Prager Explains Never-Trumpers

Denis Prager had an interesting response to the Never-Trumpers here:  Why Conservatives Still Attack Trump

Prager was pretty generous in his interpretation of Never-Trumpers behavior and motivations — though honest enough to tick them off (if you want to read a lame response to Prager, see Jonah Goldberg’s).

Trump is too far from their ideal leader for some conservatives to support him.

When people you know well and admire, and who share your values, do something you strongly oppose, you have two options: (1) Cease admiring them or (2) try to understand them and change their minds.

In the case of my conservative friends who still snipe (or worse) at President Trump, I have rejected option one. The reason — beside the fact that I simply like many of them — is what I refer to as “moral bank accounts.”

Every time we do good, we make a deposit into our moral bank account. And every time we do something bad, we make a withdrawal. These conservatives have made so many deposits into their moral bank accounts that, in my view, their accounts all remain firmly in the black.

That means my only choice is option two. But to try to change their minds, I must first try to understand their thinking. I have concluded that there are a few reasons that explain conservatives who were Never-Trumpers during the election, and who remain anti-Trump today.

The first and, by far, the greatest reason is this: They do not believe that America is engaged in a civil war, with the survival of America as we know it at stake. While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do.

That is why, after vigorously opposing Trump’s candidacy during the Republican primaries, I vigorously supported him once he won the nomination. I believed then, as I do now, that America was doomed if a Democrat had been elected president. With the Supreme Court and hundreds of additional federal judgeships in the balance; with the Democrats’ relentless push toward European-style socialism — completely undoing the unique American value of limited government; the misuse of the government to suppress conservative speech; the continuing degradation of our universities and high schools; the weakening of the American military; and so much more, America, as envisioned by the Founders, would have been lost, perhaps irreversibly. The “fundamental transformation” that candidate Barack Obama promised in 2008 would have been completed by Hillary Clinton in 2016. To my amazement, no anti-Trump conservative writer sees it that way. They all thought during the election, and still think, that while it would not have been a good thing if Hillary Clinton had won, it wouldn’t have been a catastrophe either.

That’s it, in a nutshell. Many conservatives, including me, believe that it would have been close to over for America as America if the Republican candidate, who happened to be a flawed man named Donald Trump, had not won. Moreover, I am certain that only Donald Trump would have defeated Hillary Clinton.

In other words, I believe that Donald Trump may have saved the country. And that, in my book, covers a lot of sins — foolish tweets, included.

The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative — one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries — is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true. Had any Never Trump conservative been told, say in the summer of 2015, that a Republican would win the 2016 election and, within his first few months in office, appoint a conservative to the Supreme Court; begin the process of replacing Obamacare; bomb Russia’s ally Assad after he again used chemical weapons; appoint the most conservative cabinet in modern American history; begin undoing hysteria-based, economy-choking EPA regulations; label the Iranian regime “evil” in front of 50 Muslim heads of state; wear a yarmulke at the Western Wall; appoint a U.N. ambassador who regularly condemns the U.N. for its moral hypocrisy; restore the military budget; and work on lowering corporate tax rates, among other conservative achievements — that Never Trump conservative would have been jumping for joy.

So, why aren’t anti-Trump conservatives jumping for joy? I have come to believe that many conservatives possess what I once thought was a left-wing monopoly — a utopian streak. Trump is too far from their ideal leader to be able to support him.

There is also a cultural divide. Anti-Trump conservatives are a very refined group of people. Trump doesn’t talk like them. Moreover, the cultural milieu in which the vast majority of anti-Trump conservatives live and/or work means that to support Trump is to render oneself contemptible at all elite dinner parties. In addition, anti-Trump conservatives see themselves as highly moral people (which they often are) who are duty-bound not to compromise themselves by strongly supporting Trump, whom they largely view as morally defective.

Finally, these people are only human: After investing so much energy in opposing Trump’s election, and after predicting his nomination would lead to electoral disaster, it’s hard for them to admit they were wrong. To see him fulfill many of his conservative election promises, again in defiance of predictions, is a bitter pill. But if they hang on to their Never Trumpism and the president falls on his face, they can say they were right all along. That means that only if he fails can their reputations be redeemed. And they, of course, know that.

But there is another way. They can join the fight. They can accept an imperfect reality and acknowledge that we are in a civil war, and that Trump, with all his flaws, is our general. If this general is going to win, he needs the best fighters. But too many of them, some of the best minds of the conservative movement, are AWOL. I beg them: Please report for duty.

Never-Trumpers, one might say, are too much like the leftist establishment; they are snobs, too far removed from the regular people, they are utopians and idealists (in the worst sense of the word) and they are convinced they are correct and everyone who disagrees in an uneducated moron.

Aside from their similarity to Pharisees (that I noted earlier), they are conceited, being so pathologically prideful they cannot bear to lose face by changing their position on Trump.  Prager, unlike many conservative establishment types, may have been wrong about Trump at one point, but is intelligent and humble enough to revise his opinion and wishes to convince others to do the same.  Sadly, it seems unlikely they will do so, preferring to cut off their nose to spite their face by opposing Trump and refusing to work with him.  Trump is caught between two sides, the Left and the “Principled Right,” which both work tirelessly to sabotage him.

People who criticize Trump for not accomplishing more so far in his presidency should rather wonder he’s been able to do anything.

 

The Left’s Counter Attack

If the Left was routed in the last election, they haven’t given up the fight.  They’re intent of fighting tooth and claw against Trump and all that his voters stand for and want for the US.  I thought this summary by the Family Research Council of how the Left is trying to undermine Trump and up the ante in the culture war sounded accurate (though not complete):

The Left is pulling out the stops to destroy President Trump and to stop conservatives any way they can.

Here are five ways the “Progressives” have intensified the war on your values and freedoms:

1) Igniting an explosion of propaganda sold to Americans as “news.” The mainstream media are overwhelmingly committed to undermining President Trump and the conservative cause. We now know that many supposedly nonpartisan journalists were heavily — even financially — committed to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president.

2) Destroying public trust and spreading confusion. The media are hard at work in supporting the leftist agitators by spewing “fake news” and sounding the alarm about nonexistent crises virtually every day — dutifully affirmed and repeated by liberals in Congress and statehouses across the nation — all designed to deceive the American people.

3) Unleashing lawless radicals in the streets and town meetings. It’s now evident that Barack Obama is behind the mobilization of tens of thousands of radical agitators to shout down conservative members of Congress when they hold town meetings back in their districts and states.

4) Maintaining a shadow government working against the American government. Obama appointees who are still serving as unelected bureaucrats inside the federal government are now working against the Trump White House, essentially operating as a sort of “shadow government” from within the government itself. A torrent of suspicious leaks, some of them endangering our national security, as well as several other outrages, have made it painfully clear that enemies of America are at work inside the federal bureaucracy.

5) Coordinating and unifying the falsehood and disruption. The Left is obviously unified in its anti-Trump messaging, and its attacks are clearly coordinated across the entire spectrum of liberal media platforms and organizations.

Why Utopia Fails

The battle of the day is about government/leftist attempts to control speech (and just about everything else), but this is a symptom of their core mission to create (force-ably if necessary) the “perfect” society of their dreams — where everyone obeys their wishes.  This desire to create their vision of “heaven on earth” comes with a hefty price.  Even a cursory look at history paints a somber picture of experiments in utopianism; they tend to fail, lead to great human suffering and frequently high death tolls (of which people today are often ignorant).  There’s a reason that depictions of these attempts in fiction, whether text or film, also end badly.  Storytellers understand something about human nature that liberals cannot allow themselves to recognize: Eden was lost by the sin of our first parents and there’s no going back; human nature and our world are fallen, broken, incapable of perfection until the end of time.  You cannot will Earth back to the state of an Eden.

The term Utopia, from the title of St. Thomas More’s influential book, has a bit of a double meaning even from its inception:

Derived from the Greek, that title means “no place”, but it hints at an alternative meaning: when the book was first published in 1516, it included a short poem claiming that the better world More described really was “Eutopie”, a “happy place”. It’s a paradox and a pun, playing on the British inability to distinguish between the pronunciation of the two terms, and it suggests that something’s not quite right. (The word “dystopia” seems to be a much later invention.) Is this paradise, whichever name you give it, unobtainable? That’s assuming the place really is meant to be a paradise in the first place.

[The] description of Utopia has meant different things to different readers. In the 19th century, it could be drawn on as a prototype for Communism. A historian interested in the Tudor period could draw satirical lines between Utopia and the disorderly London that More knew all too well in his capacity as one of the city’s undersheriffs (he once had to face down a rioting mob). A good Roman Catholic familiar with him primarily as Saint Thomas More (he was canonized in 1935) could point out how divorce, married priests and euthanasia might not fit that easily with their beliefs.

All of these approaches ought to make us question what we think is going on in the book, just as More’s contemporaries and fellow humanists were invited to do… there is also a fine tradition of Utopias going terribly wrong when people tried to put their ideals into practice… acting on a dream can sometimes land you in a nightmare.

Utopia, And Why It’s A Bad Idea:

Everyone who knows their political philosophy, knows that the main difference between conservatism and communism lies in utopianism – communism supports it, conservatism rejects it. The striving for utopia is old. No-one knows when it started, but the idea of the “perfect society on earth” has always had a strange appeal on humans. However, conservatives, being realists, reject utopianism: We don’t think we can great the perfect society. As a matter of fact, conservatives have always found utopianism – the idea that humans can turn the world into paradise – to be harmful…

Those who believe utopia to be possible are willing to do anything to achieve it.  Let that sink in. Doesn’t it kind of make sense? If it is possible to create a perfect world, then we should do whatever it takes to achieve it. It’s basic economics really: The bigger the reward, the more work you’ll be able to put in to earn that reward. You may be willing to work 1 hour for say $25, but if someone wants you to work 4 hours, you want $100. Now, what if the reward is infinite? What if someone offered you an INFINITE amount of money? How many hours would you be willing to work, and what would you (not) be willing to do, to get that? The entire cost-benefit analysis gets screwed up, as the benefit is so big it can’t be measured – it’s infinite. And that, dear readers, is what communism offers – or claims to offer. If you believe in the promises of communism, then you’ll be willing to sacrifice anything to reach the “worker’s paradise” that is promised. Anything.

And that is why communism leads to totalitarianism.  Think about it: Wouldn’t it be OK to restrict freedom of speech a little, if it led to paradise? Sure it would – I mean, you get paradise in return, of course it’s worth it. And wouldn’t it be OK to do away with a few dissenters, who might otherwise threaten the coming paradise society? Sure, can’t let them stand in the way. Oh, and what if you had to do away with a little bit of material wealth, just temporarily for a while, just so we can be happily ever after? No problem.

The focus on paradise allows the government to infringe on basic democratic rights – “just give up your rights and paradise will be just around the corner”.

Now suppose someone said “Give up your right to vote and the economy will grow 2 % faster”, or “Give up your right to vote and unemployment will be cut in half” – you probably wouldn’t agree to it. Why? Because now suddenly, the benefit isn’t infinite anymore – it’s measurable. Once goals become measurable, people become less willing to give up essential freedoms, and they begin to ponder other ways of reaching these measurable goals (maybe we could just cut down on regulation to reduce unemployment?). However, with immeasurable, infinite benefits, that isn’t nearly as easy. Utopianism is blinding. It makes us ignore our rights and instincts. Anything can be done in the name of paradise. Those on the far-left like to claim that the fact that every communist country that’s ever existed has been a dictatorship, is just a coincidence. Or that it’s a result of external factors. Or that those weren’t “real” communist countries. And, even among more moderate leftists, you will hear things like “communism was a good idea, applied badly”, or “the concept is good, the leaders were evil”. That to me shows that they just don’t get it – communism is not a good idea, because it assumes that every negative human trait (you know, those traits that makes paradise on earth an impossibility) was caused by capitalism and can be removed. It assumes that humans really have a perfect “core” that has been corrupted by a bad economic system. Therefore, all we need is a state that can remove these traits, and we will get a perfect world – a utopia. Now if this means re-education camps, sending dissidents to Siberia and just in general oppressing free thought – so be it. This flawed assumption – that humans are good – is what makes communism flawed. The totalitarian governments and genocides are just natural consequences.

Is Redemption Possible?

Redemption: the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil; an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.

One problem with the Left is that they do not seem to understand human nature, and they do not believe in redemption (or that they refuse to).  They tend to view the world too simply, too black and white, too extreme (at least when it serves their purposes).  They apply their “standards of conduct” inconsistently.  People are messy and complicated and they do change — sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  If we’re looking for a perfectly, squeaky clean public figure, we’re going to be looking a long time.  Especially in these times and within the culture/society that most of us have grown up – most people have not reached adulthood unscathed.  [Content Warning for links – some explicit talk about child sexual abuse]

Many have pointed out the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the recent attacks on Milo Yiannopoulos.  One commentary was written by an adult child of a gay couple: Milo Yiannopoulos’ Controversial Comments Reveal Hypocrisy Within LGBT Community.  He says that some of what Milo said “is indeed shocking… But — and this is a big but: what he said is quite common in gay subculture, almost banal, though both left and right tend to downplay or hide it when they discuss policy matters.”  He goes on to say that “Everything that society has done, nodding along with the preposterous notions of the LGBT lobby out of timidity or out of gullibility, has created this horror.”

Some on the Right have disavowed or outright condemned Milo for his flaws and mistakes (and great they may be), but others seem to understand why he is as he is and believe in the possibility for redemption and change, and that allies in standing up for the truth may not always be perfect to be good allies.  From Vox Day’s “The Path of Truth:”

Most people tend to look at others where they were, and judge them by things they have done in the past, even in the distant past. That is why the Left constantly digs through long-forgotten personal histories in seeking to discredit people; to them, you will forever be whatever the worst interpretation of the worst thing you have ever done or said is. That this is patently absurd, of course, is irrelevant to them. They care nothing for the truth, they only seek to destroy. They are little satans, accusers in service to the Great Accuser.

But they are not alone. Petty people always insist on trying to force people into the box of their past. They cannot conceive of change, of personal growth, or personal improvement, and they hate it when others make them feel as if their understanding of the world is incorrect. They will never stop trying to remind even the most successful, most transformed individual of his less impressive past.

***

Not everyone who walks the hard and narrow path of truth is, or will become, a Christian, but it is a path that eventually leads to Jesus Christ all the same.

Milo Is A Rorschach Blot About Whom The Reaction Reveals All; the reaction to Milo Yiannopoulos is riddled with the hysteria of a witch-hunt that will embolden progressives and weaken conservatives and libertarians:”

We live in dangerous times when we fail to see people as complete human beings. Rational, emotional, spiritual, physical, and moral—human beings who are also imperfect. Where they fail in one area, they excel in another. Where they have darkness in one corner, they have light in another. Where they are wrong on some things, they are right on others. We should be honest about where they are wrong, but not blacken the whole with the stain of one spot.

But we too often don’t do that. We don’t see people with that kind of objectivity and balance because it’s easier and more expedient to see them as something other than complete human beings with a myriad of thoughts, feelings, and ideas, endowed with strengths and weaknesses. Instead, we see them as the sum total of their sin, their failures, even their deviancy, and in doing this, we leave no room for redemption, no room for grace. So, with a single word, tweet, video, or thoughtless comment, they are dismissed, delegitimized, and ultimately dehumanized.

What happens when we no longer see one another as complete, imperfect, complex human beings? What happens we see each other only as monsters? What happens when we no longer believe people can be redeemed, that they’re rot that must be expunged? What happens when we see people only in light of our political ideology, pieces on a game board to be tossed aside as if they have no dignity, no meaning?

Step into your worst nightmares, and you will get the answer. That is our future if we don’t change and start treating one another, not as tools to advance a political agenda, but as beautiful, yet fallen and woefully imperfect, human beings made in God’s image. Only then will we have peace. Only then will we all be free to be heard and understood.

Basically, our culture is, and has been for a long time, so screwed up; how can any of us be surprised by any of this?  What did people expect?