Is Love for Trump Blind?

I am a conservative, a Republican, a Tea Partier, and a political commentator who has fought in the trenches with the GOP and on the streets of San Francisco with the Tea Party.  Like many of you, I have been furious with the GOP and the politicians we elected.  Long before this primary, I wrote about the dangers to the GOP and this country if party elites continue to ignore the base.  Clearly such pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and we are now paying for it with a brouhaha of a primary process, a "known unknown" stealing the show, and the devastating prospects of another progressive Democrat victory. 

I have been disgusted with the entire process, and judging from the chatter, I am in good company with many of the 60-70% of potential voters in the Republican primary not supporting The Donald – whose numbers have dawdled in the 30+% range with the exception of outliers Massachusetts at 50%, Louisiana at 41%, Alabama at 43%, and Nevada at 46%.  His acolytes may be enthralled, but the bulk of voters do not share in that enthusiasm, as evidenced by the failure of votes to shift to Trump as his competitors have dropped out.

I know this is a delegate game, but thus far, Trump's popular vote average has been 34.8%.  While he is admittedly the frontrunner, this hardly reflects the will of Republican primary voters.  If anything, that will is splattered all over the conservative spectrum while consensus remains elusive.

Even though conservatives of all stripes are dismayed by the debates and the discourse, the Democrat-Media Complex claims we are all in the tank for Trump – we are racist idiots, thrashing at the red meat tossed our way by our racist-idiot-red-meat-eater-in-chief Donald Trump.  And the only Republicans not supporting The Don are members of the "establishment."

Yet primary results tell us that 60-70% of Republican primary voters are supporting Anyone but Donald, and those voters are not all "establishment."  The recent victories of Ted Cruz (40%) and Marco Rubio (30%) at CPAC – the go-to place for Tea Party conservatives and the strong conservative Republican base – further solidify that point. 

The conservative press and punditry aren't much better, with Ed Rollins recently telling Fox's Uma Pemmaraju that the Tea Party is throwing in with Trump because of its anti-establishment leanings.  This is just ivory-tower don't-wanna-get-too-close-to-Tea-Party-types claptrap.  Party elites, pundits, and journalists have no idea what the average Tea Partier is thinking, let alone what he or she has been doing for the last eight years – one reason we are in this mess.  The Tea Party message was anti-big government, Ed, not anti-establishment – a world of difference. 

While some Tea Partiers might support Trump, the ones I have been in touch with mostly favor Cruz.  If given no other choice, they will vote for a Trump nominee – at a minimum, they see an alignment on the broad issues of making American great again, rebuilding our economic and foreign policy might, securing our borders, and creating jobs.  But they do not care for his demeanor or nastiness and fully acknowledge that he is pretty much Pablum Don – all fluff, no stuff.  While his conservative street cred is at best dubious, they are willing to risk the future of this country on the devil they don't know (the "known unknown" of Trump) vs. the devil they know (the "known known" of HRC).  They understand that his will be a shoot-from-the-hip presidency – not quite what Tea Partiers have been fighting for the last eight years, but marginally better than Hill or Bern. 

What is really going on with Trump's ascendancy?   First, his voters aren't all conservatives and Republicans – he has attracted libertarians, the birther and 911 conspiracy crowds, Reagan Democrats who have all but been forgotten by the "greening and browning of America" crowds, independents, and disgruntled Rs and Ds.  That core 30+% will not likely stray from the Trump camp.

Could it be that the 30+% of primary voters supporting Mr. Trump are so blinded by their affection for him that they cannot see the hypocrisies and inconsistencies he lays out right before their very eyes? 

They are in such a state of denial – justifiably – because they are hungry for a hero, starving for a savior, itching for inspiration.  They see the culture disintegrating and America in a death spiral with a floundering economy, weak foreign policy, and a constitution being ravaged from within – with no one stepping up and doing what has to be done.  With the Supreme Court in the balance, they stand before a precipice even more death-defying than the one in 2012. 

They are looking for a leader willing to stake out his conservative claim and fight for the little guy, who has been marginalized for far too long.  They want someone to defend the Republic, the Constitution, and liberty, and to do so without getting cowed by Candy Crowley, bullied by Chris Matthews, mocked by Rachel Maddow, or degraded by Matt Lauer.  (Actually, conservatives are looking for this as well, not just Trump supporters.)

Cruz appears to be that guy, but few believe he can win the general; Rubio claims to be that guy, but he lost the trust of voters with his immigration stance; and Kasich insists he's that guy, but you can't be that guy and run to the left of Hillary.

So along comes Trump, who says he is that guy, and, in some respects, he is.  Except he also says he will make deals – huge deals, deals great for America, only deals we would all like, deals that will benefit everyone and make a huge difference – until he decides that the deals have to be modified in such a way he thinks will be best for us, wielding his pen and phone (and after the last debate, possibly something else) supposedly to our benefit.  This sounds paternalistic to me.

Then he actually brags about changing what he says and how he acts – being one way during the primary, putting on a different face in the general election, and then being altogether different as president.  Wasn't this our problem with Al Gore?  This sounds politician-like to me.

Sometimes in the same interview or debate he changes his views on policies – the flip-flopping problem that afflicted John Kerry and disturbed some with Mitt Romney.  This sounds opportunistic to me.

Is there any difference between a powerful, paternalistic narcissist wearing a blue tie and one wearing red?  Ironically, Trump exhibits many of the same characteristics for which he criticizes most politicians.  And as for deals, the only deal a leftist wants is one strictly on his terms – and right-wingers are so tired of getting the short end of the stick every time they make a deal, being a deal broker is not a net positive in this election.

Yet loyal Trump supporters are so incensed, they don't even bat an eye about his inconsistencies on policies, past dalliances with liberalism and Democrats, and crude remarks – behavior and history they wouldn't tolerate in any other candidate.  They can't forgive Rubio for his immigration transgression, but they turn a blind eye to Trump's employment of illegal aliens.  They won't support Cruz because he is perceived as difficult to work with, nasty and disingenuous, yet they applaud every insult and bit of invective hurled by the Don.  They revile Kasich for being more liberal than Hillary, yet they look the other way regarding Trump's support for Democrats and Democrat policies (like single-payer health care) and his liberal views on guns, Planned Parenthood, and taxes.

I'm not one of those critics who will pooh-pooh the anger.  Anger has fueled some of the greatest movements and episodes in history.  But it can also backfire.  Anger fueled the abolitionists but also the Civil War.  It fueled the Civil Rights movement but also #BlackLivesMatter.  It fueled peaceful Tea Party protests but also the anarchy produced by Occupy Wall Street.  Either we use our rage constructively and strategically to achieve a goal, or we are just an angry mob that will self-immolate in the end.  Bully for the indignant masses!  They unleashed their wrath and used it vanquish whatever beast stirred their ire and then destroyed damn near everything else in the process!

Given all of the above, I'm not sure why so many argue that an open convention would thwart the will of the people.  As it currently stands (and things can change), Trump is winning only because 60-70% of the vote is split among the three remaining candidates.  Are we truly comfortable nominating someone with that little support?  If Trump's victories continue to dawdle in the 30-40% range, then I'd like to see a rowdy convention where the people get to decide whether he is the right candidate or not and consider other candidates around whom the party can coalesce. 

If our goal is to have a nominee buttressed by an enthusiastic majority who can get out the vote and beat the Dems, then an open convention might be the only path.  If The Donald emerges from such a convention intact, then all Republicans and conservatives should rally around him. 

But before we get to that point, there are a few things to think about.  Remember how critical we were of the cult of personality that catapulted Obama to victory?  How the irrational mobs supporting him – so desperate for an antidote to the Bush years – had elevated him on a pedestal he hadn't yet earned?  How people turned a blind eye to his lack of experience and divisiveness?  How too few heeded warnings about his unfettered arrogance and insatiable need to combat every criticism?

On the right, we knew that Obama was only about the packaging – a finely marketed illusion.  And yet people were apoplectic in their mania for his candidacy and presidency.  It was an irrational and unstoppable force.  But they were in love with Obama, just like the zeal and affection exhibited for Pablum Don.  And that love can be blind for politicians, just as it is for paramours.

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