There are many reasons why life-long Republicans are appalled by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. At best, he’s a vile, obnoxious lout, at worst, he’s a misogynist and a bigot. He appears to have no real understanding of economics, foreign policy or Constitutional Law. Trump is consistently inconsistent in his public positions; up until the recent past he’s been more supportive of liberal politicians than conservatives; and he has a tendency to attach himself to outlandish conspiracy theories. Trump’s only real skill seems to be grabbing media attention which he mostly accomplishes by being a spectacular, childish jerk. But these are all reasons why any self-respecting Republican should recoil from the Trump candidacy. For thoughtful, principled conservatives, abhorrence of Trump goes deeper. In fact, it reaches the level of utter despair.
Believe it or not, there are people—a small subset of the population to be sure—who know why they hold the political views that they do, and can articulate their reasoning within certain general parameters of a well-considered philosophy. For those who’ve deeply examined their beliefs and care about vision and motives as well as strategies and outcomes, acquiescing to the Trump-takeover of the GOP means unmooring from their ideological foundation. And from a more immediate and practical standpoint, it means giving up on “the Bargain.”
The Bargain is this: “Work hard, play by the rules and try to live your life in a responsible manner and you’ll do well.” Principled conservatives understand that the Bargain is irrevocably linked to the American Dream. Thoughtful conservative leaders and thinkers have dedicated their political wherewithal to advocating a system of government that is conducive to seeing that the Bargain is honored. For the most part, the Republican Party has been the operative agent of conservatives. Always woefully imperfect, the GOP is now seeing its politicians thoroughly outmatched.
Barack Obama has masterfully overwhelmed his opposition by an unrelenting rejection of the Bargain. No, in fact, it is more than a rejection, he has pursued an aggressive reversal of its core principle. In Barack Obama’s world, entrepreneurs and investors build nothing, but rather are greedy and undeserving profiteers while those who avoid responsibility and eschew wise decisions are viewed as ever-virtuous victims of oppression. Policemen carrying out their duties “act stupidly” but violent felons are innocent martyrs. Hateful Islamic terrorists are shielded from scrutiny and criticism but law-abiding citizens are demonized for demanding their constitutional rights. The weird philosophy espoused by Barack Obama expects respect and subsidies for people whose illegal presence on American soil demonstrates utter contempt for our laws. And why not? Obama himself picks and chooses which laws to enforce or creates new ones at his whim. With each incident and incitement conservatives react with outrage, but before they can find the actual principle worth defending and articulate a thoughtful response, Obama has them wheeling to face some new effrontery, barking and snapping at each other as much as at their tormentor.
And as Barack Obama and his allies have turned the world upside down, he is convincing our population that old rules no longer apply— that the Bargain is no longer in effect. (No one is adequately arguing otherwise, as we are so busy reacting to Progressive provocation.) Consequently, we are goaded into playing the games of identity politics, fighting zero-sum battles where interest group connections decide winners and losers, and learning that those who tell the biggest lies most consistently get the biggest prize. Terrible as it is, Obama’s efforts are paying off. For now, unknowingly (and quite ironically), those who have enthusiastically turned to Donald Trump are subscribing to the Left’s rejection of everything that made America great.
The famous “anger” being expressed by Trump’s supporters are people who see Obama’s unfair world, but rather than demanding fairness, are asking that the rules be bent in their favor. The Trump people no long believe in American ingenuity, exceptionalism and world leadership, having instead adopted the Progressives’ disdain for our strengths and desire for protectionism and isolationism. Trump’s people have been successfully baited to abandon the conservative ideal of a color-blind society and now happily categorize enemies by their ethnicity. Neither Trump nor his supporters have any love for the First Amendment when it contradicts their views, and just like the Left, they would love to see it severely limited. Doubtlessly, the men and women who support Trump have nothing but contempt for their alleged political counterparts, but they have proven the wisdom of Nietzsche’s warning: "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."
And this is the reason for my despair … and why I, a conservative, can no more support Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton; they are opposite sides of the same terrible coin, made of the same unprecious metal. And if this man becomes the face of the Republican Party and if the twisted views of the Left are merely repackaged to bribe disaffected former conservatives, then the America that stood as a beacon to the world will be utterly without hope.