Quotes from President Reagan and George Orwell prominently displayed on anti-Trump website “The Bulwark” immediately soothe the distressed “Never-Trumper.” He has come to the right place.
He has been binging on “Morning Joe” for the past couple of months, but it’s just not good enough. He needs some of the pure stuff. Something that allows him to feel superior to Democrats while distancing himself from the rubes in the heartland and feeling intelligent and principled.
He nervously opens an article entitled “Hayek Saw This Coming” and waves of relief flood his poor addled brain.
He nods vigorously as his favorite MSNBC contributor, Charlie Sykes, takes Roger Kimball to task for changing his mind on Trump. Tears up nostalgically when Sykes starts quoting from “The Road to Serfdom” as he remembers all the times in college when he smugly quoted that book to his liberal friends. And shakes his head in indignation as he is reminded that Trump campaigned as a demagogue.
He takes comfort in knowing that there are some vague plans for a 2020 primary challenge and that even if Trump wins the primary, the Democrats will still benefit from The Bulwark’s list of “Pitfalls the Democrats Should Avoid for 2020.”
Pacified by the cultured and principled articles and a bottle of wine, he gently dozes off, clutching a volume of Aristotle’s “Politics” and dreaming of a Ben Sasse presidency.
Without the steady stream of content from the well-funded Bulwark, Never-Trumpers would quickly feel the symptoms of withdrawal.
They would realize that Trump is not a dictator and is instead acting with great patience and reserve, and they would feel foolish as they remembered their years of alarmist dramatics. They would have to reckon with why the American people ignored their cultured and principled opinions and elected a man who they had not anointed, and a careful examination of this might make them feel less intelligent than they might otherwise like to feel. And they might actually have to revise some of their views and opinions, a task that might require them to think independently and not simply quote their favorite political writer.
Charlie Sykes is right to call Roger Kimball’s changing views a feat of “intellectual gymnastics.” The mark of a true intellect is not the number of books in the Western canon that he has read. It is his ability and modesty to consider that he might be wrong and his willingness to free his mind from the shackles of a foolish consistency. And this ability and willingness certainly requires an agile and flexible mind — something that Messrs. Sykes and Bill Kristol currently lack.
Never-Trumpism is easy. Read a few conservative philosophers. Hold to a few core principles, no matter what. And express outrage at most of what Trump says. Adoration from the media and liberal friends will follow.
But Never-Trumpism is also unthinking. It fails to account for the real world. That’s why so many Never-Trumpers ended up being so wrong about the 2016 election. And that’s why they continue to stumble about in the dark and continue to make absolute fools of themselves, egged on by liberal pundits who revel that they can say, “I must be open-minded; I have conservative friends.”
Never-Trumpers, with their unchanging views, can’t understand why the world does not agree with them and thus conclude that the world has gone mad. And this leads them to indulge in the feel-good drug of believing that they are the last intelligent and sane people in the country. Although they aren’t exactly clear on who died and left them in charge of the conservative intellectual tradition, they are adamant that they are the rightful heir.
The Weekly Standard eventually failed due to irrelevance. The Bulwark, established immediately to replace the aforementioned, will likely continue this tradition of irrelevance, only occasionally rising into the spotlight when some liberal television show needs a token conservative who has been beaten into submission.
It’s sad to see these minds, which have so much potential, wasting away in a fantasy land. Stuck on the drug of arrogant, uncritical pseudo-intellectualism. Hopefully, we may one day be able to cure them of addiction and rehabilitate them as productive members of society. But the methadone clinic sure isn’t helping.
Karl Notturno (@KarlNotturno) is a fellow at the Center for American Greatness. He also serves as director of A Soldier’s Home, a nonprofit that helps homeless veterans. He graduated from Yale University with degrees in philosophy and history.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.