With apologies to those of you who don’t freebase the politics of political blogging daily.
If you read about politics online, if you visit blogs and the online home of major publications and news organizations, if you are on Twitter and Facebook and watch or read or participate in political discussion, then you probably hear or read the phrase #NeverTrump more often than you hear just plain old Trump. It comes up constantly. Incessantly. It is the headline of news articles and thinkpieces and polemics and YouTube videos and probably, somewhere, a term paper or college thesis.
This is the part of a thinkpiece where you say everyone is guilty of making this happen. But everyone isn’t. The reason is because of the NEVER #NeverTrump people.
Yep. A third thing.
NEVER #NeverTrump: (n) – People who focus almost exclusively on bashing #NeverTrump rather than the actual things happening in the election or the words the candidates say.
(It should be noted all these dumb nicknames only apply to those on the right. The definitions are different when these words are applied on the left.)
There are people who are #NeverHillary. I consider myself #NeverHillary, but most others who claim the title wouldn’t count me among them. What it means is that never, under any circumstance, would you vote for Hillary. It does not mean “Hillary must never be President” or “Hillary must never exist.’ It just means you will never vote for her. That’s what it meant at first, anyway.
How do I know that’s what it meant? Because it was based on #NeverTrump, which means the same thing, and which I also consider myself. It means you will never, ever vote for Trump for any reason. Not “Trump must never be President.” Same idea. Same reasons, mostly.
But a lot of people don’t use them that way. (We sort of have an epidemic of things being redefined this year.) When a Trump voter says they are #NeverHillary, what they mainly mean is “I correctly support Trump because I recognize the reality that Hillary must never become President and I, for one, am standing on the correct side of history to ensure it.” It is meant with an air of “job well done” satisfaction whether that person has long been active politically or if this is the first time they realized we have Presidential elections and don’t choose leaders in some sort of singing competition judged by Simon Cowell.
When those same voters refer to someone else as #NeverTrump, almost certainly with a sneer of contempt, what they mean is “You’re a Hillary voter.”
What a lot of #NeverTrump people mean when they self-identify as #neverTrump is that they are smart and have clean hands and you can’t change my mind no matter what you say and I can’t hear you my fingers are in my ears LA LA LA. Hey sorry, some of you #NeverTrump people are super annoying. (But you’re not as guilty of bad behavior as the the other guys, so chill.)
(And yes, some small fraction #NeverTrump people actually do mean that Trump must never be elected so therefore Hillary must be elected, and say so. A tiny number, but I’ll allow the quantity “some”. That doesn’t make them the group, or even necessarily part of the group. But they use the hashtag. I, for one, call them #NeverTrumpWithHer)
Far and away, however, more than fans of Donald Trump, more than #NeverTrump hardliners, more than Jill Stein voters, more than the awful commercials for The General auto insurance, the most annoying thing in all of 2016 is the NEVER #NeverTrump person.
These folks are angry. They are bitter. They HATE #NeverTrump and are obsessed with it. In fact, #NeverTrump seems to be pretty much the only aspect of the election these angry folks are bitterly interested in. You already know who they are. They rant and rave, they “name names”. Sometimes they are pseudonymous, other times they are Sean Hannity. In all cases, they are insufferable complainers.
And sweet jumping frog meme they are illogical and inconsistent.
They make this argument, I know you’ve heard it and will attribute this to whoever was the person you most recently heard say it, but they all do it. They argue that #NeverTrump is working for Hillary and refuses to admit that her win is what they really want. The thin veneer for this is that being #NeverTrump means you want Trump to lose, therefore you are a liar if you don’t admit the flip side of that which is that Hillary will win. Ergo, you want Hillary to win.
They usually throw in, at that point, something about unspecified “rewards” from the left for opposing Trump, some type of supposed monetary gain, some type of ephemeral, mysterious, future fame, and the satisfaction of moral preening. Remember, they are talking about people who were their allies ten months ago.
So ask NEVER #NeverTrump this question: is it your goal specifically to torch former allies? Or is that a consequence of the position you believe to be correct? In other words, that you have chosen a correct position and even though you know a consequence of that correct position is that you’ll be torching allies, torching them is not why you made the decision.
I mean you, NEVER #NeverTrump, are arguing that for #NeverTrump a secondary consequence is the primary goal. That’s not honest.
In my own case, aside from the lesser and unrealistic goal of Gary Johnson winning (which I think would be best for America), my primary goal is to oppose Donald Trump and not be someone who helped him. If a consequence of my taking that position I believe to be correct is that he loses and Hillary wins … well so be it. If a consequence is that Trump fans are galvanized to defeat my position and therefore Trump wins … well then so be that. I’ve already written this election off as a loss.
Now, you may try to protest that this is a pretty esoteric distinction, or an inconsequential difference to make such a big deal out of, but that’s only because you are incorrect. It is a meaningful and important distinction that literally defines how most of us operate. We oppose Donald Trump on the merits as bad for America. That requires (and carries) no incentive. Having your motives not merely impugned, but spat upon daily by people you used to consider your fellows is no small thing. This is a meaningful distinction and, moreover, a true one.
Of course it is ridiculous it comes to that. Because to chalk up any hypothetical future Trump loss to #NeverTrump requires one to make a much bigger leap than even Hillary took with her ‘Deplorable Half’ comment. Aren’t you “Reluctant Trump Voters” always complaining about people or the media overstating the importance of the alt-right or racists to Trump’s electoral chances? Don’t you say that people unjustly credit his successes to this small subset of Trump voters? Yet look how you are more than happy to attribute, in advance, any electoral loss to the group of people on Twitter you happen to dislike the most. It’s a case study in preposterous self-contradiction.
Not to mention the truly dumb contradiction of constantly screaming that #NeverTrump helps Hillary while stating repeatedly asserting that #NeverTrump people are irrelevant and marginalized.
If you refuse to vote for Trump, if you say so in public, whether you’re a writer at a blog or a publication or you’re just some regular voter who happens to tweet about their preferences, the mob descends upon you. You are for Hillary, they snipe, no matter what you say about her or him or anyone else. They insist it, and they are desperate and obsessed with you admitting it. It’s practically the only thing they talk about.
They don’t sell Trump. They don’t explain his value as president or as a person. They don’t have answers for his many lies both before and during this election, nor even for his constant insistence on betraying their own choice to support him.
They simply cannot tolerate you not being in the boat with them. You are a coward, former friend and ally, because you chose not to board the Titanic and, worse, continue to refuse to row out to the iceberg and sink with it.
A friend of mine said to me that maybe these “reluctant” Trump voters who are obsessed with #NeverTrump are just trying to cope with their own guilt. I suppose that’s an interpretation you could reasonably arrive at. But I think it’s something else.
They’re just coming unhinged because that’s what happens when you compromise yourself. Yes, it is reasonable for a person to conclude that it is better to have Trump than to have Clinton. That’s not an inherently unreasonable thing to think. Indeed, it’s not especially incorrect. Nor is the reverse. Degrees of bad for America still means bad for America.
But when you take the next step and start defending him, you’re tainted. You have to twist yourself to defend the indefensible, and it’s all downhill from there. Some defend him by changing their own values to match his. “Hey Putin is actually pretty okay, you guys!” “Hey we have to get rid of Mexicans. Wait, never mind, Make Mexico Great Again. No wait, scratch that, screw Mexic.. no wait, viva la, no wait ..”
But others, rather than trying to defend his positions, try to simply defend him. They don’t don’t justify the castle, they simply man the ramparts. Usually by spending their time telling #NeverTrump people “I am superior, you are dishonest. I am virtuous, you are cowardly. I am realistic, you are egocentric.”
It’s ugly. I just thought it was time someone pointed it out.
For my money, I prefer real Trump voters to NEVER #NeverTrump. At least real Trump voters are FOR something. The folks who say NEVER to their former friends in #NeverTrump are just … jerks.
And as for that thing when a hobo becomes a rich man, so they take that big bubble bath and make a beard with the bubbles? It’s at New York’s hottest club, Crease. And it, too, is less ridiculous than NEVER #NeverTrump.
P.S. If we’ve accomplished nothing else here, you’re probably sick to death of reading the title #NeverTrump and never want to see it typed again. I still call that a win for this post.