About three weeks ago, I made the daily mistake of turning on Twitter. That day I got to see a group of still aggrieved Rubio supporters blaming me for the rise of Donald Trump. I was not sufficiently anti-Trump as soon as they were. I guess I really should have gotten on stage with all of them last August and publicly uninvited Trump from the RedState Gathering.
Over at the Koch funded Opportunity Lives, Matt Cover has a piece blaming “professional activists” on the right for the rise of Donald Trump. His opening graphic is a picture of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity. It is being spread all over by lots of people friendly to the GOP leadership in DC.
The irony here is that Opportunity Lives is a Koch subsidized institution that has spent more energy battling conservatives than battling an establishment GOP that listens to K Street instead of Main Street. Many of those involved with Opportunity Lives were Rubio cheerleaders, attacked Ted Cruz routinely, and have heaped scorn on Heritage Action, Senate Conservatives Fund, etc. — groups that actually helped get Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and others elected.
Opportunity Lives is, in fact, a perfect example of the one group to blame for Donald Trump. It is staffed by a group of Washingtonians who are party men and women of the GOP pretending to be at arms length from their party and aggressively claiming their roots are outside the beltway they are planted in.
On the other hand, there is another perfect example of the one group to blame for Donald Trump. The conservatives who railed and railed and railed against the GOP Establishment, demanding vote after vote after vote on symbols, but many fighting for the symbol and not the prize.
Another perfect example of the one group to blame for Donald Trump is Barack Obama and his Democratic coalition. In 2007, Obama heaped scorn on white, blue collar workers in Pennsylvania bitterly clinging to their guns and religion. He went to war with them, dividing classes and races and putting a lot of blue collar workers in the energy industry on the unemployment line.
One last perfect example of the one group to blame for Donald Trump is a media establishment that never questioned Barack Obama’s war on coal because they agreed with his ultimately environmentalist agenda. They did not cover the lives destroyed, but focused on all the abstract things that 100 years from now just might be improved because all these people lost their jobs.
In other words, the one group to blame for Donald Trump is everybody.
Opportunity Lives and the Koch Brothers deserve blame.
The conservative movement deserves blame.
Republican leaders and the actual Republican establishment deserve blame.
Democrats deserve blame.
The media deserves blame.
I deserve blame.
Even the people supporting Trump deserve blame.
That last group is behaving in many ways with the same entitlement mentality they attack others with. Wallowing in their anger, many of them are doing their best to show why everyone else is ignoring them. When I engage with the few sane and reasonable Trump supporters I know, I come away routinely agreeing with them on 80% of their grievances and shaking my head that they’ve turned to a con-man to help them.
Truth be told, at this point many of them recognize he is a con-man, but they just want to watch Washington burn for failing them so often.
The Democrats and media deserve blame because many of the voters supporting Trump are the wrong kind of people for them to cover, to help, and to work with. Blue collar voters in the rust belt are far less of a photo opportunity for Barack Obama or the media than inner city families and Tesla drivers in LA.
The Republicans and outside affiliate groups deserve blame because they spent more time shaping capitalism into a tool for the already doing well at the expense of those who really need help. Policy concerns for the Chamber of Commerce trumped the policy concerns of Main Street. Promises made became promises broken became promises never intended to be kept.
Koch groups deserve blame because they too frequently hire a bunch of Washington ass kissers to run a bunch of organizations that behave more like side branches of the GOP, unwilling to challenge the establishment or call out “their side,” which is too often the friends of the ass kissers they hired and rarely conservatives.
Conservatives too, myself included, deserve blame. We have fought awfully hard against the establishment, but often decided we wanted to fight more than we wanted to solve the problem. There were missed opportunities for common ground to help the very people now being drawn to Trump because so many on so many sides were too busy fighting each other that we ignored the people while championing the policy.
Everyone deserves blame. Too many people in Washington on both sides of the aisle used the examples of Trump supporters as reasons to vote for them, then when right back to ignoring their issues. Too many people in Washington sought to control the levers of power for their own good, and not for the nation’s good.
On the center-right, Republicans stopped believing government was the problem and started believing government controlled by Democrats was the problem. They were perfectly willing to expand government and grow the state for their ends. People started using “big government conservative” as if it could be legitimately conservative.
The border became the symbol of Washington ignoring the concerns of millions. The only people in Washington who Trump supporters do not want to burn to the ground are those who, all along, demanded a secure border. It is a common sense issue that people in Washington chose to completely ignore.
There are going to be all sorts of pieces written by all sides carefully designed to avoid any blame for the rise of Trump while shifting all blame to preferred opponents.
It is as telling that Opportunity Lives would blame conservative activists as it is conservative activists would blame establishment oriented and Koch funded groups. No one wants to own up to their share of the blame. It is also telling that both these sides would spend so much effort blaming each other than the Democrats.
For those of us in the center-right coalition, we know the free market and capitalism improve lives, but some of us failed to relate the message at the level of voters and others failed to truly believe the message, instead catering it in patrician fashion to benefit the Chamber of Commerce’s clientele.
The left deserves blame too for ignoring Trump voters because of the color of their skin, the straightness of their marriages, and their lack of college degree making these people outcasts in the new Democratic coalition.
But even all of this ignores one more thing worth noting. Donald Trump is ultimately responsible for Donald Trump. No one who really knows Donald Trump well believes that Trump actually believes half the crap he is saying. He is playing The Donald to a national audience, swindling people, and ultimately he will be consumed by the fires that have perpetuated his campaign.
In the tit-for-tat zero sum world that is the blame game over who caused Trump, no one on any side should spend more time attacking their coalition and political opponents than attacking Trump. If we are not going to blame daddy issues for the punk who shoots up a house, let’s not blame those not named Trump for Trump shooting up civic discourse in America.