“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.