The #NeverTrumpers Dig In
Ever since I joined the public conversation as a conservative writer, I’ve been called a fascist and a Nazi by smug, liberal know-nothings, sublimely confident of the truth of their ill-informed prejudices.
So wrote Jonah Goldberg, in response to slander, in his George W. Bush-era Liberal Fascism.
Goldberg has recently engaged in some sublimely confident slanders of his own, scorning the Trump-supporting Republican Party because of “its descent into asininity.” He anticipates Trump’s return as the party’s nominee in 2024, and the only way to head off that nightmare is another Democrat party presidency that will protract the catastrophic progressive transformation of the country into a North American Venezuela. In a recent article in The Dispatch, Goldberg recommends punishing Republicans by forming a third party that can “cause the GOP some pain” in “the role of spoiler… garnering enough conservative votes in the general election to throw the election to the Democrat.”
Because Plan A for #NeverTrumpers (a de-Trumpified GOP) has proved unworkable, they focus instead on their Plan B, which corresponds uncannily to the Democrats’ Plan A, i.e. to widen and deepen Democrats’ authoritarian grip on the American people by any means necessary. Bill Kristol, for instance, “in light of the Republican party’s lunatic spiral,” reportedly “is hoping for Biden’s success.” We hope not “success” like the one Biden claimed for his Afghan evacuation. Mona Charen as well, because the “Republican party… has become a conspiracy of liars,” intends to vote for Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s governor’s race. But if she means to make the point she’s got no use for liars, is voting for a hack rivaled only by Adam Schiff as the greatest producer of BS in American politics the most effective way to say it?
It’s bad enough that Goldberg and company insult deplorables as asinine and lunatic, but he does it with the same puritan small-mindedness as progressives who regard all opinions other than their own the product of sheer wickedness. See how Goldberg gripes that, “Most elected Republicans no longer denounce [Trump’s] election lies and refuse to tell the truth about Biden’s victory.” In other words, they’re all liars. He sees the efforts of Republican state legislators to undo the fraud-friendly irregularities the Left engineered to “fortify” the 2020 election as so many schemes “to pave the way for Trump to circumvent the popular vote should he run in 2024.” In other words, they’re tightening voter ID laws just so Trump can steal the election. When Charen repudiates her former party as a “conspiracy of liars,” she also lends legitimacy to the Left’s most scurrilous label, “the Big Lie,” by using it to describe stubborn Republican skepticism about the 2020 election. They can’t acknowledge that anyone with integrity could actually believe the election was not the “most secure in American history.” Questioning it is prima facie evidence you’re an enemy of truth.
Goldberg wrote Liberal Fascism back in 2007 during the critical phase of the Leftist hysteria that Charles Krauthammer first classified as a derangement syndrome, distinguished by victims beset with unimaginable agony brought on by the fact of George W. Bush’s existence. Back then the air was thick with sinless progressives denouncing any Republican to the right of Nelson Rockefeller as Hitler reincarnated. Goldberg said he wrote Liberal Fascism “as a point of personal privilege alone,” to answer the endless slanders that he was a Nazi and a fascist by “smug, liberal know-nothings, sublimely confident of the truth of their ill-informed prejudices.” He explained that, “When conservative proposals are rebuffed with insinuations of fascist motives, it cheapens public discourse” and “beats back much-needed reforms.” He wanted it understood that, “as a conservative, I actually believe that conservative policies will be better for America… I believe that conservatives are, for the most part, correct.” It only made sense he resented his sincerity being impugned with reflexive accusations that the policies he advocates are just ploys so he can impose a racist dictatorship and murder the poor. That kind of talk is “intimidation,” he said, not “argument.”
It’s still not argument. Like it wasn’t argument, just snark, when Mona Charen wrote last January that “there was always a whiff of fascism about Trump.” Goldberg doesn’t exactly accuse Trump supporters of fascist motives, he just commiserates with the Democrats’ “four years of fretting over Donald Trump as a would-be dictator,” and reproaches his voters for engaging in “power-worship.”
But when Goldberg, in order to accuse Republican doubters of tolerating “election lies,” resorts to what he phrases as “the truth about Biden’s victory,” he sounds every bit as smug, self-satisfied, and lacking in self-awareness as any Seattle wokester. No one denies it was Joe Biden inaugurated last January 20. But that “truth” no more constitutes the whole “truth about Biden’s victory” than the fact that the Union victory at Gettysburg is all that can be known about a battle fought by 160,000 soldiers over three days. If history was that simple, they wouldn’t still be writing about Pickett’s Charge after 150 years.
A presidential election is a historical event, too, particularly the last one -- and a big one. The 2020 election happened across 50 states and 10,000 election jurisdictions and involved almost 160 million voters. But the totality of the election was much more than just the discrete event of an Election Night that ended up lasting weeks. It’s more realistic to see the November election as the final battle of an all-out war, stretching back to 2015, being waged without letup by political, media, corporate, national security, and social-media extremists to destroy Donald Trump. And to make sure the public never looked too far behind the “truth about Biden’s victory,” on Election Night the Left’s propaganda team immediately forbade the kind of careful examination and analysis of the evidence the circumstances justified. All that needed to be said was said -- by them. In unison, media parrots recited the articles of faith that there was “no evidence” of any fraud, that the election was the apex of legitimacy. The decree went out that anyone saying otherwise was to be marginalized as a conspiracy nut. On top of that, people quickly learned that failure to affirmatively profess Biden’s victory risked the loss of one’s job or reputation, or even being sent to jail for threatening “the foundation of our democracy.”
The Left, abetted by the #NeverTrumper talking class, made it a point to characterize doubts over the election as a badge of anti-intellectuals and illiterates. Deplorables remained confident in their own common sense and the impressive number of highly intelligent, very honest, and notable conservatives who actually don’t believe the 2020 election was the “most secure in American history,” and that the outcome was at best “fishy” (e.g. Michael Anton), doubtful and possibly unconstitutional (Victor Davis Hanson), or at worst, rigged (Mollie Hemingway, Roger Kimball). Now, more and more of that buried history is being uncovered.
In 2007 Goldberg took offense and wrote an entire book to answer slanders that no one could actually believe what he did actually believe. Why is it that #NeverTrumpers refuse to credit tens of millions of conservatives who actually believe Trump’s accomplishments in office earned him reelection? Or believe that, after five years of nonstop hoaxes designed to get rid of Trump, culminating in the “conspiracy” to guarantee Biden’s election that Time magazine laid out with triumphant glee -- might all amount to election interference and an illegitimate presidency?
Now Goldberg is darkly warning the GOP “that if you abandon conservative principles, conservatives might abandon you.” We can infer that he believes himself, Charen, Kristol, and the other #NeverTrumpers to be “the conservatives.” Apparently, they’re proving their bona fides with their public endorsements of the party of BLM, Ilhan Omar, and George Soros.
T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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