Consider the following three pro-Donald Trump statements:
1. The secret of Donald Trump’s appeal lies beyond normal politics; he has managed to attract a broad coalition that believes he can actually achieve what generations of do-nothing politicians have not;
2. The panic from his critics proves that he is onto something. The Hitler comparisons, the hand-wringing about the death of conservatism, and other wailing is mostly from establishment types petrified that they no longer run things;
3. Amid claims that he cannot beat Hillary Clinton, the magnitude of his victories and the breadth of his voter base indicate he might in fact be the strongest candidacy against her.
Now, consider the flip side:
1. Trump suffocates his attributes with a nearly daily dose of juvenile speech and behavior that is beneath the presidency;
2. His agenda contains a combination of inconsistent pronouncements and recent epiphanies which invite skepticism;
3. He speaks rarely, if at all, about the two most vital pillars of conservatism — fidelity to the Constitution and commitment to reduce the size of a bloated government.
Now, the payoff: I believe all six.
Most readers will probably approve of one list and reject the other. But what you see above is valid praise of Trump, followed by valid criticism.
Full disclosure: the second list is why I prefer Ted Cruz. But from the barbs leveled from the left to the even sharper hatreds heaped on him (and thus his voters) from unnerved Republicans, anti-Trump invective is the fad of the moment.
Derision of Trump among Republicans is the more intriguing, and it follows two main tracks. There are the conservatives who feel he is a phony who could damage the Republican brand and actually slow the path toward undoing the wrongs of the Obama years. These are people acting on principle, who are not buying what Trump is selling.
The other track is filled with establishment comfort-zoners, the tepid warriors who have seen their images diluted by the prospect of an outsider who cares not one sliver about the meekness and political correctness that have slowed them to a crawl.
Trump’s opponents are not satisfied finding alternatives and strongly backing them. They feel compelled to engage in breathless hand-wringing that has only helped him. The zenith of this mania is the “Never Trump” movement, a cult of Republicans enjoying the momentary tantrum that if he is the nominee, they will not vote for him.
Come November, once they are staring down the barrels of a Hillary Clinton presidency, with its guaranteed violence to the Constitution and additional years of soft borders and failure to fight global jihad, most will come to their senses.
Until then, brace for more anguish over how Trump will either kill the Republican party or conservatism itself.
The party might actually benefit from a cleansing rebirth from a sorry status quo. As for conservatism, one must have a dim view of it to believe it is squashable by one presidency. If Trump wins and achieves conservative goals, good for all of us. If he does not, traditional conservatives will have earned an I-told-you-so for the ages. They will mount a stronger argument for the consistency they have wished for all along. The planet will still turn on its axis.
If Trump is not your guy, back someone better. Then win or lose like a grownup. Meanwhile, remember that if the suddenly virile Republican establishment had been half this aggressive against Obama, we wouldn’t be having this drama in the first place.
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