Post Trump, Ergo Propter Trump?
Greg Weiner’s piece in the NY Times hits and misses upon an absolutely central theme of being a Republican in 2019/20: Is President Trump’s behavior worth President Trump’s victories? In this piece, Weiner argues that you cannot praise the policies of President Trump and ignore Trump the human being. Weiner insinuates that the ends do not justify the means when it comes to this Republican President.
Weiner rightfully argues against the illogical defense of “Post Trump, Ergo Propter Trump” and demonstrates that because a particular Trump policy or action may have found its way to the right place, this by no means justifies the twists and turns, rhetoric, lies, and mangled processes by which he got there.
A second excellent wag of the finger against Trump’s defenders was that “to excuse his trampling of norms, they must demonstrate that he could not have achieved his policy agenda without doing so.” Weiner cautions us that if real conservativism “teaches anything, it is to trust laws over individuals and processes over outcomes,” and that because President Trump has given us good Supreme Court judges and because he’s cut regulations and lowered taxes, doesn’t mean that he should necessarily receive our unconditional support.
Well, that’s the thing isn’t it? That is the decision that Republicans (especially squishy moderates and libertarians) are going to face over the next two years. There are many Republicans who find Donald Trump, the man, absolutely repugnant. There are many Republicans who find President Trump, the politician, to be seriously flawed and possibly dangerous. There are many Republicans who find President Trump’s policies at the border horrific, who find his trade wars and massive tax increases on U.S. consumers idiotic, and who find his treatment of historic U.S. allies shameful.
So what do those Republicans do in 2020? Let’s be honest, President Trump has delivered infinitely more solid Republican policies than would have been realized under a President Hillary Clinton and will continue to deliver infinitely more solid Republican policies than what we will realize from a President Sanders, or Warren, or Harris, or Booker.
If it’s Republican and conservative policies that we’re after, shouldn’t we support Trump? Isn’t that an easy decision? Isn’t Weiner just trying to give us an excuse to stay home in 2020, protected by the red flag of an existential threat in our Presidents behavior?
Or do spiritual and psychological matters of the heart matter too? Is Donald Trump, the man, so repugnant that one simply could not live with themselves having lent his ascendance their consent?
Mr. Weiner concludes:
“If self-proclaimed constitutionalists are actually willing to exchange enduring habits for transient policies, they should at least be sure the means are necessary to the ends. There is nothing Mr. Trump has achieved to which his incivility has been indispensable or even useful. The gratuitous nature of his unpresidential behavior adds an element of farce to the tragic bargain many of Mr. Trump’s apologists have struck.”
For those who believe that liberal, progressive, and socialist policies are harmful to America, the choice in 2020 may be between harming our country and harming our soul. A truly disappointing thought, but one that Mr. Weiner shouldn’t ignore in his analysis of the paradox that lies before us.