The Never Trump Betrayal

Ace brings up an article by David Horowitz about the Never Trumpers. The genesis of Horowitz’ article was a particular Tweet by Jonah Goldberg:

Re-asking a question I’ve been posing for three years: Please come up with a definition of good character that Donald Trump can clear.

To which Horowitz eventually replied:

He has an amazing family. He’s loyal to a fault. He loves the country that gave him a privileged life, He works around the clock for ordinary Americans, & their security. He would never appoint a treacherous individual to head the CIA. Wake up Jonah.Its a war & u cant be neutral.

Which, in turn, generated this reply from Goldberg:

This is total nonsense David. He’s not loyal to a fault. He’s not loyal to his wives. Read up on how he treated Roy Cohn ffs. He doesn’t work around the clock. He won’t read and won’t stop watching TV. I can’t tell if your head is up your ass or his.

Which is usually how it goes – Never Trump makes a blanket statement. Trump supporter offers a polite response which calls into question the Never Trump statement. Never Trump then gets really pissy and vulgar. I did a response, myself, fairly much in tune with Horowitz’ but I didn’t get a response. Not important enough – usually, the Never Trump in question just blocks me (I’m blocked by an awful lot of them…and others that have muted me).

You should read Horowitz’ whole article on it, but here’s the meat as far as I’m concerned:

The posture of these NeverTrumpers is transparently self-serving. It preserves their intellectual credentials as “conservatives,” and simultaneously takes them out of the line of fire from an increasingly vicious Left whose goal is to destroy Trump and his presidency, and—incidentally—conservative America. Sitting on the fence affords them new career opportunities—appearances on CNN and MSNBC and columns in the New York Times. All that’s required is that they avoid taking sides in the political war that is engulfing the country. All this reminds me of a memorable Trotsky sneer about liberals, whom he accused of being reluctant to step into the stream of political conflict because they were afraid to get their moral principles wet.

The main thing, in my view, about people like Goldberg and the rest of the Never Trumpers is that they refused their office. The Never Trumpers were provided position, wealth, and a megaphone in order to fight for us – because we, the regular folks, don’t have the time for it. We’re of the right – we have jobs and families to attend to. And not just jobs, but jobs where concrete results are demanded. The left has its legions of layabouts who have all the time and money in the world to engage in politics. We on the right don’t have that – and thus was set up things like NRO…and the whole host of publications and think tanks which were supposed to pitch into the battle with gusto, never giving the left a break and just hammering them relentlessly until the left was no more.

Trouble is, after five decades of doing this, we didn’t find ourselves on the verge of repealing Social Security, but on the verge of enacting Socialized medicine. The Conservative movement failed. Failed utterly. It was beaten at the game of politics thoroughly. It had become a sad and, at times, sick joke – we all just waited for the Conservative Movement surrender each time the left came up with a new demand. There are only two explanations for it:

1. Cowardice.

2. Treason.

Either they were afraid to fight the left, or they actually wanted the left to win – in either case, they were running a con. Just hoping they could be top of the Conservative heap and have honors and rewards without ever having to accomplish anything. And they dare to say Trump is a man of no character? People who lost every damned battle for 50 years have the gall to shoot arrows at someone else? How about at least a bit of humility, guys? Any chance of that, Jonah? Any even mild acknowledgement that you failed us? Nope. None of that. Just insults hurled at the one guy who is actually winning. And, guys, winning it pretty easy…showing the the left is a paper tiger. It could have been smashed, easily, time and again for the past 50 years. It just wasn’t. Which is why I go more towards “treason”…the understanding that these guys really didn’t want Conservatism…just some lower taxes and maybe a more muscular military than the left, as a whole, did. I think that Trump’s success, far more than any character flaw, is really what is getting their goat…he’s done more for Conservatism in 18 months than they did in 50 years…heck, he’s on pace to surpass even Reagan in Conservatism. This vulgar, New York real estate mogul is besting them…and, grrrr, he also slept with a Playmate, the bastard!

My Dad explained to me when I was young that being honorable is only partially a matter of good morals and manners. He explained to me that my grandfather knew some bad men in his time – real criminals. But crooks you could trust. That might seem a paradox, but such is human life. My grandfather could make (completely legal, it should be stressed) business deals with the crooks on a handshake and everyone kept their end of the bargain. The bad guys might have been running illegal gambling operations, but if they said they’d do X for you in return for Y, X would be done. The key, my Dad explained, was keeping your word. We’re all weak and prone to sin – we’ll also do a lot of things we’ll regret at a later date. It is, in a very real sense, something we can’t help…we’re human and prone to sin. But to break one’s word requires a special act of will. If I say I’ll do something for you…then I’m either going to do it, or I’m not. Unless I am dead, then I have to either perform, or prove myself faithless. I have to keep my word – because it is, in the end, all I’ve got. If you don’t trust me to keep my word, then what use am I to you?

The Conservative movement didn’t keep it’s word to us – they promised us an end to the New Deal and the Great Society in return for our loyalty. They delivered us “bake the cake” and an inch away from single payer healthcare. What good are they to us, now? Why should we trust them in the future? Meanwhile, Trump is keeping his word. He might be a vulgar lout. He might be everything bad they say about him…but, so far, he’s proven trustworthy…and that’s not only a definition of good character Trump clears, it is really the most important definition of character there is.

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Real Conservatism

So, Jonah Goldberg advised the other day that one can be pro-abortion and be Conservative…in fact, he later went on to say, in effect, that just about anyone can be Conservative. I, naturally, took exception to this attitude and in some Twitter responses, gave my ideas:

Not really. Conservatism, if it is anything, is a defense of faith, family and property. Being atheist and/or in favor of abortion means you cannot defend two of the three main elements Conservatives seek to conserve. I don’t know of this is part of Goldberg’s possible “evolution” on certain issues to make himself acceptable to the left, but it is complete nonsense as a Conservative opinion.

To be sure, an atheist or pro-abortion person could *selectively* support certain elements of a Conservative philosophy, but doing such doesn’t make one Conservative. It just makes one not a complete fool. There is truth and there is falsehood. There is right and there is wrong. It is false, for instance, to think there is any moral justification of abortion. And no Conservative would ever place himself in the position of defending falsehood.

I think Goldberg illustrates what happens when someone is wise enough to reject the most obvious bad aspects of liberal ideology but fails to see that the entire liberal idea is inherently wrong. Such “Conservatism” is a mere matter of style. No one with above room temp IQ, after all, wants to entirely embrace an ideology which is laughably wrong about so much. But there’s a gulf between that and being actually Conservative

Later, I went on to note that Goldberg’s version of Conservative giggled while the social fabric of our society was ripped to shreds. That version of Conservatism is, officially at least, strong on such things as defending free speech and the Second Amendment, but it never even tried to defend average folks against the assault launched by the left not just on the concept of morality, but on the very concept of Truth. To people like Goldberg, it was ok that people were out there saying there’s no such thing as Truth – they defended people saying that. The proper response is that while people are allowed to say it, they should be hated for saying it and, as far as practical, not given a public platform to shout such a vile absurdity. Like this: there was an attitude of anger that Conservatism was driven from college campuses, but no anger that Conservatism didn’t drive away those arguing that Truth is a social construct.

Think about it: would you or anyone be in favor of allowing in a medical school professorship someone who asserted that all disease is a mere matter of mind? There are people who believe that – that we get sick only because our minds are sick and if we’ll just get our minds right, our illnesses would vanish. Of course we wouldn’t want such idiots teaching in a medical school…but its no different when we allow someone to teach in a philosophy class that Truth doesn’t exist. The very assertion negates itself: if Truth doesn’t exist, then it is untrue to say that Truth doesn’t exist. Yet we allow such people to poison the minds of college kids all the time and no one in the so-called Conservative movement ever so much as hinted that such people should be driven out. And the reason we never had a Conservatism that would do that is because our Conservatism hasn’t been about conserving the things which need conserving: Faith, Family, Property. If those things aren’t your concern, then you’re going to be functionally ok with Progressives doing their thing. You’ll end up only caring that taxes be kept low so you can make money and live well, insulted from the effects of social disintegration.

You see, I don’t think the Conservative movement was really interested in defending things like the Second Amendment – that rose up from below: the people did that. Conservative leaders only got on board when, de-facto, that issue gave them a Congressional majority in 1994. Prior to then, there was no Conservative-led effort to protect or expand Second Amendment rights…and I feel confident that if it ever became a political liability to support the Second Amendment, the movement Conservatives would drop it like a bad habit. Same with abortion – the pro-life movement is entirely grass-roots, and it gets no real help from the Conservative leadership. Just a bit of lip service…and now that plenty of Conservative leaders are locked into Never Trump, they are starting to “evolve” on the abortion issue.

When your desire is to defend Faith, Family and Property, you start getting a different view of what is important. This is why, I think, Conservatives like me are ok with Trump’s background, which is clearly hedonistic (he might not be, now, but he certainly was once upon a time). It isn’t important – what is important is Trump doing things which people like me perceive as a defense of Faith, Family and Property. Trump’s adherence to the Rule of Law (his endlessly repeated demands that Congress take action, eg) is crucial to the defense of all three Conservative ideals. He’s done more for the pro-life movement than any other Conservative President, ever. You guys all know I was a vigorous supporter of the younger Bush…but let’s face the fact, for all his clear moral qualities, he never moved the ball in the pro-life direction. Am I supposed to be more happy with W on this, or Trump? Sorry, but I have to be more happy with Trump. He’s doing the things I think need doing.

You also start prioritizing things based on your ideals. For instance: while understanding that free markets are always better than regulated markets and that trade between nations is a good thing, you start to look around and realize that, still, the market and trade have to be at the service of Conservative ideals, not the other way around. What good is it to have a completely free market and completely free trade if my fellow Americans are thrown out of work and their small and mid-sized communities destroyed because the textile mill was moved to China? Understanding that sometimes a business has to die, you still start looking around…and once you do, you start to realize some things. First and foremost, that the United States rose from agricultural backwater to global economic dominance under Protection. That while we were under Protection, we still did massive trade with the world. That a free trade agreement many hundreds of pages long and regulated by faceless bureaucrats is likely not really a free trade agreement but is, instead, a mechanism whereby those juiced in get special rake-offs. Finally, and most important, that whatever else we do, we still need to make, mine and grow most of our own stuff because that is both economically healthy and necessary for national security.

The leaders of the so-called Conservative movement never got ’round to thinking about any of that. Give the TruCons their way, and we’ll have low taxes and all our things will be made overseas and, in the by and by, every last bit of Progressive drivel about social relationships will be enshrined not in law, but in a series of Supreme Court dictates. I’d rather not, thanks very much. I happen to think that not only I, but my most vigorous opponents would do better under a genuinely Conservative governance. They might officially hate some aspects of it, but they’ll very much like the stability, rule of law and peace and prosperity that it affords. To me, to allow anything liberal or Progressive to happen is a degrading failure: that we might, in a pluralist society, have such things happen is a given…but any real Conservatism is going to fight to prevent any of it from happening. A lost political battle is a lost political battle: but what our Conservative leaders have done is merely surrender, again and again, each time the Progressives really pressed an issue (except on taxes, of course: but, here, you must note, our Conservative leaders had Progressive allies…even among the left, there are those wise enough to know that if you overtax everything, you destroy everything).

I guess, by now, I’m Deplorable. Perhaps so. But, if so, I’m in some fine company. I defy any TruCon out there to say that Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, was anything but the most rigid Conservative. And here’s what he had to say:

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

It is ok, then, to be Deplorable. Such provides the insipid common sense. I’m not an expert. Neither is Trump. Neither are all those people with MAGA hats and American flags on their social media pages. Most of them not only can’t quote Locke, they have no idea the man ever existed. They don’t know the exchange rate between Chinese and American currency. Heck, some of them would probably have trouble pointing to China on a map. But they are the people who make this country work – they grow up, get married, have kids and go to work. They work their whole lives and build up a small savings and then propose to have a quiet retirement until they die and are replaced by people who are almost indistinguishable from them. They want peace and quiet in their neighborhoods and around the world. They might gossip a bit about what the neighbors are doing, but they far more often just mind their own business. They don’t care what religion another person has, nor about what political creed they adhere to. In the day to day, they only care that a person is honest and pulls his or her weight. They have no objection to providing even generous assistance to anyone down on their luck, but they can’t stand to see someone laying about on purpose. They love their country and, if called upon, will fight and die for it. They are the True Conservatives…they are Conservative, even if they can’t articulate it. I’m with them: the Real Conservatives…and all I do will be to defend them doing what they do.

Only Conservatism Can Sustain Democracy

Kevin Williamson is becoming something of a favorite of mine lately – because he’s so consistently wrong, that it’s rather fun to read him and then go over the ways that he is wrong. It also helps that he’s a splendid writer. Anyways, he’s got a new article in Commentary about Democracy – Liberal or Militant. It is well worth a read. I was going through it and kind of checking off the wrong as I went along, but this passage was the first which seemed worthy of a direct response:

…a more immediately pressing question is whether liberalism can contain democracy—it is mass democracy itself, not jackbooted stormtroopers, that poses the most dangerous threat to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, property rights, and other fundamentals of citizenship. It is the democratic mob, not an autocratic elite, that demands conformity in life and thought and speech, and brooks no dissent…

The short answer to that is, of course, that liberalism cannot contain democracy. Liberalism is incompatible with democracy. It would take a whole book to write down everything wrong with liberalism, but among liberalism’s many failures is that it is anti-tradition. And tradition is crucial to the success of democracy. A quick bit by Chesterton on this:

But there is one thing that I have never from my youth up been able to understand. I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The man who quotes some German historian against the tradition of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross.

You see, it wasn’t the Constitution that preserved our liberties until just recently – it was tradition. Sure, sure: the words were written down and there was even reference made to the words in various laws and court cases. But the fundamental fact of life is that all the written words in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if people don’t live by them…and they’ll only live by them via tradition. Why was it unthinkable for FDR to seek a third term in 1940? Because Washington had served two terms and then voluntarily stepped down, even though he could easily have obtained another term (indeed, he could have had the office for life, if he wanted). It became tradition – and even some very successful and popular Presidents felt bound by it and refused to run for a third term. Who broke the tradition? An autocratic elitist by the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It should be noted that Roosevelt’s vote total dropped by 400,000 from 1936 when he ran for re-election in 1940 – and this when the country, as a whole, was doing much better than it had been in 1936; while the GOP vote total increased by about five and a half million. Seems that some of the regular folks out there just didn’t like this break with tradition.

But, at least there wasn’t a law prohibiting it. So, there was that. But once you start setting aside tradition, then no tradition is safe. Just a few years later, the President of the United States committed us to war in Korea without a Congressional declaration of war. This action would have been unimaginable even ten years previously. It kinda went downhill from there – to Vietnam; to using the FBI to spy on Americans; to vile, little CIA actions around the world; to refusing to enforce laws against subversion and espionage because the party in power would take a big hit from it; to the use of friendly judges to enact into law things which no Congress would ever approve; to the bureaucracy entering into extra-legal agreements with pressure groups to de-facto make law outside of Congressional or judicial action; to, now, parts of the federal bureaucracy attempting to annul the results of a Presidential election because they don’t like the man who won.

None of this was done by popular demand. The crude and rude mob of American democracy wanted none of this. Because the crude and rude American democracy still clings to its traditions. Most of these people can’t put it into words and couldn’t quote Locke if their lives depended on it, but they know that the law is supposed to apply to everyone; that Congress is supposed to make the laws; that judges are to merely interpret the law; that the bureaucracy is supposed to do as it is told, not as it might want to do. The American democracy watched for decades as autocratic elitists twisted our system to their own liking and increasingly refused to even give lip service to the desires of the people. In the end, they voted Trump – someone as rude and crude as they are. And there is Trump – trying mightily to actually make the system work as it is supposed to work. You know: getting Congress to actually pass laws to do things; curbing the courts via the appointment of judges who know their proper place; insisting that the bureaucracy obey orders. And who is pushing back against this? Not the mob of American democracy…but the very autocratic elitists which Williamson thinks a lesser threat than the mob.

Williamson does note some of the outrages going on out there – specifically some of the anti-freedom actions along the lines of people trying to suppress dissenting voices and so forth. But it isn’t the people demanding this. A few thousand carefully organized demonstrators shouting for, say, Exxon to be destroyed in the name of fighting climate change isn’t the American democracy on display. It is what it is: a carefully orchestrated pressure group designed to give the appearance of popular support. It is created, organized and led by autocratic elitists. If you ask the Average Joe out there, you wouldn’t find one in a hundred who wants to punish Exxon…even among those who believe that climate change is real. No, the shouting mobs of zealots represent no one but a few elitists who want various climate change actions taken because such actions will increase their personal power and wealth.

The cure for what ails us isn’t to curb the mob – it is to allow the mob to rule. I know, we’re all supposed to be opposed to that, but I think our kneejerk disdain for the mob is built into us by a century of propaganda by elitists. You, my friends, are the mob – and either you will rule, or the elite will. Pick which one. As for me, I’ll trust myself to the good sense of the sometimes foolish, often ignorant American people…because, in the end, their core desire is that everyone be left alone to live their lives as they see fit. In a fit of anger they may howl for my blood, but once they calm down a bit they’ll leave me be. Meanwhile, the elite is relentless in its pursuing hatreds. For 60 years, for instance, my Christian views have been hounded until we are now very much a post-Christian nation, and yet these elites continue to demand the complete destruction of my Christianity. The very existence of it inflames them…and they’ll never, ever quit.

Liberals of old had some fine things to say – some good ideas, that is. But they were only good ideas when they were the fulfillment of American tradition. It was liberal to extend the franchise to all men and women…but it was only good because it helped to reinforce the Conservative, traditional idea that we will rule ourselves. And here’s something to ponder – some of the very same liberals who were pushing to enfranchise women in the early 20th century were also working diligently to cut the voting public out of decision-making via a strengthened federal government which would manage the country in spite of what the people might want. Think of all the things going on in this country you don’t like – pretty much if you can name the abuse of power, it was an abuse which was imposed on us, via a judge or a bureaucrat, who took no notice of what the people might want…even if the people had clearly stated their desires at the voting booth. It is no real surprise that elements of the bureaucracy are trying to annul an election…it is just a culmination of what has been going on for a century. That is, it is merely the logical end to a government which decided, not too long ago, that it can take your private property and hand it over to another private entity because that entity promised the government more money. A bureaucracy which can get away with things like that is not likely to think that anything is out of bounds for it.

What we need to save freedom in this nation isn’t more laws or more effective expositions of Constitutional theory – what is needed is merely that the government obey the law, and submit to the will of the people in the creation of laws. Sure, the people might come up with some bone-headed ideas from time to time; like Prohibition…but it should also be noted that the people fixed that particular mistake rather rapidly. Meanwhile, gigantic mistakes like the EPA are now pushing 50 years on with no end in sight…and even relatively smaller mistakes like federal funding for Planned Parenthood can’t be spiked no matter how many pro-life Republicans people send to Congress. The mistakes of the people may be fabulous, but they are usually short-lived…while the mistakes of the Elite seem to go on forever.

Let us endeavor to have the people make our own mistakes, rather than having mistakes imposed on them. Let we, the people rule – and we’ll likely rule most often much better than the elites have. After all, no genuinely fascist or communist or Nazi government really rose to full power via the people…Mussolini’s fascists seized power; communists in various nations directly seized power or infiltrated their way into total power; the Nazis got into office via a shabby political deal among the elites (in the last really free election of pre-Nazi Germany, Hitler’s goons only secured 33% of the vote). I’ll trust my fellow Americans, knowing that in the end, they’ll give me a fair deal.