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Of Trump and tribalism



One of the most amusing charges that we conservatives often have leveled against us is that we are all "unwavering supporters" of President Donald Trump and view him as some sort of "rock star." Essentially, that we are Trump "groupies." In reality, if real rock 'n' roll groupies viewed the objects of their adoration with as much reserve as we view Trump, the National Enquirer would be doing far fewer stories on the previously unknown progeny of rock greats suddenly appearing years after a famous tour or concert. Our political panties remain unflung.

Our misgivings cover a lot of ground. His personal style bothers a lot of us, who find his bluster, braggadocio, petulance, and his tendency to talk without thinking more than a little off-putting. We would be both delighted and grateful if someone would hide his phone and find a way to keep him off of Twitter. We find ourselves pleasantly surprised when a speech by Trump sounds adult, reasoned, and coherent, and murmur a silent "thank you" to his speech writers and handlers.

And, yes, we have noticed that his reverence for the truth is, like most politicians of both parties, less than absolute. We are also concerned over some of his business dealings, foreign and domestic, and find his statements relating to women occasionally cringe-worthy. We live in dread of some scandal erupting, whether real or merely conceived in the fertile womb of political opportunity, much as the Democrats must have feared Bill Clinton's occasional "bimbo eruptions," Teddy Kennedy's driving tours of Martha's Vineyard, or upcoming reunions of Obama with politically toxic associates from early in his career.

And, while we generally support most of the substance of what he has done, that support is not absolute. Many of us are disturbed over his deficit spending, tax law changes, and trade policy. We also worry about some of the people who seem drawn to Trump.

So, why do we stick with Trump? Well, where else can we go?

The Democratic agenda and candidates are a mess. Many honest liberals will admit to having reservations about some of their own political stars. Videos of the unwelcome pawing and nuzzling of women by "Uncle Joe" Biden and his breathtaking gaffes must disturb a lot of Democrats, even though the party seems to be willing to strike a Faustian bargain with him in the interests of ousting Trump. Their de facto "open border" policy, with "sanctuary cities," proposals to dissolve ICE, opposition to a wall, and the promise of free health care for illegal immigrants, trouble both ourselves and a lot of moderate Democrats. And most anyone older than 22, who has earned and budgeted their own income, rather than merely spending a parental allowance, will have doubts about the "Green New Deal," "Medicare for All" or similar grand schemes.

The "groupie" label might better fit some of the star-struck Democrats as they idolize new rising political stars, despite shameless identity pandering, and obviously unworkable redistributionist schemes. With all of their swooning and shrieking, you would think you were watching 13-year-olds at a Beatles concert. Some of the breathless media political coverage would be right at home in Teen Beat magazine. You can see more than a few pairs of Fruit of the Loom being lofted at Democratic rallies.

So, differences on political policy and the candidates are the main drivers in our staying with Trump. But also the hyperbolic rhetoric and abuse directed our way by many hysterical partisans. And here is where "tribalism" comes in.

You recall how well the "deplorables" remark played, mostly because it confirmed the contempt with which much of the liberal "tribe" views conservatives. And calling a group "an uneducated, toothless, mouth-breathing, trailer-dwelling, homophobic racist rabble," is unlikely to win many hearts.

Much of what comes out of the Democrats and their media cheerleaders seems intended to drive away a large number of Americans, who might otherwise be inclined to abandon Trump. The attacks on the religious for declining to embrace newly discovered "rights" on marriage or for "outdated" thinking on gender, have driven a lot of religious people to voting for a man whose personal life is hardly the epitome of Christian living.

And can you imagine how a lecture on "white privilege" from a well-dressed student at an expensive private college is received by an unemployed white coal miner living in a rundown mobile home in Appalachia? Or being scorned as a paranoid gun owner by a Hollywood celebrity surrounded by armed bodyguards?

These sorts of attacks just harden positions. The reaction is more than just anger, but also a practical concern. "How can anyone this bitterly twisted ever be trusted with the power of government? God help us all if they win." And although you may have doubts about some of your own "tribe," your course is clear.

The Democrats' shrill contempt of the right is costing them votes. Can the liberal "tribe" control its class-contempt and disdain for the conservative "tribe" long enough to regain political power, or will they succumb to the emotionally cathartic but costly pleasures of letting us know "just what they really think"? I am predicting that it will be the latter. Δ

John Donegan is a retired attorney who lives in Pismo Beach, and rants on the issues of the day at every opportunity. Send your thoughts through the editor at [email protected].

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