Vindicating ‘Scholars for Trump’

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 October 10, 2016|
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Scholars and Writers for America” is a group of some 135 intellectuals who endorse Donald Trump. To this statement of support, I was all too happy to add my own signature.

The usual suspects in the media all too predictably responded with perplexity, ridicule, and even dishonesty.

Given that I am a philosopher by trade, I was particularly amused by a posting at DailyNous.com, a forum for those in the field where,under the headline, “Why Are These Philosophers Voting for Trump?” a Mr. “Justin W.” wrote: “What has led these scholars to endorse this horror show of a human being?” The author then supplies us with an answer to his own question:  the NeverTrumpist’s standard litany of charges against Trump: “compulsive lying,” “ignorance,” “inability to communicate,” etc.

This line of attack is at once intellectually dishonest and morally unserious.

Trump is hardly a flawless candidate. He is boorish, yes, and has even been sophomoric at times. And Lord knows that the Republican presidential nominee isn’t the most articulate of politicians. Still, for at least three reasons, those of his detractors who accentuate Trump’s weaknesses are intellectually dishonest.

First, they invariably exaggerate Trump’s flaws: that Trump, being the inexperienced, unpolished, unscripted politician that he is, sometimes appears to contradict himself does not mean that he is a “compulsive liar,” a fake, or a clown.

Second, NeverTrumpists and the like focus solely on Trump’s shortcomings while entirely neglecting his undeniable strengths. After all, it’s not for nothing that Trump has been able to elicit a greater number of votes than any candidate in the history of GOP primary contests. Moreover, he did this while boosting Republican primary participation over 60% from its 2012 levels while demolishing 16 of the “best” candidates that the GOP had to offer.

In establishing a personal connection with millions, including the members of demographic groups traditionally considered outside of the orbit of the GOP’s reach, Trump has been able to do what no Republican since at least Reagan has achieved.

Third, NeverTrumpists would have us think that their candidates of choice don’t have their own share of vices. The only thing unusual about Trump is his style. To talk about him as if he’s this uniquely flawed candidate is intellectually dishonest.

But it also reflects a lack of moral maturity for anyone, to say nothing of a Republican, to refuse to vote for Trump (or any candidate) for the sorts of reasons that NeverTrumpists typically provide. Trump is temperamental, they tell us. He’s juvenile, arrogant, and undisciplined. Trump is crass.

Trump’s supporters will knock NeverTrumpists for getting more upset over what Trump has said than what Hillary Clinton has done. This commentary, though true as far as it goes, only goes so far. Even though Trump has no record as a politician, Clinton does and hers is bad. Indeed, it is very bad. Had Trump routinely “talked” about his desire to slaughter all Americans under four feet tall, say, or force all Americans over 60 years of age and within a certain income bracket to commit suicide, the decent person would indeed be justified in treating Trump’s talk as a non-negotiable on par with Clinton’s record.

But Trump, obviously, has said nothing like this. Meanwhile, Clinton’s record remains what it is.

Proof of the NeverTrumpist’s moral immaturity is not to be found in the fact that he’s as upset as he is over Trump’s talk. The proof is in the fact that he’s as upset as he is over the specific content of Trump’s talk.

The NeverTrumpist would prefer that Trump lose the presidency because he doesn’t want a president who knocked John McCain, Megyn Kelly, Rosie O’Donnell, or who once bragged in a lewd way about his sexual prowess with women who are not his wife.

This, at any rate, is what we have been led to believe. If it’s true, then the NeverTrumpist has a shallow understanding of politics..

Yet is it true? I suspect that it is not. Ultimately, most GOP NeverTrumpists oppose Trump for the same reason that I’ve supported him:

Trump is a game changer.

Admittedly, the Republican nominee is not any sort of conservative in the classical sense of that term. Nor is he a classical liberal, libertarian, or any other kind of right-winger. However, Trump has done two things that have, in effect, amounted to nothing more or less than a recalibration of the entire American political Establishment.

First, Trump has resoundingly repudiated the neoconservatism that has dominated the Republican Party for decades and that appears to have reached its zenith with the administration of George W. Bush. That NeverTrumpists are to a man proponents of this ideology is no coincidence.

When Bush assumed control of the presidency in 2000, his party controlled both chambers of Congress. By the time he left office eight years later, the Democrats had gained control, and they were about to achieve a supermajority in the Senate. Bush himself had a 30 percent approval rating.

Though it wasn’t the sole reason, the Iraq War had done incalculable damage to the GOP.

In repeatedly and unequivocally condemning both the war and President Bush, Trump couldn’t have made it clearer to the American voter that his Republican Party would not be the party of the Bushes.

This needed to be done and, conspicuously, Trump was the only one who tried to do it.

But Trump has done something else that’s at least as significant as this. Conservatives, of all people, have always known that for the politics of a society to change, its culture must first change. Well, Trump has taken a stake to the heart of our culture’s politically correct Zeitgeist by daring to challenge, among other things, aspects of its orthodoxy regarding immigration and national security policies.

Furthermore, inasmuch as Trump has remained on the offensive in spite of the relentlessness with which his enemies have attacked him, he has served as an inspiration to millions of Americans who may have otherwise remained silent about those things that, however politically incorrect, need to be spoken of for the sake of the country.

Not only have his nemeses in the power structures of both parties and the media been tireless in their efforts to destroy him, by any means necessary,hordes of thuggish racial agitators and other “anti-racist” Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have routinely crashed his rallies and visited violence upon his supporters.

Lies, intimidation, slander, violence—there is no weapon in their arsenal that Trump-haters have spared either Trump or his supporters.

Still, neither has been deterred and Trump has grown stronger.

Donald Trump has already won. If he is elected to the presidency, his impact on the collective moral imagination of the culture could be more substantial than it already has proven to be—regardless of whether his policies always, or even mostly, satisfy conservatives like me.

More so than anything else, like Brexit, a Trump victory will be a psychological victory for scores of Americans who, for the first time in a long time, have hope.

This is why I support Trump for President.

About the Author:

Jack Kerwick
Jack Kerwick earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. His areas of specialization are ethics and political philosophy, with a particular interest in classical conservatism. His work has appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications, and he recently authored, The American Offensive: Dispatches from the Front. Kerwick has been teaching philosophy for nearly 17 years at a variety of institutions, from Baylor to Temple, Penn State University, the College of New Jersey and elsewhere. His next book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism is pending publication. He is currently an instructor of philosophy at Rowan College at Burlington County.
  • QET

    Well said. It seems that our politics have become purely an aesthetic exercise. All of your reasoning, and Decius’ reasoning, is lost on people whose sole concern is whether or not a candidate “looks Presidential.”

  • Although I do believe that there are some NeverTrumps who truly are so shallow as to be more concerned about their treatment on the Washington cocktail circuit, I agree with Kerwick: they are against Trump for the same reasons I am for him. That means, in reality, that not only do they want Trump to fail, but they want his vision of “Making America Great Again” to fail. I explain here: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/08/nevertrumps_hoping_trump_fails_to_make_america_great_again.html

  • And How to Get It

    Hear! Hear! Outstanding! Excellent article, and never let the bastards get you down!

  • Party of Lincoln

    Let’s take these points, one by one:

    First, they invariably exaggerate Trump’s flaws: that Trump, being the inexperienced, unpolished, unscripted politician that he is, sometimes appears to contradict himself does not mean that he is a “compulsive liar,” a fake, or a clown.

    One can readily acknowledge that each of us is flawed, both in our private and public lives, while still acknowledging the serious flaws in Trump. Trump is, in fact, a compulsive liar. How do we know this? By enumerating his long train of lies. There isn’t enough space here to enumerate his lies over the decades or even over the last 15 months, but let’s just take a few whoppers. He lied about witnessing celebrations in New Jersey on 9/11. Just two days ago he claimed that he had a “fiduciary duty to his family and employees to pay no more tax than is legally required” — a blatantly false statement. The evidence is incontrovertible that he supported the Iraq War at the beginning of the war. He claims he never said that Muslims would be subject to profiling under his policies. He claims that he never claimed that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. He claims that the NFL expressed its dismay to Trump over the debate schedule, a claim that the NFL denies and which Trump never substantiated. I could go on and on.

    Whatever Trump’s virtues may be, and we will get that later, the charge that he is a compulsive (or pathological, take your pick) liar is true. His defenders even proudly claim that Trump’s wackier lies — such as Cruz’s dad possibly having something to do with the assassination of JFK — can’t and shouldn’t be believed.

    Second, NeverTrumpists and the like focus solely on Trump’s shortcomings while entirely neglecting his undeniable strengths.

    This is a fair criticism as far as it goes, but that one that can be said about any critic of any candidate. Trump supporters naturally “focus solely on Hillary’s shortcomings while entirely neglecting [her] undeniable strengths.” This is what happens during political campaigns and if one is shocked to learn this I suggest taking off the diapers. Among’s Trump’s undeniable virtues is his toughness, his ability to deliver a punch. For Trump’s supporters to whine that his critics can also deliver a punch is, to put it charitably, pathetic. If you can dish it, you should be able to take it. Whatever goes through Trump’s mind hour to hour, he admires toughness in his critics.

    Third, NeverTrumpists would have us think that their candidates of choice don’t have their own share of vices. The only thing unusual about Trump is his style. To talk about him as if he’s this uniquely flawed candidate is intellectually dishonest.

    NeverTrumpists have never claimed their candidates were free from “vices”, although they absolutely deny that their candidates have engaged in the kinds of vices Trump himself has admitted. To the best of my knowledge, neither Kasich nor, say, Cruz, has never been accused of raping his wife, dumping his wife after plastic surgery because he got ugly and he could no longer eff her, cheating on his first wife, pimping his second wife to Playboy or, famously now, seeking sex with a married women while his third wife was pregnant. Kasich and Cruz, and no doubt Rubio and Fiorina, have sinned in their lives but none of those four have ever once been alleged to exhibit the kind of “vices” that Trump is known to have exhibited.

    As for Trump’s “style”, concerns with Trump’s fitness for office go well beyond his Queens accent or his penchant for associating himself with beautiful women. If that were it, that he only has a funny outer borough accent and likes to be around glamorous women, most Republicans wouldn’t have a problem with him at all and we’d be on our way to victory. Most, actually all, Republicans want to see a Republican elected president and work with a Republican Congress to get things done that need to get done. But the qualms with Trump that you’ve heard from his conservative critics — which we won’t get into here — are born of substance on the issues and not just his “style”.

    It’s not in the least “uniquely dishonest” to see Trump as a deeply flawed — not just “flawed” but deeply flawed — candidate. How “deeply flawed” is a matter of debate, but one would be intellectually dishonest to suggest that Trump is just a flawed candidate, no more flawed than any other previous or current candidate for president. The man has serious problems of character and judgment that his supporters would be wise, and honest, to confess to.

    While it’s reasonable to reach the conclusion that Trump is the lesser of the two evils, it’s not reasonable to deny that Trump is a deeply flawed candidate, one who looks right now to lose in a landslide to Hillary, a candidate who herself is very deeply flawed and who any other Republican, including Cruz, would have crushed.

    When Hillary is sworn in on January 20, 2017 she can thank Donald Trump and his supporters for making her and Bill’s residency in the White House inevitable. We can thank “American Greatness” for its part, however small it may be, in the calamity that is about to fall upon us on November 8.

    • John Ash

      To be fair, I would say that Trump is a serial exaggerator and there is a difference. An exaggerator often fluffs the truth or twists it subconsciously. It is part of who they are, they don’t do it purposefully, it is simply in their nature. And most politicians fit this nature. Hillary, however, is both a serial exaggerator and a psychopathic liar. She does exaggerate but she knowingly lies to cover up her mistakes or poor ethical, or even criminal, behavior. Trump isn’t even a good liar, like Hillary. When forced to lie to save his own skin, he gets visibly uncomfortable. This was obvious at the debate when asked if he’d ever made an unwanted physical sexual contact. He ducked several times before being trapped into the only answer he had available, which was to lie and say “no”.

      This is clearly not intended as an endorsement or defense of either candidate.

      • Party of Lincoln

        Trump is both an exaggerator and a liar. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being either an exaggerator or liar, depending on the context of and service for his exaggerations and lies.

        For example, were he to have intelligence that Russia was planning a nuclear attack on New York City, each of us here would happily accept whatever exaggerations and lies he would peddle to generate the political support necessary to pre-empt that attack, whatever the form that may take.

        But the problem with Trump, well beyond his crude exaggerations and lies, is that his he is a creature of the administrative state who proposes big government solutions that leverage Republicans too far to the left in their negotiations with Democrats. Were Hillary to be elected potus, genuine Republican leaders like Paul Ryan would pull Hillary to the center instead of being pulled to the left by Trump and the Democrats. That Trump has convinced great patriots such as the readers of AM is one of the great but sad jokes of the early 21st century.

        I hate disappoint readers of “American Greatness”, but Trump will be defeated in a landslide and Trumpism will forever be discredited. The opportunity to have nominated an actual conservative Republican — and not someone who bankrolled the Clintons for 25 years and lavished praise on Bill and Hillary as well as expressing sympathy for Bill during the Lewinsky fallout — was within our grasp. Whether your favorite flavor of Republican was Cruz or Kasich or Rubio or Paul we had a good field of Republicans each of whom was a good man (and woman in the case of Fiorina) who would not have brought shame to the Party of Lincoln. As it is, we stand in shame and even those of us who oppose to this day Trump must accept our share of responsibility for the disgrace he has brought to our party.

        • John Ash

          Well, it’s all relative. Compared to Johnson, he’s obviously a liar, but I don’t think he’s conscious of it very often. Shite just rolls out of his mouth. He is a born braggart. That he does effortlessly. Still, Hillary is a classic psychopathic liar. Trump is a sociopath in that he doesn’t have the level of control and self-awareness that a psychopath has.

          Los Cuates Cubanos were too arrogant and narcissistic to cooperate and pick a leader for the two to run together to beat Trump. They deserved their fate. They both wanted to lead so badly that they forgot that part of leadership is sacrifice.

          Sadly, due to the inability to understand and truly respect the Constitution, all of the Republican candidates were either weak and mushy, or vocally wrong about important issues.

          • Party of Lincoln

            Agreed. Hillary and Donald are both serial, compulsive and possibly pathological liars. There is little, if anything, to be said in support of their character as human beings. Hillary tolerated sexual depravity in her husband, but Donald is sexually depraved himself.

  • BanBait

    So I guess that encouraging senior elected Democrats to perform post-natal abortions upon themselves is a no-no?

  • salsabob

    “…Had Trump routinely “talked” about his desire to slaughter all Americans under four feet tall, say, or force all Americans over 60 years of age and within a certain income bracket to commit suicide, the decent person would indeed be justified in treating Trump’s talk as a non-negotiable on par with Clinton’s record.

    But Trump, obviously, has said nothing like this. Meanwhile, Clinton’s record remains what it is.”

    Ah, I saw what you did there.

    I came here looking for any intellectual underpinning to the Trump phenomenon; your sophomoric slight-of-hand makes clear I need to look elsewhere.

    Essentially, the rest of your spew is Trump is change. So is burning down your house.