On Supporting Trump “100%”
In my latest American Thinker article, in which I mock the moral absurdity of Bernie Sanders daring to pass moral judgment on Donald Trump (or anyone else), I preface my argument with the disclaimer that “I am no Trump defender.” One regular reader and commenter objects to this disclaimer, directly challenging me personally:
You ARE now. Actually now you are a REAL Trump defender of the highest order. You need to come to grips with supporting OUR President and EVERYTHING he stands for – 100%. Stop with the Mickey Mouse nonsense of pretending.
He then throws a Guns of Navarone quote at me, the gist of which is “your bystanding days are over.”
Well now, what are we to make of this? Given that this is a longtime regular reader at American Thinker, I take the first two sentences quoted above as a kind of compliment, to the effect that he has appreciated my writing in the past, and that he believes I would therefore make a good defender of Trump’s cause, if only I would get fully on board at last. If that’s the meaning, then I say “Much obliged — but what’s in it for me?”
In other words, why should I accept my supposed destiny as a true, unapologetic Trump defender? Needless to say, the reader provides no argument to persuade me on this matter, but only specifies the nature and extent of his demand on my allegiance.
This much, at least, is plain, and consistent with my longtime designation of hardcore Trump supporters as constituting a cult — not a scare-quoted “cult,” but a full-blown, honest to goodness cult: Defending Trump properly is an all or nothing proposition. Supporting him is something one must “come to grips with,” and that entails supporting EVERYTHING he stands for, and not just the good parts as one finds them, which is how rational adults in a representative republic would normally view their support for a mere mortal politician.
Furthermore, there is apparently no room for tentativeness or reserved judgment — no, one must support Trump “100%.” Total obeisance to every bit of Trump’s agenda, character, actions, decisions, and personal manner — “EVERYTHING” — is the only level of support that is acceptable. In fact, the implication is that one is not to support Trump as a representative of one’s own political views or policy preferences per se, but rather to support him personally — his aura, his greatness, his exalted name. This is not political support in any normal sense. It is idolatry in every normal sense.
That’s problem number one with my reader’s challenge, and perhaps the biggest problem.
Problem number two is less glaring, but no less real: What does it even mean to support everything Trump stands for, whether at one hundred or any other percentage of commitment?
What exactly does Trump stand for? Make America Great Again? That’s a slogan, and an abstract one at that. In order to support it, one would need to have a clear delineation of what the key terms — “America” and “Great” — mean for Trump. In other words, we’re back to square one: What does Trump stand for?
In all honesty, given the obvious contradictions and reversals of both his campaign and his presidency thus far, along with the well-documented public aspects of his adult life prior to his political career, I can infer only the following “stands” with any degree of confidence:
He stands for doing anything to promote his own perceived advantage, however defined, regardless of scruples, truth, consistency, or human decency.
Politically, he stands for consistently talking like an iconoclast, but acting (with his pen or his money) in whatever way seems to appease the wishes of the dominant establishment voices in his given context — Pelosi, Schumer, and Emanuel when that seems useful to him; McConnell, Boehner, and Rove when that seems useful to him. (If you still haven’t “come to grips” with this reality, then I can’t help you, other than to recommend you search this site for any or all of the many articles I’ve written over the past two years documenting his pragmatic establishmentarianism.)
He stands, morally, with any political strongman or thug who seems to be on the ascendancy — Putin, Erdoğan, Xi, etc. — most likely because, as a longtime friend and admirer of Bill Clinton, he regards global politics as a reality TV network on which the leaders are the stars, and therefore the most ruthlessly “successful” leaders the biggest stars.
In keeping with his immature, narcissistic, often-recited view of life as a race for stardom and admiration/envy, and of himself as the greatest star of the them all, he stands for exploiting one’s fame as a means to game every system, such as the systems of property rights and zoning laws, but also including the system of private morals which ordinarily forbids men from taking sexual liberties with random women one meets, even without regard for whether or not they might happen to be married. That is, he stands for “stars” not having to be gentlemen.
There are other “stands” one might infer from his life, statements, and behavior; but the above inferences seem to me to encompass the key elements of any definable Trumpism. Thus, when my reader urges me to accept my destiny on the dark side, insisting that I must support EVERYTHING Trump stands for — 100%, I can only ask: “Everything? — including even the items listed above, which strike me as being the most certain and unwavering principles that Trump can be shown to stand for?”
If so, then I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep the Mickey Mouse ears on for the time being. If Trump’s more ardent supporters wish to interpret my conscientious abstention as choosing to remain a “bystander,” then so be it.
P.S. My reader’s use of the phrase “OUR President” left me flummoxed. Who is denoted by “OUR” here? Does he mean “America’s”? If so, why the capitalized emphasis, since his statement — “Trump is the elected POTUS” — would in this sense be nothing more than a truism, which would have been equally true of President Obama, President Clinton, or any other sitting U.S. president during his term in office?
Or does “OUR” denote American Thinker readers? Or “conservatives”? “Republicans”? “People who overuse capitalization as a method of emphasis”? I really have no idea.
In any case, whatever cohort “OUR” designates, the group presumably does not include me, as I am not an American citizen. I am a Canadian expatriate in Korea, which means my political leader by citizenship is Fluff Boy, a communist, and my political leader by residency is Moon Jae-in, a socialist. Therefore, since I do not identify with Trump as any leader of mine, even spiritually, I effectively have no leader, in any of the figurative senses implied by my reader’s phrase “OUR President.” I am leaderless, unrepresented, undefended by any political leadership to which I might be subject, even in an attenuated, spiritual sense.
I am effectively, at this moment in history, a denizen of the state of nature — as, I believe, are all freedom-loving individuals of adult years today. No existing state or political leader currently speaks for us, fights for us, or defends us in the way a just and rational state should do for its citizens. We — by which I mean we happy few lovers of liberty, rational individualism, and moral self-determination — are on our own. This is not a desirable state of things, and I wish to high heaven it were not the case, or that I could see some glimmer of hope for responsible political leadership on the horizon.
But wishes do not give birth to horses — or at best, as recent events seem to prove, they may give birth only to a horse’s hind end.