Teflon Don and the politics of resentment

Sean Hannity, Patrick Buchanan, Bill O-Reilly, Jeff Sessions, Ann Coulter, etc…

What do they all have in common?

They are no longer conservatives.

Maybe they never really were.

William F. Buckley Jr. once said that the ability to make distinctions is the key to purposive thought.

How very odd to watch these icons of “conservatism” basically bowing down to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

A guy who, if he has discovered conservatism at all, did so a moment ago.

A guy who on stage has during this election campaign basically endorsed positions that are directly contradictory to conservative principles and rule of law.

A guy who is, as Glenn Beck rightly notes, a progressive Democrat parading in populist conservative garb.

A guy, who quite frankly, knows less about our system of government and public policy than any serious candidate in our lifetime. (Al Sharpton does not qualify as a serious candidate.)

And yet, like the legions of folks who race to websites to say he won debates in which he was decimated, our so called “thought leaders” are drooling over Teflon Don.

Rubio they will crucify for being impure on one issue – immigration. But Teflon Don can contradict himself ten times a night and they barely seem to care or notice.

Trump can encourage violations of law, endorse Planned Parenthood, scam customers, acknowledge that he is not so pure on immigration as he once claimed, support (in all but name) state run health care, embrace an authoritarian and lawless mentality, and the so called thought leaders of our party and principles cannot figure out that he is an opportunist who has been inside the very system they claim to oppose.

Better to slam Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, guys of immense class and knowledge and accomplishments but whose slightest ideological defection warranted huge attacks from most of the folks mentioned above. (Sure, Romney could have taken on Obama with more toughness and should have – but that does not mean most of his comments on Trump are wrong.)

What’s going on?

Very simple, folks – resentment is trumping (yes, a pun) reason. See early 1930s Germany. No, I am not comparing Trump to Hitler. But I am comparing the political dynamic in play with the same dynamic that was in play in the very early days of the 1930s, when the Constitutional system of great nations were swept away by brown shirts mesmerized by Hitler’s anti-establishment fulminations and Mussolini’s state corporatism.

One answer alone in last night’s debate would normally disqualify Trump from being president: his insistence that he would force the military to murder innocent women and children if they were connected to terrorists. He had every chance to walk that back. He could have said: let the terrorists figure out if I mean it. Instead, he said he would impose his will on an entire military establishment and force them to carry out illegal orders.

Folks, this is scary stuff. Okay, the guy loves to bluster and he might not even mean it. But if he is this reckless as a candidate, what assurance do we have he won’t be equally restless as president?

Words have consequences and can mean the difference between war and peace, rule of law and anarchy, constitutional government and authoritarianism.

Screaming we are frustrated is not an answer or a political principle. Malcolm Muggeridge once said that 10,000 people yelling the same slogan are lying even if it what they are saying is true. Because they are not thinking, they are reacting emotionally and have surrendered their capacity to behave rationally or reasonably.

We have reasonable choices. Ted Cruz is a solid, Republic-respecting conservative. So is Marco Rubio. And frankly, so is John Kasich.

But some of our thought leaders can’t bring themselves, apparently, to tolerate any longer the slow, painful process of republican government so they have thrown in with a man who, at best, is a reckless gamble on our nation’s future, and who has more in common with Obama and Hillary than Reagan. Even Rush Limbaugh has been noticeably careful not to hold Trump’s inconsistencies up to the light of truth and conservative values, though he mainly seems to enjoy watching Trump defy the media and political correctness.

I hope I am wrong about Trump. I have even enjoyed on occasion his colorful defiance of political norms. But the fact that Teflon Don can be amusing and channel populist anger doesn’t qualify him to be president.





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