I knew things were getting strange when I realized I was proud of Melania Trump. After all, here was a woman who had posed for porn-ish lesbian photos and once admitted that she married Donald Trump for money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Who doesn’t like lesbian porn? And why else would anyone marry Donald Trump? Still, it did not strike me as the best resume for a first lady.
But she’s a great first lady: charming, stylish and empathetic. I experience a bit of cognitive dissonance every time it hits me, but I am delighted to have her representing us, resume and all.
I experience a bit of the same cognitive dissonance when I realize that Donald Trump, despite being, you know, Donald Trump, has delivered some completely unexpected blessings not only to the country as a whole but also to conservatives, many of whom despise him. So in this DACA moment when no one could blame the Trump base for feeling as if they had been stabbed in the back, then beaten over the head, then run over by a truck, then stabbed in the back again, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on three blessings that have unexpectedly descended on us in the person of Our Orange Overlord.
First, the level of hatred he has inspired in the left — the riots, the seething Facebook posts and, of course, the slavering fake news of the mainstream media —has revealed the left’s true, nasty and oppressive nature to the liberal middle. YouTube suddenly abounds with stories of “red pill” moments in which liberals, experiencing the wickedness of the left, suddenly realized that conservatives are now actually the liberal ones. I think this is the beginning of a groundswell that will have a profound and beneficial effect on the culture. Yay, Donald.
Second, over the last many decades, we conservatives have had a big advantage over leftists. Since leftists owned the media, the academies and the entertainment industry, their opinions were never challenged whereas ours were challenged all the time. As a result, our arguments became honed and logical and their arguments came to consist of little more than name-calling and race-mongering. Whenever there was a fair debate, the left got blown to kingdom come.
But because of this, conservatives haven’t had to develop their arguments beyond hammering the left. We haven’t learned to make them appealing to those liberals who share our premises but not our conclusions. For instance, the average person may reject relativism, multiculturalism and atheism, but may not share some conservatives’ fervor to condemn homosexuality, deport illegal immigrants or protect the west from the ravages of Islam.
But Trump has so divided conservatives that we are now arguing fervently among ourselves — that is, we’re not just crushing idiot leftists, we’re actually engaging with other smart conservatives over essential differences! I have hopes that these arguments will lead to a new, stronger and more modern conservatism. Trump blew every candidate away in the primaries. That alone should tell us that the Republican Party needs reform, and it ought to begin with a reformed conservatism, a conservatism that can win.
And finally, as I watch the president making peace with Democrats in order to enshrine the Dreamer executive order in law… well, it’s odd. I think he’s betraying his base — those followers who fervently shouted, “Build the wall!” And I think there are moral hazards to offering illegals anything that looks like amnesty. But in truth, immigration was never the biggest issue for me, and I, like many I suspect, am happy simply to see the political gears grinding into motion again.
Barack Obama was an anomaly: an incompetent ideologue who didn’t really like America as founded. His party trick was to pretend to parley with Republicans, then insist on last-minute changes that scuttled the deal. When angry Republicans stormed away from the table, he blamed them and gained a new political issue. But he never accomplished anything. Eight years and the only thing he did was to lie a lousy health care bill into law, and send the Middle East spiraling even deeper into even more chaos.
It’s weird — it’s surreal — but Donald Trump, the most outlandish candidate ever to become the most outlandish president ever, is Making America Normal again. Compromise, betraying your base, crappy but workable lawmaking: this is the way Washington, D.C., is supposed to work! For better and worse, it seems to be beginning to work that way again.
When Trump was elected, I predicted his would be a mediocre moderate Democrat presidency. Right now, he’s on track to achieve exactly that and it’s so much better than what went before and what might have come after, that it really does seem a strange little basket of blessings.