February 20, 2017

WELL, YES. Are Liberals Helping Trump?

Jeffrey Medford, a small-business owner in South Carolina, voted reluctantly for Donald Trump. As a conservative, he felt the need to choose the Republican. But some things are making him feel uncomfortable — parts of Mr. Trump’s travel ban, for example, and the recurring theme of his apparent affinity for Russia.

Mr. Medford should be a natural ally for liberals trying to convince the country that Mr. Trump was a bad choice. But it is not working out that way. Every time Mr. Medford dips into the political debate — either with strangers on Facebook or friends in New York and Los Angeles — he comes away feeling battered by contempt and an attitude of moral superiority.

“We’re backed into a corner,” said Mr. Medford, 46, whose business teaches people to be filmmakers. “There are at least some things about Trump I find to be defensible. But they are saying: ‘Agree with us 100 percent or you are morally bankrupt. You’re an idiot if you support any part of Trump.’ ”

He added: “I didn’t choose a side. They put me on one.”

Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed.

This shaming works as a self-herding mechanism among the left, but it’s not very good at winning converts. You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

Related: Why The Resistance Is the Best Thing That’s Happened To Donald Trump.

Sure, it matters that President Donald Trump has a historically low favorability rating. Then again, disliking the president isn’t exactly a courageous act. Plenty of Americans—many of whom supported the president during the general election—don’t like Trump. They do realize that politics is a trade-off. Here’s a more revealing question pollsters might ask people: Do you “like” any better Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) or Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), pussyhatted marchers griping about the patriarchy or the totalitarians blocking Education Secretary Betsy Devos from walking into a public school?

That’s the choice #TheResistance—whose mantra, let’s face it, has synched with the Democratic Party—has created for many moderate Republicans, right-leaning independents and movement conservatives concerned about Trump. That is to say, they offer no choice whatsoever. They offer plenty of hysteria, hypocrisy and conflation of conservatism with Trumpism for political gain.

Plus:

But if it’s a zero-sum choice they’re offering, that includes picking Judge Neil Gorsuch over Planned Parenthood; tax cuts over teachers unions; Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran’s Holocaust deniers; deregulation of the bureaucratic state over legislation; or forcing progressive cultural mores on everyone, and so on.

For example, many former free traders are now embracing the protectionist big-government policies of Trumpism. This is the kind of capitulation many fiscal conservatives feared. Again, the problem is that for free traders, Democrats are as just bad. In fact, the popularity of protectionism among populist movements on the left and right is so strong there’s a good argument that the only way to possibly counteract it is to elect more conservatives to Congress.

The average resistance fighters might dislike Trump. But they hate conservatism. By treating even the most milquetoast, run-of-the-mill Cabinet nominee as the worst thing that has ever happened to America, The Resistance gives conservatives the space to defend such long-standing political positions as school choice, immigration enforcement and deregulation. I imagine many Republicans would happily hand over the scalp of more Michael Flynns if it meant creating a more stable and experienced administration.

But they also understand that people who treat DeVos like a bigger threat to the republic than Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon will never be placated. Those who spend weeks after the election acting like the Electoral College was some kind of trick pulled on the country are not interested in rule of law. They’re interested in Democrats.

Yes. And here’s my message for 2017.

Last year it was my message too.

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