Last night, Erick posted a powerful piece simply unloading on Cheeto Jesus and his Branch Trumpidian cultists for their gross naiveté as it pertains to the NATO alliance that has served as an indispensable lynchpin of the post-World War II global order. Erick then conceded this morning that his post last night was written in anger, but (properly) stuck to the core of his message.
I’d like to chime in on the role of righteous anger for us anti-Trump conservatives, as we watch a disturbed, spiteful fraudster and a truly bad man attempt to destroy the Party of Lincoln and bring down the post-Russell Kirk/William F. Buckley, Jr. conservative movement with him.
I am glad that Erick wrote last night what he wrote. Some of my anti-Trump conservative friends, who know that I contribute to this site, have texted or messaged me to say how appreciative they are of his fiery passion in opposing the “alt-right” god-king.
I posted a string of five tweets last night after reading Erick’s piece. I am going to post them here and then elaborate on what I meant.
Here is the deal. Many of us movement conservatives—even today, as a proudly ignorant reality TV buffoon who thinks the Constitution has 12 Articles and that judges sign bills somehow hijacks the Republican presidential nomination—still deeply care about our principles. The GOP may now be in bed with a proud serial adulterer and Vietnam draft-dodger who compared his erstwhile promiscuous Manhattanite lifestyle to his “personal Vietnam,” but many of us still believe that strong families and strong moral values serve as a necessary precondition to just and sound republican self-governance. The GOP may now be in bed with a Charles Lindbergh-sloganeering neo-isolationist “Bush lied and people died” Code Pink-style demagogue who lambasts NATO and openly speculates about letting South Korea and Saudi Arabia go nuclear on their own, but some of us still care about Reaganite “peace through strength” ideals and are committed to continuing U.S. leadership against the existential threat posed by the sharia supremacist global jihad. Cheeto Jesus’s Leftist-inspired economic illiteracy and retrograde mercantilism may earn him plaudits from some in the “new” GOP, but some of us still stand strongly with those like the Club for Growth in arguing on behalf of free markets and free trade.
I know it is hard for some of the Branch Trumpidians to believe, but when we conservatives rail against the feckless Republican establishment, we are not just yelling for the sake of yelling. To be “anti-establishment” without a principled backbone is not to stand for anything at all; in fact, it is how some people end up celebrating the primary defeat of a great conservative like Tim Huelskamp. We conservatives actually care that the D.C. GOP class is not living up to the principles we care about: we care that they do not fight Obamacare, sell out their own base on amnesty, and will not even stand for life. This is why I wrote, in the midst of the dramatic buildup to the fateful Indiana primary,
For conservative constitutionalists in the Cruz camp, many of whom (such as myself) have arrived at the #NeverTrump conclusion, existentially opposing such a cartoonish selling out of the Kirk-Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan conservative movement is instinctual and a no-brainer. Donald Trump is a lifelong liberal Democrat, Planned Parenthood apologist, de facto Code Pink-er, morally crass, grossly uninformed, and probably psychologically disordered megalomaniac who openly brags about buying off politicians. No way in hell will we be complicit in his thinly veiled attempt to destroy that which we have worked so diligently to build.
The problem is that, in the midst of this existential fight, the Republican Party’s spineless establishment has revealed itself to be exactly what we thought it was.
After the RNC’s conservative-quashing shenanigans in Cleveland, of course, the Trumpkins and the Republican establishment are now one and the same. Rob Eno, at Conservative Review, calls this thoroughly unholy alliance the “Trumpstablishment.” With the effete GOP “smart set” in D.C. now in lockstep with a cartoonish lifelong Democrat-turned-authoritarian-populist, it should not be a surprise that the GOP now unfathomably attacks the Clinton-Kaine ticket, in part, from the left.
But the reality is that, as much as the bastardization of the Republican Party by a borderline-deranged carnival barker stings, it is the debasement of the conservative movement itself that is truly pernicious. I am an anti-judicial supremacy Lincolnian proudly born on Lincoln’s birthday, but my ethereal attachment to the Party of Lincoln as a partisan vehicle for implementing my ideals pales in comparison to my deeper—perhaps almost creedal—attachment to the conservative movement’s ideals themselves. Ben Shapiro wrote yesterday about the high stakes inherent in this latter phenomenon in a terrific piece at National Review:
The moral framework of conservatism is based on honesty and decency. Trump is neither honest nor decent. Barack Obama has taken America toward a cliff at 100 mph; Hillary will press the accelerator further, so that we’ll be moving at 120 mph; Trump would presumably press the accelerator only slightly, so that we’d be cruising toward that cliff at 110 mph. The difference: Trump will force his conservative passengers to rip out the reverse gear in order to justify him. Conservatism will become Trumpism. Conservatives will prioritize winning over truth.
For those of us who truly believe in the movement’s principles, the notion that “[c]onservatism will become Trumpism” is nothing short of absolutely terrifying. I sincerely believe that conservatism is the only intellectual framework for a constitutionally meaningful self-governance that can ultimately restore the republic toward the right path of economic prosperity and human flourishing. The long-term transmogrification of conservatism toward a crass, proudly ignorant, protectionist, xenophobic Know-Nothing cult of quasi-fascistic white-identity politics is something we must existentially oppose. Even for those intellectually serious conservatives who still believe they must pull the ballot box lever for Trump in order to stop Hillary Clinton, they too must still believe this.
Which brings me back to Erick’s piece last night. Erick, like Ben, myself, and so many others, is a serious movement conservative. He cares about commitment to our principles and fealty to our ideals. Not only does Donald Trump care about none of this, but—whether as a Democratic plant, as a Kremlin stooge, or simply as a plain old narcissistic demagogue—he is actually willfully attempting to destroy it all. As I wrote recently, he is leading his “alt-right” cultists to a mass suicide:
The Resistance will do do what we can to staunch the bleeding, but it is difficult to stop a political party of sycophantic Branch Trumpidians hellbent on following their cult leader to a Jonestown-esque mass suicide.
Thus, conservatives are presently watching a grossly immoral hijacker lead our intellectual movement toward a mass suicide. Traditional Jewish and Christian—and, I would argue, natural law itself—teaching is to oppose suicide. Opposition to suicide is perhaps most emotionally acute and constructively meaningful when the would-be suicide committer is someone (or something) about whom (or about which) we care deeply. Righteous indignation in the face of a Jonestown-esque mass suicide—directed at both the cult leader and those who abet the cult leader—is proper.
I join many of my fellow movement conservatives in lamenting the current state of the conservative movement. I am resolved to do my best to fight back the best I can. And in order to do so, I believe we are wholly justified in showing righteous indignation when it is proper—to call out the GOP’s monumentally unfit nominee and excoriating, when need be, those who would so easily forsake their principles to shill for him. Only by properly identifying and opposing the cancer in our midst will we eventually reclaim the movement we care about. And while it may involve some degree of cognitive dissonance or self-flagellation, per my tweets above, this too holds for those conservatives who despise Trump but would still vote for him to stop Hillary Clinton (even if I, personally, will not be morally complicit by voting for either form of evil).
In order to save the republic, we must salvage the conservative movement from the 2016 wreckage. In order to salvage the conservative movement from the 2016 wreckage, we must vociferously condemn Donald Trump and oppose his personality cult of mass suicide. And in condemning Donald Trump and opposing his cult of mass suicide, righteous indignation is wholly appropriate and, indeed, likely constructive.
So I thank Erick for his piece last night.