The True Battle for the Soul of America
I write this on the eve of the election but, as you read it, the election will either be over -- decisive and legitimate and we know who our president is -- or close and contested with an agonizing wait of unknown duration. But I wanted to record a few observations about the campaign, as I did in 2016, unadulterated by the vim of victory or the despair of defeat.
Emotions among conservatives are running the gamut -- from a near paralyzing sense of dread to a liberating sense of positivism. We hope for a Trump victory -- we can see it, hear it, taste it. But we are emotionally prepared for the grave disappointment of a Biden victory.
That does not mean we will have lost. More on that later.
Watching Trump rallies became a kind of nightly ritual for me -- a touchstone with what conservatism is all about; a reminder of what it means to be an American; a connection to the Constitution. The rallies have been uplifting in a time of so-called darkness; social in a time of isolation; and comforting in a time of considerable agitation.
And… uniting, which I’m sure has rankled the Biden campaign. His “speeches” have been angry, negative, and discouraging. Trump’s were the opposite and anyone could see that. At a Trump rally, no one is excluded; everyone is invited. Trump’s hard work and policies have resulted in success for everyone -- whether gay or straight, male or female, Jew or Gentile, white or black, of means or from poverty. He singlehandedly and in a very short time built the “Big Tent” that has long been the White Whale for contemporary conservatives and establishment republicans.
Participate in any rally, car parade, or boat flotilla, and you see America at its best -- united, peaceful, with all sorts of people clamoring for the most amount of freedom for the most people with the least amount of government. This hodge-podge of supporters implicitly understands that, while we are all Americans and embrace American values, we are all different and will achieve varying levels of success in our lives. We are all equal under the law, but are unequal in our goals, abilities, and desires. Together, with the fundamental values on which this country and her Constitution were founded, we make up the soul of America.
The Tea Party Movement was really the first step in motivating conservatives to embrace political activism and have a stake in our politics besides voting. As I wrote in “The View from Election Day in 2016”:
Trump didn’t start the movement, but non-Tea Party Trump did take the Tea Party movement to its next level -- the White House [after] [t]he Tea Party gave the GOP the House in 2010, maintained and increased that victory through 2014, and handed it the Senate in 2014.
Once in the White House, Trump proved his mettle -- something few presidents have accomplished once comfortably seated behind the Resolute Desk, controlled and pampered by handlers. But not Trump. He had our backs. He remembered his promises to the little guys. He did not forget the Forgotten Men and Women. He answered to those left behind in big cities, cushy suburbs, and rural fields. Literally, from the highways and skyways, from purple mountains, across the fruited plains, through amber waves of grain, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, Trump fulfilled his promises to the people who put him in the White House and he did it despite constant attack from within and without; from so-called friends and naked enemies.
Clearly, we somehow elect the President we need at the time. So too with Trump. We needed someone with new ideas to tackle old problems, who relished a challenge and gleefully rolled up his sleeves to work tirelessly despite obstacles. We needed someone who had the temerity to challenge the press, expose the Marxist left, call out the educational system for its indoctrination and lapses in education, and stand up to our foreign enemies while creating peace and shunning war.
He is no god. He is a deeply flawed person like the rest of us. Trump supporters have never deified him as the left did with Obama. Trump has made mistakes in his past and probably will continue to make them, as we all do. Our individual and collective humanity is a work in progress where we strive to improve over time, learn from the past, and make things better for each successive generation. Along the way we will stumble. And that’s ok because it really isn’t about the journey, but where we end up.
Not only did we get the president we needed, but, after serving the country, Trump has become a better version of himself and I think he is aware of that. He has had to reach down deep to find his voice and use it to benefit the nation. He has had to think about everyone but himself. He has had to embrace values and ideas that he might not have given much thought to in the past, but that brought out qualities in him that were dormant or underused. He has grown with this presidency and not for personal gain, but for us.
This is why people chant “We Love You.” This is why they get in their cars and boats, fly their flags and wear their MAGA hats. It is not a cult of personality as it was with Obama or as the Lemons, Maddows, and Whoopies would have you believe. Trump acknowledges the issues important to us that have been brushed under the rug. He listens to those who want the opportunities and freedoms that allow them to provide for their families and succeed in life, however that success is defined. Their devotion is borne of gratitude for results, not something superficial like appearance or personality. This is why we have had his six throughout his presidency, and will stand by him if he is re-elected, if the election is stolen from him, if he loses.
The entirety of Trump’s presidency has been riddled with chaos orchestrated by Democrats. They refused to accept his election; refused to participate in the peaceful transition of power by fomenting riots and protests, boycotting his inauguration, sowing discord from within his administration, blowing up his appointments, and drumming up the Russia hoax; they impeached him on Ukraine; refused to let a good virus go to waste; imposed a drastic, unnecessary, and endless economic shutdown on us; and, most disturbingly, facilitated destructive riots that targeted cops and whites, and ultimately hurt minority communities.
It has been hard to lose loved ones to COVID and our jobs and savings to Democrats intent on destroying Trump. But I think the riots were particularly consequential for conservatives. As if the sheer magnitude of the destruction weren’t enough, watching Democrat leaders do nothing to quell the violence in their backyards brought about a sobering melancholy and fear to Baby Boomers and those left of the Greatest Generation.
Fighting the Great Depression, WW II, segregation, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights were difficult but there was always an underlying hopefulness that all would work out; a can-do attitude even amidst dire times; a belief that the causes were righteous; and that regardless of America’s flaws and past sins, anything could be corrected because deep down America was worth it and provided the tools for betterment.
But with the riots we not only saw our past destroyed but the future as well. BLM, by its own admission, was not about improving black lives per se, but sowing chaos to destabilize society and destroy the family in order to usher in Marxism. This struck at the heart of our pithy core.
As if we weren’t already highly motivated, re-electing Trump became an existential imperative: if he loses, as goes Portland, Kenosha, and Minneapolis, so goes the nation.
In 2016, we had it all including an opportunity to repeal and replace ObamaCare. But that was squandered when, despite eight years of promises, Paul Ryan showed up empty handed without a replacement and John McCain gave us the middle finger. Never again.
Even if we lose the presidency and the Congress, much has been won. Trump has unveiled the unholy alliance, intent on destroying the American way of life, between the DNC, the press, the education system, and those who drive our culture. We have the courts and the Supreme Court. We have tens of millions who fully grasp the issues, what’s at stake, and why Trump is right and Biden is wrong. Obama and his pernicious ideas have been completely repudiated. The stigma of conservatism is no longer and the left has no clothes. We know how to fight on the street, how to rally, how to protest, and we should be able to better mobilize our forces than we have in the past.
And we Baby Boomers have the gift of wisdom bequeathed to us by our parents and grandparents -- their memories and stories still vibrant and compelling. Thus, we stand between our elders who endured the Great Depression, fought against the totalitarianism of Nazis and Commies, and believed in effectuating societal change domestically through peaceful means; and those who are younger and embrace an anti-free market Marxist model that will devastate the economy, a woke-cancel totalitarianism that stifles and brutally punishes independent thought and religious belief, and societal change at “the barrel of a gun.”
We the People started this struggle and, while I pray Trump remains President, it will continue whether Trump is at the helm or one of the troops. And that is the true battle for the soul of America, Joe Biden. Not just some empty words on a sign that you read off the teleprompter.
Image: Gage Skidmore