Wednesday, December 21, 2016

No, Trump’s Conservative Critics Have Not Been ‘Destroyed’ or Silenced

Reuters photo: Mike Segar
Progressives misunderstand the purpose of ‘Never Trump.’
Here’s a fun theory, courtesy of New York magazine’s resident apparatchik, Jonathan Chait: Because they are devotees of the work of Ayn Rand, Donald Trump’s critics have begun to shut up.
I shan’t attempt to explain how ineluctability silly is this contention, because, as so often, Kevin Williamson has beaten me to the punch (“a work of truly acrobatic stupidity” is his on-the-money assessment). But I will engage with the underlying proposition — namely, that “Never Trump” conservatives have reconciled themselves to the president-elect — because I have seen it expressed elsewhere and think it needs nipping in the bud before it becomes conventional wisdom. “Why,” Matt Feeney asked recently in The New Yorker, have there been “no articles about the Caesarist threat”? Why, he added, hasn’t the Right been fixated upon our “Trump-defiled common culture”? And why oh why oh why have some conservatives gone so far as to praise Trump for his pre-presidential decisions?
In order to answer these questions, one has to reiterate what exactly the Never Trump position entailed, as well as remember that it was never a pledge to reject conservatism or to join the Left on the barricades. Rather, it was a description that was applied to those rightward-leaning figures who believed that Donald Trump was a poor choice as the GOP’s nominee, and that he was an unfit candidate for president. Although I rarely used the term myself, it did apply to me as a practical matter: Throughout the primaries and the general election, I argued that Donald Trump was (a) an immoral man, ill-suited to the office of the presidency; (b) a political opportunist, likely to pursue policies that would seriously damage conservatism in the long run; and (c) a wannabe authoritarian who shouldn’t be trusted with power. As a result, I both opposed his nomination during the primaries and concluded during the general that I could not back somebody so manifestly unsuited to his coveted role.
Quite obviously, Trump’s victory rendered much of this moot — not, of course, because his victory has altered his character or because his success has impelled reconciliation, but because the role of Trump’s critics has by necessity been changed. Before November 8, those who opposed Trump were warning that voters should decline to take the risk he represented. That, by definition, involved a binary choice, the material question being: Should Trump be the nominee/president, or should Trump not be the nominee/president? Now that the election is over, that question has dissolved into the clouds. For better or worse, Trump is going to be the president. Progressive hysterics notwithstanding, that matter is done; decided; settled. To pretend that this isn’t true — and so to shout “No! No! No!” in response to everything that he does — would, frankly, be absurd.
So what should I do? ...
Read the rest from Charles Cooke HERE.

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