The Consequences of Not Joining Team Trump

Patrick Maines has a piece at The Hill that I saw Peggy Noonan link to on Twitter. It actually includes a lot of the current thinking others are projecting.

It will be interesting to see how some of the conservative “NeverTrump” commentators handle the blowback in the days and months ahead. This soon after the last of his challengers threw in the towel, it looks like Trump is going to be supported by the vast majority of GOP elected officials and a large number of PACs and major party contributors.…

Still, one wonders if there isn’t a bit of hubris in that stand, and whether it’s even directly relevant given the country’s current angst. We have clearly not come, as the liberals of another era used to say, to the end of history, but we may have come, at least for the moment, to the end of ideology.

The underlying presumption in this and all the other pieces that take a similar position is that conservative commentators ultimately must be good team players. And they would be good team players unless there was some underlying motivation keeping them from becoming team players. Some assume money. Maines assumes hubris.

Or it could be that we are just not willing to surrender our convictions and think ideals still matter. Whenever people declare the “end of ideology,” they’re just peddling a different ideology or they are admitting that their champion has no underlying, foundational convictions and principles. That alone begs the question of why people with principle should get on board with one who has none.

Whether Jonah Goldberg or Rich Lowry or George Will or Bill Kristol or Ross Douthat or you name it, by in large we have all taken strong stands on how free markets empower individuals; we have taken strong stands on how strong moral foundations help stand up strong societies; we have taken strong stands on conservatism not being equated with nationalism; etc. In fact, we have taken a lot of strong stands on a lot of positions that Donald Trump does not hold and in some cases has denounced.

Yes, there are those willing to be team players and surrender their convictions or at least set them aside to fight those they conclude are worse. There are also those who are willing to finger wag at us proclaiming we clearly have lost our connection with middle class voters and have to embrace Trump to show we embrace them.1 And then there are those of us left scratching our heads thinking “no way in hell.”

I’m just not going to join the Branch Trumpidians. I have concluded that Trump is no improvement on Clinton. They are tied right there in the lowest level of hell. Conservatism is about individuals not the collective. Just because everyone else jumps off the cliff does not mean I have to do it.

As for repercussions, so? If my ratings tank, I will be out of a job. I get that. But I also get that if I were to get on The Resurgent or my radio show and start mouthing off things I do not believe in order to be a team player, the inauthenticity would come through. I’d rather not lie about my positions to my listeners and readers and I’d rather not have to rationalize why I am abandoning everything I hold dear in the name of team sport or the collective.

But here’s the funny thing.

In saying all this, I will immediately be accused of hubris.

If I point out my ratings have actually gone up and my cumulative listening audience is up over 60% in the past five weeks, I’ll immediately be accused of doing it for the ratings.

Those who have become members of the Branch Trumpidians will come up with any and all reasons to presume my motivation and those of others with me is some complex conspiracy, some huge payoff to do it, some ratings bonanza, or arrogance.

Or it could be that we all found Trump wanting to such an extent we can’t bring ourselves to get on board. But then the people who did sell out their convictions would be left to account and they’d rather the burden of accounting be left on us.


1. I have to say that this criticism directed towards me is the one I laugh at the most. Getting accused repeatedly of being a beltway establishment hack only shows that many of the people joining the Branch Trumpidians have not been paying attention. But this latest accusation that I somehow cannot relate to the middle class and blue collar people gravitating to Trump is really rich. That accusation is often made by people who have never lived in a town like Jackson, LA where the people down the road had a cow tied to a cinder block in the front yard, nor people who have ever ventured out into middle class Macon, GA. It is also, ironically, an accusation most often made by people who live in New York or Washington.

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Erick Erickson

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