One of the few things a lot of Americans seem to have in common at the moment is the notion that the Republican Party has become the “Party of Trump.” The sooner Republicans repudiate this nonsense, the better, because Democrats never will.
Indeed, Democrat leaders have gambled their party’s future that they can somehow establish terminal Republican Trumpification as the central political certainty of modern American history, and thereby, as permanent justification for anything they care to try.
None of this is to say Republicans shouldn’t celebrate and defend President Trump’s many and unprecedented conservative accomplishments. We should. But that’s not the same thing as defending the timeless truths, immutable principles and proven values that form the foundation of our constitutional republic. Nobody owns these blessings of our civilized inheritance. They own us.
Farsighted Republican leaders understand these things, and the importance of keeping them paramount to the party of conservativism. But Republicans at every level differ widely as to how well Mr. Trump understands them or can be of continued service to them. What to do about our recently evicted president? Would it be a greater betrayal to our beliefs and moral code to deliver him unto his enemies, or to wager everything on his defense with no guarantee he’ll finally stop making unforced errors?
Let me suggest this a false dilemma. Mr. Trump can take care of himself. He’s sitting on a war chest of over $300 million, and he’s still got his honey badger temperament. Impeachment 2.0 notwithstanding, he’s still essentially the master of his own fate. He could work to strengthen conservative media, think-tanks and educational institutions. Or, he could go into comfortable retirement. Or, he could burn the Republican Party to the ground with a revenge campaign against his GOP critics, launch a new political party, and thereby ensure Democrats would sweep every national election for decades.
Only time will tell what he will do. And so, Donald Trump is not Republicans’ problem. But Joe Biden is. Possession, it is often said, is nine-tenths of the law. And at this point, the executive branch of United States government, the U.S. military and virtually all federal employees are all in the possession of Joe Biden. His physical and mental faculties may be another matter. Nevertheless, the administration of his predecessor is gone, and most of Donald Trump’s conservative achievements will reversed or eradicated with extreme prejudice over the next four years.
And then there’s the extreme prejudice with which Mr. Biden and his minions have stated they intend to discriminate against Americans based on involuntary characteristics such as race, and to punish and “de-program” anyone who did not – and will not – support them. (For starters.) All this will be engineered with the complicity of a Democrat-controlled Congress, and federal courts soon to be packed with judicial activists who consider the Constitution itself to be a creation of systemic western European evil.
Given all this, you’d think Republicans everywhere would be preoccupied with monkeywrenching such designs until the next election so as to begin recapturing our country and its unequalled exceptionalism from ideologues who have suddenly been empowered to do to the American people what the mainland Chinese regime is aching to do to the people of Taiwan.
And yet, many Republicans seem more concerned with perpetuating some inverse version of Trump Derangement Syndrome. It’s as if, after enduring years of bias and lies from the liberal media against Mr. Trump, along with increasingly ridiculous internet conspiracy theories, they’ve decided to defend him by responding in kind. It’s as if, after a long, hot summer of left-wing insurrection in the streets that went largely unanswered, busting into the Capitol became similarly justifiable.
But neither form of Trump derangement is realistic or ethical in any way. For if removing a leader by any means necessary is the highest moral imperative of one body of Americans, and if defending that leader by any means necessary is the highest moral imperative of another body of Americans, is there really any difference? One is as deranged and morally bankrupt as the other.
Likewise, it should be noted that Mr. Trump never had the power to divide us as a people, any more than Mr. Biden has the power to unite us. They are figureheads, symptoms or products of an electorate which, after a half-century of intensifying culture war, has become like two separate and incompatible nations attempting to find favor within a single shared government.
One way or another, this conflict will be settled. But if the result is to be national reunion and reconciliation, it can’t succeed by way of things so temporary and unpredictable as personality cults – much less by lies, dirty tricks, internet conspiracy hoaxes, lawsuits, intimidation or violence. It has to succeed by way of reasonable persuasion. And the political party that most quickly abandons its particular version of Trump Derangement Syndrome will become the party of the American future.