From Trumpeteers to Never Trumpers: Why I Became a Conservative Pragmatist
Conservatives are more divided than at any point in recent memory, and the reason is Donald Trump. This divide is most noticeable in the comments sections of shared Facebook articles, where people who normally see eye-to-eye politically are now at distinct odds with one another.
Since Trump’s election last November, this gap has only widened and threatens to splinter the Conservative movement and, consequently, the entire Republican party. What gives me cause for concern is that so few people seem concerned by this trend, choosing either to hunker down in their own political camps or to check out of the political discussion altogether.
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. – Mark 3:25
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. – Mark 3:25
Over the past several months, I have been attempting to understand where exactly Conservatives are divided, and this is my attempt to categorize Conservatives into three distinct groups, though broadly defined, as follows: Trumpeteers, Never Trumpers, and Conservative Pragmatists.
The Conservatives who comprise this group have followed and believed in Donald Trump from the very beginning. Trump’s antics do not bother them, at least not enough to alter their fervent support. Slogans like “Make America Great Again” resonate with Trumpeteers following eight years of Obama’s distinctly anti-American rhetoric. Trumpeteers see the President as uniquely qualified to take the Left’s perpetual trend towards multiculturalism, and shift it back towards Americanism. They also see political correctness as a significant roadblock to political achievement, and admire Trump’s complete disregard for the rules of Washington.
There is often a nationalistic bent to Trumpeteers, but to widely different degrees. This has unfortunately led to the misunderstanding of terms like “Alt Right”, which is erroneously applied to anyone who believes in American Exceptionalism. Or, to put it another way, those who believe in the superiority of the uniquely American ideals of e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”), In God We Trust, and liberty over equality, are lumped together and condemned with those in whom nationalism manifests itself as true Alt Right – i.e. the white supremacy of men like Richard Spencer.
These are Conservative purists. They believe the leadership of the country should reflect the values of the party they represent. Therefore, Trump’s antics, such as arrogance, vulgarity, belligerence, and a certain lack of decorum, combine to make him an illegitimate candidate who should never have been nominated or elected. Never Trumpers span the range from saying that Trump really isn’t a true Conservative, to those who say he will destroy the Conservative movement and shift the Republican party dangerously close to the true Alt Right movement. They see media outlets like Breitbart, Ann Coulter, and Milo Yiannopoulos as the dangerous direction Trump is taking the Conservative movement, and they therefore want nothing to do with either President Trump or his movement.
Never Trumpers see the President’s treatment of the media and his other enemies as bullying and even totalitarian. His use of the Executive Order is a dangerous continuation of Obama’s leadership style. In short, they see Trump’s presidency as a threat to Conservatism itself. Trump is moving Republicans and so-called Conservatives so far away from the target ideal that we might never get it back or else will lose the moral high ground over the Left.
Conservatives who opposed Donald Trump in the primaries, yet voted for him once he received the Republican nomination, I am calling Conservative Pragmatists.
The dictionary definition of a pragmatist is one “who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.” In terms of national politics, Conservative Pragmatists are typically oriented towards the failure of the damaging policies of Progressivism. Therefore, as long as Trump supports policies that oppose the Left, Conservative Pragmatists will support his administration.
Conservative Pragmatists vary widely in their view of Trump’s actions. Many agree with Never Trumpers that Donald Trump’s antics are embarrassing and wholly unbecoming to his office. Others frown on his morality, yet reserve a certain respect and even admiration for Trump’s ability to continually needle the Main Stream Media.
One significant difference truly separates Conservative Pragmatists from Never Trumpers: a Conservative Pragmatist does not equate a vote for Trump as a personal endorsement of his character. This difference cannot be understated.
I am not trying to imply that Never Trumpers don’t believe in American Exceptionalism, or that Conservative Trumpeteers don’t see the dangers of the true Alt Right movement.
Rather, when I say these are “distinct” groups, I distinguish them specifically by what each group perceives as the greatest threats to our nation, and how each group believes Donald Trump fits into that particular context.
To Trumpeteers, Donald Trump is not only an ally but very possibly the best person to maneuver the swamp of Washington politics. Never Trumpers, conversely, see Donald Trump himself as the principle threat. For Conservative Pragmatists, Donald Trump is an imperfect ally, but an ally nonetheless.
Why I Became A Conservative Pragmatist
Until July 19 of last year, I thought I was a Never Trumper. On June 6, during the run up to the nomination, I wrote this for the blog:
“Nominating Donald Trump would be a fiasco in a normal election cycle, but nominating Trump as a response to eight years of the most radical Progressive president since Woodrow Wilson, with a Supreme Court nomination on the line? Well, that’s just downright lunacy.”
When Trump did receive the nomination, though, I stopped thinking about what kind of a president I feared that Trump would make, and I started thinking about what kind of a president I knew Hillary Clinton would make, were she given four to eight years in office and one or more Supreme Court nominations at her disposal.
In the past year I have read It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton; and An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore; and Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, by Jonah Goldberg; among many others. In short, I have diligently studied the Left. And when I did, the entire presidential election took on a greater spiritual significance.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Even a cursory survey of Scripture and human history confirms this as truth. And this was my conclusion: nations that honor God and obey His Word prosper and are used by God to export the Gospel; whereas nations that do not honor God or obey His Word become spiritual wastelands.
Why I Oppose The Left
It is currently en vogue to bash any mention of America as a “Christian” nation. Even in the evangelical realm – perhaps especially in the evangelical realm – one cannot say “God Bless America” without five other Christians denouncing you for fusing patriotism and Christianity. Take, for example, the Christian satire publication, the Babylon Bee, which has published four separate articles in the last two weeks alone poking fun at fictitious Christians who disappointingly scan the Scriptures believing they will find numerous references to America or accept America as their Lord and Savior.
As much as I agree with the need to separate Christianity from national identity, I cannot help but think that those evangelicals who beat the drum against phrases like “God Bless America” have altogether missed the point.
I would ask what nation has produced more missionaries? What nation has more biblically sound seminaries in which pastors and teachers are trained in God’s Word and sent forth? What nation acknowledges, even on a cursory level, the existence and supremacy of Almighty God? Where is the Bible being translated into previously unreached languages? Are these not fundamentally good things?
I believe that God has allowed Christians in America to partake in the advancement of His Gospel primarily because our country has acknowledged Him and modeled many of our laws to His Word. But what happens when these laws are changed and this acknowledgement ceases?
The Left is trying to do this very thing. One only needs to look at Europe to see America’s future: a soulless corpse which places all of its hope and trust on earthly, human institutions of government. Europe is, for all intents and purposes, a spiritual wasteland.
Satan deceives many professing Christians into believing that the Left has much in common with Christianity: love, unity, equality, empathy, and compassion, among others. Yet since the French Revolution, every country touched by the Left dies spiritually because biblical Christianity cannot coexist with Progressive ideology.
I believe this is Satan’s end-game for America. That’s why I am committed to the failure of the Left, and that’s why I support our current President.