“This ‘Intellectual Defense’ Of Trump Is So Bad It’s Good”: To Support Trump, Conservatives Must Abandon Their Principles
Donald Trump and his candidacy are basically the living embodiment of liberals’ worst caricature of conservatism: bigoted, contemptuous, heartless, proudly stupid, apocalyptic, mean. Conservatives have had basically two reactions: recoil in horror or embrace the caricature.
Perhaps one of the saddest examples of the latest tendency comes from Mytheos Holt, a contributor to the online conservative magazine The Federalist, who penned a two-part “intellectual case for Trump.” It is… not good.
The first part is perhaps the oddest. After running us through his resume (“I am young, financially secure, and graduated from one of America’s elite liberal arts colleges” — good for you!), the author runs us through his OkCupid history, telling us about the time when he had long conversations with a young, white supremacist girl.
And the summation of the first part of the intellectual case for Trump is: White supremacists are people too! Many white supremacists believe their horrible views because they come from marginalized circumstances. And many of them are overreacting to the media elite’s disdain for traditional culture. And so (therefore?) we shouldn’t hold Trump’s white supremacist support against him.
First of all, isn’t it progressives who usually explain away extremist views with references to social circumstances, ignoring the power of ideas? And secondly — um, what?
The reason why many conservatives disdain Trump is not because white supremacists support him, per se, it’s because he positively welcomes and panders to their support. And in doing so, he is steering the GOP further down the path of being the party of white identity politics, which is both immoral and politically suicidal.
It’s true that whites who have seen their status downgraded by recent shifts — including globalization, the transition to a gig economy, lifestyle liberalism and, yes, cosmopolitanism — have been among the most ignored constituencies by either party. And yes, a healthy polity should speak to them. But one of the reasons it must is because otherwise they will turn to someone like Trump. That is, someone who will exploit their grievances for political gain and do absolutely nothing about them.
What’s the second part of the “intellectual case for Trump”? Well, it’s basically this: Trump is the right guy to win the culture war for the right, so long as conservatives accept defeat on the issues they’re fighting a culture war over.
I’m only being slightly unfair by representing Holt’s argument this way. The author launches into a long reprise of a famous National Review piece written by former Nixon speechwriter tut-tutting the “young fogies” on the right: 19 year olds Mormon-like in dress and even more uptight than the stereotype.
(One pictures the author at a D.C. bar, slurringly explaining to a young blonde frantically looking for a socially-acceptable exit that he’s a conservative but “not a young fogey, if you know what I mean.”)
If only conservatives give up their retrograde views about sex, they’ll be able to embrace Trump and use his amazing skills at working the media to win the culture war. First, how, exactly, are you going to win a culture war by adopting as your standard bearer someone with the worst favorability ratings in modern presidential politics?
Secondly, what, pray tell, is there to “win” in such a “culture war”? #GamerGate? It’s telling that nowhere in a very wordy piece on the culture wars does the word “abortion” — an issue on which Trump is absolutely awful — appear.
It happens to be the most important issue in the culture wars, since it concerns the deaths of millions of people, and it also happens to be the only one where conservatives are, at least, not losing.
But, you know, many conservatives also believe that, for example, things like hookup culture and no-fault divorce are morally, socially and spiritually corrosive. If that makes us young fogeys, that’s fine with me.
At least Holt’s piece was clarifying. Even on the best spin, for conservatives to support Trump involves abandoning their principles. Even if Trump had a chance of winning, that wouldn’t be a good idea.
By: Pascal-Emmanuel Goby, The Week, April 25, 2016
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