NeverTrump is a Neville Chamberlain Conservatism

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

This is Part 2 of a post I started here. This continues my response to Jim Geraghty’s “The Road That Brought Conservatives and Republicans to This Point.

In a recent column, Jim Geraghty starts out sympathetic enough; then lionizes PermaWar NeverTrumpers; then paints David French as their avatar; establishes a straw man Trump supporter; and then regurgitates debunked leftist smears of Trump supporters. Having dispatched the smears, I will now proceed to address the strawman that Trump supporters only care about victory above all else.

For starters, let’s talk about the notion that “the goal all along was to get everyone to treat each other better.” You could have fooled me. By calling it a “goal” you indicate that tactics were chosen with consideration to progressing toward that goal, and were modified over time as results showed what worked and what didn’t. That is not what I’ve observed. What we had was one side fighting in a polite and dignified way, with the expectation that EVENTUALLY the other side will stop gouging eyes and shivving kidneys, and engage according to civilized codes. Perhaps the “brave firefighters” in the press would shame them into it, or perhaps the voters would hand them defeats and force them into it. Or maybe our example would just be so damn noble it would inspire them to better action. But this never happened. The “brave firefighters” just crawled further in the pockets of the authoritarian left, voter turnout responds more to vigorous energy than pusillanimous whining about “my best,” and the only inspiration police state tyrants got was the knowledge that their tactics work, transferring ever more control of my life from me to them.

No, You know whose behavior indicates that it’s an honest-to-God “goal” for “everyone to treat each other better?” You’re gonna hate to hear this. Trigger warning. Here it is: 45. DJT. The current POTUS, Donald J. Trump. Please show me an instance where President Trump hit first. Please show me where he punched down. Sure he throws punches. Sure, we all want the Oval Office to be a place of such dignity that we can’t imagine its occupant punching. But it’s not. It never has been. DJT hits back, and hits hard. His Twitter account is a social media blend of FDR’s fireside chats and Harry Truman’s various blunt and critical missives. Don’t want none? Don’t start none. Whatever you start, you’ll get. That’s how you modify the behavior of these bullies. That’s how you progress toward the “goal” of “everyone to treat each other better.” When was conservatism infected by this horrifically twisted belief that wishing the office was too dignified for conflict means the office is actually too dignified for conflict? That is delusional.

I don’t think John McCain and Mitt Romney are wrong because they lost their elections. I think they lost their elections because they’re wrong. Please name for me three times John McCain stood up and forcefully advocated, “This conflict does not affect America’s interests directly enough to justify engaging in it.” Or, “Let’s not enter this war until and unless we have clearly defined parameters that limit how deep we’ll be dragged in and define an achievable vitory.” Or, “While this conflict seems just, we should stay out because we’re already spread too thin and this will jeopardize our chance of success in the current conflicts.” Three times where John McCain expressed any kind of concrete limiting principle for sending my high school classmates to die overseas. Anyone? Bueller?

Does anybody want to inform Mr. Geraghty what Gov. Romney’s signature legislative achievement was in Massachusetts? A bill he so owned, not only is it called after him, but he also had it painted into his official portrait! Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Wait for it … wait for it … are you ready? ROM!…rom…rom…NEY!…ney…ney…CARE!…care…care. That’s right, RomneyCare. The blueprint for ObamaCare. I spent a year, just waiting for Romney to say ANYTHING along the lines of, “I know ObamaCare won’t work, because I already tried it. This is the data we collected, and these are the reasons it failed. Here’s how it harmed the most vulnerable people it was intended to help. Here’s what might work instead.” But no. He ran against ObamaCare, pretending his hands were clean, and Obama let him get away with it because he wanted sole credit for ObamaCare. That election was the last time I held my nose and voted for the “lesser of two evils.” Most generally conservative moderates couldn’t bring themselves to be so forgiving of his hypocrisy, and simply stayed home from the polls. Romney isn’t a terrible conservative because he lost; I don’t even think he lost because he’s a terrible conservative. He lost because he claims to be a conservative when he plainly isn’t. He’s a hypocrite and everything reasonable liberals criticize in Republicans.

I used to think 45 split conservatism into two strains. But maybe he’s just exposed them and clarified them. On one side, you see the Neville Chamberlain NeverTrumpers, eager to appease progressive tyrants by selling out their own interests. Because they can feel superior that they avoided distasteful conflict. And then you have the Winston Churchill conservatism that’s willing to make an alliance with Stalin to defeat a greater evil, and launch the unGodly carnage of Operation Overlord, bacause sometimes there’s a world of difference between having a peace worth living, and simply avoiding conflict. Failing to fight is not peace. Being cowed before smears is not peace. Certainly not a worthwhile peace. Fighting isn’t easy, tidy, or pleasant. But a worthwhile peace is imposed through conflict.

I wasn’t always in this camp. I also once confused prudishness with conservatism. It’s not too late for Mr. Geraghty. I saw the light, and so can he. I invite him to depart the Chamberlain camp and join us in the Churchill camp. The first step will be to research those smears he seems to actually believe. Once he learns the truth, perhaps he’ll wonder what other lies he’s bought into.

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