In a hazardous year for political predictions, I’ll offer one confidently: if the Republicans currently freaking out over Donald Trump can redirect that energy toward beating Hillary Clinton, she’s toast.
But that is a giant “if.” Many conservatives need to examine what keeps them mired in their objections to Trump now that the Republican primary race is over.
During that race, it was proper to weigh his pluses and minuses versus the competition. Maybe his inconsistent conservatism made some people prefer Ted Cruz. Maybe his sharp edges made some lean toward Marco Rubio. Those are the battles of the months gone by.
But Cruz and the rest of the field are gone. The choice of Republican voters is Donald Trump, which yields two types of conservatives: those who can handle that, and those who cannot.
I can, and I will. Not because Trump is perfect; I expect him to annoy me with ideological and behavioral curveballs all the way to November, and perhaps beyond. But on balance, the issues where he resonates conservatively — stronger borders, lower taxes, rebuilding the military, ditching noxious political correctness and most importantly, constitutionalist Supreme Court justices — make him the obvious choice for anyone claiming to favor conservative principles.
Yet it is “principles” that are flaunted by the malcontent faction of conservatives as they proudly crow how they could never vote for Trump, the only human being who can stop Hillary, who most of them have spent decades opposing.
What is it about him that melts their otherwise sharp minds? Any claim that the Clinton and Trump presidencies would be indistinguishable is evidence of a severe perceptual disorder. Yes, the prospect of his candidacy is filled with some very valid questions. But her questions are all answered, and from a conservative perspective, the answers are all horrible. The notion that he is no better on borders, job creation, gun rights and the Supreme Court is diagnosably crazy.
The rebellious lot asserting that equivalency will defend it with the notion that any claim of his superiority on some issues collapses because he is simply lying about everything and always has been. This reveals what drives many in the cult of Never Trump: they just hate his guts.
But again, why? Two answers, one for regular folks and another for the battered community of pundits, elites and kingmaker donors.
Voters supporting other candidates are simply licking fresh wounds. Many followers of Cruz, Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and a dozen others still cannot believe they were dismantled by the F-5 tornado of Trump. Those voters, and the candidates themselves, will come to their senses if they have the slightest desire to prevent a Hillary presidency that will do violence to all, not just some, of their conservative beliefs.
And among establishment ivory tower types and the writers and talkers who have spent years espousing conservatism but who will now facilitate a Hillary presidency by failing to show preference for Trump? It’s all about the comfort zone.
A second Clinton era would be a disaster, but it would be filled with predictable moments that would make conservatives look smart as they tick off several I-told-you-so moments on the way to the end of the America they once fought to protect.
A President Trump? They have no idea what he’ll do, and it drives them insane. The so-called conservative intelligentsia has been bloodied by months of being wrong about virtually everything about his rise. They have zero interest in additional years of embarrassment as a Trump presidency churns out possibly surprising successes they did not allow themselves to see coming.
After the tantrums and third-party fantasies fade, conservatives with any remaining shred of coherence will settle onto the fact that the Trump candidacy, with all of its flaws they have dutifully listed, is infinitely preferable to the return of the Clintons.
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