Never-Trumpers and the Trump Embarrassment Syndrome

Conservatives are a strange lot. The vast majority can’t quote the Conservative Manifesto like Jonah Goldberg, but just like porn in front of SCOTUS, they know it when they see it. What they do innately know, are the points of conservatism that matter to them, and they are stubborn to the core about those.

There are the social christian conservatives, Rockefeller Republicans, NeoCons, fiscal & deficit conservatives, the Rand Paul libertarians, and now the populous nationalistic Make America Great Again with a mixture of social, Christian, libertarian, all mixed together in a dynamic blend. They all have one thing in common, they agree on more than they disagree.

But, what they can’t all agree on, is the President. MAGA Trump supporters adore the President, Never-Trump Republicans can’t abide the the man. Never-Trump Republicans exist in Congress, local politics, and the general population. Dennis Prager examines this point today: (National Review)

I have come to believe that many conservatives possess what I once thought was a left-wing monopoly — a utopian streak. Trump is too far from their ideal leader to be able to support him. There is also a cultural divide. Anti-Trump conservatives are a very refined group of people. Trump doesn’t talk like them. Moreover, the cultural milieu in which the vast majority of anti-Trump conservatives live and/or work means that to support Trump is to render oneself contemptible at all elite dinner parties. In addition, anti-Trump conservatives see themselves as highly moral people (which they often are) who are duty-bound not to compromise themselves by strongly supporting Trump, whom they largely view as morally defective.

The curious thing about this fervent, sometimes rabid, anti-Trump fervor is just about everyone agrees the President’s governance has been by and large outstanding. There have even been respected journalist fairly effusive in their praise : (WSJ)

The result is a surreal situation in which the near-hysterical press coverage of Trump the man (and potential Russian operative) is utterly divorced from the substantive actions his administration takes or the progress it makes. Mr. Trump’s cabinet, which includes some of the best reformers in the conservative world, is methodically implementing a far-reaching deregulatory agenda.

Mr. Prager explains it quite well: (National Review)

The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative — one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries — is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true. Had any Never Trump conservative been told, say in the summer of 2015, that a Republican would win the 2016 election and, within his first few months in office, appoint a conservative to the Supreme Court; begin the process of replacing Obamacare; bomb Russia’s ally Assad after he again used chemical weapons; appoint the most conservative cabinet in modern American history; begin undoing hysteria-based, economy-choking EPA regulations; label the Iranian regime “evil” in front of 50 Muslim heads of state; wear a yarmulke at the Western Wall; appoint a U.N. ambassador who regularly condemns the U.N. for its moral hypocrisy; restore the military budget; and work on lowering corporate tax rates, among other conservative achievements — that Never Trump conservative would have been jumping for joy.

This is what Mr. Prager was building up to:

So, why aren’t anti-Trump conservatives jumping for joy?

I agree with his conclusions and find his first conclusion to be perfectly spot-on:

I have concluded that there are a few reasons that explain conservatives who were Never-Trumpers during the election, and who remain anti-Trump today. The first and, by far, the greatest reason is this: They do not believe that America is engaged in a civil war, with the survival of America as we know it at stake. While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do. The “fundamental transformation” that candidate Barack Obama promised in 2008 would have been completed by Hillary Clinton in 2016. To my amazement, no anti-Trump conservative writer sees it that way. They all thought during the election, and still think, that while it would not have been a good thing if Hillary Clinton had won, it wouldn’t have been a catastrophe either. That’s it, in a nutshell. Many conservatives, including me, believe that it would have been close to over for America as America if the Republican candidate, who happened to be a flawed man named Donald Trump, had not won. Moreover, I am certain that only Donald Trump would have defeated Hillary Clinton.

His second reason is equally compelling:

There is also a cultural divide. Anti-Trump conservatives are a very refined group of people. Trump doesn’t talk like them. Moreover, the cultural milieu in which the vast majority of anti-Trump conservatives live and/or work means that to support Trump is to render oneself contemptible at all elite dinner parties. In addition, anti-Trump conservatives see themselves as highly moral people (which they often are) who are duty-bound not to compromise themselves by strongly supporting Trump, whom they largely view as morally defective.

His last point might sting a bit, but few can deny it:

Finally, these people are only human: After investing so much energy in opposing Trump’s election, and after predicting his nomination would lead to electoral disaster, it’s hard for them to admit they were wrong. To see him fulfill many of his conservative election promises, again in defiance of predictions, is a bitter pill. But if they hang on to their Never Trumpism and the president falls on his face, they can say they were right all along.

While Mr. Prager correctly assesses why the Never-Trump conservatives feel the way they do, I would add another equally important reason:

Liberals suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome; but, Never-Trump conservatives suffer from Trump Embarrassment Syndrome

Trump Embarrassment Syndrome comes from the conservative fetish of wanting, no needing, to appear a certain way, and to be perceived in a certain manner in public. Many conservatives equate their public image to be one of the most, if not, the most, important aspects of their life.

If you quiz these very good people on the actual work being done by the Trump Administration, they have to admit very good things are being accomplished. But the fear of our President being an embarrassment is a nagging feeling that won’t go away, and sustains the original anti-Trump emotions.

This might be the reason why most of the polls were so wrong. It is entirely possible there were many  Americans who just couldn’t pull the trigger for Hillary, but at the same time would not admit they would pull the lever for Candidate Trump. Perhaps, this was a shameful admission that went a step too far.

Some of these never-Trump conservatives may never change, If the facts that America’s pre-born are now being protected, the pro-life movement being promoted on a global scale, the rule of law regaining primacy, our borders being protected, and if the fact that we now can confidently see a very conservative Supreme Court majority on the horizon doesn’t persuade them, I don’t know what will.

So, while good things are happening for the Republican Party across the U.S., Trump conservatives are happy, liberals are deranged, and some anti-trumpers are embarrassed. One thing is for certain, liberal anger and hatred surrounds us daily, we do have that in common.  There’s that at least.


Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager Talk “No Safe Spaces”

College has gotten crazy, and not in a good way.  Instead of panty raids, keggers and the occasional class to justify mom and dad’s big boffo tuition check, campus life has largely devolved into a miasma of mattress girls, cultural appropriation, woke protests and sex tribunals–and those are just the highlights.  Who would ever want to venture into such a dystopian version of what higher education is supposed to be?

Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager, that’s who.

The noted conservative provacateur and commentator have decided to set aside their own personal safety and go deep behind the enemy lines of the American university.  Not only that, they’re going to make a film about their experiences.  Called No Safe Spaces, it will be an exploration of how colleges have radically changed from institutions of higher learning into indoctrination centers, and in the process have turned students into the protest-first-ask-questions-later snowflakes they are today.

I caught up with Adam and Dennis, and they were kind enough to answer a few questions about their upcoming movie.

The pairing of Carolla and Prager sounds a lot like a buddy cop movie. How did the two of you end up working together on a film? Did Dennis’s lieutenant make him do it, or was it a condition of Adam’s parole?

Adam: I had been a fan of Dennis Prager for a long time and would listen to him while working construction jobs in the San Fernando Valley back when Dennis hosted ‘Religion on the Line’ here locally in Los Angeles. Eventually, in about 2011, Dennis heard that I was a fan and that I would mention him on my podcast from time to time and so he invited me on his radio show that summer. We hit it off, did a series of live events together, and now we’re making a movie. Life is crazy like that sometimes. Dennis’ wisdom is medicine the masses need. I am the hamburger meat you wrap your dog’s medicine in to get him to eat it.

The lack of intellectual diversity on the college campus has been a problem for a while, most notably chronicled by Allan Bloom back in 1987 in his book The Closing of the American Mind. Lately, though, students and professors at a number of universities have made the ugly turn from sheltered snowflakes into bat-guano crazy lunatics. Was there a recent incident that made you think, “Man, we really have to make a movie about this?”

Dennis: There are too many to mention, sadly, but one thing that stands out to me is when comedians like Bill Maher and Chris Rock began announcing that they would no longer perform on college campuses. These are outspoken, committed liberals who tell jokes for a living. If our young people cannot be expected to be able to stomach comedy routines from liberal entertainers, we’re in trouble. And we are in trouble. It’s why we are making this film.

Who or what do you blame most for the sorry state of colleges these days? Do you think an overemphasis that you need a college degree to be successful has something to do with it?

Dennis: I blame non-Leftist parents for paying $75,000 per year to send their child to an institution committed to Leftism. I blame the mainstream media for not covering the madness taking place on college campuses like they would if it were Tea Party protesters doing the things progressive students (and their professors) are. I blame the donors to these universities who keep pumping millions of dollars into a broken system. There is blame to go around, to be sure.

Adam: As a working-class stiff who barely graduated high school, I can tell you first-hand that you don’t need a college degree to pursue things you are passionate about in life. I’m a huge supporter of education in general, but college is not for everyone. Give me a young person with a boatload of curiosity and grit, and I’ll take him or her over an honor student from Yale who thinks the world owes him a lucrative salary and smart car any day of the week.

Making No Safe Spaces means going behind enemy lines on college campuses across the United States. What will you be doing while you’re there?

Dennis: We have live events planned. We’ll be doing interviews with students, professors, parents and influential voices in the culture. We’ll be visiting fraternities and sororities. We’ll be traveling to public, private, secular and religious universities – from Berkeley to Boston. We’ll be telling the story of higher education in America over the past half century. We’ll be exploring where things go from here on their current trajectory.

Adam: I’ll mostly be in charge of keeping Dennis’ die-hard 19-year-old fans away from him while he’s in his trailer.

You know this kind of thing will kick up a lot of resistance. How do you plan on dealing with blowback?

Adam: Ignoring it entirely. We want to connect with students and those involved in higher education. I’m not interested in what HuffPost thinks. I want to know what young people (and those educating/raising them) think.

A common criticism of conservative media is that most of the time we’re just preaching to the choir. With No Safe Spaces, are you hoping to change minds and hearts on the liberal side of the aisle?

Dennis: The goal here is two-fold. First, we want to sound an alarm bell for parents of all political stripes that something is gravely wrong. Second, we want to engage Americans who disagree with our politics, in part, by tackling this serious issue with grace, dignity and humor.

Seeing movies like Animal House and Back to School really made me looks forward to college when I was a kid. Do you think the kids these days still know how to party and have a good time, or has the PC virus ruined that for them?

Adam: My friends who went to college in the 1980’s never stopped telling me how much fun it was. I loved visiting them and all that the college life entailed back then. Now, you’ve never seen a group of more unhappy people in your life than the average college classroom. I’d rather my kids party their way through college than be indoctrinated in their classes.

Will Dennis be doing a keg stand?

Adam: It was written into my contract that Dennis be required to do at least one.

Dennis: No comment.

Is there hope for American colleges? If so, what do you think is the best way to save them?

Dennis: Donors must stop funding the universities until changes are made. Or they need to start funding universities that are doing things the right way. Money still moves the needle.

Getting back to the buddy cop motif—in your partnership, which one is Turner and which one is Hooch?

Adam: I guess I’m Hooch since I’m the one with his own line of alcoholic beverages (available at

Adam and Dennis have set up an Indiegogo page to help finance the film.  If you’d like to chip in a few bucks, go can do so here.  Thanks, guys!

What Dennis Prager Gets Absolutely Right

No need to rehash all of Dennis Prager’s column, but in my disagreement on a few of his points I overlooked what is also worth noting — what he got absolutely right.

A lot of folks who do not like the President do not understand that there are a lot of Americans who really feel under attack, overwhelmed, and with no solution on the horizon. They turned to Donald Trump and are sticking with him because all the professional politicians who came before him have failed them.

They don’t expect the President to behave like a normal politician. In fact, they expect he will make different mistakes. But they know the system before Trump failed them and even if Trump fails, they do not think he can make their lot in life any worse. They will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Prager noted that a lot of those opposed to Trump fail to recognize how many people think their lives are in existential crisis and I think he is right. A lot of people could stand to understand Trump voters instead of writing them off as racists and bigots. The reality is a lot of them are hurting and politicians from both parties have let them down.

A Brief Response to Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager has written a piece that has the conservative-o-sphere abuzz asking why those who are still Never Trump remain so.

I really cannot out perform Jonah Goldberg’s response and I am inclined to just say “ditto,” but one piece Jonah did not include (he’s said this several times already) is worth mentioning.

Who exactly is Dennis talking about?

See, if I say anything in defense of this administration, the President, or any of his staff I am presumed by some of just trying to suck up and ingratiate myself with Trump. Meanwhile, those who see themselves as apologists for Trump are ungrateful, badgering, and hope the supposed sucking up fails.

If I say anything critical about the President and his administration I am presumed to still be nursing a grudge over getting the election wrong. To Trump’s apologists, once Never Trump, always Never Trump, which is now short for treason to his tribe as much as the left presumes treason for supporting Trump.

I think Trump Derangement Syndrome is real. There are those who would never say a kind word about this administration even if it did everything they want. But there are also the deranged apologists who will gladly cheer on Russia because the President loves Russia.

For those who are just trying to call it as we see it, it is a no win situation but it is a situation worth being in.

Many of the people who bitched the loudest about Barack Obama playing golf all the time now suddenly are okay with Donald Trump’s travel costs and golf playing. Many of the people who wanted to impeach President Clinton for lying are now routinely defending lies. Many of the people who once believed character counts now think it’d be nice, but is not necessary for sound leadership. I’d prefer not to surrender my intellectual honesty.

So I’m just not sure who Dennis is talking about here.

One point to echo Jonah, I do not think we are in a civil war, but a culture war, and it is a culture war the GOP has no desire to fight. Its leader, Donald Trump, supports transgender bathroom access and gay marriage and wants to fund Planned Parenthood.

As to Trump being a general, I always thought conservatives were to be led by truth, not personality. To the extent the cult of personality has invaded the right, it is no less dishonest than it is on the left and its hagiographic treatment of both Obama and Clinton.

I’d prefer to deal with good people of sound character advancing good ideas. If President Trump advances good ideas, I will support him. But lately, he’s mostly just been doing damage control over a series of self-inflicted wounds. And because I know I’d dislike it if Barack Obama did the exact same thing, you’ll have to excuse me for not giving Donald Trump a pass.