It’s Not Idolatry to Call for Unity in the Fight

From some well-meaning patriots on the Right, there is a great resistance to accept Donald Trump, and an almost scrupulous religious impulse to qualify every positive statement about him with criticisms of his personality and character.

Some conservative intellectuals are lost in a moral revulsion for a man they have seen and heard talking about his well-known penchant for bedding of women. They imagine that if they had a colleague or relative like Trump they would never tolerate him. Others have moved on from the sexual transgressions to lamenting his love for hyperbole, bombast, and insults and decrying them to be forms of lying and, even, bullying. It is uncouth, they say, and they would never tolerate such behavior in their children, so tolerating it in the president is to brand yourself a hypocrite.

In an exchange with a friend last week, I was reminded that we cannot engage in idolatry.

Idolatry? Well, I do have that little bobblehead of The Donald at my bedside that I kiss goodnight after my prayers, but is that really idol worship?

Seriously, I have not built an altar to President Trump, nor will I be commissioning any stained glass windows of him and Melania. But I do not see any value or duty in continual criticism.

Many who cannot help but criticize the president are conservative writers and scholars who are alarmed at the prospect that the conservative movement is cracking up. They long for a return to a unity that never existed but for which they feel a warm nostalgia anyway. I’m only 46, but even I know that Reagan led a fractured Republican coalition with Buckleyites, religious conservatives, ex-liberal neoconservatives, libertarians obsessed with Ludwig von Mises, and all the liberal Ford and Bush country clubbing blue bloods.

Trump is a man with somewhat unusual political qualities and obvious flaws, but I see nothing in recent or distant history that makes his flaws so uncommon. And this modern obsession—especially among pious Christians—to analyze and critique and complain constantly about our standard bearer is historically unusual.

It’s really quite hard in history to find saintly leaders but easier to find great men with great appetites who also saved the nations they led. We see the great uniter of Europe, Charlemagne or the hero of Lepanto, Don John of Austria or maybe a Thomas Jefferson or Ulysses S. Grant. Each had glaring flaws, yet each was the man needed for the moment.

Charlemagne was a vicious man who decapitated 4500 Saxons in one day and whose own nieces fled his castle in of him upon the death of their father. Yet without him the classical world would have been lost.

Don John was a philanderer, but he led the greatest naval triumph in world history, saving Christianity from the final push by the Ottomans to conquer Europe. Jefferson was a slave owner who may even have had carried on an illicit affair with one of his slaves, but his political understanding and his writing defined America, and put into place the words that would ultimately stand as a “stumbling block to tyranny” everywhere. Grant was brash and coarse and did not have an especially successful presidency. But without him, would the Union have been preserved and restored?

In life, let alone in politics, am I obliged continually to point out the flaws in my brothers and allies? And in the heat of battle—a political battle, but a battle nonetheless—what good comes from gratuitous and repetitive criticism of our standard bearer? We had a selection process where many other men had their chance, but Donald Trump won. And now there is work to do running our government. There is a conservative campaign to rein in our bureaucracy and restore prosperity and strength to our nation. Trump is likely to appoint more judges to the federal court system than any president in our history in just his first term. What value comes from constantly deriding him as unworthy of that task when he has already proven with his selection of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court that he means to take the responsibility with the requisite seriousness and care? Why play into the hands of the Democrats?

I know that it is an exaggeration to call politics war, but the political losses that the right has experienced through politics over the last half century are as significant to cultural change as any war our nation has fought. To spend each day qualifying my support for President Trump by restating any of his weaknesses and flaws feels like soldiers on Omaha Beach discussing whether Eisenhower was cheating on his wife. Or the Greeks on the battlefield of Troy wondering if Agamemnon really should be sailing so many ships over one pretty girl. It’s such a waste of time and it comes at the wrong time. It weakens our side. it doesn’t make us more honest than they are. It makes us gullible. It divides.

The Left uses our scruples against us. They seek to divide us and conquer us. A cursory reading of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals shows this is part of their master plan and has been for decades. And they almost won an election in November that quite possibly would have been an insurmountable cultural loss for people who share our concern for liberty and morality. Instead, the Left are on the ropes and we have a chance to do some great things and turn the tide.

We will have another primary season again in three years. Maybe there will be cause for a Ted Cruz or a John Kasich or yet another Bush (is George P. ready yet?) to take on the president. Or maybe all of that will be pushed back until 2023. But whenever it comes,  we will have the chance to argue about Trump again. We will have the chance to change course if this one proves a failure.

Today, anyone who ever loved Ronald Reagan has but one choice and that is to stand united behind Donald Trump as he seeks to fulfill his campaign promises on behalf of the American people. I know many long for the charm of Reagan or the virtues in habit and of speech of many American statesmen of yore. And certainly, those desires are understandable. But it is more than possible that the bombast and hyperbole and refusal ever to back down—hell, even the insulting of his opponents—are exactly what we need to fight the juggernaut of the bureaucracy. To beat the Left, to counter their allies in the left wing media, maybe Trump is a good choice for this time; for this fight.

We are in a war for our culture and for our economy. I’m no sailor or soldier, but I’m fond of the guy fighting for my ideals. And while I won’t be making burnt offerings to his image, I also won’t waste my time on the field by criticizing him. His enemies are generally my enemies and they don’t need any help. For him to do what I need, I will have to give him my help and the first part of offering help in battle has never consisted of an “on the field” dressing down of the man leading the charge.

About Joseph Arlinghaus

Joseph Arlinghaus is 46 years old and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife Elsy, the younger three of their six children and a 110 pound Great Dane named Juno. Joe and Elsy are 1991 graduates (in Politics and English respectively) of the University of Dallas where their three oldest children are attending simultaneously in a conspiracy to bankrupt the family. Joe is the President of a large new pro-life research organization called the National Life Persuasion Project and a national pro-life election effort called Valor America Super PAC. His partnership with a political research firm called Evolving Strategies has resulted in the largest body of research data in existence on how voters respond to a variety of abortion related election messages. His 2016 election efforts on behalf of Donald Trump were focused on outreach to pro-life Hispanic voters and pro-life white blue-collar Democrats. Joe served as a consultant in 2015 to the Washington based Susan B. Anthony List. In December 2015 he was the first major pro-life leader to endorse Donald Trump for President and was one of the most vocal advocates of Donald Trump's credentials on the pro-life issue throughout the early caucuses and primaries.

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9 responses to “It’s Not Idolatry to Call for Unity in the Fight”

  1. The Pharisees obeyed the law perfectly, without love – over-obeying the Sabbath and tithing their mint and cumin. Yet they were sons of the devil.

    If you want the closest to a saint, look at Ron Paul. Romney suffered from avarice and pride, but with the wealth-gospel, he was loved. Ron Paul would have been for cutting government, and for a humble foreign policy (but Trump wants to win and exit, not police the world). But we needed someone “electable”. Glenn Beck seemed to discover the “constitution” for Ted Cruz since he derided Paul supporters in 2012.

    And we look at Trump’s old lecherous words, not at his current humility. His wife began his rally with the Lord’s prayer. He has said the favorite thing a supporter says to him are the 5 words “I am praying for you”.

    This might be a political Thomas Becket. King Henry wanted a lax archbishop of Canterbury, so picked a playboy. But when wearing his ecclesiastical robes, he wore a hair shirt beneath and called out the King’s abuses so eventually the King wanted to be rid of him and someone killed him.

    I think Trump has been humbled – he isn’t just a TV star, or real-estate mogul, now he has the fate of over 300 million people in his hands.

    But even more important, Trump is likely to stop the Abortion Holocaust. That should be far more important than some vulgar things he said 10 years ago.

  2. Remember–the lack of respect for constitutional strictures that Trump promotes sets a precedent if it isn’t checked. And that precedent will be willingly wielded by the next Democrat in the White House. It’s very myopic to gloss over Trump’s excesses just because he ostensibly espouses some conservative values. There’s no reason he can’t accomplish everything you want him to accomplish while also following the Constitution.

    • Save it for another day woman. You do nothing to help the good by beating that dead horse. if you are trying to weaken us or slow down the dismantling of the bureaucracy, then keep it up. If you just think truth demands your criticisms, I suggest that this is just old fashioned scrupulosity.

      • Thanks for the revelation that the rule of law and the American experiment are a dead horse. BTW, the Constitution is in no way synonymous with “bureaucracy,” unless you consider separation of powers and due process to be bureaucratic.

        And if you think overlooking or eliding egregious and unconstitutional missteps further “the good,” then you are a person for whom the ends justify the means. If that’s the case, then I understand how the rule of law is a dead horse. A benevolent dictator is probably much more to your liking. Not to the liking of The Founders, of course, but definitely to yours.

      • “Thanks for the revelation that the rule of law and the American experiment are a dead horse.”

        And you blame Trump for that? Your commentary is either misguided, naive or just plain dumb. The last eight years we have witnessed an unrelenting attack on the constitution, the rule of law and our culture under Democrats has descended into a barbaric free for all with Nero presiding.

    • Can you cite any examples of Trump not following the Constitution?

      And since you can’t, what on Earth are you going on about?

  3. Is this article by the same Joseph Arlinghaus who was accused of tax fraud by the IRS? Well, I guess NRO still has Conrad Black…

    Read more:
    After years of trying to collect employment taxes from Arlinghaus and at least two Houston private schools that he ran, the Justice Department’s tax division filed a lawsuit this summer describing Arlinghaus as a tax cheat who for years has avoided paying the Internal Revenue Service.

    The lawsuit said Arlinghaus and his institutions racked up thousands in taxes, penalties and interest. The IRS issued more than 40 levies, but collected nothing.