I was tempted by Trump early on. He seemed sincere in his policy promises, and possibly the only hope of stopping Gov. Jeb Bush's juggernaut of cash. I liked his dissent from the GOP elite consensus since 2000 on foreign policy and immigration: “invade the world, invite the world.”
We spent more than a trillion dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq, which is still a blood-soaked mess, minus the 1 million Christians who were purged under our noses. Our troops are still in Afghanistan, where billions of dollars later, the Taliban controls half the country and our “allies” denounce us on TV stations that we paid for.
Hawkish Republicans promise the same policy approach, in the same godforsaken region, which will yield the same results.
Meanwhile, every few days we read headlines like this one: “ICE: 124 illegal immigrants released from jail later charged in 138 murder cases.” Or this one: “House GOP’s Empty Gesture on Immigration.”
So yeah, I thought about supporting Trump, if only to stop Bush or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on Tuesday. (Getty Images/Ethan Miller)
Since then, Trump has reversed himself repeatedly, and offered secret assurances to New York Times editors and to Ben Carson that he doesn’t really mean what he says to voters. It’s just a sales pitch, like his spiels for Trump University, or Trump Network’s overpriced urine testing kits.
Trump has encouraged brutal, thuggish behavior among staff and supporters. He promised to be “flexible” on immigration. At the last debate, he talked about sending “20,000 to 30,000” U.S. troops into the hellish quagmire of Syria. Trump has turned out to be no more reliable than his nemesis Mitt Romney. He basically is Mitt Romney, plus strippers. And pro wrestlers. And lawsuits, lots of lawsuits from blue-collar people he fleeced.
As Michael Brendan Dougherty, who rightly defends Trump’s voters from cheap elitist scorn, has finally concluded, “Donald Trump is just the most successful huckster, selling gold coins and survival seeds to a scared public.”
When you strip away all the issues on which Trump has flipped or winked or lied, what really is left? Not much more than anger, a boiling rage that millions of non-elite white Americans feel at a long list of grievances, which are not being answered by a timid GOP establishment — controlled as it is by high-dollar donors who send their kids to private schools. Those donors can afford to be outraged at what they see as the “xenophobia” of their voting base. They are buffered by thick layers of money from most of the dysfunction fueled by their policies. Their sons won’t bleed in Syria, nor their daughters get hassled by gang-bangers at Cesar Chavez High School.
Trump is a middle finger you can hold up high at:
- the thugs of Black Lives Matter;
- your kids’ tenured professors who teach them that America was founded as a slaveowners’ conspiracy;
- bishops who wag their fingers at Americans for resenting the influx of radical Muslims from Syria or teenagers from Central America, while those clerics cash federal checks for refugee resettlement;
- sullen, greedy teachers unions who work at those rotten schools your kids can barely use;
- Wall Street bankers who got bailout money in 2008, but now lecture blue collar workers about the virtues of the “free market” and the “free movement of labor.”
Anger is not evil. In fact, it is the only appropriate answer to many evils. If Wrath is a deadly sin, so is Servility, which yawns or winks at injustice, or cringes like a coward. (See Angela Merkel.) As Aristotle and Aquinas knew, it is just as evil not to get angry when you should.
And you should, when Christians are butchered in the Middle East, or women are raped in the streets of Cologne, or drug cartels send their human cargo through our country’s border like a revolving door at Trump Tower (built by illegals). Likewise, do get angry when you learn that your kid's public school has to teach kids in any of a dozen foreign languages; that amnestied illegal immigrants would get quota preferences over white U.S. war veterans; that your own government’s policies will make your grandkids into members of an ethnic minority, and the leaders of both parties want to stop you from even voting on it.
But it a very dangerous game, indulging anger, stoking it, treasuring every grudge and looking out for payback. The threats of violence from Trump and his supporters give us just a first hint of how ugly and destructive American politics may become in the next few months. It’s profoundly unhealthy for a nation when people stop thinking of themselves as citizens, and instead as members of a tribe. Most dangerous of all is when a once-powerful majority decides that it, too, is a tribe and must start behaving selfishly, in self-defense. That’s how countries like Yugoslavia shattered into tiny, bloody pieces. God forbid that America travel down that deadly, one-way road.
Republicans must reject both the reckless internationalism of the GOP establishment, and the grievance-stoked racial tribalism of Donald Trump’s campaign. In Ted Cruz we still have a candidate running who is committed to the U.S. Constitution, and to a vision of America as a country that looks out for all its citizens — who will also secure our nation’s borders, and push back firmly against the grabby, resentful race-hucksters of the left. And he’ll do it all without poisoning the civic fountain that all of us must drink from. The time is short. Tell your friends.
And if you are still attracted to Trump’s brand of reckless anger, it’s time to watch Andrew Klavan’s hilarious, brilliant video on exactly where that leads:
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