The political Right has always tolerated more intellectual variety than the Left ever will. It is one of our greatest strategic strengths but it’s also a tactical weakness. Unlike the Left—which will compromise principles and even reality to come together and win a fight—we actually adhere to our beliefs and refuse to compromise them for political expediency. This has become painfully and dangerously apparent in “the Age of Trump.”
Trump may be understood as simply an indicator of the schism and a representation of the quickening of a revolt that has been brewing for more than a decade. It’s the establishment versus the base. The self-anointed elites who make up and support the establishment have been perfectly willing to pander to the proles when campaigning and then return to their “go along, get along” ways once in power.
That was the plan in 2016 until The Donald showed up and called them out on their game. They never delivered on any of the things that mattered to the regular folks, normal conservative Americans, NormCons. Trump stood athwart the rubble of the establishment’s broken promises and yelled, “Screw these guys!”
The first Trump supporter I met was my wife’s Mom and she said the one thing that made her back him was “He Fights.” I told her sure, but there was zero chance he could get elected. She said he could and he would stand up against the weak-kneed establishment that talked a good game but always caved to the Democrats and the Left.
The NeverTrump wing decided their principles, which they have never managed to actually put into practice, could not withstand the touch of a vulgarian like Trump. So they abandoned ship. They were perfectly willing to let Hillary Clinton appoint three or more Supreme Court justices. They had no problem allowing Clinton to cement and build upon eight years of Barack Obama’s destructive leadership.
David French of National Review was a bannerman of the Never Trump faction who even flirted with running against Trump in the 2016 election. He maintains that the principles of the establishment are vital, even though they can never seem to find someone to fight and get them implemented.
In an interview with Vox (which should tell you something significant about French’s judgment), he rationalizes the NeverTrump mentality this way:
The truth is that Republicans failed. At every stage it was, “Somebody’s going to do this for us,” and at no stage was it, “We’re going to circle the wagons around principles, stand up for what we’ve been telling Republicans we believe in for the last quarter century-plus, and defend these Republican principles because they’re right and because they’re true.”
The establishment’s answer was to undermine the guy they agreed with on 80 percent of policy to maintain their perfect losing record of delivering on none of their promises. And the base remembers every single one. Even with a Republican president and control of both houses of Congress, the establishment still dragged its feet and failed to come through.
Repeal ObamaCare? Nope.
Border security? Nope.
Stop federal funding for abortions? Nope.
The one big thing they did manage was tax cuts, but notice the main push for overhauling the tax code came from big business and establishment donors, not the base. Don’t think NormCons didn’t notice that, either. Trump on the other hand was busy delivering for voters usually over the squealing objections of the elites.
Kill ISIS? Yep.
Kill the Iran deal? Yep.
Leave the Paris climate accords? Yep.
Move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Yep.
Shut down government to build the wall? You’re damn right.
Trump did enough that at the end of his first year, David French’s boss at National Review, Rich Lowry, even penned a piece saying “Give Trump credit where it’s due.”
But what of the folks who propelled Trump? Are they principled? When I suggested they represent principled populism, here is how Tom Nichols, a NeverTrumper and author of The Death of Expertise, chose to respond:
Populism, by its nature, rejects principles. It is based in emotion, not reason, and in selfishness dressed as community. Populism is the opposite of small-r republicanism, which is why our system of government was designed to avoid it. https://t.co/b2lbHzelOW
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) January 8, 2019
That is about as uncharitable a definition as you could offer. It’s purposely insulting to people who rightly believe, as the definition of populism states, they represent “a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”
Now one of these self-appointed elites feels entitled to claim a large cohort of Americans fail to have principles at all and act purely on emotion. But that’s the opposite of the truth. We NormCons have a deeply rooted set of principles that we have seen abandoned by the elite in their pursuit and maintenance of personal power. They are the founding principles of this county and the “FredoCons,” as my friend and Militant NormCon commander Kurt Schlichter named them, refuse actually to fight to defend them.
So we broke away.
Now our supposed moral and intellectual betters align themselves with the Left to lecture us that standing up for basic truths in true conservative fashion makes us racists, xenophobes, and dangerous to the republic. Nonsense. But we are dangerous to the establishment. We’ve shown that if all you have is Democrat lite, you do not and will not represent us.
Truth is, we support the same things the establishment claims to support, but we’re not willing to kowtow to the Left when they start smearing. And the NeverTrump and anti-Trump factions have decided that makes us unworthy to wear the mantle of “conservatism.” The problem is they are fixated on Trump and unable to see the true battle.
The Left is united in their mission fundamentally to transform this country and we either fight them and win, or follow the FredoCons and simply try, and fail, to slow the decline. Right now, Trump has the banner. By any reasonable standard, putting two solid constitutionalists on to the Supreme Court justifies the votes of all of us who supported him.
But this isn’t about Trump. It’s about who will stand up for Normal America. And that doesn’t mean exclusively White America or Christian America; it means being blind to color, sex, or religion. It means all men and women are created equal and should be free to pursue happiness without state control. There is no barrier to entry except refusal to adhere to the belief that you are free to achieve all you can, are personally responsible for your success or failure, and believe the state has no business telling you how to think or act.
The failure of the establishment to deliver any principled protection of those things caused the revolt of the NormCons. Now the NeverTrump crowd is virtually indistinguishable from #TheResistance. The failed Weekly Standard, rebranded as The Bulwark, is now funded by a left-wing billionaire and chartered to attack the NormCons.
The question is how do we reconcile this to get back to fighting the Left for the soul of the country. The answer is not going to be a compromise from this side on actually fighting. We trusted the establishment and the legacy conservative media before and they caved at every opportunity. It’s going to take an end to the Ivory Tower smarty pants types hearing someone say “The peasants are revolting” and replying “They certainly are.”
The Left has gone fully certifiable over Trump. They want blood, and not just his. We on the Right have to figure out how to coexist or we will get picked off one by one, and the establishment types will simply be the crocodile’s last snacks. They need to accept the NormCons as a principled force to be reckoned with that will show up to vote.
It’s join-or-die time and we all better be prepared to fight.