On closer inspection, it appears that NeverTrumpism is more than just a vanity built on elitism and status protection. It’s not unlike that choice between comfort and gut-check with My Generation, when our best and brightest came to its crossroads (Vietnam) and the best went one way while, sadly, too many of our brightest went the other. And stayed there.
Only a few days ago a faceless name, Publius Decius Mus, appeared on the national stage to detail how so many of conservatism’s putative brightest today, when staring down into the abyss as the passengers on Flight 93 did on 9-11, instead of rushing to change the course of the aircraft, they have chosen to peer over that precipitous ledge and imagine instead a much gentler glide path, a much softer landing, and a much better hope for a better tomorrow…
…in which they would still be as bright, shiny, bushy-tailed and as relevant as they are today.
Something more is at work here than mere self-serving ego and arrogance.
That said, I want to make this distinction now: many #NeverTrumpsters simply don’t like him, and never have, for a dozen separate reasons that require no greater explanation that they don’t like the way he looks or sounds. They don’t need to wrap themselves in beard-strolling platitudes. From the way Donald coifs his hair, boasts his conquests, calls people “loser” or “crooked” or “liar”, (even when they are) with many, this goes against the grain of generations of training in good manners and public decorum. I doubt if any American politician had said about Nikita Khrushchev in 1960 what Donald Trump said about Ted Cruz in 2016 that he could have gotten even 10% of the Greatest Generation’s vote. (You might consult Barry Goldwater, who said far less.) They were raised to reject that kind of talk. Ever since he appeared in the pages of Playboy in 1991, or in front of his Taj Mahal that same year large swaths of Americana saw him as the poster boy for the biblical Babylon, which every preacher in every dry county in Kentucky preached against at least five times a year. On top of that, my mother didn’t like him because 90% of all she knew about Trump she saw in the headlines on one of the tabloids at the check-out line at the A & P. And though retail was never a main business property of Trump’s, he still seemed to convey that sharpie “retail look” many people associated with a fast-talking New York haberdashers, a rag man who marked everything up 100%. Trump also carried (carries) a hint of P T Barnum, the showman, exemplified by his popular reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” Few people like flashy self-promoters in shark-skin suits.
Our own “conservative” talk radio morning program here in Richmond has run the soundtrack of a South Park episode highlighting the gallup pollster who ask households to make a moral equivalency between a “giant douche” and a “turd sandwich”; i.e, criminals are no worse than gaudy showmen. This is part of the rationalization of making that abyss look like a gentle slope. Hillary cannot commit any sin that this “conservative” station does not match with a morally equivalent sin by Trump…and always more loudly proclaiming his sins first.
This Fox News affiliate just can’t help themselves in mocking Trump and his business accomplishments, proving there is something deep in their collective psyches that causes them to find Trump more repugnant than Mrs Clinton, and somehow “their” futures more secure under her stewardship..
Still, as we move closer to election day, we’re seeing more and more of those Trump-haters mentioned above acknowledge in a variety of ways that they may have to bury those first impressions and accept the common sense logic that Publius Decius Mus analogized in his Flight 93 article. Only yesterday, Scott Adams, of “Dilbert” fame, essentially became a traitor to his economic class by saying that as a Have he could live with a Hillary presidency, but could understand why the far more numerous Have-Nots might not agree and elect Trump.
It seems PDM did less to persuade the common sense class about Trump as echo their survivalist reasoning.
The common sense of the average American citizen was way ahead of PDM, witness the historic support Jerry Falwell Jr threw behind Trump (over the genuinely evangelical Ted Cruz) during the primaries. Falwell’s reasons presaged PDM’s Flight 93 metaphor by saying the we have to save the country before we can begin to rescue our special issues. Some evangelicals have never forgiven Falwell for that, only many more have now reconsidered and will vote Trump anyway, since saving the American holy ground seems to be their only option in a political world that is becoming more and more hostile to religious freedom.
PDM was not asking people to like Trump, indeed, he magnified Trump’s shortcomings. But he was verifying their common sense, as a way to magnify the, let’s face it, psychological shortcomings of the intellectual holdouts, who, as I just said, have dreamed up a gentler-slope-in-their-minds taking them to 2024 when happy times will be here again.
Let’s face it, the fact that the common sense American has been out in front of this intellectual branch of conservatism about what’s really important to America is why they now find themselves on the couch. Their disdain for the people who in fact are the whole reason for the constitutional blueprint being written in the first place has been forced into the open now that the people have spoken so loudly.
So what is now exposed is class versus de classe, which moves us closer to the genesis of the NeverTrump Syndrome, for you see, not only are the people who first jumped on the Trump train looked down upon by NeverTrumpsters (a sacrilege to true conservatism), but Trump himself, a super-wealthy businessman, is also looked down upon because of the manner in which he made his wealth.
As the English of the last century, well actually, today if you think of “Downton Abbey” in modern terms, would have remarked, Trump is in “the trades”. In other words, he works for a living, which in the civilized realms of better society, is unseemly and lower class. What the deep thinkers of the pundit class do is not work, unless you consider exchanging world views at ” the Club”, work. Worse, Trump builds things, which is almost as bad as being in retail. No self-respecting member of privilege could ever allow his daughter to marry a man in Sales nor his son to a daughter of a general contractor
That Donald Trump evokes this kind of response disturbs me more than any other aspect of this election, for it does seem as a nation, we are hurtling backwards to once again developing a thirst for an aristocracy, if not an out-and-out king. And to put the “petite” back into the bourgeoisie. What have we done since the 1960s-70s, especially in higher education, to convince ourselves that an inside job that doesn’t involve ledgers and payrolls and moving dirt and steel, is a superior vocation? When did being a private businessman and entrepreneur, a risk-taker, become an epithet?
What are the circumstances that erstwhile writers (and most all the #NeverTrumpsters are) with no real experience other than hanging around other writers in the opinion business, and not even scholars at that, have been able to insinuate themselves into the political process as our national referees or gatekeepers? Who appointed them Heimdall? Did they learn to look down on the hoi polloi once they were ensconced in Washington, or did that journey begin in 5th grade, or under the tutelage of Dr Dukenfield at Colgate?
Since the very idea of this type of self-appointed status seems much too leftish and 60-ish for me, I can only conclude that modern conservatives are practicing their crafts using a template of leftwing design, or are tied culturally at the hip with them. Either way, they are much too comfortable with this down the nose disdain for their lessers.
Indeed, the bulk of #NeverTrumpsters are indistinguishable by education or class from their counterparts on the Left; well, higher- educated, some with legal education but virtually no genuine practical experience, and the same with their economics, MBA’s but with little time in business working on the inside. Their career tracks are remarkably similar, from grade school to college to networking their way into the circle of wizards. And in this campaign at least, and the subject is Trump, there is little to distinguish the tone of articles at Huffington Post, Think Progress, Vox, Salon, and the writings at the Federalist, RedState, Resurgent, National Review, and Weekly Standard.
What is unknown to me is how they chose to become conservatives in the first place? We’ve had this same conversation about Obama’s Christianity. The son of an atheist mother and a Muslim father, both communists, and raised in his early years by a Muslim in Indonesia, where and how did he have his Come-To-Jesus moment, since he claims to be a Christian? That event is film worthy, yet the biographies are silent.
As I alluded to at the very beginning, Baby Boomer Marxists never really had a come-to-Marx moment, either. They just went where their appetites took them, always taking door #2, and always refusing to turn around and go back because their vanities refused to allow them to admit they were wrong. Becoming leftists was almost an after-thought, but a very good paying one. Krauthammer is one of the few that I know who actually switched sides. David Horowitz another. They have stories to tell. Most don’t.
I was raised to be a conservative but was a liberal-not-of-left until 1974 when Mary McGrory wrote I had to be of the left or couldn’t be a liberal. So I quit. But my Come-to-the-People moment, my constitutional epiphany didn’t occur until I saw those Soviet professors cry when I read them the Declaration of Independence in 1991..
I have no idea when or how our more modern conservatives came to the altar of conservatism. As I’ve mentioned before, stealing from a Billy Graham comment about Jesus, it causes one to wonder, if people call themselves conservative, why they don’t at least mention “the people” from time to time?
What were the ingredients that caused Stephen Hayes to become a conservative? Just picking Stephen out of a random list of about 50, when I still watched Fox, he was one of my favorites. But Donald Trump has turned him into a mumbling, sniveling oaf, so I looked him up on Wiki and found out he’s younger than my baby son. (The beard fooled me.) Enough said.
It does seem many conservatives chose their path for reasons having little to do with conservatism. In fact, their career tracks mirror those of the Left. And clearly, they seem to share common attitudes with the Left in their genuine disdain for “the people”.
The Syndrome and its Prompt
When so many people of similar education, circumstance and status all seem to be pulled in the same direction, in the same way, each of them casting aside the same roadblocks their years of training had taught them to deploy, all evoked by the same person, it would be fair to say, they are all being moved by the same agent. And that my friends, is a syndrome.
There does seem to be something swirling around inside all these people that they cannot control that is so compelling that they will transmogrify clear logic, dilute facts, and go to the ends of the earth to draw almost fictional moral equivalences between fundamental good and evil in order to justify their repudiation of a single man.
And if all else fails, they will even claim some degree of clairvoyance to know what is in the hearts and minds of their enemies (both Donald Trump and his inbred, snot-eyed supporters), so that when Donald Trump says he plans to do something after he becomes president, they can claim with certainty that he won’t, or will change his mind, or cannot because it is not within his skill level to know how to do it in the first place.
“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd”- Voltaire
This singular insight, clairvoyance, is their last line of defense against Trump, and that is the greatest absurdity of all. Because I look for such things, it has always been their degree of certainty about Trump that earns them a place on the couch. Even if I didn’t like Trump, which in the beginning I didn’t (very much), I still would have defended him simply because of the absurd things people I at one time or another respected, said about him. I won’t bore you with links, but you can back-track here to Summer, 2015, and see all the arguments I’ve written outlining Trump’s qualifications in critical presidential areas, which none, and I mean none, of his detractors have any qualifications to judge.
So it is for NeverTrumpsters. Donald Trump is their existential prompt.
In real life, everyone reading this has “prompts” buried away from the past. A prompt is anything, a smell, a color, a word, or name, that causes a thing from your past to rush forward from the inner recesses of your mind about and be freshly remembered. Most Twitter hashtags are prompts. I mentioned several prompts above that many non-intellectuals feel about Trump but have overcome simply by using common sense.
Donald Trump clearly is modern conservatism’s prompt, proving it is not real conservatism at all.
Most Christians seem to have worked that out. Regular people of common sense all seem to have worked that out. Me, I looked to people who actually know the man, versus those who only read about him in the tabloids or saw clips of what CNN and other media were feeding them. Herman Cain and Ben Carson’s opinions matter more than Glenn Beck’s. So do Diamond and Silk, come to think of it.
Again, what is most interesting is that the “brightest” of that generation, mostly Gen X and Gen Y, with a few old horses thrown in, are the lone hold outs, and the only way they can sustain their arguments is to abandon their intellectual base, and all common sense, and go with what has been culturally engrained in them, things they probably first began learning in 5th grade.
“Vanity, all is vanity.” (Eccl 1:2)