NeverTrumps Renamed: AlwaysDemocrats
President Donald Trump is approaching the end of his first year in the White House with an impressive list of accomplishments: a big tax cut, repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate, huge regulatory rollback, judicial appointments including Neil Gorsuch, the Keystone pipeline, Paris Accords withdrawal, ANWR drilling, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and a first bite at immigration reform.
It's a Republican wish list come true – the pony under the Christmas tree, finally, after 28 years of receiving an ugly sweater from Aunt Mabel every year for Christmas. Why are so many so-called Republicans acting as though they received a lump of coal for Christmas 2017?
NeverTrumps are fit to be tied. You'd think the Republican candidate had lost the last election. Or that President Obama was granted a third term. Or that Hillary Clinton was president. Wait, some actually do wish for that.
It seems inexplicable. Former Cabinet secretary in the Reagan administration Bill Bennett believes that Donald Trump is more conservative than Ronald Reagan and that his Cabinet selections are, too. That's quite the endorsement from someone who was part of the Reagan revolution – not some conservative pundit saying this, but a true Reaganite.
One NeverTrump speaking out is Bret Stephens, one of the token "conservative" columnists at the New York Times. He's not to be confused with the other "conservative," David Brooks, who predicted great things of the Obama presidency based on the crease in Obama's pants.
Stephens wrote a recent column, "Why I'm still a NeverTrumper [sic]." After rattling off a list of Trump's first-year accomplishments, he asks, "What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?"
Good question. The easy answer for most conservatives is "nothing." Sure, the wall isn't built yet, and Obamacare is still in place. Trump's fault or Congress's? But overall, it's been a great first year, as Mr. Stephens observes – despite the fact that Trump is opposed by all three branches of government, even the one he presides over.
Trump is fighting Deep State imbeds in the Executive Branch. Just observe the DOJ and FBI and how they concocted the Russia collusion story to prevent, then destroy, his presidency. In the Legislative Branch, Trump is opposed not only by Democrats, but also by many Republicans. The judiciary is no better, substituting personal animosity for the rule of law, especially regarding immigration policy.
Stephens goes on to say, "I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president."
Huh? Did I read that last sentence correctly? Yes, I did.
He then says what I would have immediately asked: "How does that make sense? Can I still call myself conservative?" That's a very good question.
He answers by quoting Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "It is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society[,]" adding, "Politics can change a culture and save it from itself." So changing the culture is the key? And is it really politics that changes culture, not faith, morality, or virtue?
Good luck with that. The Supreme Court has codified the right to abortion and attempted via force of law to redefine marriage. Politics gave us transgendered bathrooms, 60-plus genders, and kneeling football players. Marijuana is legal in a bunch of states. Turn on the television and be treated to a potpourri of foul language, sex, and violence. Listen to popular music and hear about b------, hoes, and killing cops. Far from the days of I Love Lucy, when Lucy and Ricky slept in separate beds.
The culture ship sailed decades ago. We had eight years of Reagan and twelve years of the Bushes. Twenty years of Republican politics in the White House. With Republican control of Congress for many of those years, too. How did those years of Republicans, more to the liking, at least in the case of the Bushes, of the Republican establishment, change the culture? The cultural decline continued.
Stephens advises Republicans to "[p]ay attention to the character of your leaders." I wonder if he means politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say. That's an encapsulation of President Trump, but few other Republicans.
Stephens describes Trump's personality as "[l]ying, narcissism, bullying, bigotry, crassness, name[-]calling, ignorance, paranoia, incompetence[,] and pettiness." Really? I would have thought those descriptions fit Barack Obama. Or his preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton.
As I have written, it seems to be a problem with Trump's style, not his substance. Trump is playing by the rules of New York street-fighting, not Roberts's Rules of Order: using Twitter to bypass hostile media, punching back when attacked, calling out his opponents rather than ignoring them, using nicknames as an Alinsky tactic of ridicule. He's staying on offense rather than the usual Republican formula of playing defense only.
Bret Stephens and his fellow NeverTrumps at the Weekly Standard and National Review are happy to sit on their high horses and criticize President Trump and, by extension, his supporters – approximately half the country. They forget that their high horse is nothing more than a rocking horse, swaying back and forth but going nowhere. That's great for N.Y. Times editorials and Sunday talk shows, but talk only and no action or accomplishment.
Past "dignified" Republicans were rocking horses, meeting the standards of decorum demanded by the NeverTrump brigade. Two rocking horses named Bush made it to the White House but accomplished little, and each paved the way for a two-term Democrat president successor. Others like Dole, McCain, and Romney would be virtuous in the eyes of Stephens but were losers, leaving us with the far more refined Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The latter had a proper crease in his pants. The former had a crease in his cigar.
Perhaps Republican voters, tired of dignified losers, chose a scrappy winner instead and are getting the results they were promised, finally, rather than the big-government, open-borders globalism that passes for conservatism these days.
NeverTrumps, instead, are miffed that their beliefs and principles are being implemented by a tough guy – to the point that they would rather toss their conservative messenger even if it means losing their message. It's cutting off your nose to spite your face, choosing style over substance, snobbery.
Suppose Stephens got his wish – a Madame President. None of Trump's accomplishments would have come to pass. A far-left agenda would have pushed America to a point of no return as the America Stephens and his fellow NeverTrumps profess to desire. Trump is actually accomplishing what these so-called conservatives only talk about but never achieve.
If the election turned out as Stephens would have liked, he would still be safely ensconced at the N.Y. Times, tut-tutting about Hillary Clinton's agenda. Ordinary Americans would be wallowing in misery, hopeless and helpless to reclaim American greatness. Fortunately, last November, the ordinary people spoke loud and clear.
NeverTrumps are revealing their true colors. Perhaps they would feel more at home in the Democratic Party, where their disdain for their president would be validated and most welcome – rather than trying to pass themselves off as conservatives in name only.
Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.