The latest entry in “you must pick a team and cheer” comes from New Republic’s Jeet Heer, who accuses National Review of “surrender to Trump.” Sigh.
For the last time, can we go through this so even a liberal can understand it?
This Sunday, the Patriots play the Falcons in the Super Bowl. I happen to be a lifelong Pats fan (hate me if you want). I am going to cheer for them without regard to who unfriends me on Facebook or unfollows me on Twitter. If the Falcons win, good for them–I live in Georgia and can happily congratulate them for beating the Best Team in Football, Ever.
But if the Patriots win, would I expect those who vehemently despise the BTiF,E to renounce professional football because they won? Because that’s what Heer and all the others (including, sadly, Evan McMullin and the #AlwaysRubio crowd) suggest we do with political reality and our country’s governance.
The executive branch is his to run, as he sees fit, regardless of our histrionics. Either we can be patriotic in the sense that we respect the government of the United States as it exists, or we can be oppositional to the realities of political life. It’s not unpatriotic to call Trump out for his (many) faults, fumbles, and blunders. But it is unpatriotic to start from the position of “I hate Trump and therefore this government is invalid, illegitimate, and deserving of all scorn for anything it does.”
When David French, who flirted with running just to keep Trump from office, writes that the president’s executive order on refugees is right on substance, then the same careful thought and vetting applied to his many #NeverTrump pieces, plus the fact that a Harvard-trained constitutional lawyer who served in the military in Iraq is saying it’s kosher, should be assumed. Instead, we read how anything Trump does is bad, because Trump did it.
We need not agree on the substance of the immigration ban–some think it’s okay to continue bringing in tens of thousands of refugees from countries with known ties to terrorists (as long as it’s not in their back yard). But we need to agree that the president has the authority and ability to set policy under current law. Simply because we disagree on the policy doesn’t give us some new right to cheer those who defy that authority (such as Susan Yates).
Heer, in the last paragraph, is where the sour grapes of #NeverTrump surfaces–invoking Buckley’s embrace of Reagan as a failure of doctrinal purity.
That’s the same dilemma that National Review confronts today. Trump is not a conservative, but he does many things that the right likes—and above all, he’s a Republican. In some ways, National Review is following the trajectory of the party as a whole: Initially doubtful of Trump, but eventually consolidating behind him as the leader of the GOP. Never Trump is increasingly losing any salience as a real political position. While anti-anti-Trump is the current holding position, there’s ample reason to suspect that for many National Review writers, it’ll become something more full-throated: Forever Trump.
No. A million times no.
Trump is not a conservative. And he’s not a Republican either, other than the fact he bears the party label. In no way should Trump have ever hijacked the GOP to his nationalist, populist ends. But he did. The fate of the party itself is yet to be determined. We’re 12 days into Trump’s term, for Pete’s sake, and somehow doctrinal purity is still based on complete opposition or complete subservience to President Trump.
Does that make sense by any measure? It’s a ridiculous and untenable position without any connection to reality.
So, for the millionth and last time.
- #NeverTrump is dead, because the election is over.
- Trump won. He is president.
- When the president (whoever it is) does something that supports conservative values, we should support that particular thing.
- We do not all have to agree on every policy move, on the substance or motives, but we can agree to disagree.
- Those who oppose Trump simply because he’s Trump are really opposing our form of government, demanding a “do-over” because they don’t like the outcome.
- Being formerly #NeverTrump and now call them as we see them is not unpatriotic or somehow compromised–or Forever Trump.
We have to continue to support the American government and our place in the world. We cannot stop loving football because the team we hate won (did we do that with Obama?). We do not have to pick a team and cheer. We can stand for policies and principles without passing some doctrinal purity test based on our opinion of one man.
Those like New Republic who think we ought to take the ball and go home, that somehow we can win a “do-over” and force Trump to leave office are delusional.
If people want to be delusional, that’s fine. Just stop asking us to agree with fantasy.