The Donald Trump nomination has brought to our lives a moment we never thought we would see – a whirlwind week where prominent Republican politicians had to engage in serious soul searching before deciding whether to support the Republican nominee.
Some have already done the right thing, at tremendous political risk. Paul Ryan is not perfect – in fact, he is far from it. But for him to come out and state that he is not willing to support Trump – even on a temporary basis – was a huge, momentous event and virtually unprecedented in modern politics. In so doing, Ryan clearly signaled to other House members that they were clear to act in accordance with their conscience when it comes to Trump. And Ben Sasse continued to be steadfast in his rejection of the idea that Trump is an acceptable nominee, if nothing else.
But there were also bitter disappointments. Rick Perry said that he not only was going to support Trump, he would consider being his VP. I sat in a TV studio last night waiting for an interview as my own representative Marsha Blackburn used the same studio for her appearance on CNN where she explained that she would happily support Trump and confidently predicted that other House members would fall in line.
Over the weeks and months that follow, there will be many more bitter disappointments to follow. It almost seems too much, after a year that saw the incredible behavior of many long time conservative stalwarts who threw their principles out the window to foist this Cheeto-faced mentally unbalanced charlatan upon us.
The temptation is going to be to go numb to all of this. That when the next person who we should have counted on stuns us all by actually suggesting that Donald Trump is fit to be President of the Untied States, that we just write it off with barely a second thought. There comes a certain point where you feel like you just can’t allow yourself to continue to be surprised and hurt when another person that you once respected shows that their judgment and principles forever tainted by the love of the office they hold.
Don’t. Going numb to the corruption wrought by Trump is what got us in this mess. Trump – and support for Trump – must not become the new normal in the conservative movement. Maybe it will become normal in the Republican Party, which ceased to stand for anything meaningful as an institution a long time ago, but it can’t become normal for the actual conservative voters who believe in things like limited government, equality under the law, free markets, free trade, and basic public decency.
The only way this won’t become the new normal is if you allow yourself to be hurt every time someone caves to this perversion of conservatism and the Republican party. Be horrified. Be aghast. Feel betrayed. Ask aloud to yourself, “How could you?” Ask aloud to THEM, by calling, writing, or emailing, “How could you?”
Because the minute you stop feeling that, the closer you become to assimilating it and accepting it yourself. And if that happens, the conservative movement as we know it dies. And that movement, and the political changes it has wrought, is solely responsible for the fact that America is a unique and different nation from Europe or any other place on the planet. It’s the reason a pro-life movement flourishes here where it has been extinguished elsewhere. It’s the reason why robust intellectual debate continues here about whether the government should be involved in certain enterprises at all as opposed to merely how much.
So go on. Let it hurt. Let it bother you every time you see someone surrender. It’s the only way to make sure Trump is a one-time aberration and not the new normal in American politics.