There are two op-eds worth considering, the first being Jennifer Rubin’s conflation of Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s defense of Confederate memorials with her incurable disdain for the president, perhaps best contrasted with a second piece worth noting at TownHall.com from Kurt Schlichter, dutifully holding the other end of Rubin’s string
In contrast to Rubin’s rarefied air regarding Confederate monuments, it is Schlichter who asks the center-right moderates rather pointedly whether they have any better ideas in contrast to a progressive left that is demonstrating little proclivity towards respecting any standard of law whatsoever in the pursuit of raw power:
So, my finger-wagging True Con friends, what’s your plan? How do we go from liberals abandoning the Rule of Law, and such ancillary and associated components of a society based on liberty like free speech and free enterprise, to a liberty-based society operating under the Rule of Law? “Elect more True Cons!” isn’t a plan; it’s an aspiration, and not much of one. I don’t need another cliché, or another citation to general principles, or some variant of my new favorite, all-purpose get-out-of-having-an-actual-plan-free card, the old “We’re better than this” line.
The tension between Rubin’s “Never Trump” moderation and Schlichter’s “Always Trump” anti-liberalism demonstrates a gulf that conservatives are being asked to straddle. Too critical of Trump, and one risks being branded as a “cuckservative” or diagnosed with Trump Derangement Syndrome. Too much praise, and one risks being labeled as “repulsive” and “predictable” — to borrow Rubin’s terminology.
Rubin’s error is that she conflates her hatred with Donald Trump with an antithesis of the Midas touch. If Trump supported sunshine, she’d praise the clouds. If Trump kissed babies, she’d throw $100 to Planned Parenthood.
This is entirely unhelpful and dutifully sophomoric, especially from someone of Rubin’s caliber — let’s have the integrity to disagree with Trump on the merits or demerits of his policy issues; don’t do it ad hominem, and certainly don’t generalize the motives of others for embracing similar stances.
Schlichter poses a different conundrum, one that argues that the right should play by the same lawless rules of the political left. Take the gloves off and fight the culture war on their terms — effectively the pitch Corey Stewart made during his primary run.
In contrast, Gillespie has struck a middle chord that is resonating with Virginians for three simple reasons: it defines institutional integrity, defends Virginia’s laws in the face of arbitrary lawlessness, and most importantly refuses to cower in fear to a mob.
Charlie Sykes warned against the tonic of anti-liberalism in the pages of the New York Times; yet if Never Trump acolytes chose to wave a magic wand over Donald J. Trump in a realistic world, what would they have asked for? Pence as Vice-President? Mattis as Secretary of Defense? Tillerson at State? Mnuchin at Treasury? McMaster at NSA? Kelly as Chief of Staff? Bannon removed from the decision making process?
In the last six months, the Trump administration has acquitted itself quite well — outstanding marks across the board. GDP is up 3.0% for the 2nd quarter, the economy is beginning to pick up speed, and America is leading the free world once again.
Yet none of this seems to satisfy the Democratic Party and their collaborators within the mainstream media. This — most of all — is the point that Rubin et al. miss about the Trump movement. For eight months, Americans have been subjected to a nightly tirade of Russia, Russia, Russia… only for the active pursuit of journalists to reveal precisely nothing. Nothing.
When that failed, the alt-right proved a useful and willing foil for Antifa mobs who found a new excuse — everything is racist, and statues most of all.
At some point, the total lack of ideas and solutions becomes self-evident. To make matters slightly more complicated, at some point, temper tantrums in the public square cease to have their intended effect.
The bulldozing of history is something most Americans will not abide, no matter how people feel. The Age of Reason may be yielding to the Age of Feelings, but reason still has its defenders — and ought to have its defenders — within conservative circles who are unwilling to yield either to the extremists of the left or the extremists of the right.
In this, Gillespie is striking a tone that is perhaps mislabeled centrist, but is more accurately the common sense reaction of an American working class sick and tired of being dragged to the political extremes.
Yes, there are voices such as Schlichter who have given up on constitutional order, and most certainly there are voices such as Rubin who will cave in “on principle” to an Antifa mob whose singular virtue is that they believe what they believe more than Rubin believes in what she believes. Neither of these voices are worthy of our concern.
What should be worthy of our attention is the hard work of governing and the value of our institutions — imperfect as they are. Statues are not magnets of racism and inequality; crumbling public schools and a lack of social and economic opportunity are. Our national DNA isn’t Berkeley or Boston, it’s Houston. At some point, a bigger reality crushes the manufactured one — the left can’t keep the plates spinning forever in the hopes that during the interim, they can come up with at least one good idea.
Most importantly and critically abandoned from the Virginia punditry and national chattering classes, when we create spaces for lawlessness — whether they consist of “stand down” orders in Charlottesville, sanctuary cities, or the ad hoc whims of a Virginia Attorney General more willing to play politics than do his job — that puts the entire foundations of who we are as Americans on tilt.
Rather than succumbing to demands, we should be restoring the bedrock of process. In America, when we want to accomplish something through the political process, we elect legislators who submit bills, have them improved and voted upon by the assembly, and signed into law by an executive.
Mobs, courts, opinions of the attorney general, unsubstantiated investigations, identity politics, pressure groups — such emotives shortcut the rational process of governance. Most Virginians are tired of being cheated… Gillespie simply figured out the math first and had the wisdom to act.
Facts are, Gillespie has struck a chord, and he should be applauded for having the courage to do so. It may not seem profound today, but as we edge closer to November, it will be Gillespie who should be credited with reminding us that there are realities bigger than our feelings and the myths whipped up by a 24/7 media.