The Appalling Strangeness of Reactions to Trump
It seems two schools of thought have developed with regard to the administration of the 45th President. In one camp, we have people who are convinced the man is evil incarnate, who eagerly await even the smallest verbal slip-up or other mistake. They then rush to breathlessly tell the American people all about how something as minor as a handshake went.
On the other hand, there are those who regard even a small criticism of President Trump, especially by anyone who calls themselves a conservative or a Republican, as the unforgivable sin and mark of disloyalty.
Stuck in the middle are Republicans like myself who praise Trump for doing things with which we agree (the appointments of Mattis, Gorsuch, etc.) and provide negative feedback on decisions or actions we deem to be poor, such as persistent and sophomoric tweets at all hours of the night, Steve Bannon being anywhere near the White House, and the thus-far bungled attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act (though the GOP leadership in Congress bears a substantial amount of the blame).
In the hyper-polarized times in which we find ourselves, such strong reactions, both to Trump and to people who express different opinions on what he does, are hardly surprising.
However, the left and right have merely switched roles after the last eight years of the Obama Administration. Now, as then, each side is convinced that the man in the White House is either God’s agent on this earth, or the Antichrist himself. I haven’t seen evidence yet that he’s anywhere the monster the left says he is. What’s more, they have a vested interest in making him look as much like Satan as possible with the 2018 elections looming. Their minds and talking points are made up, and it is to other Republicans and conservatives that I intend to speak.
My message to my fellow conservatives is simply this: acting as though Trump is infallible does both him and the country a disservice. The fact of the matter is that Trump is just a person like all of us, meaning he’s imperfect. It seems, however, that a large portion of the Republican Party and conservatives have devolved into a group of yes men who perpetually have their lips welded to the President’s posterior, come what may.
Such unwavering, unquestioning loyalty to any individual in power is dangerous and is antithetical to a true understanding of conservative ideology. In fact, it’s a symptom that we’ve allowed a cult of personality mindset to take hold of conservatism, even at the expense of critical thinking and independent thought.
Indeed, it is interesting that those who were so sick and tired of their criticisms of President Obama being met with accusations of racism now turn around and lazily call conservative critics of President Trump RINOs and so on. It’s essentially the same mentality as the liberals who shouted “racist” at anyone who spoke out against Obama, but now it’s being wielded by another group of people with a different target.
Conservatives would do well to remember that we, to paraphrase the second President of the United States, have a government of laws, not of men. Or at least we’re supposed to.