I’m a member of many forums/groups on Facebook. These run the gamut from the mostly political to the mostly philosophical to purely personal – but by far the most interesting are the groups where Trump is blindly supported and the ones where Trump is blindly opposed – and these are not Democrat groups, these are all right-leaning. In the one group, if you criticize Trump for ANYTHING he does, you are equivalent to Nancy Pelosi and might as well be a Democrat and in the other group, if you don’t criticize Trump for EVERYTHING he does, you are equivalent to Nancy Pelosi and might as well be a Democrat.
I, like many on the right, am trying to figure out what it means to be us in the Age of Trump where both libertarians and progressives criticize Trump for the EXACTLY the same things (but honestly, when has a libertarian liked anyone other than a member of the Paul family?). It was easy in the Age of Obama when we had a president who represented 100% of nothing we stood for (actually, he was the polar opposite) – but where do you go when a populist takes office and represents (or at least says he does) an opportunity to get some, if not most, of the things done you want to see done even if you don’t agree with the way he apparently wants to do them?
I recently wrote a post where I noted that Trump was “on my side”, meaning that there was a subset of things I believe are necessary that Trump also is for. I was very careful and precise in my language – but some readers, especially those predisposed to condemn Trump, chose to read that as “I am on Trump’s side”, meaning that I supported the total Trump agenda. The second statement is most certainly NOT true. Just as I know the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, I also understand that the friend of my friend is also not necessarily my friend.
Such is the nature of a zero-sum world in the Age of Trump.
You can’t reasonably expect to keep railing like madmen about NeverTrumpers if you won’t acknowledge the existence of the EverTrumpers.
I have made the mistake of going all-in for a presidential candidate. I did for George W. Bush the first time – mostly because I couldn’t stand the idea of a ManBearPig presidency (very similar to how I finally decided to vote for Trump due to the awfulness of Hillary). I agreed with Bush on Afghanistan and Iraq but by the third year of his first term, I came to understand that “compassionate conservatism” was soft progressivism repackaged enough to be acceptable to Republicans – essentially Democrat Lite. That was proven true when a massive prescription drug entitlement was passed in Bush’s second term – leading to the loss of control of Congress in 2006 as fellow conservatives recognized the betrayal.
There hasn’t been a Republican president since Reagan who has been more than 60 -70% “on my side”.
To be sure, Trump is on the very, very low end of that scale – in fact, he might not even be under the lower threshold, only time will tell. I disagree with his juvenile reactions – but he is likely to do some things that benefit us in the way I would like to see them done. That’s just a fact. It is also a fact he will likely do things I disagree with – I’m not in agreement with tariffs, with his progressive leanings on social matters, his soft position supporting the climate change agenda or his apparent isolationist foreign policy. I retain a great deal of skepticism regarding the man, his true agenda and his motivations.
However, the fact remains that Hillary would not have come close to doing anything I wanted to see done. She would have been a third term for Obama with much more graft and self-dealing. I would never have voted for her or voted for her by proxy by not voting. Does that mean I’m on the Trump Train? No, it doesn’t. The enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend – but the fact is we have him and can’t change that for four years without helping the Democrats destroy him – or help him destroy himself – and in the process, destroying things we want to see done that are part of Trump’s agenda.
I have said many times that voting for the lesser of two evils does guarantee the election of an evil, we can all agree on that – and a two-party system does propagate this potentiality. I voted Republican in 2016, not because I was fully supportive of the nominee but because of a more general support of a philosophy. I do wish that a person with the character flaws of Trump had not been that candidate – but electability must be considered because if you can’t get elected, you can’t govern. If we are honest, we should recognize that every single presidential candidate comes with a forced dose of pragmatism – that we never get 100% of what we want or desire – but pragmatism does not mean compromising on conservative principles; it means that the focus is on the long-term implementation of conservative policy by winning elections with people who know how to play the long game. It means planting the seeds of conservatism the same way that Democrats have planted the seeds of liberalism – even if those seeds are not guaranteed to grow (like a Monsanto genetically modified organism).
I do believe a 60% conservative president is always better than any Democrat, I guess I’ll get to test that theory over the next 4 years. Trump is about 55%, so I’ve decided to try to make the best of it.