For over a year now I have been trying to warn Republicans and conservatives about Donald Trump. During this time period I have always been certain that he was not one of us and that his presence in the Republican primaries would either directly, or indirectly lead to Hillary Clinton’s election.
I have continued to sound this alarm even after his nomination, largely because I knew that the general election, barring a catastrophic event, was effectively over as soon as Trump was the GOP candidate. To me, resistance was futile and counterproductive (why would I want my side blamed for the results if Trump somehow got elected?). I also felt strongly that conservative/libertarian principles were more valuable than to be sold for a couple of magic beans in the form of a liberal, reality TV conman and that by at least educating conservatives to the coming disaster that I might play some very small part it trying to make sure it never happens again.
For this stance I have been literally called every dirty name you can think of (and used a few myself in frustrated retaliation), and been accused of actively supporting Hillary for president. As someone whose first documentary film was an anti-Clinton project and who helped write the anti-Hillary film which began the infamous “Citizens United” Supreme Court case, I have found this very common reaction to be both hilarious and exasperating.
After all, Trump has once held every liberal position that there is, given Hillary and the now suddenly horrible Clinton Foundation lots of money, invited the Clintons to his third wedding, and consulted with Bill Clinton before deciding to run. When he is the untouchable “anti-Hillary” person and someone like me is maligned as “pro-Hillary” simply for criticizing Trump, then clearly we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
However, as time has gone on I have realized that there is a flaw in my premise. I thought that I understood what it meant to be a conservative or a Republican. To me that involved believing in limited government, a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, constitutional principles, character and honesty in our leadership, and accountability for one’s own actions. What I have been very late to realize is that none of these things are particularly important in today’s Republican Party because the platform apparently got completely changed without anyone telling me.
In Trump’s party belief in any particular policy or principle is completely arbitrary and is dependent on what suits our fearless leader on any given day (even, it now seems, with regard to his core campaign issue of being super tough on illegal immigration). Even more remarkable than the ever changing policy positions is how utterly irrelevant actual “issues” are to his campaign at all.
In fact, a list of what “Republicans” now stand for has nothing at all to do with policy or principle, but rather is filled with beliefs about very specific concepts. For instance, being a member of the current GOP pretty much requires you to pledge allegiance to most, if not all, of the following views:
- That Hillary and Bill Clinton are at least an accessories to murder if not murderers, the DNC killed a member of its staff for leaking her emails, her use of which was the greatest national security breech in history, and Vince Foster killed himself because of Hillary nagging him (assuming he really wasn’t murdered).
- Hillary Clinton is hiding a severe illness which makes her incapable of holding office and which will soon cause her death (well, at least we might not have to worry about her serving two full terms!).
- President Obama is easily the worst president in history, a Muslim terrorist sympathizer, the founder of ISIS, and likely wasn’t really born in the United States.
- The Republican “establishment” is a bunch of impotent losers because they lost two elections to a media darling and can’t override vetoes without a super majority, but a guy who has never been truly leading a horrible candidate like Hillary in the polls is a sure winner.
- Conservative writers at the National Review and Weekly Standard along with Charles Krauthammer, George Will and Brit Hume are all out-of-touch wimps who can’t be trusted to tell us the truth, but Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Matt Drudge and Alex Jones would never lie to us for profit (expect for maybe that whole Alex Jones “9/11 Truther” thing, which we’ll sort of pretend didn’t happen).
- When in doubt, Trump is always right, no matter what he has said in the past, even when it has directly contradicted his previous statement, and even if that happens on the same day, or in the same interview.
- Deporting illegal immigrants and building a huge wall on our Mexican border is the most important thing we must do, unless Trump changes his mind.
- There is nothing more significant (especially now that we’ve forgotten about that whole illegal immigration thing) than making sure that the person who picks the next Supreme Court justice is the same guy who was recently “very pro-choice,” favors eminent domain and curtailing the First Amendment, and who picked Arsenio Hall and Piers Morgan as the “Celebrity Apprentice.”
- The news media has never been more biased than they are against Trump, which is why they gave him two billion dollars in free advertising in the primaries and why he just hired the head of a major conservative “news” outlet to head his campaign while using Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes as advisors.
- The background of a potential First Lady and her ability to properly represent the country no longer matters (that’s so 2008!).
- Experience in public office no longer matters (that’s so 2008!).
- Using a Teleprompter is good, unless it is bad (that’s so 2008!).
- Flip-flopping means nothing (so 2004!).
- Releasing your tax returns (even when you entire campaign is based on your wealth) means nothing.
- Words mean nothing.
- Having class or decency means nothing.
- Limited government means nothing.
- Cultural issues mean nothing.
- Fiscal responsibility means nothing.
- Cozying up to Vladimir Putin is numerous bizarre ways means nothing.
- Campaigning as an amazing manager of people but running a campaign that is in constant chaos and disarray means nothing.
- Lying is a total disqualifier for Hillary, but when Trump lies it is simply part of the “Art of the Deal.”
- Polls are either wrong or part of a massive nonsensical conspiracy, unless Trump is winning.
Facts mean nothing (unless they are sanctified by Matt Drudge, in which case they are then gospel).
- Stories from “mainstream” media sources are inherently wrong, even if all they are doing is reporting Trump’s actual words.
- Hillary is the worst person who has ever lived and would be such a dangerous president that we must do everything possible to defeat her, except actually bother to consider electability when it comes to picking our nominee.
So it is now all so clear to me. It’s not that Donald Trump isn’t a conservative or a Republican. It’s that I’m not.
My bad. It won’t happen again.
John Ziegler is a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.