Is President Trump Hurting or Helping the GOP Brand?
Is it time to stop calling young conservatives unable to fully wrap their minds around the idea of a President Trump “Never Trumpers”?
Has the epithet outlived its usefulness because it has come to describe futility, especially on the right? Mr. Trump owns the contemporary GOP. “Nevering” (to coin a verb) behavior is past its prime and has become tiresome and ineffectual. And to be fair, many of these young (anyone under age forty in my book) skeptics are often willing to acknowledge select Trump’s accomplishments, so the qualifier “never” doesn’t really apply.
The fact remains, many right-leaning young fence-sitters choke down a tablespoon full of unsavory medicine when they grudgingly praise America’s commander in chief because in their heart of hearts they still can’t fathom that a man with his (in their view) value-challenged ethics and unvarnished political style has risen to the highest office in the land.
One of my young and adamantly unconvinced associates recently linked me this Weekly Standard column by Ben Shapiro, asking for my opinion of it.
I read Mr. Shapiro’s piece and found much to agree with. His statistics are inarguable, and his corollaries to generational dynamics utterly plausible. The writer and podcaster hit on all cylinders with his analysis of young versus old vis a vis their respective appraisals of the man our nation elected in 2016. Shapiro is correct in pointing out that, with obvious exceptions, there is a preponderance of support for Trump among certain sectors of the older generations, and substantial reservations about him among the younger set. One obvious reason for this demographic approval imbalance is simple: the exigencies of time itself. Older folks don’t have as many election cycles left. They don’t have the luxury of a long-term, high-road strategy.
This reality leads to the one aspect of Shapiro’s analysis I disagree with: his assertion that Donald Trump is hurting the GOP brand, and in so doing is turning off young conservatives and lessening the likelihood of conservative electoral success in the future.
To illustrate my point of disagreement, I’ll borrow a metaphor, and unassailable truth, from Shapiro’s essay: “Older conservatives weren’t looking for character in 2016. They were looking for a hammer.”
Exactly. Older conservatives are on the way out, simply by virtue of the march of time. They are convinced-- along with many heartland independents and traditional Democrats, incidentally--that the time for Trump’s hammer is now. They’re not inclined to gnash teeth or rend garments about the president’s lack of political pedigree. They believe that the open borders threat doesn’t lend itself to another decades-long period of stasis. They don’t think the horrors currently being revealed about the deep state bureaucracy can be allowed to metastasize for any extended future length of time without the chemotherapy of force-magnified push-back.
Stop the immediate hemorrhaging, and put the Left on notice, even if (actually, especially if) that notice is given with rhetorical blunt instruments and/or unilateral executive action. Get us out of the lousy trade agreements and redress the trade imbalances. Extricate us from ineffectual America-punishing environmental straitjackets, and job-killing pencil-pusher regulations. Release the country from the immigration death-grips of chain migration and visa lotteries. Greenlight the pipelines and open the American landscape up to domestic energy production—get us out from under the whims of foreign oil-producing nations.
Cut our taxes, let our children and grandchildren take home more of what they earn. Build a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem for $150,000.00, not $1 billion, and invest the savings in stateside infrastructure.
For all his political inexperience and allegedly suspect values, Trump is the only leader and his administration is the only power nexus making serious attempts to bring that hammer down.
Imagine your own favorite Trump accomplishment: here.
There is no time like the present. The forces of globalist progressivism are massing both within and without our borders. Nancy Pelosi is already making noises about repealing the Trump-enabled Republican tax cuts if Dems retake the House. Everybody knows where the Left stands on sanctuary cities and states—immigrants are their new, none-too-distant voting bloc.
Flight 93? Why not? There’s no time for high roads, purist conservative ideals, and think-tank equivocation. Hopefully young conservatives will grasp this and stay the course. While some young, idealistic conservatives may be turned off by Trump’s personality and modus operandi, in the long run it is entirely possible the president will boost perceptions about the GOP brand in the minds of young, impressionable voters. More importantly, in terms of the heat of the moment, another unassailable truth is that Trump has saved the party from dissolution and irrelevancy.
Shapiro compellingly lays out his argument for winning the hearts and minds of the next generations, his suggestions for garnering the support of both conservative-leaning young people and those who may be open to conservatism. Ideologically oriented young thinkers like Mr. Shapiro and more traditionally recognizable conservative officeholders will have their day. Soon enough (2024, I’m betting), young conservatives and libertarians who never boarded the Trump train will have the opportunity to vote for a president with more “presidential” comportment, more classically identifiable statesmanlike qualities.
In the final analysis, I believe Trump’s base of older voters will have actually aided those young conservatives, and any young voter with an open mind and a grasp of history, by electing a president who is at least attempting to root out the deep state horror, maintain our borders and sovereignty, and make American strong, prosperous, safe, and great again. A president who has done more to forestall and damage of the Marxist, leftist, statist, progressive, socialist game plan than any president since Ronald Reagan.
If the fear is that The Grand Old Party will never recover from the trauma of Trump’s impolitic ways, take heart. There will always be far-left Democrats around to provide contrast, to scrape the bottom of the barrel, opening up the high road of American exceptionalism to a new generation of conservatives.
In the meantime, Mr. President, keep hammering away. Older Trumpservatives want the Left off their lawns and beaten back as much as possible—right now.