KLAVAN: Trump's Success Reflects Conservative Failures

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during the plenary session on the opening day of Argentina G20 Leaders' Summit 2018 at Costa Salguero on November 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images

Donald Trump is a mirror that drives men mad.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike Trump the man. He can be rude and unkind — as when he publicly tormented his loyal supporter Jeff Sessions. He can play fast and loose with the truth — as when he declared he made no money in Saudi Arabia after bragging about all the money he made in Saudi Arabia. And he’s often lived badly, so that his former escapades sometimes rise up to stain the presidency — as with Stormy Daniels.

But for all that, he is doing an excellent job as President of the United States. Lower taxes and wiser regulations are spurring the economy. ISIS is scattered. Excellent judges are being appointed. Sanity is being restored to our Middle East policy. And — as opposed to the dark days of the Obama administration — the White House seems to be acting within the Constitution and the law.

No conservative who cares about fending off the Left’s assault on our founding principles — especially the First and Second Amendments that Hillary Clinton so openly despised — can be wholly displeased with Trump’s first two years in office. And yet some on the Right, or at least ostensibly on the Right, continue to hate the man with a passion, and seek to foil him both in Congress and the press.

The reason for this, I think, is more psychological than political. Through his flawed character, Trump reflects our political failures back at us. We ask ourselves: Why did we need such a man to accomplish what he has accomplished? It’s easier to blame him than to face the real answer: we failed to do it ourselves.

On the Left this is obvious. Barack Obama hates Trump because Trump reflects the failure of his policies and his vision. The press hates Trump because he reflects their failure to do their job in covering Obama’s incompetence and corruption. Left-leaning women hate Trump because he reflects their failure to expose and condemn the hideous treatment of women by the Clinton-led Democratic party.

But Trump reflects failures of conservatism as well.

The appeal of his America First policy reflects the failure of the neo-conservative freedom agenda, an over-ambitious over-reaction to 9/11 that cost an unpaid-for fortune and left the Middle East in a shambles.

The appeal of his belligerence on trade and his focus on jobs reflects the conservative failure to serve the suffering heartland. Too many conservative intellectuals thought that fine theories about globalization and high disdain for the need and dysfunction of dying communities were somehow supposed to replace useful strategies. They forgot what James Madison called "the object of government, which is the happiness of the people."

Maybe most importantly, the appeal of Trump’s battles with the press, celebrities and the NFL reflects the conservative failure to mount an effective counter-offensive against the Left’s domination of our culture. It was we conservatives who allowed the Left to take over Hollywood, the news business and academia, and they have used those powerful tools to colonize our manners and our minds. They have divided the races and stoked rage and bitterness among us. They have made men afraid to speak their minds and taught women to despise their own natures. They have steeped the young in ignorance about the glories and responsibilities of freedom. It took a man like Trump, who doesn’t care about good manners, to give back to the Left the shoddy and uncivil treatment they have given the rest of us for so long.

There is nothing wrong with conservatives criticizing the president’s policies when we disagree with them. But on the Right, the ceaseless disdain for his largely successful administration, and the attempts to grandstand and virtue signal at the expense of his effectiveness, reveal a neurotic refusal to assess where conservatism went wrong and what Trump got right.

What we hate about him is that, with all his flaws, he’s doing what we couldn’t do. He’s a mirror of our failures, and it drives us insane.

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