Why Trump (and the GOP) Must Do Better

Recently, I wrote at American Greatness about the need for President Trump to up his game. That article elicited some thought-provoking responses. Before offering my counter-responses, and for the benefit of new readers, I will summarize both my initial position as well as the criticisms directed at it. I will also take this occasion to qualify a matter or two.

In this unprecedented year, which not coincidentally is an election year, there is only one issue on which the president and the Republicans need to be focused: the Left’s intensified attack on America. .

In 2020, this has been a two-pronged attack: the internment of America under the pretext of combating a cold virus and violence in the streets under the pretext of combating “systemic racism” and “police brutality.” 

To be unequivocally clear: Trump and the Republicans (are the latter even still around?) need to clear all other items off of their desks—no talk of rebuilding the nation’s “infrastructure,” China, Russia, Middle Eastern conflicts, or, God help them (and us!), “DACA”—and concentrate on restoring normalcy to America.

They should end, or at least labor tirelessly to convince the rest of us that they are serious about ending, both the internment and the barbarism that has besieged cities throughout the country. 

Threatening tweets by Trump, or tweets from other members of Congress, like Ted Cruz, imploring Americans to “fight back” or demanding an “end” to the madness only reinforce the impression of weakness on the part of the president and his party while having the inverse effect of reinforcing another impression—the sense that all of the strength resides in the Left.

While I suggested that Trump could invoke the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause to prevent governors from arbitrarily crushing the residents of their states and the Insurrection Act to stop the domestic terrorism in America’s streets, I should add that these are just two prescriptions that come to mind. Doubtless there are more, and probably less dramatic, courses of action that the president could take either instead of, or in addition to, these suggestions.

The point is, regardless of what he does or can do, Trump must act and act now, lest his supporters suspect they’ve been conned. Present circumstances are untenable. 

The following are some of the criticisms I received:

1)  “Why should Trump alone be held responsible for acting? After all, with much of his own party against him, he’s virtually standing by himself.”

The author of The Art of the Deal promised to make America great again. He never added the qualifier that he would restore the country’s greatness only if Republicans and Democrats liked him. 

It should be clear that this is in no way intended as a justification for the Republicans’ dishonesty and cowardice. They, too, must be held to account. Rather, my point is simply that it is Trump who made history precisely because it is Trump who styled himself “the outsider,” the businessman, who would shake up the Swamp of D.C. and reverse America’s misfortunes. 

If Trump deserves no blame for the record loss of jobs (and the astronomical rise of all other misery indicia that accompanies unemployment) because of the obstructionism of an establishment that hates him in 2020, then why re-elect him when this same establishment, presumably, will continue to hate—and, thus, obstruct—him in 2021?

2) “But Trump isn’t acting now so that America can get a taste of what life will be like under Democratic Party rule.”

Ah. So let’s get this straight: Trump’s strategy is to let Americans see just how hellish life has become in 2020 under Republican control so that they can see how even more hellish it will be under Democratic control? Silly. 

3) “The last criticism is unfair, for we have a federalist government, and it is in largely Democratic-run states where the internment and the mayhem prevail most powerfully. The president and the Republicans in the Senate, given the constraints of federalism, can’t really do anything to stop the destruction of the quality of life for the residents of those states.”

Think about this for a moment: If, let’s just say for argument’s sake, it really is respect for federalism (it’s not, but let’s just that it is) that prevents the president and the GOP Senate from intervening to stop the madness that is transpiring in blue areas, then, assuming that Trump and the Republicans aren’t planning on abolishing federalism in 2021, won’t federalism prevent them from intervening to stop the madness in these same areas come his second term?

Since (at least in name) ours promises to remain a federalist system of government next year, then, by implication, Trump will be just as incapable of lifting a finger to stop the destruction of much of the country then as he and his supporters claim he is now.

So, how can he promise to restore law, order, and normalcy to America upon his reelection if he can’t do it now because of federalism? 

In other words, why exactly should we vote for him if America promises to continue along this same disastrous track upon which it embarked during the Trump era—the track that it is on now, nearly four years after he was elected and Republicans took control the Senate?

There are two additional reasons why this line of defense is self-defeating at best and, at worst, patently offensive to Trump’s supporters: 

First, Trump became and wants to continue to be, the president of the United States—not just the red states. 

That the scores of American cities burning and the states suffering the most economic (and other) devastation due to the oppressive restrictions of power-hungry governors tend to be Democratic havens, ultimately, is neither here nor there. These remain (in name, at any rate) American cities and states. 

The president’s dismissive attitude toward the chaos engulfing these cities reflects even worse upon his administration than the fact that all of this chaos is happening in Trump’s America.

Second, a significant minority of Trump voters live in those blue states now under siege. Beyond feeling demoralized, wouldn’t they be at least somewhat justified in feeling betrayed by the president and the Republicans for whom they voted? Why should they re-elect them, given that, by virtue of their residence in Democratic states, they are going to be expected to endure whatever fate the Democrats visit upon them in the name of . . . “federalism?”

Federalism, “states’ rights”—these are the cards that Republicans play to avoid weighing in on controversial issues and risking their own asses. At any rate, the Constitution does not authorize state governments to violate the individual rights of citizens. Unconstitutional legislation and orders are not binding, and officeholders who have pledged oaths to the Constitution do not have the authority to allow vermin to run amok in the streets terrorizing the law-abiding residents of their states. 

As I’ve said before, I will vote once more for Trump. While holding my breath, I’ll even vote for the Republicans again. Polls taken more than three months before the election showing a wide lead for Joe Biden over Trump are every bit as laughable as their counterparts from 2016, which showed the same for Hillary Clinton. Trump, I’m confident, not only will be reelected; he will be reelected decisively. 

Connect the dots: Since the COVID-19 (Destroy Trump) internment began in March, gun sales began to set records. But it wasn’t until the month of June—when Black Lives Matter and Antifa guttersnipes were given the order by their paymasters and enablers to launch their reign of terror—that gun sales reached an all-time high. Many of these gun purchasers were first-time buyers. Among this group includes liberals who were chagrined to discover that buying a gun isn’t as easy as their one-time fellow partisans led them to believe.

The residents of these tumultuous blue cities are leaving them in droves.

Such is the divisiveness in the country that an ever-increasing number of people, particularly those who lean right, are talking about an imminent civil war. At least one poll discloses that a larger number of Americans than ever before (about one-third) is convinced that this is our fate. 

Tucker Carlson, a relatively recent addition to the prime time Fox News lineup, achieved the highest ratings in cable news history when he stood virtually alone among his peers in both calling out the BLM mob for its terrorism and the president and the GOP for not addressing it. 

A recent poll just confirmed what many of us have long known: Given the hostility, the violence to which his supporters have been subjected since Trump’s political fortunes began to rise back in 2016, it’s wholly unsurprising to learn that about two-thirds of Americans admitted to being fearful about revealing their political beliefs.

The only way that Biden will win in November is if, somehow, his comrades manage to steal the election. And if that happens, then I will hope and pray that enough “deplorables,” enough patriots, will finally reach the tipping point when they’ll be ready to have another kind of conversation amongst themselves altogether. 

But until such time, those of us who have been Trump supporters need to be honest and hold his feet to the fire: The president and the Republicans must do better.  

About 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.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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