It’s understandable when Democrats slander Trump, but it’s disgraceful when Republicans echo them.
The conservatives who have declared war on the primary victor are displaying a myopia that could be deadly in November when Trump will lead Republicans against a party that has divided the country, destroyed its borders, empowered its enemies and put 93 million Americans into dependency on the state. This reckless disregard for consequences is matched only by a blindness to what has made Trump the presumptive nominee. When he entered the Republican primaries a year ago Trump was given no chance of surviving even the first contest let alone becoming the Republican nominee. That was the view of all the experts, and especially those experts with the best records of prediction.
Trump – who had never held political office and had no experience in any political job – faced a field of sixteen tested political leaders, including nine governors and five senators from major states. Most of his political opponents were conservatives. During the primaries several hundred million dollars were spent in negative campaign ads – nastier and more personal than in any Republican primary in memory. At least 60,000 of those ads were aimed at Trump, attacking him as a fraud, a corporate predator, a not-so-closet liberal, an ally of Hillary Clinton, indistinguishable from Barack Obama, an ignoramus, and too crass to be president (Bill Clinton anyone?).
These negative ads were directed at Republican primary voters, a constituency well to the right of the party. These primary voters are a constituency that may be said to represent the heart of the conservative movement in America, and are generally more politically engaged and informed than most Republican voters. Trump won their support. He won by millions of votes – more votes from this conservative heartland than any Republican in primary history. To describe Trump as ignorant – as so many beltway intellectuals have – is merely to privilege book knowledge over real world knowledge, not an especially wise way to judge political leaders.
A chorus of detractors has attempted to dismiss Trump’s political victory as representing a mere plurality of primary voters, but how many candidates have won outright majorities among a field of seventeen, or five or even three? When the Republican primary contest was actually reduced to three, Trump beat the “true conservative,” Ted Cruz, with more than fifty percent of the votes. He did this in blue states and red states, and in virtually all precincts and among all Republican demographics. He clinched the nomination by beating Cruz with an outright majority in conservative Indiana.
In opposing the clear choice of the Republican primary electorate the “Never Trump” crowd is simply displaying their contempt for the most politically active Republican voters. This contempt was dramatically displayed during a CNN segment with Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, and Bill Kristol, the self-appointed guru of a Third Party movement whose only result can be to split the Republican ticket and provide Hillary with her best shot at the presidency. Pierson urged Kristol to help unify the Party behind its presumptive nominee. Kristol grinned and answered her: “You want leaders to become followers.” Could there be a more arrogant response? By what authority does Bill Kristol regard himself as a leader? Trump has the confidence of millions of highly committed and generally conservative Republican voters. That makes him a leader. Who does Bill Kristol lead except a coterie of inside-the-beltway foreign policy interventionists, who supported the fiasco in Libya that opened the door to al-Qaeda and ISIS?