At The Federalist, Ben Domenech persuasively argues that the failures of Barack Obama led to the rise of Donald Trump:
It is no accident that President Obama’s America has given rise to Donald Trump. It is an America that is more tribalist, where people feel more racially and religiously divided; more politically correct, where people feel less free to speak their minds; and it is an America where trust in the nation’s elites, whose skills are credentialed but unproven, are at historic lows.
That is all true. American institutions are seen as failing—and often are failing—because those running those institutions have bought into the left-wing mindset. The academy is devouring itself in a furor of radical leftism. The press, with a few exceptions, is monolithically left-wing. Government exists to feed itself, not to serve the public. It is true that if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
Time and time again, conservatives have embraced people with few qualifications other than they tell conservatives exactly what they want to hear.
But that’s not the sole reason that Trump, a man who is neither conservative nor a patriot, is leading the GOP field. Conservatives cannot blame Trump on Obama or the media—Trump’s supporters are supporting him of their own free will. They are choosing to embrace a man who routinely spits on basic conservative and even American values. Yet no matter how idiotic Trump acts, they still support him.
We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is Us
Conservatives must accept the hard truth that Donald Trump is a monster of at least part of our making. Yes, he’s a reaction to the failures of Obama’s left-wing agenda. But time and time again, conservatives have embraced people with few qualifications other than they tell conservatives exactly what they want to hear. Sarah Palin showed immense promise when she was initially picked as John McCain’s VP—but she flamed out in a spectacular fashion not only due to a hostile media, but because she was woefully unprepared. From there, the GOP has embraced candidates who have little experience but throw more chum in the water than Shark Week: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, Ben Carson, the list could go on. These candidates enjoyed fame not because they were qualified for public office, but because they told conservative activists what they wanted to hear.Donald Trump is just that trend taken to its inevitable extreme. Trump is playing on the crudest themes possible—hatred of immigrants, fear of terrorism, economic insecurity. He’s taken the traditional Democratic playbook of using fear to whip up partisan fervor and has taken it to the right.
Yes, Ben Domenech and others are correct in stating that Trump is a reaction to seven years of failure and a President who seems blithely disinterested in fundamental American values. Someone like Trump was going to inevitably come along. But that doesn’t mean that a significant plurality of the GOP had to embrace such a toxic buffoon. Instead, major figures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingram have embraced Trumpism. Even though Trump routinely flouts basic constitutional principles—like calling for Bill Gates to shut down the Internet—he gets a pass because he’s against Obama and the mainstream media. For more, National Review‘s Charles C. W. Cooke has an excellent piece on the many ways that Trump shreds the Constitution in favor of his own brand of dime-store authoritarianism.
That’s simply no reason to support a candidate. Trump is not qualified for office—he speaks with the intellectual fluency of a 12-year old. He has no clue about world affairs. It’s one thing to be rude and abrasive, but Trump takes that to a pathological extreme. Trump is likely to abandon every single one of his newfound “principles” once he gets the power he seeks. Conservatives who embraced him in this race would be the first ones he would screw over if, God forbid, he were to come anywhere near the White House.
We didn’t have to fall for this. As conservatives, we not only should stand for a smaller government, we should be standing for quality government. That means we should be holding our political leaders to the highest standards possible. The office of the Presidency should represent the best of the American people. Yet conservatives would further diminish the Presidency to carnival barker in chief just because it would give the media and the left-wing establishment a poke in the eye.
It’s Time to Get Serious
I hate to agree with the left-wing media—but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Trump is a danger. He is a danger to the nation and to the Republican brand. No doubt many in the left-wing media are pushing the GOP to reject Trump precisely because they know that will make them less likely to do so. But no matter what the left-wing media thinks, conservatives are bound by morality and principal to act.
Conservatives must reject Trump, and moreover they must reject the empty populism that Trump represents.
It is a choice of one or the other. Either we as a political party and a movement stand on behalf of enduring American values or we stand with Donald Trump. Because America’s values are in democratic pluralism, and Trump stands for dividing the country by race and religion. America’s values are with free enterprise, and Donald Trump is the poster boy for the same kind of crony capitalism that has ruined this nation. America’s values are based on personal responsibility and individual morality. Donald Trump is an amoral, areligious, and irresponsible blowhard with a thin skin. Put bluntly, Donald Trump is a whiter, blonder Obama.
If the Republican Party and the conservative movement embraces Donald Trump, it will destroy itself on the altar of Trump’s insatiable egotism. We will have demonstrated that we don’t really have principals—we’ll fall for any old huckster who tells us what we want to hear. The future will belong to the left, and President Hillary Rodham Clinton will take this country so far from its founding principals that it may never be able to recover.
We can’t blame the media for our embracing Trumpism. We can’t blame Obama for embracing Trumpism. The blame lies with us and our unwillingness to put principals ahead of pissant politics.
If Trump takes the entire conservative movement down with him—and he has every ability to do that—we will have no one to blame but ourselves.