Liberty Expose: The Right's Needless Debate
It perplexes me how so many on the right seem keen on reliving the nightmare that was the election of 2016, but for reasons unbeknown to me, many do. Every so often since the inauguration of Donald Trump, some of the rabid pro-Trump followers want to start a fight because those of the so-called Never Trump movement. I am sure the motivations for this vary, but I have given up attempting to understand why.
I would like to elaborate on what I mean by “rabidly-pro Trumpers.” I don’t mean the people whom voted for Mr. Trump because they believed him to be the better alternative in an unfavorable situation. If that’s their moral calculus, then so be it. I certainly do not mean those who voted for the President because his views and rhetoric appealed (and appeal) to them. If that is what they like, then that is what they like. All I ask is for civic discussion. What I mean by rabidly pro-Trump is those who distribute insults to those who criticize the President.
Those who pay attention to the American right will probably know that there has been a brutal debate surrounding the nature of conservatism. All of this has been brought about by the rise of Donald Trump, who, to put it lightly, does not meet the traditional standard of a modern conservative. Or Republican. Or Libertarian for that matter. I am not going to repeat the entirety of the debate; I don’t find joy in reliving the election. Apparently, there are those who do, and the debate has continued to degrade to a repugnant game of Freudianism and crude insults.
There have been many tepid and flawed attempts to psychoanalyze those whom were collectively labeled as Never Trump. In a column titled “Why Conservatives Still Attack Trump” (hint, conservatives believe public officials should be scrutinized), Dennis Prager attempted to psychoanalyze those with whom he disagrees.
The column written by Mr. Prager sadly dissolves into many weak theories that have accurately been referred to as an “effort to affirm what a talk radio audience wants to hear.” I give credit where credit is due: Mr. Prager at least wishes to have a discussion, even on a flawed predicate. The same cannot be said for others. For a recent example, let us look to John Nolte.
John Nolte, a former Breitbart contributor whom now writes for the Daily Wire (his Twitter name is “CNN is ISIS and Hitler), has referred to Jonah Goldberg of National Review as a “coward” for a position Goldberg took on an issue pertaining to the Comey situation. (Was he coward when he criticized Barack Obama? Which every writer mentioned in this column has done?)
John Nolte is emblematic of the problems that plague contemporary politics in the age of social media. Instead of addressing the point of disagreement he had with whatever Jonah Goldberg was proposing, he retreated toward a position of puerile name-calling.
Never Trump was never a movement - it was a hashtag. There was no Never Trump party. There is no Never Trump ideology. There is no Never Trump leader. It was a loose term branded to those on the right whom abstained from the election for a variety of reasons - many of them being philosophical. The second Donald Trump won the presidency, the “movement” expired. Now, conservatives whom abstained from voting now judge the president on his job performance – which the same standard would have been applied if Hillary Clinton won, and was applied during the Obama administration.
I chose the term “nightmare” to describe the election for a reason – that’s because it was. Many readers, especially those whom lean towards the left, or whatever other position, will probably be unaware of the anguish that was choice 2016. Allow me to enlighten you. Imagine you believed in free trade, yet the Republican candidate embraced protectionism. Imagine if you believed in an American-lead world order, yet the Republican candidate was propagating abandoning (very flawed) allies and green lighting nuclear proliferation. Imagine believing in civic virtue, but, well, need I say more?
Those on the right whom were skeptical have not withheld criticism, nor have they withheld praise. When president Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, conservatives were jubilant. When the president ordered the attack on a Syrian air base following the war crime committed by the Assad regime, most conservatives believed the president was justified in his decision. When the president pops off on Twitter, he is criticized. When president begins another cycle of protectionist rhetoric, he is criticized. A pattern is developing here.
What one might notice is that many abstainers are attempting to not be partisan hacks. One does not need to be fluent in the oratories of Cicero to know that not being a partisan hack is a net positive for a republic. There is of course the occasional outlier to this rule; I can think of a foreign policy and military history writer I have enormous respect, overshadowing his writings on foreign affairs to focus on attacking the president. But those are outliers.
The solutions to the problems described in this column are simple: stop dwelling on the past, and do not take ideological disagreements as personal insults. President Trump is often criticized for resurrecting past issues for no reason whatsoever, and many of the general population fill obligated to do the same. If we eliminate the slogans, the ego, and the resentment, the right might have the unity so desperately desired. The right does need a serious debate regarding its future, but it is going about it the wrong way.