[Editor’s note: while all Faith & Heritage writers are in basic agreement on fundamental principles, we are not monolithic on secondary issues or even always on how those fundamental principles should be applied. An example of this is these two articles examining the early Trump presidency from differing points of view. We present both of them to you for your consideration.]
First, let me say that if you haven’t been paying attention since the inauguration or are in the “all of Trump’s failures are actually 4D chess” camp, then Colby’s article will be a much-needed bucket of cold water in the face. Trump ran on a specific platform, and when he fails to live up to that platform people need to take notice, hold him accountable, and not just hand-wave it away. My two main problems with Colby’s article are that he treats Trump voters as a monolithic group rather than the heterogeneous coalition it was, and that he fails to articulate the goals and motivations of the portion of that pro-Trump coalition associated with this website.
Colby does distinguish early on in the article between the Alt-Right who have led the charge in the criticism of Trump for failing to deliver on his foreign policy promises and those more mainstream Trump supporters who either approved of it, didn’t care, or made 4D chess excuses. But that distinction largely disappears for the rest of the article, which thus seems to convey criticism of all Trump voters rather than only those who aren’t holding him accountable. This is doubly important, because that failure to differentiate between the different pre-election pro-Trump groups prevents an accurate assessment of whether or not Trump’s presidency so far should induce “buyer’s remorse.”
Let’s take a step back and address the question, “Why does the right wing vote?” I speak not of the classical liberals who call themselves conservatives, as they vote for the same reason as progressive liberals: religious faith in the system of democracy. An Enlightenment faith born out of the bloody revolution cry of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” – to which the Right answered, “God, king, country.” So why does a group with a firm belief in hierarchical authority, disdain for the idea of “one man, one vote,” scorn for the democratic process and the leaders it produces, and a hall of heroes including a wide array of kings, autocrats, and authoritarians participate in democracy? The answer is very simple: rightists see reality clearly, understand their duty to struggle for their principles, and possess the pragmatism to engage in that struggle using whatever tools are available to them. When the liberal, whether classical or progressive, pulls the voting lever, it is with a religious faith in democracy and democratic solutions; when the rightist does so, it is with a sneer and a view towards the wider long-term struggle. Democracy is a false god, and voting is not a sacred act.
It is from this framework that I view the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Trump presidency. The argument for voting for the lesser of two evils is not automatically valid; we are not required to vote for the Republican candidate just to defeat the Democrat candidate of [the current year]. One must make an argument that the candidate in question constitutes a positive good that outweighs the bad, and such a case can still be made for Trump. Such a case could not have been made for any of the other previous presidential elections I was able to vote in (’04, ’08, ’12), and in fact I would argue that Obama was the lesser of two evils in 2008, because John McCain is literally insane. I normally vote Constitution Party and will likely go back to voting that way in 2020 if Trump does not sufficiently deliver. But in 2016, supporting him was the correct choice and I do not regret my vote for him, because I’ve already attained the minimum I wanted from him:
- Trump sparked a great political realignment; white working class in and (((New York political class))) out in terms of party base
- Trump brought a truly right-wing political platform to the national stage for the first since Pat Buchanan; whether he follows through or not is immaterial to the fact that things like America First and a border wall are now a part of the national conversation again
- Trump ripped the masks off the cuckservatives and party elite; whether or not he stands up to their agenda is immaterial to the fact that many normal Republican now view them as the enemy
- Trump ripped the masks off mainstream media; phrases like the Lying Press and Fake News exist in the national lexicon because of the Trump presidency
- The Trump candidacy has propelled the Alt-Right into the national spotlight and given us a platform we otherwise wouldn’t have had
- Because the Left believe him to be literally Hitler, we’ve gotten a nonstop stream of hysterical headlines divorced from reality that will continue to delegitimize the Left in the eyes of normal people
Note that all of these things are independent of anything he has done or will do in office. Did I hope that Trump would swiftly deliver on all his campaign promises? Absolutely. And he has done that on a number issues. For example, Trump killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, appointed the great Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and exposed the federal judiciary as treasonous snakes by forcing them to block his half-hearted attempts at border security. But Trump was never going to fix the United States, which is almost certainly unfixable at this point. There was a pipe dream that if Trump was very, very good, he might lay the foundation for someone else to enact a peaceful and orderly national-level solution, but that was always a remote possibility at best, and it was never going to be Trump himself. In all likelihood, the best outcome of Trump keeping his promises would only have been to make our situation more favorable for the impending civil war once the Republican party stops being nationally viable. It would not have prevented it. But making our situation more favorable for that conflict is still a completely valid reason for supporting Trump.
The problem with Colby’s analysis is that he is taking all the negatives from Trump’s administration, focusing on them to the exclusion of everything else, and then extrapolating them out over the next four years. The reality is that there seems to be an ongoing power struggle inside the Trump administration between nationalist and globalist camps resulting in a stream of ever-oscillating decisions and rhetoric that are good, then bad, then good again And this struggle is crippling the speed of implementation for the promises that are actually being kept. This being the case, trying to extrapolate out a trajectory for Trump’s entire first term at this point is foolhardy. It will likely end up being a mixed bag of promises kept and broken, policies good and bad, the exact ratio of which will only be clear in hindsight. We will continue to capitalize on the good and criticize the bad.
My expectation was always that we would be exiting the Trump Train sooner or later, because Colby is correct: Trump is no ideologue, and he would eventually abandon Trumpism. Do I feel betrayed and disappointed that the derailment appears to have happened so quickly? Of course. Do I have buyer’s remorse? Absolutely not. The choice to board the Trump Train was based not on faith in democratic solutions, but on a belief that Trumpism would result in progress for our movement. The nationalist struggle continues with or without Trump, whether that be in highlighting the highly negative Jewish influence of Kushner and company in Trump’s administration, or battling communists in the streets for the right to hold our rallies unmolested (both of which Colby seems to disapprove of for some reason?).
And let’s us be clear: we knew exactly what we were getting with Hillary – evil. Trump was a dice roll, a dice roll with a chance that Trump was a Pat Buchanan-lite. The anti-Trumpers did not possess a crystal ball, they did not know for certain that Trump would not carry through on all his campaign promises. Both sides were betting on that dice roll; it’s just that the anti-Trump side was betting on a losing result. As much as they are enjoying the satisfaction of being partially correct, we will never make progress by betting on a losing result. You don’t win a war by sitting on your thumbs waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along for a one-step victory. Victory comes by seizing every good opportunity that materializes and capitalizing on them for incremental progress. Trump was a good opportunity, I’m glad we took it, and we have made progress.