Public apologies are difficult for most people, but particularly for political pundits whose livelihoods and reputations depend on their being right at least some of the time (Paul Krugman excepted).
Such statements can be emotionally wounding, even humiliating. But it isn’t my purpose to humiliate or, worse, to gloat — which is a repellent trait and almost always counterproductive. No spiking the football here.
Nevertheless, it is time for the remaining NeverTrumpers to apologize for a reason far more important than self-castigation or merely to make things “right.” Donald Trump — whose initial victory was a shock, even, ironically, to those of us who predicted it — has compounded that shock by being astoundingly successful in his first year, especially at the conclusion. (He’s a quick study, evidently.) More conservative goals have been achieved or put in motion in eleven months than in any time in recent, or even distant, memory. It’s an astonishing reversal for our country accompanied by the beginnings of an economic boom.
But that same success is causing, it’s becoming increasingly clear, an equally determined, even virulent, reaction from the left. At first they too thought Trump was an ineffectual blowhard who would shoot himself in the foot, ultimately redounding to their advantage. Now that they have found that not to be the case, they are in a state of panic, fearing a defeat for their ideals that would set them back years, even decades. They cannot let this stand and are marshaling all their forces from the media to Hollywood to the academy, not to mention at least some of the investigative units of the FBI.
The next year seems poised to be an ideological duel as close to the death as we have seen in a long time. If the right does not win, the gains of 2017 will be stymied by the election of 2018 and completely washed away in 2020.
It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation and we need the NeverTrumpers’ help. We need — to borrow a hoary leftist term — a united front.
It shouldn’t be all that difficult. The basic intentions of the Trumpkins (as we have been derided) and the NeverTrumpers were never that far apart. It was more an issue of style and strategy, of decorum really. And, of course, that ugly secret — some felt they were losing their power. Time to get over it.
Some are already doing this, having acknowledged that they were overhasty in their judgements. Rich Lowry of National Review deserves special praise for his graciousness in this regard. Guy Benson — on the Ingraham Angle Thursday night — seemed ready to lend a hand, if a little tentatively. Ross Douthat has walked back a bit, as has Jonah Goldberg. They could do more. They are men of great credit and it wouldn’t hurt their reputations. (Well, Douthat might endanger his job.)
Members of the House and Senate are almost all on board, if the signing celebration for the tax bill is any indication.
On the other hand, some have dug holes so deep it may be impossible for them ever to get out. We know who they are and should ignore them. Let them double down to their hearts’ content.
But a war is coming — you can almost feel it in the air. We should all pray that it will be non-violent and work hard to keep it that way. But we should also have our ideological troops ready and prepared for that imminent battle for the hearts and minds. It’s going to be pivotal.
NeverTrumpers, please join. Past disagreements will be instantly forgotten and your skills immediately welcomed. I think you can depend on that.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.