To Democrats, we’re “deplorable.” To some on our own side, we’re “hacks.” Or, as a Twitter post said of some colleagues this morning: we are “literally raping conservatism” by supporting Donald Trump. We’ve all known these comments and worse over the past several months. But could it be, just possibly, that during the primaries some 13 million Republican voters affirmatively supported Donald Trump? Could it be, just possibly, that since then millions more have signed on either because they now affirmatively support Donald Trump or see him as the only realistic chance to stop Hillary Clinton?
Could it be, just possibly, that denouncing tens of millions of Americans who call themselves fellow conservatives or Republicans may not be the best strategy to convince them of your case, 35 days before an election that could put the country in the hands of the hardened left for another eight or more years? If supporters of Donald Trump—either because they positively support his agenda or simply want to stop Hillary—are regularly written off, denounced, and slandered for not “getting it,” what does it say about the failures of those who have tried to teach or convince that voting and thinking public?
Peggy Noonan was right, people are hesitant and reticent to voice their support for Donald Trump because they fear being “categorized, judged, thought stupid—racist, sexist, Islamophobic, you name it. When most of them know, actually, that they’re not.” An earlier version of this might have been “poor, uneducated and easy to command.”
But whether the GOP nominee for president represents “the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory,” as William F. Buckley, JR. once said he’d rather be governed by (rather than the Harvard faculty directory), or an increasing number of scholars and writers, there is all the justification in the world for conservatives, Republicans, Independents, and disaffected Democrats to support their one and last chance to stop an experiment in leftism that will rival in power and duration the New Deal and the Great Society. There should be no apology for this, there should be no embarrassment about it. It is time to save a country through politics and this is the shot.
The most interesting thing about the divisions over the Trump candidacy within the conservative movement and Republican party has been the turning of the political into the personal and the acceptance of reductio ad hitlerums (or mussolinums)—labels, epithets, and rhetorical devices conservative writers and speakers have long-resented when leftists used them against conservatives. Now, it’s not just Scandinavian policies we have to worry about from the left, it’s ideological Stockholm syndrome within our own house.
The fights will go on, but as November 8 approaches, maybe we can plea for a 30-day cease-fire, a calming of the internal firing squad. Whether a potential Trump presidency is staffed by a combination of Straussians, neo-conservatives, paleo-conservatives, or people who’s names are only printed in the telephone directories, can we not see any or all of that as preferable to a hardened administration staffed by a renewed and inveterate ethic of appeasement, left-wing court appointments, acid, amnesty, and abortion?
To many, the candidate may be imperfect—welcome to politics, welcome to human nature. Still, there is a movement that supersedes him and it is committed to saving the country. Love the candidate, distrust the candidate, loathe the candidate, the personal is not political and the political effort to stop the left should not be made personal. Not by our side, not right now.