“I’m just deeply disappointed that once again we may have to
settle for the lesser of two evils.”
In our now all too familiar four year cycle we are engaging once again in our presidential election ritual where we are asked to choose the less offensive of two offensive candidates to become the next leader of the free world. As always, we are told that the choice is obvious; in this case, better the narcissistic buffoon who at least makes claims of conservatism, than the progressive criminal who, despite dishonesty being her default position, proudly and truthfully eschews any hint of conservatism. Trump supporters are frustrated by the reticence of party bigwigs, talk show hosts, and principled conservatives to now and at once fall in line behind the presumptive candidate. If you’re not supporting Trump, then you’re supporting Hillary. The argument is a logical one, but how odd to be chided by those who supported a candidacy based entirely on emotion without reason, for a moment of irrationality regarding choosing between bad and worse.
This is not a case, as has been painted, of people needing time to heal from the disappointment of their candidate failing to win. Though there were many candidates, few except Trump had passionate followings, and Cruz was particularly a hard candidate to love. That being said, I don’t begrudge the Bushes, Lindsay Graham, or most of the other candidates for being slow to come around. Trump made the campaign intensely personal and not policy or performance based. He insulted their integrity, their appearance, their patriotism; and I can’t fault them for having difficulty in following Dr. Carson’s example, who Trump came close to comparing to a pedophile, and maybe being a little slower to join the group hug.
But ultimately, the reticence to support Trump is greatly due to who Trump is. All the talk about the lesser of two evils is fine, and given the imperfection of human beings I suppose we are always choosing someone who is flawed, but at some point the “evil” becomes more than a simple equation. Trump was of seventeen candidates my seventeenth choice. I will likely pull the lever for him, but certainly not enthusiastically; and since living in New York makes my vote moot anyway, I will at least momentarily consider the advantages of being able in years to come to truthfully proclaim, “Hey, I didn’t vote for him!” The lesser of two evils argument cannot be axiomatic. If somehow our only choice was between Hillary and Bernie, would we not be forgiven if we sat this one out? If forced to choose between Lucifer and Hitler, is there not an acceptable dignity in rejecting the choice altogether? Ah, but despite liberal bloggers’ insistence, Trump is not Hitler; and no, Hillary is not Lucifer; Lucifer is taller. In all likelihood, after some merited hesitation, the lesser of two evils argument still probably holds, if only because of the situation on the Supreme Court.
And so we move to the process of reconciliation. Media Trumpsters on Fox News and elsewhere are beside themselves that Republicans in huge numbers are pausing in their support for a candidate they find well lacking. The oath that the candidates took to support the eventual winner has been greatly ignored, which shows how meaningless oaths are when you’re dealing with politicians. The establishment Republicans see Trump as a threat to their power base, yes, but he is also their self proclaimed enemy, and he continues to ridicule them. It is reminiscent of President Obama mocking congressional Republicans and then criticizing them for being slow to cooperate; newsflash: people are human. Movement conservatives and Tea Party types having had highly successful mid term elections, and failing to beat Obama in his second run only because of their inability to flex enough muscle to find a more electable nominee than the establishment’s choice of Romney, thought that with this election their time had finally come. Hence, of 17 candidates, probably 13 or 14 at least would have been acceptable choices… and that was their doom. Having had the rug pulled out from under them, these rebels have seen their revolution apparently derailed by a rabble who have grown impatient with the plodding reasoned approach. These don’t care to hear about the history and fundamentals of our Republic. They know things are broken, and they want them fixed; they don’t care if it’s done by a rule book or a constitution. They don’t know or care what made America great, they just want to make it great again. They are oblivious to the sentiments of de Tocqueville and the quote attributed to him that America is great only because of her goodness, and instead look to the supposed shortcut to greatness, power.
The problem is that the rabble is insufficient to elect Trump, and other Republican office seekers will be slow to tie their wagon to what they perceive to be a sinking anchor. Conservatives will continue to be less than enthusiastic when like Romney and McCain before him, though for different reasons, Trump’s main selling point is that he is not as horrible as the alternative. I know that irks Trump fans, but that is the way things are. You have a few months to convince these folks one by one to join the ranks of the Trumford wives, or you could ask one man to adjust his disposition, Donald J. Trump. Trump needs to begin looking to build coalitions. He needs to stop insulting people whose support he requires, and he needs to warm up to his most natural ally, movement conservatives. Much of his allure has been his bravado, his brashness, and his confrontational approach, and that’s fine, but if he is the presumptive candidate, he needs to reserve his animosity and aggression for his opponents. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and Trump’s most sympathetic moments with conservatives were when violent protestors tried to shut him down. There will be more of that, and conservatives and even moderates will be repelled by it and gravitate toward Trump, that is if he is not in the process of insulting or denigrating those who could be his constituents with a little diplomacy.
IMHO: Rebels find rabbles regrettable. The rabble puts an unfortunate cast on the cause of the rebel. That being said, noble revolutions seldom occur without the attention garnered by screaming demagogues, and rioting throngs. Along with the high minded movement of Martin Luther King Jr. were the less lofty race riots of the sixties. Half a century before the American Revolution “risings of the people” were common enough, with sailors, freedom seeking slaves, laborers and youth. The rabble of the day were not as well versed in the writings of Locke, or the Natural Law, but they knew that things weren’t right. Not all can respond with the same measured dignity as a Ghandi or an MLK, not all have the wisdom of a Thomas Paine, or a Jefferson. Not all possess the strategic mind of a Washington, or the genius of a Benjamin Franklin. Some only know their anger and impatience with those dragging them through the mud. These are the rabble, these are the mob, and truth be told they are as much an agent for change as their more noble brethren. They can not be left on their own though, lest our world descend into chaos, and it does no one any good for the adults in the country to take their ball and go home. Instead, the rabble needs to be educated, accepted, and respected. Rabbles are but rebels yet unredeemed.
Any poker player will tell you that every hand isn’t a perfect hand, but only fools fold every time they don’t get the cards they wanted. Professionals know how to make winning hands out of losing ones. Ultimately you need to play the cards you’ve been dealt, and this round we’ve been dealt Trump. If we play our cards right, we can still win.
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers– and it was not there. In her fertile fields and boundless forests– and it was not there. In her rich mines and her vast world commerce– and it was not there. In her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution– and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America, and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”