We Told You So

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

In 2016, the reality of a Trump primary win finally hit me like a ton of bricks. I was beside myself. We had eight years to come up with a solid conservative candidate and this was the guy we end up with? I could not understand the fervent support many of my conservative friends were throwing behind this man. I won’t adjudicate all his flaws for this post…we’re all familiar with the typical complaints. Suffice to say, I was unimpressed by his candidacy and felt conservatives were compromising.

However, I could recognize that I was in the minority – obviously. Trump crushed the primaries and I’m not one to believe that people are dumb just because they don’t vote like me. If I wanted to be an honest pundit, I needed to try to understand what my fellow-conservatives saw in Trump. The fact that suddenly the True Conservatives™ were declaring their conservative brethren idiots, traitors and basically devil-worshippers only motivated me even more. I made a concerted effort to hear what others were saying, instead of just assuming they got it wrong and they were too stupid to see I was right.

I’m glad I did. As I talked to more and more people, even through and after the election, I realized that for a lot of people, they weren’t saying they were crazy about Trump. They were saying that Hillary Clinton was too dangerous to elect. They’d rather take their chances with the unknown than the known.

Over his term I slowly came around to their point of view. It enraged me to hear popular Christian conservatives declare Trump voters in violation of their faith. I thought about the Black men in my family, the faithful Black men, who chose Trump and I wondered why their one vote was somehow supposed to disqualify from heaven. My husband and I have never voted differently from one another, except in 2016, when he told me, “I don’t care who you vote for. I’m voting for Trump because I really don’t want Hillary Clinton as President.” He was making a rational assessment, not rooting for the fall of mankind. You wouldn’t have known that to see people on our own side talking about “weak-minded” voters like him.

Then 2020 came around and brought us COVID and insane lockdown practices throughout the country and suddenly a lot of True Conservatives™ were writing think pieces about how they’d decided to vote for Trump. They insisted that it wasn’t because they like Trump all that much. They insisted they weren’t violating their conservative principles and that they’d weighed the election consequences and decided a vote for a flawed President was better than a vote for Biden and the Democrat party’s scary agenda, made even scarier by COVID.

Not one of them gave an apology to the millions of Americans they had spent four years calling idiots and traitors. In fact, it was they who were the idiots…and I can include myself among them for a brief time. They were the slow ones. They hadn’t come to some intellectually superior realization all of a sudden, they were simply catching up to the rest of right-of-center America. Many of them to this day refuse to apologize for condemning their brethren to hell for voting for Trump. In 2016 it was a “cult of personality.” In 2020 it was just a “very tough but necessary decision.”

Give me a break.

But this is exactly what is happening right now in the COVID conversation. Those of us who prefer to err on the side of freedom and information have been screaming since 2020 that none of these harsh mitigation efforts will make a lick of difference. Educate people, give people the freedom to make decisions like wear masks and get a COVID vaccine that’s always been iffy at best. Sure, do all that. But locking people away from their lives would do more harm than good. The virus is a virus. It does what all viruses do and we need to let it do that, while protecting the vulnerable and ramping up health responses (which was Trump’s advice all along). The progressive left has spent the last two years accusing everyone who simply questioned the validity of lockdowns and mandates of being nothing short of ignorant murderers.

Reality is setting in for many of those accusers. Just look at what the CNN pundits have finally “realized.” Karol Markowicz nails this thought from Brian Stelter.

And Chris Cilliza posted this incredible “waking up” thread about how he has suddenly been forced to face the reality that all of these measures have added up to exactly nothing. The whole thing is worth a read but here’s the money quote.

Like the True Conservatives™, none of these people are offering any apologies for maligning the people who simply reached this conclusion much sooner.

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years it’s that most people will never be able to cope with a paradigm shift. Our brains are wired to maintain the realities that we can understand at a very high cost. To admit we are wrong about our fundamental beliefs takes a gigantic amount of courage and self-awareness – two things of which our mainstream media is in short supply.

They’ll count themselves as enlightened, tell us they’re simply following the science, and continue to berate you for being an idiot for being ahead of the curve. To admit they were wrong about this is to admit they are wrong about pretty much everything.

It’ll be a bridge too far for them, and it’s too soon to tell if this is a “better late than never” type of thing or if the Brian Stelters of the world have already inflicted maximum damage.

That being said…we told you so.