It is easy to understand why the campaign of Donald Trump for President of the United States appeals to disaffected blue-collar Democrats, avowed misogynists, anti-Semites, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists, but his support among constitutional conservatives makes logic stare. It is this glaring discrepancy that will be addressed here.
In the film “50 First Dates”(2004), Adam Sandler’s character lives in Hawaii and targets female tourists for one-night stands, knowing that he will likely never see them again. He has scientifically-developed methods that bring him great success. However, after falling in love with another resident of Hawaii (Drew Barrymore’s character), he loses interest in this endless chain of emotionless, strings-free escapades.
In an effort to dissuade his latest mark—in whom he has lost interest—he explains some of his methods: “Actually, I’m not drunk at all, Lorraine, and neither are you because there’s no alcohol in these drinks. Sadly, I’ve used this technique many times. It helps lovely tourists such as yourself loosen up without impairing your ability to stay awake all night and have guilt-free, vigorous sex with me.”
Lorraine’s response is telling: “Well, since it’s my last night in town, can I pretend you didn’t just say that and still have sex with you, anyway?”
The assumed but nonexistent alcohol in the drinks permits the women to behave in a manner inconsistent with the personas they have carefully cultivated back home, and even excuse themselves for doing so. “I was drunk, I didn’t know what I was doing.” The faux alcohol is a convenient excuse—to the world, and to oneself—for behavior that would normally be unconscionable.
It is important to note that the women—as represented by Lorraine—secretly wanted to engage in a fling, though they would not even admit the desire to themselves. They actively sought an outlet for their illicit desires, thereby becoming willing accomplices in the scam. The taste of the Shirley Temple drinks and the lack of actual intoxication would tip off even a casually observant subject, but the women fooled themselves and put on a show of acting drunk—all to achieve their secret desire while maintaining plausible excusability.
Let us now substitute “conservatism” for “alcohol”. In a brilliant bit of typecasting, the part of the con artist is played by Donald Trump. The loose-with-a-good-girl-façade women are played by soi-disant constitutional conservatives (who often, despite their protestations, have little or no idea of how the Constitution factors into conservatism). Various minor enabling roles, such as bartender, are filled by such “conservative luminaries” as Ann “Kooky” Coulter and Sarah Palin—a media prostitute whose mildly pleasant looks have blinded some people to her inability to follow a single line of reasoning for longer than five seconds. Finally, the “fling” is to set aside logic, reason, and values—the bases of a true conservative’s political being—in order to indulge anger, conceit, and/or desires for revenge on those who have actively brought, or passively allowed to be brought, America to the point of ruin—fiscally, socially, and on the world stage.
There are admittedly differing levels of understanding—true conservatism requires a firm grasp of the ideas and things, including the Constitution, that make America extraordinary—and fervency of personal conservatism, just as there are varying levels of blinding, base emotions. Neither need be quantified exactly; it is enough to observe that however much personal conservatism each of our subjects espoused, it is being outweighed and overcome by a proportionally greater amount of the raw emotion and instinct that have always been anathema to the true conservative.
This is not to question the legitimacy of our subjects’ anger; there is much, much at which to be angry. The laundry list of quite valid provocations could fill several pieces such as this one, and will not bear rehearsing here. A central and oft-quoted theme of right-of-center politics is, “If you aren’t angry, you don’t know what’s going on!” No, this is to look askance at the conservatism that allows itself to be overruled by such anger. It is perfectly possible to be profoundly angry, but to rule and channel one’s anger with and through a conservative outlook and conservative principles. The fact that some can do this is proof positive that it can be done.
Of course, this subjugation of conservatism to anger and conceit did not occur overnight; it was a gradual, how-to-boil-a-frog process. Donald Trump frequently says he is conservative (a patently ridiculous claim in light of the fact that he cannot define “conservatism”, and never mentions the Constitution, which instrument is the bedrock upon which conservative governance is based), which is apparently enough for some “actual” conservatives to permit themselves to become small cogs in the gargantuan nationalist machine that is Trump. It helps that some of the things Trump says sound right, sound conservative; but in order to accept that line of reasoning, one must overlook the obvious fact that such pronouncements spring not from a grounding in conservatism, but rather from some adulterated form of nationalism. (Even this is being generous, since they could just as easily spring from naked opportunism, and likely do)
Enter Trump’s dutiful accomplices, the bartenders in our play: it is evident that Coulter and Palin each have differing motivations (more on those in a second), but the overall result is the same for both: they lend a micron-thin patina of conservatism to a campaign that would otherwise be devoid of anything but Trump’s silly and immediately dismissible claims of conservatism. “You can believe that Donald is conservative because we’re conservative and we say so!”
For Ann “Kooky” Coulter, it is a clear-cut case of single-issue politics: how many times have we heard her say something along the lines of, “If we don’t fix the border, we can kiss everything else goodbye”? This may very well be correct: being overrun by illegal immigrants would be the death of U.S. culture and sovereignty. However, a president who did nothing but fix illegal immigration would be a massive failure. A president must be capable of multitasking, of giving a multitude of issues and problems adequate attention.
Sarah Palin throwing whatever conservative weight she might have behind Trump is a desperate bid to stave off obsolescence and irrelevance. What else could induce her to betray the obvious conservative in the race—the conservative who had previously garnered her full support in his Senate run—only to hitch her wagon to a faux conservative who could only offer her slightly more media time than she otherwise might have received? (We shall not speculate here about other financial and/or political rewards that might have been proffered)
These and other conservative turncoats purveyed the alcohol that allowed many putative rank-and-file conservatives to support Trump while telling themselves—and anyone else who will listen—that they are still conservative. The obvious and utter facileness of their masquerade is of no concern; they can hold their heads high and claim to still be proudly conservative even as they stab the conservative movement and true conservatism in the back.
In their headlong rush to throw in with a fake conservative, they blithely ignore the terrible damage they do to conservatism: the Left is already quick to tar conservatives as racist, sexist, homophobic Bible thumpers whose crazy ideas are founded on old fashioned, disproven values. The open association of “conservative” Trump and his “conservative” followers with avowed misogynists, anti-Semites, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists can only deepen that perception among the general public, and hand the Left more ammunition with which to undermine conservatives and conservatism.
It is a sad day for the GOP. It is a sad day for conservatism. It is a sad day for America.