Tuesday, September 13, 2016

11-09-2016

Mark Levin has reluctantly declared his intention to vote for Donald Trump. Just as many other conflicted conservatives have done, he has set defeat of Hillary Clinton as his higher priority. Unlike many others that have done the same, he has not donned the cheer leader's uniform or chosen to ignore those positions taken by the GOP nominee that conflict with his convictions. Prior to this campaign cycle this has been a fairly common occurrence among conservatives. In this campaign cycle taking such an approach invariably invites acrimony and invective from others that might have done the same in previous election cycles.

Around the 2007 time frame we saw a conservative movement really come to life. It was a time of high energy and rising activism among conservatives. It was impressive that this conservative movement began to really take off under a Republican president, and that much of it was in opposition to the policies and agendas of that president and other establishment Republicans. There was a certain legitimacy that came with being the loyal opposition. In roughly a decade that has followed, the conservative movement has made significant gains. Some bad legislation has been stopped, and significant conservative gains have been made at the ballot box. Loyal conservative opposition within the GOP has had much to do with these gains. We've grown used to relying on watchdogs like Mark Levin and grassroots TEA party leaders to rally support for or against a variety of political issues throughout the years. But while Levin has not lost his voice of opposition during this election cycle, many of those other watchdogs have stopped barking completely.

The Trump campaign, the GOP establishment, and the Democrats are all watching and taking note. Where they were previously convinced that people were serious in their opposition to any one policy or another (comprehensive immigration reform, for example), the silence of the watchdogs on these topics now will almost certainly convince them otherwise for the future. When Trump supported increasing the minimum wage many were silent. Those that spoke out faced accusations of being Hillary supporters. When Trump supported amnesty for illegal aliens many were silent. Those that spoke out faced accusations of being Hillary supporters. When the idea of the government supporting child care for all was floated at the GOP convention many were silent. Those that spoke out faced accusations of being Hillary supporters. Today the Trump campaign has adopted government subsidy of child care as a policy position. Silence has a cost.

The reality is that those conservatives that opposed Trump's support of a minimum wage increase, amnesty, government funded child care, etc. oppose the minimum wage, amnesty, government funded child care, etc. If that opposition is not voiced it caries no weight with the political class. If there continues to be no specter of consequences, or organized outcry from the conservative movement for such positions before the election, it's hard to see a reason for Trump or anyone else in Washington to take such opposition seriously after the election. If conservatives don't care enough before the election to raise a fuss, or to pick up a phone and tell Donald Trump what they think of his plans to open the national coffers for child care, or any number of other terrible positions, he will think after the election that it just isn't important enough for anyone to seriously oppose him on. And he'll probably be right. If Hillary wins she will know it as well. So will the GOP establishment. The window for convincing any of them otherwise is rapidly closing.

The silence of the voters speaks volumes about what is not important to them. We need to be careful about what we aren't saying. Among my conservative friends there are quite a few that have put a stake in the ground claiming that Donald Trump has no chance of winning the presidency. Whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing, I've never joined that crowd. I also have quite a few conservative friends that are actually excited about the prospect of a Trump presidency, and I've certainly never joined that crowd. In another election year I'd probably be closer to the position of the first group, but the democrats actually nominated Hillary Clinton. While opinions vary, probably more than in any election cycle I've seen, my opinion is that we've been presented with the two worst major party candidates of my lifetime. My expectation has been that Trump will pull it off.

Hillary Clinton is a ship in a sea of ice bergs. She could be sunk by any one of them at any time and they are slowly but surely drifting her way. Over the past year Trump has simply made a game of bumper cars with his ice bergs and perceptions of him are probably not going to shift dramatically one way or the other going forward. In recent days Hillary's health has become a real issue for her campaign. The video of her being loaded like an old suitcase into the van at the 9/11 memorial ceremony is startling in how routine it seemed to be for her handlers. She was clearly not in control of herself, and pneumonia doesn't do that. If she is replaced as the Democrat candidate before the election, that could be bad news for Trump.

If you can't look at these two candidates and recognize what makes them both extremely unpopular, you may be a political junkie in need of a twelve step program, but on 11/9/2016 one of them(or Hillary's replacement) is going to emerge the winner of this contest. As much as Trump and the establishment would like to lay the blame for his potential defeat at the feet of the "never Trump" crowd, the math doesn't support it in anything but a razor thin election margin. The few political junkies that are going to be swayed by Beck or Shapiro or some guy on facebook questioning Trump's position on the minimum wage is almost nothing. Even ardent opposition like Beck and Shapiro aren't telling others how to vote. They're simply open about their own personal choice on the subject, and the heat they get for that is unbelievable.

Fear is a powerful motivator. A couple of days ago a post was making the rounds on facebook about a large Tea party facebook group essentially planning a pogrom against conservatives that didn't support Trump. When looking for explanations for those things that just don't seem rational in this election cycle I consider that fear may be driving much of it. It may silence many who see the future and the election as things so fragile that they may break at the slightest whisper of anything but support for a political candidate. It may be behind the berserk attitudes some conservatives direct at each other. I don't know. I am convinced that whatever is driving so many warriors of the conservative movement to self-censorship or vitriol against other conservatives is not healthy and indicates a misplaced faith. We need to have it out of our system soon. This election cycle will end. Only conservatives can determine what the conservative movement will look like on 11/9/2016.

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