If Trump Is the Answer...
What Is the Question?
His supporters are asking good questions. Their answer is deeply flawed.
“It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts.” —Patrick Henry, 1775
If Donald Trump is the answer, then what’s the question his supporters are asking?
Fact is, they’re asking the most important questions every genuine conservative is asking. Consistent with The Patriot Post’s mission statement, all of us are asking, “How do we restore constitutional limits on government and the judiciary? How do we restore free enterprise, our national defense capabilities and traditional American values? How do we undo all of the damage Obama has done and correct our nation’s course back toward Liberty? How do we defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders and win the next presidential election?”
But Donald Trump?
Bear with me.
In the wake of the Iowa caucus results, Trump is again asking, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” After a 15-hour blackout, he woke up mad, claiming, “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. … Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.” This from a guy who has not voted in a Republican primary for almost 30 years… (This sounds like a set up — “I’m being treated unfairly, thus I will run third-party to insure a Democrat victory in 2016!”)
Though I consider Iowa more a generator of media advertising revenue than I do a solid predictive indicator of presidential election outcomes, the caucus results are, just the same, instructive.
Trump, who assumed he had Iowa in the bag, made two mistakes that will influence the results of the upcoming primaries.
First, he backed out of the Iowa debate just before the caucuses, not because he has “zero respect for [Fox News journalist] Megyn Kelly,” as he claimed, but to avoid being called out on a growing list of prevarications and obfuscations. Despite the not-too-clever diversion of his alternate event, “for the veterans,” his supporters in Iowa stayed focused on the task at hand — casting a vote for the candidate they think is best suited to be the 45th president of the United States.
Second, while he may have avoided the Iowa debate, Trump’s petulant attack against his primary rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, in the days after that debate resulted in exposing his clear and continuing support for ObamaCare, one of the most important agenda items on conservative lists for legislative repeal.
Just before the Iowa Caucus, Cruz asserted, “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have the identical position on health care, which is they want to put the government in charge of you and your doctor.” That is not quite accurate — Trump’s socialist health care plan is actually more statist than Clinton’s plan.
Trump attempted to deflect the criticism, protesting, “Ted Cruz is a total liar. I’m so against ObamaCare. … I don’t even know where he gets this.” Where Cruz “gets this” is the same place he got Trump’s liberal “New York values” — remarks from Trump himself! Trump has written and spoken repeatedly in support of state-run health care systems. In his book, “The America We Deserve,” he praised Canada’s failed socialist single-payer health care system: “We must have universal health care. I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one.”
Betrayed by his own words, Trump refuted (and simultaneously confirmed) Cruz’s claims, saying, “He has got no heart. And if this means I lose an election, that’s fine because frankly, we have to take care of the people in our country.” Of course, Trump’s socialized medicine proposals would deepen the disastrous consequences of the so-called “Affordable Healthcare Act” and accelerate the deterioration of health care services. Think “Veterans Affairs on steroids.”
The fact is, Trump is a case study in contradictions, with long-held and defended liberal positions averse to Liberty, including his support for state-run health care, gun control, enormous tax increases and executive unilateralism. His apparent contradictions are now the toasts of late-night liberals like Stephen Colbert, who recently aired a “debate” segment, Donald vs. Trump.
Apparently, Trump didn’t receive the memo that a man has only one chance to make a first impression. Now, instead of providing a candid and honest explanation for his 11th-hour conversion to conservatism and all the flip-flopping, Trump is content to simply deny he ever held those liberal positions. His undeniable denial of reality should concern anyone who supports him.
Having said this, I expect protests from Trump supporters that will fall into two previously established categories.
About 10% will offer reasoned objections, which I welcome. They are actually open to criticism of Trump, and the resulting dialogue provides useful insights for both of us.
However, the remaining 90% will hurl vitriolic diatribes, shooting insults and threats at this messenger, much like the shots Trump takes at his critics. The rage and resentment in these protests are a testament to Trump’s anger-driven support, which I described in “The Trump Card — Ace of Anger Affirmation.”
For the record, I have been shot at on a few occasions — and by “shot at” I mean with high-velocity projectiles, not derogatory words — so insults don’t cause me heartburn. But what I do find deeply troubling is that the vitriolic variety reflects a cultish devotion to Trump, whose narcissistic persona basks in the light of such unquestioned devotion. Too many of his supporters are intolerant of any divergent perspective on Trump, no matter how well reasoned.
Don’t get me wrong: Grassroots Americans should be angry about the lame “establishment Republicans” who haven’t made way for the growing ranks of young conservatives now in the House and Senate.
And it’s not only Trump’s conservative supporters who are mad. Notably, analysis in The New York Times — “Trump’s Strongest Supporters: A Certain Kind of Democrat” — recently reflected that “[h]is very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats.” These are folks who, in 1980, might have been described as “Reagan Democrats.”
The comparison is understandable, given that Trump’s simple mantra, “Make America Great Again,” was “borrowed” from President Reagan’s slogan, “Let’s make America great again.” And his simple solutions to complex problems resonate with some grassroots Republicans and Democrats.
But Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan. President Reagan was a genuine, humble conservative and a model of servant leadership. Unlike Trump, President Reagan was not an 11th-hour convert to conservatism – he had been primary protagonist of the conservative movement for two decades before his 1980 presidential bid and had a long record to back up his conservative credentials.
Human nature tells us that many people are more convicted by what they want to believe than by a considerable body of evidence contradicting those beliefs. Noted historian John Lukacs, in his book “Democracy and Populism,” wrote, “Most people believe and think what they prefer to think and what they want to believe: their vision of the world and their own likes and dislikes … are seldom separable.”
In the timeless words of John Adams, however, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Facts and evidence, fellow Patriots. Facts and evidence.
Donald Trump is not the answer to the critical questions genuine conservatives are asking, including those genuine conservatives among his supporters.
So, it’s off to New Hampshire we go, where I expect Trump’s “New York values” to play well. However, take note. His national disapproval rating has soared to 60%, which renders him all but unelectable against potential adversaries as fundamentally flawed as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.
But if Trump actually makes it to the general election and defeats his Democrat opponent, I note this irony: Now that the ranks of conservatives (as opposed to “Republicans”) in the House and Senate have surged, those conservatives might be faced with a “Republican” president who is both autocratic and statist, a combination that will be perilous to the future of Liberty.
Finally, Donald Trump was asked recently to define “conservatism” and he was at a loss of words – rare for Trump. But last week, Ben Sasse, one of the rising young conservatives in the U.S. Senate, was asked the same question, and Trump should listen to Ben’s 90-second response.
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis