Why I Can’t Support Trump, the GOP, or Conservatism, Inc. Anymore

That the “woke” are anything but awake is a fact that needs no underscoring for readers of this website. Nor do American Greatness readers need to be reminded that leftism generally, being a function of self-delusion, is essentially a matrix.

What readers might not grasp so easily is that many people on the Right—or at least the present generation of those who self-identify with the Right—are trapped in a matrix of their own. 

Furthermore, they’ve been brainwashed by Conservatism, Inc. and  the coalition of the GOP and Big Conservative (“the Big Con”) media, into this state. 

Rumor has it that Donald Trump wants to run for president again in 2024. Polling shows not only that no other prospective GOP presidential candidate comes remotely close to enjoying the popularity among the base that Trump continues to garner but that Trump and Republicans, according to current polling, would smash their Democratic counterparts if the elections were held today.

While it is impossible for any honest observer to take issue with the proposition that Biden and his party are indeed every bit the catastrophe that over two-thirds of the American public now recognize them to be, it certainty does not follow from this axiom that the Republicans, to say nothing of Trump, will be a good replacement.

When Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter, he famously defied Americans to ask themselves one simple question: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? The question, being manifestly rhetorical, spoke for itself and Reagan cruised effortlessly into the White House. 

Ever since, Republican politicians and conservative media personalities have borrowed Reagan’s line on the eve of an election, particularly when they sought to regain power. 

There is a reason—an obvious reason—why they didn’t want anyone to ask themselves this question during the election of 2020: Americans were most emphatically not better off in 2020 than they were in 2016. Not by a long shot. 

A Useless Party At Best

In fact, the country was categorically worse off in 2020, at the end of Trump’s term, than it had been in who knows how long. 

Republicans controlled the presidency and the Senate. A majority of Supreme Court justices were Republican appointees, as were hundreds of justices throughout the federal judiciary that Trump and the GOP were in the process of restructuring. The majority of gubernatorial offices were also in Republican hands.

Yet government at the federal and state levels continued to grow in size and scope, and the culture, at least as far as its main institutions were concerned, continued to move with ever-increasing speed toward embodying in full the very woke leftist vision against which GOP politicians and conservative media personalities insist Americans must “fight,” and fight by—what else?—voting Republican.

In 2020, though, this inconsistency between the talk and the walk should have been recognized for the glaring, unbridgeable chasm that it has always been. From the events of 2020 straight through to the present, it is no longer possible for even the widest of wide-eyed optimists to genuinely deny that the Republican Party is, at best, useless. At worst, it is a racket, a looting operation, a con job foisted upon roughly half of the voting population and made that much more seductive by its apologists in Big Conservative media.   

In 2020 opportunistic politicians, bureaucrats, and media propagandists who have been the self-sworn enemies of the Right since forever were permitted to exploit the emergence of a wildly overblown cold virus as a pretext for advancing their own material, professional, and partisan interests. In this, Conservatism, Inc.—along with the GOP and Big Conservative media—remain every bit as responsible for perpetuating the COVID narrative as those who concocted it. As a result, they must assume responsibility for the incalculable damage that has been visited upon countless legions of human beings not just at home, but also abroad. 

We should remember, too, that it was under Trump’s watch that this happened. We must never forget that all American citizens, for the first time in the history of their country, were . . . interned. This is not hyperbole. “Internment,” in fact, is a more accurate term than “lockdown,” and that much more accurate than the term “quarantine.” Tens of millions of American employees found themselves out of work overnight, while a million small business owners were coerced into kissing away the blood, sweat, and tears that they invested into making their dreams a reality. 

Schools and houses of worship were forced to close their doors. The elderly and sick were denied visitors, and citizens were instructed to essentially remain in their homes as much as possible, and when they did have to venture out, they were commanded to cover half of their faces behind masks and to avoid all physical contact with other human beings. 

Career bureaucrat Anthony Fauci, who had been in government for nearly half a century but who had (mercifully) remained relatively unknown to the public, became a household name thanks to Trump. During his campaign in 2016, Trump would regularly (and rightly) blast George W. Bush for naming John Roberts to the Supreme Court. “Because of Bush,” Trump would say, “we’ve got John Roberts.” Well, there is certainly a sense in which it is undeniably true that because of Trump, we’ve still got Anthony Fauci—who has been immeasurably worse for the country over the span of the last 20 months than Roberts could be in a lifetime. 

Trump, in effect, along with his fellow Republicans and the scribblers and stuttering heads in the Big Con media, turned COVID policy over to Fauci. They have not only studiously avoided eviscerating Fauci with the endless criticism he so richly deserves (to say nothing of taking action to have him removed from his position as the highest paid of our country’s four million federal employees); a fair number of Republicans and representatives of Conservative, Inc. have facilitated the cult of personality that has come to surround Fauci. 

The indefinite and unprecedented suspension of Americans’ constitutional liberties Fauci prescribed under the pretext of combatting COVID has proven to be catastrophic in all possible ways. We’ll be dealing with the legacy of Fauci for a long time to come—thanks in no small part to the complicity of Conservatism, Inc., Trump, the GOP, and the Big Con media. 

Behind the Eight Ball

Then, the law-and-order candidate of 2016, along with the rest of his party presided over hundreds of orgies of violence in the name of Black Lives Matter that would plague hundreds of American cities and leave in their wake not only billions of dollars in damages, but the trauma, injury, and, yes, deaths of innocents. 

The self-styled members of #TheResistance acted with sheer abandon as they tore down monuments; set aflame the historic St. John’s Church, just a short walk’s distance from the White House; and tried to besiege the White House itself. Yet there were no cries from the usual suspects of “insurrection” and “domestic terrorism” then. Punks and thugs were allowed to carve out for themselves “autonomous zones” as they held the residents of cities like Portland and Seattle hostage, attacked law enforcement officers, and vandalized and torched federal buildings (again, somehow none of this constituted “insurrection,” “terrorism,” and “attacks against Our Democracy™”). 

Scores of innocent people—not heavily guarded politicians like at the Capitol building, but civilians who were only trying to get on with their lives after having had them radically disrupted by their government during the COVID internment—were made to suffer still more.

The crime rate in our cities continues to soar.

In November 2020, Joe Biden was declared president-elect under various circumstances that, to any reasonable person and to a good number of those who have impartially analyzed the data, render the result—to put it mildly—suspect. That Trump and his party hadn’t been vigorously, meticulously planning from the outset of his first term to mitigate the machinations of their enemies next time around reveals that they were, inexcusably and unaccountably, behind the eight ball.

The Big Tech titans became and continue to become more censorious than ever. Trump and the GOP have done nothing about it but whine. Actually, it’s been worse than that: The theatrical congressional hearings and Trump’s blustering tweets—bluffs that Jack Dorsey and his ilk didn’t hesitate to call by banning Trump from their platforms—only revealed for all of the world to see that the president and his party were paper tigers.

Trump specifically proved incapable of handling his friends and enemies—who at an alarming rate revealed themselves to be one and the same. 

Oh, and cancel culture became a real thing.

What’s Different in 2024?

Let’s face it, the Trump presidency ended in disaster. 

It ended in humiliation. 

As I write this, American citizens who were galvanized by Trump and others into protesting the certification of the 2020 presidential election remain detained under deplorable conditions for the breach of the Capitol building on January 6. 

And yet nothing is done for them. Despite being labeled “insurrectionists” by dishonest partisan hacks, these same Americans are responsible for nothing like the violence perpetrated by the hordes of thugs terrorizing cities during the summer of 2020 (and, more recently, in some cities over the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict).  

No one who has voted Republican in the past has a reason to continue to do so today. 

Not a single GOP politician, including Trump, deserves the vote of a single citizen, or at least of those citizens who consider themselves conservative.

Not. One. And, yet, there are the usual objections.

“But Trump tried!” goes one version. “He had too much opposition, including from within his own party.”

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this is correct. Why expect things to change in 2024? What is Trump going to do then that would prevent 2020 from happening all over again? Until and unless voters get an answer to this question, they have no reason to think that a second Trump term won’t result in yet another unprecedented kind of disaster.

But voters will not get an answer to this question, and not just because they can’t be bothered to ask it. Voters will not get an answer to this question because the answer is that neither Trump nor the Republicans can or will do a damn thing differently in a second Trump term.

Rallies will be held, contributions to the coffers of the GOP and the Trump campaign will be made, and those in the Big Con media will read breathlessly from the same script about the need for patriots to “fight” this “war” for the heart and soul of America by . . . voting Republican.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

The rhetoric will serve the same purposes that it has always served: ratings, profits, and votes. Meanwhile, we consumers of these promises witness our blood pressure, heart rates, and levels of anxiety soar through the roof. This is a good deal for those whose idea of “fighting” the existential “war” they insist we’re in consists in bitching and moaning over the Left’s double standards and ever-proliferating list of outrages. This is not, however, such a good deal for the millions of Americans who have been manipulated into deploying their resources toward the end of supporting Republicans who, in turn, hoodwink us into thinking they will rescue America from the predations of the Left. 

“But the most draconian of COVID restrictions, like the vast majority of the riots of 2020, occurred within Democratic-controlled states and cities,” goes another objection. “It is Democrats, not Trump or Republicans, who must assume responsibility for it all.”

It is manifestly true that matters have been worse in Democratic strongholds, but when Republicans are courting Americans, both directly and via their proxies in the Big Con media, to elect them for positions in the federal government, I don’t recall them qualifying their pitches with the warning that if voters happen to live within Democratic-controlled cities or states and their fundamental rights are violated, then they can expect no help from Republicans.

Quite the contrary: Trump, don’t forget, campaigned on restoring law and order. 

The rhetoric of “states’ rights” is only and ever espoused by politicians when it serves as a device to conceal their unwillingness to take action. At any rate, no state has the right to violate, or permit the violation of, their residents’ rights to life, liberty, and property—as governors, mayors, and “social justice” rioters have been blatantly and systematically doing by violating the rights of Americans living within their jurisdictions all throughout 2020 and up until the present moment. 

Republicans have done nothing. Nor has anyone in the Big Con media made any attempts to galvanize its audience. Instead it’s just the same tireless whining.

“But Trump did do some very good things!” goes yet another commonplace counterargument. “The economy was roaring, America was energy-independent, Trump was talking about our porous borders and the need for a wall, etc.” 

Trump did indeed do some good things, but this line of objection at once both misses and underscores the case against attempting to do the same thing again in 2024. 

The response to COVID was simply totalitarian. It affected everyone—imminently, intimately, and adversely. All of the citizens of America, for the first time in our history, were interned. The damage has proven to be immeasurable.

So whatever gains Trump made in his first three years in office he tossed away when he presided over the COVID Internment. 

Second, that more conservatives don’t see this, that this needs to be spelled out, is itself a function of the very problem that I’m here identifying. Politics as usual went out the window in 2020. The self-styled “fighters” for the Constitution, for liberty, had their moment—and they squandered it. Not only did they not fight to prevent the comprehensive violation of all that they have always claimed to cherish, they facilitated it. 

Should not this be obvious? What kind of case can the Republicans really make for themselves going forward after all that they permitted to occur under their watch in 2020?  

Never Again

If Trump returns to the White House in 2024, and the Republicans regain power, this will be a rallying call for the Left as it was when Trump was elected in 2016 and as it continued to be throughout Trump’s administration. The zealotry of #TheResistance succeeded in defeating Trump and his party. There can be no doubt that, had COVID happened in, say, Hillary Clinton’s final year in office, we would’ve had a very different 2020—Democrats would’ve wanted to get reelected. 

To those who will doubtless object that my case against Trump in 2024 and what’s become of the conservative movement is defeatist and that I am an appeaser of the Left, I don’t know what else to say. My entire point is that the defeatism and appeasement of the GOP and Conservatism, Inc. is what brought us here. Those of us who have supported them throughout the years should at long last abandon that support.

How many disappointments, betrayals, and failed promises do people need to endure before they say, “Never again?” 

NeverTrump? Not exactly. I voted for him twice, and defended him vigorously when he was unfairly attacked. Now, though, I’m saying: Never again.

And ditto when it comes to supporting the GOP and Conservatism, Inc.

Never again.

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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.

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