Monday, September 12, 2016

More about Trump and Conservative Principles

Another great example of the strange reasoning used by some conservatives to support Trump comes from a writer who calls himself Publius Decius Mus, via the Claremont Institute. The Claremont Institute is one of those conservative think tanks dedicated to restoring the original spirit of the constitution – prudence, morality, small government, etc. And yet they, like so many others, have been driven by the prospect of President Hillary to hysterical advocacy of a man who manifestly rejects everything they stand for. The hysterical tone is set in the first sentence:
2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
That's showing a lot of respect for the constitution, isn't it? One term of a moderate democratic woman and the whole system is doomed. What were those shortsighted framers thinking?

But it gets worse. (Really.) Somewhat later, after summarizing all the bad things that some conservatives have said about America, Decius writes,
If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.

But it’s quite obvious that conservatives don’t believe any such thing, that they feel no such sense of urgency, of an immediate necessity to change course and avoid the cliff.
Because if they did really worry, they would obviously be supporting Trump! No, that's what Decius thinks. He believes that people who care about virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character "and so on in the individual" should support the prominent American who most conspicuously lacks all of those things; that people who oppose big government should support a man who seems to have no thoughts at all about such questions; that those who care about "prudent statesmanship" should support a man who insults at least one prominent world leader a day.

Later on, Decius actually admits that Trump is not a conservative:
Trump is the most liberal Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. He departs from conservative orthodoxy in so many ways that National Review still hasn’t stopped counting. But let’s stick to just the core issues animating his campaign. On trade, globalization, and war, Trump is to the left (conventionally understood) not only of his own party, but of his Democratic opponent.
I would call this a plausible interpretation of some things Trump has said. To Decius this proves that opposition to Trump must really be about the one issue where Trump is farthest from the mainstream: immigration. That perhaps some people opposed to Trump actually care about things like virtue, morality, stability and character seems not to have occurred to him.

One of the people Decius is attacking – conservatives who despise Trump – read his piece and found in it an argument for authoritarian rule:
The motive of such inflationary rhetoric is often the accumulation of power. Its result always is. Note well the monomaniacal formulation of Trump: “I am your voice . . . I alone can fix it.” There is a bizarre detachment of conservatism from conservation here. All is change, oriented toward future ends. This requires power above all else: The power of He Alone Who Can Fix It.
I am not much impressed by Trump's threat to the Republic; a coup would be too much work for him. But really Trump is not a conservative, certainly not about the issues that American conservative leaders and intellectuals claim to care about, and supporting him seems to me like a bizarre thing for them to do.


karlG said...

The hysterical tone of so many "true conservatives" who see Trump for what he is seems to be irrationally motivated by "Hillary hatred". This may very well be quite rational at its core -- not that Clinton is a unique threat (though they might sincerely believe that) but that another Democratic president after Obama will entrench public policies they most fear.
Think of how disheartened we would have been to have seen McCain/Palin (Palin!)win in 2008.

G. Verloren said...

Here's one of my favorite lines: "...if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia..."

This is a pretty good indicator that the speaker is completely ignorant of education and social values in the West over the past few millenia. It's an easy trap for (ironically) the uneducated to fall into - thinking that their own current values are timeless and universal, having been shared by their forefathers back through all of time without interruption or deviation.

pithom said...

"and supporting him seems to me like a bizarre thing for them to do. "

-Would your typical Cruzlim support the Nixon SCOTUS appointee slate, Trump's SCOTUS list, or the Bill Clinton SCOTUS appointee slate? The answer is obvious. Trump has a more conservative Vice Presidential pick than GWB did. He's a conservative. Supporting Trump over Clinton is a no-brainer for any sensible American, especially a conservative one.

"Think of how disheartened we would have been to have seen McCain/Palin (Palin!)win in 2008."

-Yeah; pretty much.