By now, you’ve probably heard about the Trump rally in North Carolina yesterday in which, with reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and uncorrected by the President, the crowd began to chant “Send her back! Send her back!”
I haven’t yet called attention to the absolutely astonishing and utterly Orwellian attempt by one of Mr. Trump’s campaign personnel to rebut criticisms of what the President tweeted:
(For further insight, see William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene v, in which Petruchio plays the role of a Trump campaign staffer and Katharina takes the part of the American public.)
From Wikipedia: “A big lie (German: große Lüge) is a propaganda technique and logical trick (fallacy). The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so ‘colossal’ that no one would believe that someone ‘could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously’.”
Let me now quote the reactions of three conservative commentators to that North Carolina chant. They are reactions with which I agree.
“Anyone who follows me,” wrote Ryan Saavedra of the Daily Wire, “knows that I cover the far-left and that includes Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and I’m aggressive in my reporting which comes from a conservative angle. With that said, chanting ‘send her back’ at Omar is not good. Keep in mind, I am one of her harshest critics.”
“‘Send her back’ is an appalling chant,” wrote Guy Benson, the editor of Town Hall. “Omar is a US citizen. My less-catchy chant would be: ‘Condemn her bigotry, combat her radicalism, and investigate her seriously alleged fraud!'”
“Vile,” wrote the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. “Omar is awful. She is a radical anti-Semite with terrible views. She is also an American citizen and chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting.”
That North Carolina crowd was following the President’s lead. Not only as provided in his now notorious tweet, but as illustrated throughout his political career and even before. Consider, for example, just these two recent examples:
I agree with the startling assessment of the distinguished conservative writer George Will, made just the other day on CNN:
“I believe that what this president has done to our culture, to our civic discourse . . . you cannot unring these bells and you cannot unsay what he has said, and you cannot change that he has now in a very short time made it seem normal for schoolboy taunts and obvious lies to be spun out in a constant stream. I think this will do more lasting damage than Richard Nixon’s surreptitious burglaries did.”
As I’ve explained before, the American presidency combines the roles of ceremonial/symbolic “head of state” and practical “head of government” that are separated in many other nations (e.g., in the United Kingdom, with its monarch and prime minister, and in, say, both Israel and Germany, which have a president and a prime minister). Each role is quite important. Our president isn’t merely the chief executive; he also lays the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, honors national champion sports teams, speaks at times of national tragedy, and so forth.
Ideally, a president should be good in both of these roles. Donald J. Trump, however, is plainly inadequate and inappropriate as a head of state. He is coarse, divisive, brazenly dishonest, and anything but a moral exemplar.
Which means, alas, that — as things currently stand — I’m probably going to throw my vote away again in the 2020 presidential election.
The fact that I’ve even thought about possibly voting for Joe Biden — Joe Biden! — illustrates how desperate I am. Still, the Democrat lurch to the left that begins to make Mr. Biden seem moderate by comparison also makes it impossible for me to consider that party right now. They are flirting with quasi-socialist ideas that will blight the economic prospects of millions of Americans and diminish American liberty. And likely Democratic appointments to the federal judiciary would damage the United States for generations to come.
I just can’t go there.
But neither can I, in good conscience, cast a ballot for Mr. Donald J. Trump.
I realize that he’s put conservative people in federal judgeships and, most notably, on the Supreme Court. And I’m very happy about that. Moreover, there are several other appointments and policy decisions of the Trump administration that I’ve supported. I haven’t counted them up, but I probably agree with more of the Trump administration’s policies, both foreign and domestic, than I disagree. However, my form of conservatism is about much more than mere politics and policies. It’s a view of life, of community. A particular vision of social grace.
Perhaps if I didn’t live in Utah, I would have a more difficult time with my decision. But we all know that, pending Ragnarök, my adopted home state will go (however unenthusiastically) for Trump in 2020. No matter what I do.
I can’t recall exactly when it was during the 2016 Republican primaries that I decided that I simply could not vote for Donald Trump. I think it was when he was at a rally and was mocking Senator Marco Rubio, a primary opponent who had been sweating profusely under the hot lights at a very recent Republican debate. (Senator Rubio apparently suffers from the sweat disorder called hyperhidrosis, a frustrating problem that also afflicts a beloved member of my family.) Anyway, as Mr. Trump made fun of “Little Marco Rubio” and, to illustrate how sweaty the Senator had been, ostentatiously and cruelly poured a bottle of water onto the stage beside his podium, I suddenly exclaimed “That’s it. I can’t do it. I can’t vote for such a man.” I considered him not only unpresidential but unworthy of the presidency.
And other disclosures, about his business dealings and his treatment of women and so forth and so on, haven’t done anything to change my view.
So that’s where I still am.
I feel disenfranchised. I’m not happy about it.