Demographics Change – News at 11 (Updated)

Frankly, I would like to leave the election of 2020 and the conspiracy theories surrounding it behind, but this article is a perfect distillation of the type of illogical, poorly researched nonsense that continues to dominate portions of the right. J.B. Shurk assembles a pile of amazing nuggets (some of which aren’t exactly true) to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election victory (without saying as much – we have to divine the author’s oh-so-subtle intent), but the author’s incredulous tone does not match the assembled evidence. In other words, it’s par for the course for the Stolen Election brigade.

Let’s take these “arguments” one by one. First, there’s Joe Biden’s record vote total.

Holy moly! A lot of Americans turned out for a Washington politician who’s been in office for nearly 50 years. Consider this: no incumbent president in nearly a century and a half has gained votes in a re-election campaign and still lost.

President Trump gained more than ten million votes since his 2016 victory, but Biden’s appeal was so substantial that it overcame President Trump’s record support among minority voters. Biden also shattered Barack Obama’s own popular vote totals, really calling into question whether it was not perhaps Biden who pulled Obama across the finish lines in 2008 and 2012.

Gee, imagine that – more people voted in an election when absentee and mail-in options were more readily accessible than ever. And indeed Donald Trump’s popularity among his base translated into wide adulation and drove millions of people to the polls to vote for him. But his deep unpopularity drove millions more to the polls to vote against him. Donald Trump is a polarizing figure, and is president during a time of intense partisan bickering. I get that Joe Biden enthused precisely zero people. This enthusiasm gap is why I gave Donald Trump a lot better chance to win than just about anyone else who wasn’t a die-hard Trump supporter. But we also have to acknowledge how deep was the hatred – and that’s the right word – felt towards the Donald, and that matters.

Absent from this analysis is any consideration of what the lack of third-party voting did to help Biden’s totals, at least compared to Hillary Clinton. In 2016, the two major party candidates received a hair over 94% of the vote. In 2020, that increased to 98.1%, and Joe Biden was the primary beneficiary. Joe Biden’s vote share declined (compared to Clinton) in exactly two states – Mississippi (39.9% from 40.1%) and New York (56.8% from 59%, and they’re still – very slowly – counting). The average increase for Biden was 3.8% in each state. As for Trump, he did better in 38 states (including DC) but did worse in 13. His average vote share increased 1.05%. In other words, people who voted third party in 2016 but who didn’t in 2020 largely preferred Biden. Is this an unexpected outcome considering what we know of American politics?

As for Trump’s “record breaking” performance among minorities, while it is true he performed better than any Republican since Nixon in 1960, he still was soundly beaten, especially among African-American voters. And whatever gains he made here were more than made up for in the loss of suburban voters. More on that in a moment.

The second “shocking” point raised is that Biden won despite losing multiple “bellweather” counties.

Biden is set to become the first president in 60 years to lose the states of Ohio and Florida on his way to election. For a century, these states have consistently predicted the national outcome, and they have been considered roughly representative of the American melting pot as a whole. Despite national polling giving Biden a lead in both states, he lost Ohio by eight points and Florida by more than three.

For Biden to lose these key bellwethers by notable margins and still win the national election is newsworthy. Not since the Mafia allegedly aided John F. Kennedy in winning Illinois over Richard Nixon in 1960 has an American president pulled off this neat trick.

Even more unbelievably, Biden is on his way to winning the White House after having lost almost every historic bellwether county across the country. The Wall Street Journal and The Epoch Times independently analyzed the results of 19 counties around the United States that have nearly perfect presidential voting records over the last 40 years. President Trump won every single bellwether county, except Clallam County in Washington.

From 1904 to 2004, the state of Missouri voted for the eventual winner of the presidential election in every election except one (1956). Since 2008, it has voted for the eventual winning candidate once in four elections. Things change.

Florida is not really a swing state, despite how close it is every presidential election, and despite Obama winning here twice. There are no statewide elected Democrats, and Republicans have dominated every level of government here for two decades. Ohio is also becoming less “swingy,” and provided Trump eight-point margins in both 2016 and 2018.

There’s little information provided about those 19 counties, but one suspects these are not metropolitan and suburban counties. In other words, Donald Trump won a bunch of rural counties. News at 11.

Next up, we have an outright falsehood: Biden fared worse than Hillary in all but four cities in four swing states.

Baris noted a statistical oddity from 2020’s election returns: “Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton in every major metro area around the country, save for Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia.”

Barnes added that in those “big cities in swing states run by Democrats…the vote even exceeded the number of registered voters.” In the states that mattered most, so many mail-in ballots poured in for Biden from the cities that he put up record-breaking numbers and overturned state totals that looked like comfortable leads for President Trump.

Except, as Dan McLaughlin demonstrated, this isn’t true.

The problem, if you look at the cities themselves, is that the facts do not fit the story. I took a look across the 36 largest U.S. cities outside of California and New York where Biden beat Trump by at least 10,000 votes, as measured by county-wide vote totals (admittedly, some cities cross county lines or have suburban voters within county lines, and Maricopa County, Ariz., has two large cities in a single county). I excluded California and New York only because they are still counting votes so slowly that it is not yet possible to fairly compare their vote totals to 2016. I also excluded four cities where Trump either won or lost by a tiny margin: Colorado Springs, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. That leaves us with a comparison across the major American Democrat-voting cities. Is it true that Joe Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton in 32 out of 36, and overperformed in Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta, and Philadelphia? No, it is not. It is emphatically false:

Dan then has the chart showing how false the claim is. Then he adds:

Biden improved his margin of victory compared to Hillary in 31 out of 36 urban counties — and Philadelphia was one of the five in which he didn’t. In 29 of the cities, the Democratic margin of victory grew on a percentage basis. Of the twelve cities in which Biden overperformed Hillary by enough that his margin of victory grew by 10 percent or more (as a percentage of the 2016 electorate), only one (Atlanta) was in a swing state, and one other (Omaha) in a swing district. Biden’s improvements in Milwaukee and Detroit were distinctly subpar, and in Detroit, Trump improved his own share of the vote enough to be the first Republican to break 30 percent of the vote in Wayne County, Mich., in 32 years.

Yes, Biden had some really striking “metro area” improvements over Hillary in key states, but other than Atlanta, many of those came either in the surrounding suburbs (the election was really won in the suburbs, most of all around Philadelphia) or in counties such as Maricopa County, Ariz., (which contains both Phoenix and Mesa and was won by Trump four years ago) and Douglas County, Neb.,(which contains Omaha and swung one electoral vote). But those are not counties run by infamously corrupt Democratic local parties, and “voter fraud in the suburbs” is neither as sexy nor as plausible as fraud by the kinds of urban machines that gave us 100,000 fraudulent votes in Chicago in the 1982 Illinois governor’s race. Biden turned out tons of additional votes in Austin, Denver, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Portland, and Nashville, too, but none of those mattered to the outcome.

The point about the suburban vote needs to be re-emphasized. It is by now well-established that Donald Trump help lead a mass exodus of suburban voters – particularly women – from the GOP, as evidenced by the 2018 mid-term elections. This carried over to the 2020 election, where Trump underperformed. This is precisely where he lost the election.

Just take Frederick county in Maryland. Sure Maryland is a deep blue state, but in many of the counties outside of Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Republicans are either competitive or even dominant. In 2016 Trump carried Frederick by over 3,000 votes. In 2020, he lost by nearly 13,000 votes. And that pattern repeated itself throughout the country.

The fourth shocking point is that Biden won despite Democrats “losing everywhere.”

Randy DeSoto noted in The Western Journal that “Donald Trump was pretty much the only incumbent president in U.S. history to lose his re-election while his own party gained seats in the House of Representatives.” Now that’s a Biden miracle!

In 2020, The Cook Political Report and The New York Times rated 27 House seats as toss-ups going into Election Day. Right now, Republicans appear to have won all 27. Democrats failed to flip a single state house chamber, while Republicans flipped both the House and Senate in New Hampshire and expanded their dominance of state legislatures across the country.

The Cook Political Report took a giant credibility hit this election cycle, as did the polling industry in general. But these disparate results aren’t quite as “revealing” as the author thinks they are. Many of the Republican gains came in states where they were devastated in 2018, particularly New York and California. They also won back a couple of seats they had previously long-held. Despite the gains, the Republicans still lost – Democrats will have a slight majority. And even if Democrats lose both run-off elections in Georgia in January , they will have gained at least one Senate seat.

These Congressional election results are perfectly in-line with what one would expect in a year with close presidential elections. And, if anything, these are far from anomalous historically speaking. Dwight Eisenhower (1956), Richard Nixon (1972), Ronald Reagan (1980 and 1984), George Bush (1988), and Bill Clinton (1996) all won smashing election victories while the other party maintained control of the House.

Ticket splitting a normal phenomenon. What’s different about Trump is he has underperformed Congressional Republicans – this was true in 2016 and was true again in 2020. Newsflash: Donald Trump was/is not popular. Republicans are less unpopular.

Finally, there’s Trump’s primary performance:

First, no incumbent who has received 75 percent of the total primary vote has lost re-election. Second, President Trump received 94 percent of the primary vote, which is the fourth highest of all time (higher than Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, or Obama). In fact, Trump is only one of five incumbents since 1912 to receive more than 90 percent of the primary vote.

Third, Trump set a record for most primary votes received by an incumbent when more than 18 million people turned out for him in 2020 (the previous record, held by Bill Clinton, was half that number). For Biden to prevail in the general election, despite Trump’s historic support in the primaries, turns a century’s worth of prior election data on its head.

This is one of those historically true, but ultimately meaningless nuggets. Now I have noted before that it historically true that incumbents who are challenged in primaries have lost (Ford, Carter, HW Bush), while incumbents who are not have always won. Trump does upset this tradition.

Presidents who face serious primary challenges are those who are overseeing turbulent times and who are not popular with large chunks of his party’s base. Those two factors spell disaster for most presidents. Therefore, their primary challenges are a sign of what’s to come. Trump maintained his popularity with his base, and therefore had no problems in the primary.

But that also gets to the heart of what is so different about Trump, and also exposes why all these supposedly odd historical nuggets don’t add up to much. Donald Trump is deeply polarizing. His base loves him, and most others loathe him. He never dipped below 40% approval, but rarely got up above 45%. He had a steady base of support that never left him, but he also never built upon that base. Or to the extent he built upon that base, as he did with minorities, he lost it in other crucial demographics.

Donald Trump is a political anomaly. He managed a hostile takeover of the Republican party, built a slightly different political coalition than we’re used to seeing, and became the object of deeply passionate feelings – in both opposition and support – that we have never seen before. That his victory in 2016 and defeat in 2020 are both unique events doesn’t prove anything that we didn’t know already. Those trying to dig deeper and pretend there’s something suspicious at work are just deluding themselves and others.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has an article that addresses one of the issues raised above, ticket splitting.

Surveys have found that splitting votes between parties has been on the decline in recent years as the electorate grows more polarized. The 2020 election showed there are still enough people who vote that way to matter in places like eastern Nebraska and Maine, where Mr. Biden and Republican Sen. Susan Collins both won statewide.

. . .

A Wall Street Journal analysis of county-level election results found that, as in the Omaha area and in Maine, Mr. Biden tended to outperform Democratic Senate candidates in cities, suburbs and exurbs.

Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster at Public Opinion Strategies, said his firm found in a survey that 11% of voters nationally split their ticket—a thin slice but one that matters when contested races are decided by a few percentage points. “That number is really pretty deceptively small, but still, I think, really important in understanding where the Republican gains came from.”

Remember: Ronald Reagan won 60% of the popular vote in 1984. The Democrats lost 16 seats, but still had a 253-182 majority, while Democratic House candidates earned over 4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts.

This is not new. What’s new, if anything, is how relatively minimal it is.

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Flight of Fancy

The Conundrum for anti-Trump Conservatives

In his June 1 column, George Will wrote that not only should President Trump be defeated this Fall, but so should his Congressional “enablers.” In language evocative of an angry god declaring that all shall be vanquished before him, Will wrote:

The nation’s downward spiral into acrimony and sporadic anarchy has had many causes much larger than the small man who is the great exacerbator of them. Most of the causes predate his presidency, and most will survive its January terminus. The measures necessary for restoration of national equilibrium are many and will be protracted far beyond his removal. One such measure must be the removal of those in Congress who, unlike the sycophantic mediocrities who cosset him in the White House, will not disappear “magically,” as Eric Trump said the coronavirus would. Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting.

Will was not quite finished.

We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for . . . what?

Nothing cries dispassionate analysis quite like World War II parallels.

Will is certainly not the first fire and brimstone spewing conservative critic to call for the electoral elimination of the Republican party, but he’s perhaps the only one worth taking seriously.

Most anti-Trump conservatives[1] will not find much to disagree with GeorgeWill here. We have watched in horror as the Republican party has transformed itself into a cult of personality. Even Trump-skeptical Republicans have either muted their criticism or have become, to not put too fine a point on it, royal ass-kissers, including certain 2016 primary opponents of his. In many right-wing journals even mild criticism of the president is considered something like treason.

So why might an anti-Trump conservative have reservations about Will’s strategy? Because the beneficiary would be a political party no more deserving to hold the reins of power. It could also have the unanticipated result of inspiring a reaction that leads to something much worse than Trump down the line.

The case against Trump

The easiest part of Will’s argument to swallow is the most basic one: President Trump does not deserve to win re-election. The reasons so many conservatives opposed Trump in 2016 still obtain. If anything, Trump has exceeded our worst expectations of his character. He continues to spew idiotic conspiracy theories on Twitter even in the midst of a global pandemic that his administration, to put it charitably, bungled the response to. And even as America descended into riotous protests, Trump’s response was to suggest a “shoot first, ask questions later” response to the protesters and to suggest another conspiracy theory about a man whose skull was cracked open after being pushed by the police.

Trump supporters downplay the significance of all this – “They’re just tweets,” is the common response – but even for those of us who think the “rhetorical presidency” is overblown, we cannot ignore that these insane ramblings do nothing to help unify the country or advance his agenda.

Speaking of Trump’s agenda, while he has been not as bad as conservatives feared, there’s little here to suggest that he has earned a second term, as the miles and miles of invisible border walls attest to. Thus far Trump’s main “accomplishment” has been a tax cut, but for credit for that mainly goes to former Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And while his administration has rolled back regulations, these are temporary victories that can be easily undone with the next Democratic administration. He has been bolder than other theoretical Republican presidents in some areas – moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, for starters – yet Trump has been more of a paper tiger than a fierce warrior slashing down the cultural enemies quaking before him.

And then there’s the courts. “But Gorsuch” was the rallying cry for Trump supporters once upon a time. Indeed, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court, not to mention hundreds of federal judgeships secured for originalists throughout the country, is a major victory for Leonard Leo and Mitch McConnell. But as several late-term SCOTUS opinions demonstrate, there are limits to how much the judiciary has advanced. Specific opinions aside, if the major argument for a president’s re-election is judicial appointments, then the republic is on far rockier ground than we even realize.

Trump supporters have another “ace” up their sleeves: Flight 93 revisited. If Joe Biden is elected president then the Green Deal will be enacted, religious liberty will be destroyed, taxes will go through the roof, single payer healthcare will be upon us, and the rivers will run red with the blood of cancelled conservatives. It’s a familiar argument that turns every election into the most important election in American history™ and demands that all good God-fearing American must vote for the Republican nominee or else.

The rebuttal to this is straightforward enough: even a Biden administration will be unable to enact a quarter of what the most radical progressives desire. There are far too many moderate Democrats – yes they exist, no matter what social media fearmongers insist – for a President Biden to force through major changes (assuming he even wants to). Assuming Senate Democrats eliminate the filibuster – and they will – Democrats will still need a Sinema and Manchin-proof majority, not to mention vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2022. Do you think Michael Bennett is a sure vote for single payer?

To say that Donald Trump doesn’t deserve to be re-elected is not to suggest that conservatives must go out and vote for Joe Biden. Casting a protest vote against Trump’s character for someone who has repeatedly lied about the sobriety of the man involved in the accident that killed his wife, enabled the disgusting character assassination of Robert Bork and then Clarence Thomas, and told a black audience that Republicans “want to put y’all back in chains,” not to mention his move to the left since wrapping up the nomination, is a little bit odd.[2] Then again, I voted for Evan McMullin, so my judgment on protest votes is also suspect.

Against Never-GOPism

Whatever conservatives decide to do this November with regards to the presidential election, though, Will’s own contention that it is a moral imperative to remove President Trump is undermined by his added contention that Congressional Republicans be decimated at the polls as well. As I noted above, one of the main arguments against the Flight 93 paranoia is that there’s only so much a President Biden can do. That argument is nullified if the Democrats have a 60+ seat Senate majority and a triple digit advantage in the House of Representatives.

One could plausibly counter by observing that the Democrats had a 80+ seat advantage in the House and a filibuster-proof (at times) majority in the senate during the Obama administration, and the world didn’t end. While true, there are two counterarguments. First of all, the 111th Congress managed to pump out a lot of legislation with long-lasting and negative impacts. Dodd-Frank, the massive stimulus, and the expansion of SCHIP are but a few of the major pieces of legislation signed into law in Obama’s first term, not to mention a little thing called the Affordable Care Act (which, one observes, was not repealed by the 115th Congress). Even if the long, drawn-out process of passing Obamacare prevented the Democrats from achieving more, that’s a pretty substantial list and it was certainly more ambitious than the Republican achievements between 2017-2018.

More importantly, even if the Democratic party hasn’t moved as far left in its totality as Republicans contend, it has moved left. The legislative program to be pursued by a Democratic Congress with supermajorities in both chambers is likely to be far, far more ambitious than one with narrow majorities (and perhaps a continuing Republican majority in the Senate). Suddenly single-payer, the Green New Deal, and God knows what else are all on the table.

It’s easy enough for people like George Will to say that’s what Republicans deserve for kowtowing to Trump for four years, but a radical re-orienting of America to the far left seems to be a pretty high price to pay to teach Republicans a lesson.

More to the point, one lesson from life under the pandemic is that the Democrats have done little to merit the gift on uncontested power.

Life in Lockdown

Neither party holds a monopoly on good or bad governance during the COVID crisis, highlighted by the recent spike in infections in both red and blue states, but the very worst behavior among state and local officials played out in New York thanks to the Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne of New York, Andrew Cuomo and Bill deBlassio, whose gross incompetence, negligence, indecision, and egoism literally cost thousands of lives.

And while (largely) Democratic reticence to end lockdowns can be debated on the merits, the gross inconsistency in how lockdown policies have been applied is sufficient evidence of why many Democratic officials should never be allowed near the levers of power again. We will continue to debate the merits of past and future lockdowns for years to come, but there’s no debating the moral inconsistency demonstrated by the likes of Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in not only permitting mass Black Lives Matters protests but in actively celebrating and encouraging them even as they energetically pushed for continued lockdowns.[3]

Seeing what amounted to (in some cases) giant block parties being permitted while being denied the ability to receive Holy Communion is bound to rub some people the wrong way. It also does not inspire confidence that one’s rights will be protected by these same people if they are given even more power.

Whatabout “whataboutism?”

Some will argue that these are tantamount to “whatabout” arguments, and indeed they are. What about Democratic party radicalism? How does a conservative reviled by Donald Trump and unhappy with Republican party subservience to him solve this conundrum? How was a conservative to vote in, say, Texas in 2018 when Ted Cruz was up for re-election to the Senate?

Ah, Ted Cruz. This is a good time for a slight tangent. I supported Ted Cruz during the 2016 Republican presidential primary, and I would not have made a different choice if I had to do it all over again, especially once some of the heavy-hitting solid GOP governors bowed out early. And this is why I am not Never Trump. Because when people started adopting this term, for many it also meant “and not Cruz either.” The very same people who urge the fiery destruction of the Republican party are the ones who continued to support the dead-end candidacy of John Kasich. Instead of uniting behind the one candidate who could actually defeat Trump, as the Democrats did this year to united behind Biden when the prospect of a Sanders nomination stared them in the face, these self-centered, short-sighted dolts wasted time and resources on the pointless candidacy of John Kasich. Would Trump have won anyway? Perhaps, but it would have been awfully nice to have tried a true one-on-one matchup. But since Ted Cruz gave them the ickies, they selected a path that only aided and abetted Donald Trump. And now these same geniuses are still dishing out political advice? Lest I run afoul of such stalwart conservatives as Max Boot and Tom Nichols, maybe I will follow my own instincts.

Anyway, back to Ted Cruz. I have been as disappointed as anyone in his sudden turn from fierce Trump critic and as a man who said “vote your conscience” at the Republican convention into another Trump-defending sycophant, especially as he adopts policy positions he should know better than to support. But if I lived in Texas (I wish) in 2018 and I had to choose between him and Beto O’Rourke, I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought before voting for Senator Cruz. Sure, there’s always the option to not vote or vote for a third party, as I am doing this year in the presidential race, but am I really just going to “punish” a Senator who I am aligned with on 99 percent of issues because he hasn’t been as critical of Donald Trump as I would like? Who am I punishing in allowing someone like “Beto” to represent me in the United States Senate?

Both Trump critics and Trump fans are finally joined in unison as they shout back at me “Aha – charade you are!” After essentially disclaiming against the “elections are binary” argument for the presidential election, I am now changing tact for other elections.

Not quite. In every election you have to make a rational decision weighing all the circumstances. In 2016 I decided that neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump were good enough to earn my vote, but neither was so obviously heinous as to force me to vote for the other person. I have made the same decision (so far) with regards to the 2020 presidential election. But not every election is the same. I couldn’t (and still can’t) vote for Donald Trump because, well, he is an utterly repellent human being and an ineffective president. But Ted Cruz? I’m supposed to enable the ascension of a character like Beto O’Rourke at his expense because I don’t think he’s been critical enough of Donald Trump? That’s a stretch to me.

More importantly, in at least the example outlined above, I did find the other person (Beto) heinous enough to move me to vote for Ted Cruz (if I could have).

But that’s a discrete decision based on the circumstances of one race. The larger context, which I have tried to lay out, is that punishing Republicans at the ballot box for insufficient Trump hatred is a questionable, at best, strategy. Leaving aside the question of whether Republicans have truly enabled President Trump (and it’s not a small question to leave aside, but I don’t need to drone on for another thousand words), conservatives are right to feel more than a little suspect at the prospect of handing unlimited control of government to the Democrats.

Populism: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

There’s one other big risk entailed in a massive Democratic takeover of the government. Anti-Trump conservatives have held a (likely fanciful) hope that there will be something like a return to normalcy once Trump is removed from the scene. This is wishful thinking. The populist ascendency within the GOP is no short-term phenomenon. It began before Trump, and will outlive him. Perhaps this populist strain will be more “enlightened” – it cannot but help but be. Yet the tension between the classically liberal/conservative and anti-liberal/populist strands of the movement is likely to become even more fierce once Trump is no longer on the scene (and his defeat this November by no means guarantees he will not be a major player in the years to come).

What’s more, a complete Democratic sweep this November is more likely to favor a populist ascendency. The Democratic sweep in the aftermath of the 2008 election inspired the growth of the tea party movement. Some of us might pine for the relatively sanguine days of a libertarian-inspired social protest movement. Yet this was also a populist revolt. Indeed it was a paradoxically libertarian-populist (two words combined that can’t make sense[4]) protest. Over time, though, it was the libertarian side of this uneasy alliance which lost.

There has been something like a rebirth of the tea party, libertarian-populist sentiment in the wake of COVID lockdowns, and it’s possible two years of hard-left Democratic rule can spur something similar. Yet nothing that has occurred over the past few years inspires confidence that any right-wing reaction to leftist overreach will be measured and reasonable. A more likely right-wing response will look a lot more Josh Hawley than Mike Lee. And it’s possible a Hawley-styled turn is the best case. In other words, the sort of figure to emerge as the leader of the anti-liberal response to left-wing dominated governance may look Donald Trump look like a piker.

Look, it has not been a fun five years or so for anti-Trump (but not quite Never Trump) conservatives. We spent the better part of a year vocally arguing against Trump’s nomination. We then watched as a majority of those who were in the trenches yelling with us swiftly turned around and decided to be a part of Trump’s palace guard. (Some for genuine reasons, some, well, less so #caring). Then for four years we dealt with accusations of disloyalty from Ever Trumpers on one hand, and on the other hand complaints about our insufficient hatred and fear of Trump by idiots playacting as the modern incarnation of who people who #resisted an actual tyrannical regime.[5]

We are frankly just a little bit weary of it all. So when George Will tells us it’s not sufficient that Trump be defeated, but that the entire GOP should essentially be burnt to the ground, it’s hard not being a bit conflicted. Because, frankly, the GOP does deserve to be massacred at the polls.[6]

But so do the Democrats.

And so we are confronted with yet another ugly choice with really no good options. Sure, we could stand aside and let the Republicans go down to defeat, and hope (foolishly, no doubt) that it will be reborn in the aftermath of an electoral massacre. And in this fit of rational spite we might come out on the back end even worse off, with the most radical elements of the Democrat agenda enshrined into law. And if the GOP does endure such a defeat, and Democrats are allowed to roam about the country unchecked for two years, does anyone expect that the reaction to this will be measured?

In case I am not making myself clear, if George Will has his way then expect something much worse than Donald Trump four years hence.


[1] Note I do not say “Never Trump.” For reasons to be explained shortly, this is a term I reject for myself.

[2] Kevin Williamson has the measure of the man. https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/joe-biden-not-a-socialist-just-a-scoundrel/

[3] To say nothing of the mandate in new York not to ask COVID-positive patients if they attended BLM rallies, or the Oregon decision to exempt “people of color” from the obligation to wear masks.

[4] HT: Megadeth.

[5] Because one recalls the history of anti-Vichy Frenchmen openly and loudly denouncing Hitler, lining up bookshelves with their tales of denunciation, and being supported by a media establishment that aids and abets their animus. Totally the same thing there, fellas.

[6] Like, for instance, calling a man who has served in every Republican administration a “warmonger” because he had the temerity to write a book publicly critical of Donald Trump.