A couple months ago, I talked about the only two pillars of today’s Right: blind hatred of liberal Americans, and blind worship of the former host of Celebrity Apprentice. The next post will be about the former, but I want to expand on one of the three classes of conservatives who dare dissent from MAGA.
First, a brief example of how extreme the cult of personality has gotten. There is nobody in the House more worshipful of Donald Trump than Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. Try as they might, not even bootlicks like McCarthy, Meadows or Jordan can approach the enthusiasm of his servility. Or at least, not until this week where abruptly, for some reason — nobody can quite place why — he broke with his boss in favor of his constituents, just once, on a single floor vote.
Here is his tweet trying to explain himself. Gaetz himself is not important here. The response from the conservative base is what’s important. I invite the reader to scroll through the replies from outraged MAGA-heads. You can do Trump’s bidding with a smile a thousand times, but if your conscience slips you up and you disagree once — just once — you’re dead to these people. Dead.
But, even at this late date, not every last Republican is like the piece of shit above. I broke down conservatives who are not in the cult into three groupings. One, the familiar NeverTrumpers, often quite moderate in their politics and friendly to the liberal media. Next we have the white nationalists, who have realized that Trump is not one of them and, while too scared to challenge the president directly, now have no problem coming at his surrogates or even his son.
And finally, we have those hardened, rock-ribbed right-wingers who, for whatever reason, have slipped out of the GOP’s fever-dream and have come to recognize the president for who he is, while retaining hardcore conservative beliefs. They’re admittedly rare, but they exist. I had mentioned talkshow host Shannon Joy as one. Another is podcaster Mark Pantano. I mean, just take a look at this rank heresy (clickable):
It’s not that I agree with these guys on most issues — I don’t. (Immigration has always been a core component of the American project, although open-borders extremists are admittedly nuts.) I ask liberals who are appalled by these stances to look past that. It’s that these conservatives were able to not only hold onto their principles, but also see when and how the president fails them. They are as bitterly opposed to the Democrats as any Trumper but now see that the president has failed them, does not actually care a jot about anything he ran on, and works more to convince the rubes and suckers at his rallies that he’s building the wall and owning the libs than actually doing these things.
If you’re a liberal, what these conservatives are saying should actually be a relief. From immigration to abortion, they’re saying this president is all hat, no cattle. And they’re right.
If you’re a liberal, you should be glad that the vast majority of Republicans believe their president’s ridiculous lies about the wall that let him get away with not actually building it. Or that he’ll happily team with Nancy Pelosi to sign a pork-laden spending bill that gives both sides the boondoggles they want at the expense of the debt that, like climate change, won’t reach a crisis point until they are both long buried.
“Ah, they’re just Tom Nichols or Max Boot-ish TDS sufferers,” you might argue. Absolutely not. These conservatives do not hate Trump. They had high hopes for him, and will even vote for him again (or, at least, not vote for the Democrat). It’s that they desperately wish they could convince him to care about conservative issues — but are increasingly realizing that he never will:
He’s probably right that if Republican Senators and Congressmen, and their voters, actually had a shred of self-respect and held the president to account on immigration and abortion, instead of falling to the Maoist cult of personality where Dear Leader can do no wrong, this president would have achieved far more conservative results than the judges — and, remember, even the judges are hardly some kind of singular Trumpian achievement, as he’s going off the same list of judges that Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz would have used.
Regular people, even progressives, could share a beer with these patriots, however much they disagree with them politically, for the simple reason they don’t have their heads up their asses. By contrast, most conservatives would punch you in the face as soon as your dared slight their Precious.
If there ever will be a post-Trump Right (which is debatable), it won’t be led by moderate NeverTrumpers. It will be led by people like Joy and Pantano. Disagree with them all you want, but at least they don’t want to turn this place into a dictatorship.