By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – Saturday night, my husband and I sat around a patio table having drinks and talking politics with friends. It’s not often that I’m dumbfounded into speechlessness, but there I was. One of the men in our group expressed his enthusiastic support of Donald Trump:
HE: Well, what do you think about Donald Trump?
ME: Ugh – he’s a buffoon and a false conservative! I don’t think he’s serious about being president, he’s only in for the moment just to agitate.
HE: I like what he says! He’s got my vote!
ME: How can you tell what he says or means? He’s changed position on so many issues!
ANOTHER: He’s for gun control – that’s a deal breaker for me.
HE: Oh, I don’t care about gun control, I’m not all into guns.
This is the part where I started to gape. Right now, Trump says he is against gun control but he’s also on record for supporting assault weapon bans and longer wait periods. Overall, his position is inconsistent. My friend went on to explain that having a gun is so unnecessary because if someone was trying to attack me, the odds (“you’ve got to look at the percentages!” he exclaimed) of my being able to get to my gun to defend myself are very small. “You almost never see reports of someone stopping their attacker with a gun,” he explained. I’m not sure where he gets his information, but it’s not the same place I do.
At this point I started to realize that argument was futile.
Others in the group suggested more staunchly conservative candidates perhaps might merit his attention, like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, or even Marco Rubio. The man shrugged, tossed back his drink, and said, “Oh I don’t know much about Ted Cruz and I don’t really care to – Trump already has my vote.” He repeated this several more times before I turned the conversation to the topic of cats, realizing that politics was a topic on which we would never agree.
This morning I woke up with the sad realization that my conservative vote might cancel out my daughter’s liberal one, but whose vote will cancel out the man in our group last night? And the man’s wife will only vote for whomever he tells her to, so … we may be doomed.
I’m scared that we have come to the point in our society where the general voter cares more about the Kardashians and Donny Loves Jenny than the future of our country. Trump is a buffoon, an entertainer, and a businessman. He says whatever he thinks you want to hear just so he can close the deal. He has no inner-core, no deep, soul searing beliefs in conservative theory.
Victor Davis Hanson:
The mystery among the political and media class is how quickly these disgruntled conservatives will be cleansed and get Trump out of their systems, and whether it will happen before he does other Republican candidates real damage. For now, it will take a bit more of the unfiltered Trump’s preposterousness and anti-PC bluster before his teed-off fans are finally pacified. Scorning or ridiculing Trump’s hypocrisies, narcissism, or outlandishness won’t silence him, much less win over his supporters. That will happen only when voters find a more savvy, more informed, more polite — but equally blunt and unafraid — version of Trump, perhaps a candidate like either Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Scott Walker, all of whom are more likely to channel unapologetic conservative anger rather than crudely amplify it.
Mr. Hanson is right on target but I don’t think the fellow in our group last night is necessarily a “disgruntled conservative” but is instead just looking for someone entertaining, like the people on his reality shows.
George Will’s column last week suggests that the Republican party should deal with Trump the same way that William F. Buckley dealt with the John Birch Society in 1962 – excommunicate him:
Indeed, a party has a duty to exclude interlopers, including cynical opportunists deranged by egotism. This is why closed primaries, although not obligatory, are defensible: Let party members make the choices that define the party and dispense its most precious possession, a presidential nomination. So, the Republican National Committee should immediately stipulate that subsequent Republican debates will be open to any and all — but only — candidates who pledge to support the party’s nominee.
Should that happen, you can be sure Trump will pick up his toys and go home. Would he bother to run as a third party then, and ensure Hillary’s coronation? Of course he would.
There’s enough time for Trump to implode before things get too serious, but the concern is what damage will be done before then. How many more reality-voters and shallow thinkers will Trump win over before he’s done, and who will they turn to when he’s gone?
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.