The Ongoing Frustration of Trump’s Conservative Critics
July 7, 2017
The frustration of many Trump critics on the right, or MTCRs, is palpable and growing. Some are becoming more elitist by the day and utterly out of touch with rank-and-file conservatives, which is a particularly bitter pill to swallow because they believe they are the main arbiters of what conservatism means.
Some are obviously disgusted with everything about Trump — his demeanor, his tweets, his combativeness, his bigger-than-life personality, his egotism and tons more. Their revulsion blinds them to anything positive. They are so invested in Trump’s failure that they can’t stomach rooting for him even when he’s advancing conservative policies or fighting those dedicated to obstructing them. Their unhealthy Trump obsession compels them to present evidence every passing hour to justify their opposition.
I’ve seen their ire and experienced their snobbish condemnation on social media. It has become personal for many because they apparently view conservative Trump supporters as frauds and sellouts. They attack our character instead of considering that our calculus is that Trump may advance a conservative agenda more successfully than presidents ostensibly more conservative than he.
What MTCRs don’t seem to grasp is that rank-and-file conservatives largely support Trump. They aren’t mortified by his every tweet. They refuse to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
Most Trump supporters are not cultists who are blind and indifferent to his faults and indelicacies, but nor are they soiling themselves in agony over them. They have not betrayed their principles in supporting and defending Trump. They are not hypocrites for cheering him on against the plethora of leftist assaults. They don’t root for Trump because they seek revenge against the left, as some have wrongly supposed. The left’s war on America, as founded, is ongoing, not some one-off offense for which we seek redress.
Trump supporters see a bigger picture here — greater stakes, bigger hills to die on. They support him as the last best hope to save America — or at least to return it to the right path. They’re behind him because they believe he is attempting to turn the country around and, in many cases, succeeding. They are ecstatic that he is standing up to the political left and firing back — so they aren’t going to be overly exercised over his every fault. He is filling the enormous void in Washington created by feckless politicians and commentators on the right who have refused to show the will to strike back against the left.
Rank-and-file conservatives are convinced that America and Western civilization are imperiled. They understand the damage done to our founding principles, values, traditions and mores and the harm inflicted on the Constitution and rule of law by generations of leftist assaults.
For them, politics is not a Beltway parlor game or a matter of petty partisanship. It’s about saving the nation for themselves and their children. They see the urgency, and no amount of highhanded judgmentalism from smug conservative elites about their alleged hyperbole and hysteria is going to shame them into denial.
When parents in this country refuse to specify their newborn babies’ gender on their birth certificates, we know that postmodernism and moral relativism have made their marks. We recognize intellectual and moral anarchy. Dismiss this as anecdotal irrelevancy if you will, but honest observers of the American scene witness such absurdity every day. Our culture is rife with it — from our universities to Hollywood to the media.
Some of the most indignant MTCRs cautioned restraint in criticizing President Obama, telling us either that we were exaggerating the horrors of his crusade to radically transform America as founded or that our opposition would backfire. They were pragmatic, and we were dogmatic and reactionary.
Ironically, their pragmatism contributed to the frustration that culminated in the Trump movement. Yet now these self-appointed arbiters of genuine conservatism are accusing conservative Trump supporters, whom they formerly criticized for being conservative extremists, of abandoning conservatism. It seems that MTCRs are dwindling in numbers, but the most ardent ones are still oblivious to the Trump phenomenon and why it originated.
But what about Trump’s tweets? Well, most conservatives aren’t bothered by most of Trump’s tweets, because they are just a continuation of what Trump was doing in plain sight during the primaries. Not every supporter approves of every tweet, but I dare say they love that Trump is finally taking the fight to the leftist media and putting them back on their heels for the first time in our adult lifetimes — again, not for revenge but because the leftist media are enemies of truth and must be confronted.
Besides, why should we become humorless boors like some of our brethren on the left? Let’s not take ourselves so seriously that we feign outrage over tweets that not only don’t foster violence as alleged but parody it. We’ve been waiting for someone to feed the left some of its own medicine. That moment has arrived. Enjoy it.
MTCRs are indignant that Trump supporters point to leftist hypocrisy and malfeasance when debating the propriety of Trump’s media-lampooning tweets. But conservatives have always criticized the left. Would they have us declare a moratorium on opposition to liberalism to avoid any appearance of condoning Trump? Sorry, but we will not unilaterally disarm for fear of being accused of hypocrisy.
Moreover, it is ludicrous to suggest that Trump threatens the free press merely because he is fighting back. These are powerful entities dedicated not to the reporting of news but to hiding behind the First Amendment to destroy him personally and to delegitimize his presidency and thwart his agenda, at the expense of doing their job of reporting the news.
Another irony is that if MTCRs would quit obsessing over Trump instead of his policy agenda, they might have a better chance of influencing him in a conservative direction on issues where it could make a difference, such as in health care and tax reform. But for now, their knee-jerk aversion to Trump has rendered them impotent.
Of course, Trump doesn’t deserve a pass from conservative criticism when it’s warranted. But let’s not lose our heads and criticize him out of pride or bitterness — and let’s try to stay focused on issues that truly matter.