I am probably too exercised over the never-Trump faction, because in the end, it’s doubtful it is strong enough numerically to make a significant impact on our electoral politics, but it still bothers me to witness intramural conservative battles.
I have no quarrel with those who once self-identified as never-Trumpers but now appraise his actions and statements on a case-by-case basis instead of reflexively opposing his every move. My frustration is with those who obsess over Trump and lie in wait to pounce on any real or imagined Trump misstep like panting dogs drooling under the choice slab of beef hovering above them.
I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush, but these are the types of conservatives whose tweets relentlessly savage Trump and harshly judge other conservatives who dare to support or defend him — on darn near anything. They mock and judge, judge and mock, preen and point, point and preen, forever lamenting the end of decency among many conservatives and the death of the Republican Party.
They excoriate conservatives for allegedly abandoning conservatism, painfully oblivious to their hypocrisy in often making their case on hyper-leftist shows with conservative-hating hosts and guests or fawningly retweeting leftists who have as much contempt for any conservative as they do for Donald Trump.
These critics argue that conservative Trump supporters have been tainted by their association with Trump, yet they jump in bed with those who haven’t a stitch of conservatism in their entire anatomy. They’re not just freely cohabiting foxholes with leftists; they are gradually drifting their way on policy.
They wouldn’t be as annoying if they weren’t so sanctimonious about their professed conservative purity and so judgmental about conservatives generally supportive of Trump, which brings me to what inspired this column.
A prominent Republican Trump critic with whom I’m friendly on Twitter betrays increasing dismay over the perceived betrayal of conservative Trump supporters. That we aren’t alongside the naysayers lambasting Trump at every juncture, that we aren’t mortified by every Trump tweet, is agonizingly disillusioning to him.
This week, he tweeted dolefully, “In the end, there will only be two groups of conservatives: those who sold out to Trumpism, and those who didn’t. The policy differences among us pale next to that one major division.”
Do you smell the judgmentalism — the rush to judge the motives of friends on the right? Note the language — we have “sold out to Trumpism,” which is inarguably a sweeping moral condemnation of conservative Trump supporters.
It can’t be that the countless millions of us believed — correctly — that Trump would be light-years better than Hillary Clinton as president or that, horrors, the critics were wrong. It can’t be that we support Trump’s major advancements in deregulation, his stellar judicial appointments and his efforts to cut taxes and repeal the abominable Obamacare individual mandate. It can’t be his support of the military and national defense, his refreshing and contagious bullishness on America or his election alone, which stands as the greatest impediment to the further advancement of Obama-Clinton leftism. Oh, did I mention that Trump declared Jerusalem the official capital of Israel, as opposed to his presidential predecessors who merely paid lip service to the goal? And did you notice that the economy is smoking along at 3.3 percent growth?
In addition to their insufferable conceit, the critics are embarrassingly out of touch with and grossly underestimate rank-and-file conservatives, which is the most egregious consequence of their arrogance. The tens of millions of conservative Trump supporters numerically dwarf his hand-wringing critics — a reality that is inaccessible to them in their self-constructed bubble. They either don’t realize how outnumbered they are or have contempt for the majority who don’t share their narrow moralistic calculus. Millions of everyday American conservatives — even if they don’t wholly approve of Trump’s style, manners or idiosyncrasies — are cheering Trump on and grateful he has stopped the Democrats in their tracks and is moving the country back to the right.
So, as I’ve written before, I don’t believe there is a serious schism in the grass-roots conservative movement. I don’t believe that constitutional conservatives who are now supporting Trump have sold their souls or jettisoned their principles. They have not sold out; they have bought into the big picture.
I don’t contend that Trump is a constitutional conservative, but he is advancing conservative policies more than any president in a long time — probably more than, say, Mitt Romney would have been able to. I don’t agree that by supporting Trump, conservatives have ceded control of the party to an undefined populist movement — and certainly not to an alt-right cabal. If anything, Trump is moving more toward conservatism than conservatives are moving toward populism.
I have no animus for the malcontented Trump haters on the right and strive not to judge them — though I strongly disagree with them. But I sure wish they would quit judging the millions upon millions of the rest of us, whom they manifestly don’t understand.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney.
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