Donald Trump further cemented his untouchable status in this debate. According to the most recent Drudge poll, he won 52% to 47% against the other three candidates combined.
Ted Cruz, despite his eloquence, comes across like a self-righteous principal lecturing children at recess. It should be clear by now that taking Trump to task on his impure past and ideological contradictions is futile. Ordinary conservatives can’t stand what the left has done to our country, but most of them don’t want our next leader to spend four years sermonizing. While no particular tactic can reliably stop Trump at this point, Cruz might have exposed the loophole in Trump’s conservatism if he’d asked him whether he thinks the central message of America is strength or freedom.
Marco Rubio lost the debate because he tried to beat Trump at his own game. It can’t be done! It seemed at moments like Marco was sitting opposite Trump on The Apprentice. He scored points with his yoga joke, but nitpicking Trump’s past failures only highlights Rubio’s lack of business experience. He and Cruz took turns yapping at Trump and created an optical illusion: Trump as the valiant underdog, despite the fact that he’s leading in every poll. The spectacle was uncomfortably reminiscent of two petulant hyenas nipping at a lion’s mane.
John Kasich had an extraordinary night, in large part because he refused to take the bait and exchange insults with anyone. He demonstrated a masterful grasp of every issue that counts. A decade ago, this might have been sufficient to secure the nomination. But in today’s era of rampant media polarization and viral social media clips, raw energy counts infinitely more than substance. His old-school demeanor and frantic gesticulations underwhelm those who have already been seduced by Trump’s boisterous, electric radiance.
Among conservatives who haven’t yet supported Trump, two camps have emerged. There are those who remain in staunch denial of Trump’s inevitability, and those who are rushing to become Trump sycophants before it’s too late.
I don’t feel a burning desire to join either of these camps. What happened to authentic honesty? We can explain the reasons for Trump’s rise, and the stakes of the 2016 election, without endorsing everything he says.
We’ve always lived in an imperfect world, and we subconsciously appeal to moral hierarchies all the time to determine the lesser of various evils.
Here are my considerations:
#1: Our number one priority must be to defeat the left in this country. If Trump wins the nomination, he deserves the support of anyone who wants to see political correctness obliterated, Obama’s political offspring defeated, and Islamic terrorism wiped off the face of this planet.
#2: Therefore, the Never Trumpers are playing a dangerous game. Do they want an expansion of Obamacare into Hillarycare and eight more years of Benghazi-style scandals? Do they want national sensitivity training every time a Republican opens his mouth, a Supreme Court decision that bans the right to armed self-defense, and a country that taxes itself into permanent decline?
#3: Almost as annoying are the Always Trumpers, who seem to think that installing Trump in the White House will solve all of their personal problems. (Some people seem to think that they will absorb Trump’s blunt charisma if they refuse to criticize anything he does.) I honestly wonder how many people would defend Trump if he suddenly promised to imprison Megyn Kelly or nationalize the entire media a la Putin. The fact that some people would undoubtedly support such lunacy is further evidence of the obliteration of American principles in our school systems. Therefore, I blame the left.
#4: Upon close inspection, nearly all of Trump’s most questionable statements have proven to be negotiation leverage:
- We likely won’t have to convince Trump not to impose tariffs, since his economic plan doesn’t even mention them; it calls for cutting corporate tax rates instead.
- Trump’s newly released health care plan explicitly touts economic freedom, rejects the individual mandate, and coherently applies free market principles.
- We can talk about the obvious immorality of killing innocent civilians (an order the military would absolutely refuse) after we defeat the forces destroying our country and our military.
#5: Trump is a walking rejection of political correctness, and his support will expand to the extent that Hillary tries to defend the unnatural sanitizing of our minds. He can get away with a hilarious phallic reference because masculinity itself has been under attack in our country for decades. While political correctness is fueled by the social justice mob, it’s correctly seen by ordinary Americans as a set of rules devised by a privileged, hypocritical elite. They have no moral high ground. Anyone who attempts to shame Trump into submission will meet the same fate as Jeb.
None of this is a prediction about the success of Trump’s presidency. But we have to be realistic if he wins the nomination. Given what’s at stake in the 2016 election, we can’t afford to analyze his flaws in an ideological vacuum.