Like Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, in the 2016 election I ended up firmly — and, at times, quite zealously — in the "NeverTrump" camp. As such, I decided not to charge the proverbial Flight 93 cockpit and did not vote for Donald Trump in the general election. (Nor did I vote for Hillary Clinton, of course.)
Nearly two and a half years after Trump's momentous defeat of "Felonia von Pantsuit," however, the political landscape for conservatives has dramatically altered. In trying to craft and ascertain what precisely the future of the conservative movement looks like, one thing above all else stands out as obvious: There is no returning to the pre-Trump status quo ante.
Like most other conservatives who, for one reason or another, could not bring themselves to ultimately pull the lever for Trump on Election Day 2016, I have surveyed the past two and a half years of our politics with an open mind. The straw man that is the recalcitrant, deeply immovable erstwhile NeverTrump-er is just that: A straw man, save for a small handful of obstinate pundits such as Bill Kristol, Charlie Sykes, Jennifer Rubin, and Max Boot. Most of us in the conservative commentary space, much like most people in any discrete vocational space, consider ourselves open to new ideas, new geopolitical and intellectual developments, and new lines of argumentation.
Like some others who are in the same position, I fully intend to vote for Donald Trump in the November 2020 presidential election. Here are three core reasons why.
1. The Results Are In, And The Reality Is That Trump Governs As A Conservative President.
Perhaps the number one reason why many conservatives were so skeptical of Trump in 2016 was his complete lack of any conservative track record. Indeed, to the extent pre-2016 Trump might have had one policy issue with which he had been closely identified for decades, it was his longtime skepticism of free trade — an issue that, to put it charitably, divides those on the Right. But Trump now has a substantive track record to run on, and that track record is, by and large, a clearly conservative record. While Republicans under Trump have not delivered on healthcare, they have delivered on (mildly) cutting taxes and curtailing excessive regulation. Lower court judicial nominations have been plentiful and generally great (and I would know). At the Supreme Court level, Brett Kavanaugh is very slow out of the gate, but Neil Gorsuch is (usually) reliably solid. Trump's Department of Justice has been exceedingly friendly toward religious liberty, shows a willingness to get tough against the murderous criminal/drug cartels, and is appropriately bold in its anti-Obamacare legal strategy. On the foreign policy front, Trump has torn up the harrowing capitulation to fundamentalist jihadist evil that was the Iran nuclear deal, has — the occasional misguided tweet and Adam Schiff's constant blustering notwithstanding — been quite substantively tough on Putin's Russia, has faced China's chronic intellectual property theft with firm resolve, and has been, by any measure, the most unambiguously, stridently pro-Israel president in the history of the Jewish state. More generally, his national security strategy, which properly prizes America's national security whilst being resistant of Wilsonian moralistic interventionism, has appropriately recalibrated America's standing with respect to both our allies and foes. Our friends once again prize our friendship, and our enemies once again look to us with trepidation.
Conservatives concerned about decorum and less tangible presidential considerations ought to continue to judge the president's at-times juvenile Twitter feed and generally unbecoming statements. And surely, there will always be many issues — such as the misbegotten First Step Act jailbreak law — for which Trump will be unduly influenced by vestigial leftist inclinations, exacerbated at times by the oftentimes Left-leaning instincts of Jared and Ivanka. But there can no longer be any meaningful question as to the kind of substantive presidency that Trump oversees. The Trump Administration, when judged on its concrete policy and legal positions and stances, is a generally conservative one.
2. To The Extent There Is A Moral Stain On The Conservative Movement And The Republican Party, That Is Now A Sunk Cost.
Many conservatives, including myself, were fearful that the Republican Party anointing someone with Trump's, um, "colorful" personal history might pose an irrevocable moral stain on the modern conservative movement and the Republican Party which serves as that movement's sole viable partisan vessel. To be sure, concerns about that stain have hardly abated, and there is likely no returning to social conservatives' "Moral Majority" halcyon days of the 1980s.
But Trump has still, personal foibles and historical shortcomings notwithstanding, generally governed as a fairly socially conservative president. As aforementioned, his administration has been very friendly toward religious liberty. On the pro-life issue, he has expanded the Mexico City Policy and has moved closer towards a fuller defunding of the nation's largest kid-killing mill, Planned Parenthood. And while Trump has generally failed to move the needle on immigration enforcement as he would no doubt like to, he has hardly been helped by our revanchist federal judiciary and the incompetent, venal dunderheads of the Mexican government.
But here is the upshot. The jury is still out on the effect that Trump's "checkered" personal past and current habits — including but hardly limited to his trigger-happy tweeting thumbs — will have on the intellectual gravitas and solemnity of the conservative cause. But Trump has already been elected and is already our president. Therefore, in economic terms, whatever stain may afflict the movement and/or the GOP is, henceforth, necessarily a sunk cost: A cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recouped. That ought to make a monumental difference in how morally/socially conservative voters approach the 2020 presidential election, in contradistinction to the 2016 presidential election.
3. It Is Impossible To Overstate The Extent To Which The Left Has Become Full-On Crazy.
For me, it was L'Affaire Kavanaugh that truly drove home this point. What the Democratic Party did during the Kavanaugh saga amounts to something closely approximating the lowest moment that any major political party has had in the modern history of Western civilization. That is really, truly not an exaggeration. The Left threw away thousands of years of "innocent until proven guilty" civilizational norms and took #BelieveAllWomen to such a catastrophic extremism that would place in jeopardy the career of any future man ever accused — via a single uncorroborated rumor — of lascivious wrongdoing decades prior.
That is no world in which any even remotely sane individual ought to desire to be a part.
Furthermore, consider what the modern Democratic Party has transmogrified into — and how it has dramatically worsened in even the past two and a half years. This is a post-liberal political party for which the leading debate is, literally, whether the 2020 nominee ought to be a class warfare-centric Marxist or a racial identitarian warfare-centric "intersectionalist."
Finally, consider the fact that the modern Democratic Party is rapidly being fully Corbynized into an outright anti-Jewish political party. As I wrote last month about the Ilhan Omar "anti-Semitism" resolution imbroglio:
What the Democratic Party did this week was refuse to condemn one of its own for relentlessly trafficking in at least two of the oldest, most pernicious canards used to defame the Jewish people. What the Democratic Party did this week was whitewash, deflect, and (oftentimes) openly apologize for open, transparent Jew-hatred.
What the Democratic Party covered for this week was not mere criticism of Israeli government policies. Indeed, what the Democratic Party covered for this week was not even criticism of Israel's existence. But what the Party of Truman covered for this week is a rogue misanthrope who peddles Judeophobic screeds about financial control and "dual loyalty" so blatant and unvarnished that they might make some "blood libel" dolts blush.
That is an astronomically hard pass. These menaces do not deserve to be within a thousand miles of the levers of American political power.
I'm voting for Donald Trump.