By Tim Dunkin
You can tell a lot about a man by his enemies, and Donald Trump has those aplenty. I’m not referring to people who may merely disagree with him on certain issues, or even those on the far Left – like Democrats – who will hate anybody who is not a progressive loonie toon. Instead, I’m talking about the folks in Trump’s own party and on Trump’s own side, broadly speaking, of the ideological divide. The Republican establishment, as well as a large subset of the conservative (loosely defined) commentariat, seem to have visceral hatred for the man – and for his supporters in the GOP base.
Lindsey Graham – in what might possibly be this year’s most stunning example of a lack of self-awareness – worries that Trump is bringing the GOP into disrepute. The reliably establishmentarian pencil neck George Will has taken to devoting his apparently limited research time to coming up with wild new ways in which Trump might destroy America and the world. Every day, a new op-ed hits the broadsheets by some GOP consultant or strategist explaining how Trump’s supporters are all a bunch of dumb rubes who are “fooled” by Trump, who is really a “Democrat plant,” and they just don’t realize that he’s not a “real” conservative (which I think they already know, but just aren’t that concerned about it).
Last week, I took some time to explain why so many folks are supporting Donald Trump. This week, I’d like to take the opportunity to explain why so many other folks are going so overboard in their weird, obsessive dislike for him. And again, as I said last week, I am not a Trump supporter – I am on board with Ted Cruz. However, I am still positive toward Trump’s contribution to the debate (especially on immigration) and I definitely do not share the hatred for him that the GOP establishment does.
So what is going on inside the minds of the Trump-haters? Why do these folks look upon “Stormtrumpers” and “Trumptards” with such disdain?
To begin with, I’d say that a large part of it simply has to do with a desire to be liked and accepted by the Washington “elite,” the inside-the-beltway crowd that styles itself a ruling class in this nation, regardless of formal party affiliation. There is an astounding amount of groupthink among the Washington set – the journalists, pundits, lobbyists, consultants, politicians, and dealmakers. These types of folks – the George Wills and the Steve Schmidts and the Karl Roves and the rest – don’t like new ideas. They don’t want anybody rocking the boat. As a result, anyone who threatens to do so, who seek to inject fresh perspectives into the ossified mold of Washington political society, will be viewed with fear and mistrust, and will be demonized and ostracized. This is especially the case when the ideas being injected happen to be popular with the masses (such as ending illegal immigration) but unpopular with the “elites.” In part, what we see going on with the response to Donald Trump is nothing but good old fashioned cliqueishness. George Will thinks Donald Trump is a “geek” and tries to get all the other kids to laugh at him too.
I think that’s pretty much the explanation for the online “conservative” punditocracy on blogs like Red State, Hot Air, and others. See, these bloggers have spent years getting noticed, building their following, and finally hitting the big time. Erick Erickson now gets to sub for Rush Limbaugh on his radio program. Bloggers are regular invitees to the big conservostablishment conferences. They get picked up to write for wide circulation conservative establishment outlets like The Federalist and National Review. And they know what they need to do to stay in the good graces of the Washington set. You want Jonah Goldberg to like the cut of your jib? Better stick to the talking points about Trump then. But don’t take this to mean that it’s all for show. Just as the “elites” know that a successful Trump insurgency could topple their carefully constructed house of cards, so the “respectability wannabes” also know that Trump threatens their meal ticket. If he wins, or even if he gains a clear and significant following that doesn’t go away after a couple of months, they could end up on the outside – and they don’t want that. So they have a vested interested in playing toady to the “elites.”
Trump Haters: Tone deaf and out of the loop
Another thing to understand about the Trump-haters is simply how tone deaf and out of the loop they are. They literally have no clue what is going on outside their cone of silence. Further, they assume that their own little bubble is the sum total of political existence – or at least should be – so things that don’t fit into it have to be explained away as anomalies and distractions, rather than serious political ideas.
See, all you people out there in flyover country don’t support Trump because he has popular and worthwhile ideas about dealing with illegal immigration or trade. You only support him because you’re stupid, racist, or both. You’re just easily led nincompoops who are swayed by Trump’s celebrity – it’s not because you actually agree with what he’s saying, since it resonates with what you’ve believed all along. No – this has to be the case, because no reasonable person could possibly want to limit illegal immigration, reject a “path to citizenship,” or bring jobs back to America by rejecting elements of “free” trade. Obviously, you’re all just being led around by the nose, too blinkered to see where it’s taking you.
Or so say the arrogant yet clueless establishment types. These folks simply do not have any sort of understanding of what average, everyday Americans deal with. When you’re Karl Rove attending $10,000 a plate fundraisers, or some writer for National Review who lives in Manhattan and probably hasn’t come within 100 miles of a corn field in the last five years except for flying over them in an airplane, you simply have no idea what the regular Joe wants or needs. Such people don’t have to deal with the crime that illegal immigrants cause. Such people don’t have to worry about their manufacturing job going to China or Mexico and putting them out of work for years. And they certainly can’t fathom the plight of working class black Americans who are in direct competition with illegal aliens who take their jobs and undercut their wages. Sorry to say it, but your average establishmentarian Trump detractor is simply clueless. That’s not the sad part, though. The sad part is that they want to remain that way – they simply don’t care enough about anyone else to actually try to understand where they’re coming from.
Establishment types are losers
Keep in mind, also, that these establishment types are losers. What I mean is that they are not actually very politically successful. For a decade now, Karl Rove has been more of a wrecking ball than an architect. Republican campaign advisors like Rick Wilson consistently try to take the pulse of the American people – but can’t find the artery. Steve Schmidt managed John McCain to a glorious defeat in 2008 as he muzzled Sarah Palin, while Matt Rhoades succeeded in getting Mitt Romney to bumble his way upwards a couple of percentage points to an even more glorious defeat in 2012. For a bunch of people who take it upon themselves to school the rest of us about what will work and what won’t, they don’t seem to know what they’re talking about.
So bear that in mind when you see the news stories and op-eds by journalists and politicos who are shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you – that Trump keeps moving up in the polls even though he’s “doomed his campaign” a dozen times over already. All these things work together – the establishment types are often wrong because they can’t see outside their bubble and don’t really want to understand what you or I think anywise, and they don’t have the courage to step outside that bubble for fear of the opprobrium they might draw from the other establishment types.
Establishment types WANT the things that Trump and his supporters are opposing
There is one final reason, however, for the hostility of the establishment to Donald Trump, his supporters, and his message – and that is that the establishment types WANT the things that Trump and his supporters are opposing. The reason the inside-the-beltway types hate the anti-illegal immigration, pro-sovereignty, pro-rule of law position is because, ultimately, they want more illegal immigrants here. But they are at least dimly aware enough that they can’t come out and openly say that. The GOP establishment has enough sense, though barely, to refrain from telling you outright that they want to import more crime and welfare spending just so they can have cheap labor to cut their lawns and build their buildings. So they couch their opposition to your opposition in terms of “fairness” and “bringing people in out of the shadows” and in how “racist” it is to demand that people obey our laws and national sovereignty. Further – and despite all evidences to the contrary – the GOP establishment is under the delusional impression that extremely poor campesinos from socialist countries in Latin America are somehow “natural soil” for a message of tax cuts, less social spending, and free enterprise. As a result, they have fooled themselves into thinking that the 50 million “Americans in waiting” that they want to help legalize are somehow going to gravitate to the Republican Party.
Good luck with that.
Really, I believe that these four general points, either singly or in some combination thereof, can explain about 90% of the really vociferous, angry opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy and popularity. And if Trump continues to rise in the polls, expect it to only get worse. Desperation carries a scent about it – it may be time for folks who aren’t anti-Trump to invest in a pair of nose plugs.