Unexamined Premises

The Moral Cowardice of the NeverTrumpumpkins

(Matt Born/The Star-News via AP)

For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that Donald Trump is what the small but obsessive, increasingly deracinated, band of “never Trumpers” says he is.  He’s not a “movement conservative” – true.   He’s often crass and vulgar – true.  His quasi-grammatical flights of oratorical fancy often get him into trouble –also true.  “Words matter” they remind him, while calling him a “witless ape,” a “white nationalist,” and — most childishly — a “turd-tornado,” who’s “dark,”  “condescending,” and a “lunatic,” to list some of the more printable epithets in the conservative press. (You can find plenty of the unprintables here, at Diana West’s “Trump lexicon” link.)

Okay.  Therefore… what?

Remember that his opponent in this fall’s presidential election is former secretary of state Hillary Clinton – a woman so breathtakingly corrupt and at the same time so unaccountably privileged that FBI Director James Comey practically indicted her on national television, and then declined to prosecute over her unauthorized and leaky private email server. As a profile in cowardice, Comey is tough to beat.

Just recently Mrs. Clinton provided an honored place at a rally in Orlando to – unbelievably – the father of the Muslim terrorist who murdered 49 people and wounded scores of others at a local gay nightclub two months ago.  This enormity was followed by the Freedom of Information Act-forced release of 44 additional Clinton emails not hitherto disclosed that pointed at a too-cozy relationship between Foggy Bottom and the money-laundering operation known as the Clinton Foundation, whose lineal and historical ties to the Genovese crime family really cry out for investigation by some enterprising reporter.

Considering the alternative, then, what option does an American patriot have but to vote for Trump, no matter how distasteful one might find him, or how offensive his gaucheries? The “never Trumpers” proclaim their fidelity to checklist conservatism, and thus would rather see Trump lose and the country consigned to at least four more destructive years of Democrat rule than vote for the brash New Yorker.

Trump’s opponents on the right fall into two main categories – conservative opinion journalists (most of whom are under 50, who came of voting age after Ronald Reagan left office) and the political-consultant class.  The latter’s opposition is easy to understand, as Trump has essentially dispensed with their services, running a bare-bones primary campaign that resulted in the largest vote total in the history of the GOP nominating process.  No wonder they’re sore:

“Those of us who believe, who know, that Trump is dangerous can’t just settle for him being beaten in November,” wrote GOP consultant Rick Wilson recently. “We need to ensure that he is on the business end of a decisive, humiliating defeat — so that the terribly divisive forces he has unleashed are delivered a death blow.”

My Southern grandmother often used a phrase that a lot of folks south of the Mason-Dixon line of a certain age will remember. It was always delivered in a low, calm voice: “Go outside get a switch.” You knew at that point that whatever childhood misbehavior you were engaged in was about to come to a halt, painfully.

Well, Trump voters, it’s your turn. Go get a switch. I’m not going to coddle you and say you’re really smart and good people and this is just a misunderstanding. That’s just what the PC crowd does on the left.

Trumpkins don’t deserve a participation trophy for wrecking the party and saddling the nation with Hillary. They made the crazy the enemy of the good, and centered an entire campaign on rage, fear and an eternally shrinking spiral of cult-worship and fanaticism.

They dragged one of America’s great political parties from the back of a truck.

To begin to repair the damage done, they need to see not that their way almost succeeded, if only one or two states had broken differently. They must absorb the painful reality that their way cannot, will not, ever work again.

What’s more puzzling is the entrenched opposition by a die-hard handful in the right-wing media, whose increasingly desperate (and mind-numbingly repetitious) anti-Trump columns read more like a personal cri de coeur than reasoned political discourse.

The time for opposition was during the primaries. But now, for better or worse, the issue is settled. Increasingly sounding like leftists, the “never Trumpers” appeal to a higher morality to justify their electoral sabotage, but the fact is their stance is profoundly immoral; sore losers, they demand a rules change after the game is over, and refuse to accept the results.

So determined are they to retain their status in the junior wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party, they have put party before country, and swear they’ve done just the opposite.

All of which leaves Trump in the position of having to battle Clinton, the Democrat Party, almost the entire national media, and the Tories in the GOP who would rather preserve a tattered virtue than engage with the greater enemy, the Clinton/Obama Democrats.  Recently, fifty former Republican national-security officials signed a letter denouncing Trump – to which he retorted, “We thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place.”

Meanwhile, the “never Trumpers” continue to offer up spoiler candidates, such as Evan McMullin, a Mormon former CIA officer with no chance of even getting on all 50 state ballots, in the hopes of damaging Trump’s chances in states with significant Mormon populations, such as Utah and Arizona.  The thinking goes that five candidates in the race (Trump, Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein) might cost Trump a state or two, leading to his defeat in the Electoral College.

Some Trump opponents on the right disingenuously claim they have little or no influence on voters; they’re merely advocating a vote of conscience while they await a restoration in 2020 or ‘24.  Further, they risibly assert that a GOP Congress will hold Clinton in check, forgetting how little the Republicans did to stop Obama – and why their base is so furious with them today.

You can’t prep a stab in the back, however, without leaving your fingerprints on the knife.  Words do matter, or else why write them? Yes, an untried, untested, unfiltered, “lunatic” Trump who wants to wall off Mexico, cut deals with Putin and halt unfettered Muslim immigration may scare some, but compared to a malevolent Hillary, he just may be what the lunatic half of America’s looking for. Love him or hate him — that’s the American Way, and has been ever since the contentious election of 1800.

Is Trump the best the GOP might have offered? Probably not; I was a fan of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, but he was gone before most of the country figured out who he was. Is a vote for Hillary and against Trump because you believe she is the lesser of two evils defensible? Of course it is, however wrongheaded. Is staying home an option? Absolutely — but then you don’t get to kick about the results.

As Milton writes in the Areopagitica:

I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.

Anything else is simply moral preening from the sidelines. Now is the time for all good men and women to come not to the aid of their party, but of their country.