, if you do actually mean well… If you really want this country to turn around, then understand that first and foremost, it has to repent. The way to revitalization is through revival. Pray ceaselessly. Lead your families. Serve your communities. Help those less fortunate than you. Live out Christ’s “Upside Down” kingdom and let the last be first. Think of others more than yourself…
(And, for the love of all that is Holy, stop supporting Donald Trump who is the antithesis of all these things)