Yesterday I wrote an open letter to Never Trumpers, a hypothetical–but very possible–scenario in which Donald Trump wins the presidency. I took the (no doubt controversial) position that Never Vote Trumpers should not become Never President Trumpers. I suggested that it’s better to hold Trump to some standards of policy and practice we expect from a Republican in office.
Now I want to address Trump’s supporters. As my colleague here at The Resurgent, the estimable Josh Hammer, has noted, there are three kinds of Trump supporters.
- Type 1: The reluctant voter who is concerned about SCOTUS or convinced Trump is less bad than Hillary Clinton. This is the majority of GOP voters who are likely to vote for Trump.
- Type 2: Rational and reasonable “paleoconservatives” with perhaps an appetite for populism and a great tolerance for every possible character flaw to be found in a presidential hopeful. This category is in grave danger of extinction, as most who hold to it have been pushed beyond their limit for scum. At least the ones I know. The public figures in this type are more or less trapped there, whether they really believe in Trump or not. Some are there because of loyalty, longtime friendship, or blatant self-interest in supporting Trump. With him their fortunes lie, or at least swapping sides right now would result in difficulty.
- Type 3: The actual “alt-right.” The obscene blood & soil racists, Pepe meme users, Jew-haters, Muslim-baiters, and tinfoil-hat conspiracists. These are the original Branch Trumpidians: Birthers, 9/11 truthers, and other nuts (I wouldn’t be surprised if “Flat Earthers for Trump” or Bart Sibrel‘s Apollo-was-faked club wasn’t part of this group). These people are actually a smaller group than their media footprint would suggest, mostly because they are augmented by a Twitter bot army, with strong evidence it’s run by a Kremlin-controlled disinformation agency.
The message is somewhat different for each type of Trump voter, so I’ll dispense with Type 3 right here. You are unacceptable as Americans, and if there were a Constitutional way to strip you of citizenship, I’d advocate it. But part of the First Amendment gives you the right to be despicable.
You think Trump is going to give you what you want, because you’ve convinced yourself he’s your man. He isn’t. He doesn’t want your respect because he already owns you. He had you at “hello” and now he’s conquered you. Like all Trump’s conquests, you are being used, and will continue to be used until you’re not useful. In the White House, Trump may very well find you a liability, and then you’ll see exactly what your loyalty gets you (a visit from the FBI).
If that’s what you get, you deserve every hassle, legal action, and prosecution you earned. And if some of you end up in jail, I won’t miss you when you’re gone.
On the other hand, if Trump somehow sullies the office of POTUS by inviting your presence, influence, or advice, I will treat him like Barack Obama, who sat under the preaching of a known racist for 20 years, and regularly invites racists to join him at the White House and on the road. I will oppose Trump if he shows any inclination to pander to the “alt-right.”
I’ll let Forrest Gump finish my thought: “And that’s all I have to say about that.”
To the Type 2 Trump supporter, you’ve put a lot on the table, and expect a return. This is going to be a big disappointment. At best, you’re going to get the Republican version of Jimmy Carter. If that’s what a President Trump is like, I can live with it, although “stagflation,” capital flight, and international humiliation could be a problem for me. But at least we can agree on where we agree, on how to rebuilt the party.
At worst, you’re going to get the totally unfit person we Never Trumpers have been saying he is. This means an amateur, self-obsessed, thin-skinned, vengeful, clueless, and–worst of all–utterly predictable a-hole. It’ll be full-on Biff Tannen as president, and it will be ugly.
Many of you will go coyote-ugly on Trump and try to salvage some self-respect versus becoming permanent SNL cold-open stereotypes. Some of you will try to cash in with the Type 3 Trumpkins by selling Kool-Aid to them. May God help you. As Erick has noted, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
How will you treat Never Trumpers? Whoever is willing to stand on principle versus personal allegiance should be able to find common ground with us. But I will never give in to pressure to become someone’s personal lackey–president or not.
You can see how it worked out for all of Obama’s lickspittles and sycophants. The man has no coattails and left a party with no future other than two old white people, one an avowed communist and the other a kleptocrat. (As bad as it is for the Democrats, they’ll probably still win because Trump is that bad.) Those who stick with Trump out of personal loyalty will fare no better. Hold him accountable to conservative principles (liberty, small government, pro-life) and we can accomplish something.
And finally, for the Type 1 Trump voter, I believe we can see eye to eye, if you will give us the freedom of conscience that we didn’t vote for Trump because we believe him to be unfit and unacceptable.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
As a Christian, humility and mercy are character traits to be admired and lived. If Trump wins, I am willing to show that mercy and give him the benefit of the doubt. I am willing to be humble and submit to him as my president. But I will also work tirelessly for justice. God is responsible for the outcome.
For Trump voters, “winning” has a price. Maybe God will touch Donald Trump and he will become a Godly man. Whether he wins or loses, I will pray for that. But it’s also possible that Trump will work to consolidate power in a most baleful way. There may be a temptation, especially for Christians who voted for Trump, to try to marginalize, purge, or otherwise set aside voters of conscience who opposed Trump.
I’m prepared to accept that. But I also caution Christians who would claim some kind of prophetic anointing, or divine mandate for Trump to (as he puts it) #DrainTheSwamp. Absolutely, Washington D.C. is the swamp. NeverTrump is not. The squishy establishment will do whatever their wet fingers in the wind tell them. Don’t bundle Never Trump with those Quislings.
If you voted for Trump, and he does win, know that at least some Never Trumpers have enough self-awareness to both stand with you and with conservative principle, if you realize the futility of “vengeance” against we who saw things the way we saw them and could do no other than cling to conscience.
But what if Trump loses?
Let’s face it, the likelihood of a Trump loss to Clinton, even if it’s close and “tightening,” is greater than the probability of him winning. As I write this, I’m watching the Chicago Cubs play the Cleveland Indians in a nail-biter, coming back from a 3-1 deficit. The odds of the Cubs winning it all, at the start of game 5, were less than the odds of Trump winning the presidency right now.
But Trump’s win depends on millions of voters going to the polls and overcoming Clinton’s advantage, and some Clinton voters staying home. The Cubs only have one adversary, and their own talent. In other words, no matter what Trump does at this point, he probably can’t help himself too much. The coin is in the slot and the wheels are spinning.
If Trump loses, he might go full “alt-right” and embarrass himself. He might challenge the election results. He might blame everyone but himself. In this case, I fully expect to be vilified as a Never Trumper. Somehow, we will be blamed for handing the election to Clinton, although Trump made his own bed.
There will really be two paths going forward. Either the Type 1 and Type 2 Trump voters will wake up and find common ground to rebuild the GOP, but this time listening to the very real grievances they’ve ignored for decades (read Erick’s piece on listening to Rush Limbaugh). Or the Type 2 supporters in the media and political spheres will overreact and pander to the Type 3 idiots.
This is what happened to the Democrats when so many progressives in the media, on university campuses, and in think tanks went full on for all kinds of pandering to BLM, La Raza, and other extreme–even racist–groups. Now we have a whole generation of pampered “safe space” seeking brats who feel it’s okay to ostracize Jews because they’re Jewish and re-implement segregation so African American students can avoid being around white people.
Post-election, if Trump loses, we will have an either-or situation. As I wrote in April, we cannot build a Frankenstein GOP. Either conservatism survives in some form, or the party goes the way of Trumpism.
The GOP has to find its soul and create a new, coherent and natural set of chromosomes from this mess. And it will be messy.
The nature of the process is that some genetic material will be discarded. Either conservative Christians and “movement conservatives” in the small-government, liberty crowd will be forcibly ejected from the GOP, or the nativist, America-first, trade protectionists will be gone. These two wings just won’t go along easily with each other.
To get specific, we can’t have a compassionate Christian response to a problem that includes killing the families of ISIS members. We can’t have a coherent answer to the abortion scourge that includes Planned Parenthood “doing good things.” We can’t have a party opposed to the Left’s P.C. culture that includes shutting down debate and curtailing the press’ First Amendment rights. We can’t have a solution to global trade that includes belittling and demonizing our trade partners, allies and rivals.
If Trumpism becomes the heart and soul of the GOP, count me out for good.
Believe it or not, I’d rather have Trump win and Trumpism die with him in office than for him to lose and it live on. Actually I’d rather have the race thrown into the House of Representatives and have Evan McMullin as president, but that’s a long shot. Trump winning and Trumpism dying is my second choice, but it’s also a long shot–maybe even a longer shot.
Should Trump win, he will have my support, right up to the point he betrays conservative values (which could be anywhere from 4 years to 12 hours). Should he lose, I would appreciate–but not expect–the same grace and mercy.