Nothing Left to Lose: A Plea to Trump Followers

Early in the 2016 Republican primaries, when it became obvious that the GOP establishment was lining up behind Mitch McConnell’s anti-Tea-Party megadonor Donald Trump, I began shouting from the rooftops that Trump was the Republican establishment’s secret weapon to demolish the pesky but electorally-needed constitutional conservative faction of the party forever. (For my troubles, I lost my highest rooftop.)

Mission accomplished. Not a single one of the very few elected Republicans who aligned himself with the old Tea Party five years ago has been able to resist permanently sullying and demeaning himself at the Trump trough. And as for the old “grassroots conservative movement” itself — my spiritual kin of those days, the very people for whom I threw my pen into the political commentary ring back in 2011, and who comprised the bulk of my once-sizable readership — that movement committed mass suicide at the altar of the Trump cult, embracing as its hero and savior a man who by character and competence could not possibly have been more alien to every principle the members of that movement had previously espoused. 

In brief, the old Tea Party had its cups crushed by the McConnell-Rove GOP establishment, exactly as they had once feared — and yet they sat there, stupidly and obediently chanting “MAGA! MAGA!” under a neon Trump sign, while McConnell’s old boys calmly stomped all over them, grinding their souls, along with the spirit of the republic they had once claimed to believe in, into dust once and for all.

For Donald Trump. For the biggest idiot and the most obvious moral infant in the history of the presidency, and arguably in the history of the country. For a fraudulent, cowardly blowhard so insecure that he refuses to accept the possibility that he could ever lose an election — even though he has spent the past five years consistently proving himself a loser of world-historical proportions many times over. 

To the fifty or sixty (generously estimated) of his millions of idolaters who still have a shred of dignity left, I offer this painful but simple advice: Walk away from this man. Leave him to his whining and his childish tantrum-filled fantasy world. Forget about him, and recognize that he never gave a damn about you. Wake up to yourself again, the better you from six years ago, before your exhaustion and hopelessness sent you chasing rainbows painted on Mitch McConnell’s backside.

Your side did not lose in 2020. Your side, your true side, lost in 2016 — lost to your worst nightmare, the deliberate undermining of everything you ever believed in: the conflation of constitutionalism with crackpot conspiracy theories, of conservatism with populist demagoguery, of principled resistance with mindless vulgarity, of economic freedom with thuggish state favoritism and “the best deals,” and of the rejection of neoconservative globalism with the cowardly praise of global tyranny.

You have walked with the biggest loser and his triumphant puppeteers for long enough. If you still have the nerve to stand up as an independent adult again, to be civil again, and to have your own mind again, leave Trump squirming in his puddle of loser’s tears and move on with your life. The Tea Party is over, and it will not come back. Its numbers have been massively depleted, and its character sadly exposed, by McConnell’s brilliant ruse. But at least you can win back your own soul, which in the end is worth more than any collective movement, and more than any political victory.

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