Conservatives should stop holding their noses at the prospect of a Trump presidency
It’s time that conservatives stopped being apologetic about Donald Trump. You know the kind of thing: “Of course the man is awful, so crass, terrible populist, not a single policy to his name (and look at his hair),” while admitting grudgingly that some of what he says is not completely and utterly wide of the mark.
We may not like him. We don’t have to. You don’t have to like the medicine you take but it might be the only way of curing the illness. And would any conservative deny that our society, made delirious by the contagion of mendacity in its political and media class and the septic trivialities of identity politics, is unwell and getting worse by the day?
Like him or not, conservatives should wake up to the fact that no one if not Trump is going to do his best to kick the Left-Liberal PC dictatorship we now live under into history’s waste disposal unit. And isn’t that what anyone who cares for the future of our Judeo-Christian culture wants?
Trump has a freedom of action that is rare in modern politics. This is because of his wealth (no, before anyone starts, presidents the Left respects like Roosevelt and Kennedy were wealthy too). His riches mean that as a self-funded candidate he doesn’t have to kowtow to party establishments and confine his utterances to the policy positions conservatives in the US (and here) are permitted to take, which, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, run the gamut of social issues from A to B.
Trump’s personal appearance has been sneered at as though that had something to do with his politics – apparently ad hominem snipes are OK when directed at a male politician but not at a woman (cfr. Julia’s posterior). But his asymmetrical and admittedly improbably hued coiffure is no more important in judging his merit than is the colour of President Obama’s skin in his case. And his crassness (which he probably wouldn’t disown – he could have classied himself up to speak like an ivy-mantled Wasp if he’d wanted to) seems to me preferable to the sly narcissistic vacuity of Obama. At least Trump has done something with his life, made money, given people employment – what useful job did Obama ever do before his sudden elevation to power? He was a “community organiser”, whatever that is. Indeed, if you think about it, Obama has nothing going for him except his colour. He’s the first affirmative-action President. Trump may well be the only one that can stop a second-affirmative action president (glass ceiling category) being installed in the person of the vainglorious Hillary.
A Trump presidency would be no more dangerous than Obama’s has been and a lot less dreary. It would certainly be more sufferable than to have Hillary running round bossily like a headmistress who’s just had a conversion experience through reading a feminist tract. And would she of the e-mails and Libyan disaster or Trump be capable of doing more damage to American interests in four years?
It seems to me that Trump says things that many conservatives secretly agree with but are embarrassed to admit to. Take his line on Muslim immigration. I understand it as follows. If ebola has broken out somewhere we suspend immigration from that region, as Australia did in 2014. That means that people who don’t have the disease have to be stopped from coming into the country along with those who do, since you can’t always tell who’s infected. Islamic fanaticism, says Trump, should be treated analogically. You can’t tell how many potential jihadis are coming into the country among Moslems of peaceful intent. So stop them all to be on the safe side. It might seem harsh but you can see the logic. And like keeping out ebola sufferers, it could save lives.
The Gillian Triggses of this world will scream the place down, but perhaps even they, if they would admit it, would prefer the Trump solution if the alternative was to be shot dead while enjoying a latte in Martin Place.
Then there’s the objection, frequently uttered by Republicans, that Trump is not a “real” conservative. Well, when you look at what real conservatives say and do on issues that ought to distinguish them from non-conservatives – be it abortion, gay “marriage”, multiculturalism or climate change – Trump’s not being a real conservative would seem a disadvantage only in the eyes of those who profess conservatism but do not practise it.
Besides, real conservatives are pragmatists rather than doctrinaire ideologues. Trump has no real policies, goes another objection. But might it not be argued that it is better to go into office without fixed policies and see what the job requires when you get there? It would not be the first time the office has made the man.
But who, critics ask, wants a maverick egotist (one of the more charitable descriptions of Trump) with his finger on the button? That’s nonsense. Does anyone suppose that a US president treats the nuclear deterrent as his own personal toy to play with? Trump would have a vast apparatus of advisers and, since there is no evidence that he is a stupid man, he would presumably listen to them. Even George W. Bush, who Leftie dumbos still insist on saying was a moron, didn’t blow the world to kingdom come.
Further, anyone who thinks (as I have heard suggested) that voting for Trump would be like voting for Hitler in 1933 might remember that in our day Hitlerian tendencies are the preserve of the tyrannical Left. Indeed, all these objections to Trump play into the hands of the Left. The Left will be devastated if Trump wins. The New York Times (and the Sydney Morning Herald or Age) will report the news with their front pages bordered in black. The American TV networks (and the ABC) will suspend their programmes to play funeral music. The church bells of the über-liberal Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (and the Uniting Church here) will toll in mourning. With no more cheques from big government, meritless quangocrats will have to start emptying their desks.
A Trump presidency would be good for conservatism. One could say that Trump’s candidacy already has been. It has disturbed the tranquil waters of consensual politics. Without him, issues which party and media establishments would never allow to be talked about have been raised. His ratings in the primaries show that those issues strike a chord with voters, the demos. So, whether he wins or loses ultimately, he has been good for democracy too. Conservatives should value that.
20 February 2016
Published in The Spectator Australia