In a recent Atlantic piece titled “The Anti-Anti-Trump Right,” by Peter Beinart, the subheadline reads: “For conservative publications, the business model is opposing the left. And that means opposing the people who oppose Trump.” As is customary these days, the Left, much like Trump, questions the motives of political foes rather than addressing their arguments. Beinart goes on to name the two only honorable conservatives in the entire country (according to Democrats), David Frum and David Brooks. For them, Beinart contends, conservatism is “prudence, inherited wisdom, and a government that first does no harm.” Sure it is. Everyone else is a moral coward and a hypocrite for failing to support liberals in their fight to …
… in their fight to do what, exactly?
It’s true that Trump doesn’t exhibit prudence, reliance, or inherited wisdom. Yet — and I know this is exceedingly difficult for Democrats to comprehend —neither does the alternative. If liberals were serious about convincing Republicans to abandon Trump in toto, they’d have something better to offer than Donald Trump.
What seems to most vex critics of the anti-anti-Trump contingent (and I am mentioned in the Atlantic piece) is that conservatives aren’t appropriately agitated about the world that liberals see — a world that has turned out to be far less apocalyptic in the early going than they imagine. But if it’s a zero-sum choice they’re offering, that includes picking Neil Gorsuch over Planned Parenthood; tax cuts over teachers unions; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran’s Holocaust deniers; deregulation of the bureaucratic state over legislation, or forcing progressive cultural mores on everyone. And so on.
As Matt Lewis pointed out today, for example, many former free traders are now embracing the protectionist, big-government policies of Trumpism. This is the kind of capitulation many fiscal conservatives feared. Again, the problem is that for free traders, Democrats are as just bad. In fact, the popularity of protectionism among populist movements on left and right is so strong, there’s a good argument that the only way to possibly counteract it is by electing more conservatives to Congress.