Liberalism has failed America — again.
When the Republican primary was at its height, I wrote a blog post explaining why I would never support Donald Trump. Shortly after I shared it on Facebook, I had a conversation with an incredulous childhood friend of mine: “how could you know anyone who supports Donald Trump?”
My conversation with this New York-based Bostonian went on at length. He explained that he did not know a single person who would support Trump, and that I must be facetious when I said I knew reasonable people who did. The idea that anyone would embrace Trump was inconceivable to him. And that ignorance of the America in between by those in coastal urban centers is why Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.
This country has changed a lot in the past eight years. We’ve had a president who aggressively used executive power, courts and the mainstream media to shove a narrow view of what America could be down people’s throats. And while much digital ink has been spilled about Republican escalation of rhetoric, the mainstream media has ignored a similar evolution on the left. Many Americans (even us #NeverTrump Republicans) has not been the difference of opinions, which have always existed. Rather, it has been the absolutist, intolerant change of tone in liberalism.
If you are an American who didn’t support the Supreme Court imposing gay marriage, didn’t agree with the Affordable Care Act, identified with traditional gender identity, opposed wealth redistribution, or opposed immigration you weren’t someone with a different viewpoint. You were intolerant. A bigot. Hateful.
Yet after eight years of talking down to people, liberals mocked Nate Silver for giving Trump a 30 percent chance. Those of us with wider-circles were more anxious: I turned down 10:1 odds on a Clinton victory less than a week before the election. If you ram unpopular decisions down people’s throats, and then argue their viewpoints are not just invalid, but morally corrupt, expect them to feel alien in their own country.
I see it myself. My Facebook feed has started to become populated with platitudes to fluid gender identities, aggressive calls for gun control, and obscene minimum wages. Some of these viewpoints I agree with, others I don't. But the people who speak against these items aren’t engaged – they’re dismissed as hateful. Change is meant to be gradual, and hard. Liberals pushed it too hard to rewrite America’s social contract, and the populace pushed back – with what may be disastrous results.
It’s abundantly clear from how people voted: they’re not issue based. Amidst a wave of Republican victories, marijuana is more readily available than ever. Evangelicals supported a godless, thrice-married man in higher numbers than the last two GOP nominees. Even Latinos and white women supported Trump in higher numbers than anyone expected.
Yet, liberals continue to be incapable of introspection. Last night and this morning’s hot takes were full of accusations of racism, sexism and bigotry. There’s no question Trump appealed to dark and dangerous parts of humanity. But explaining away what happened as simply “white people and men are angry” is reductive – and wrong.
I believe we’ll look back at the Affordable Care Act as the root of Trump’s candidacy. The Democratic elite pushed forward an unpopular law, opposed by most people, and it has made innumerable lives worse. Liberals pushed it forward because of a moral imperative they saw to provide healthcare – but the ultimate moral imperative is consent of the governed. And now they know they never had it. Not only did people vote to oppose it, but the necessary supporters didn’t care to turn out and affirm it, either.
And, yet, hand-wringing continues today. I ‘ve seen the laments about her narrow win in the popular vote, and immediate calls for the dissolution of the Electoral College. This is wrong. The Electoral College requires a president to achieve a broad-based coalition to govern – not just run up the score in population centers. Hillary Clinton lost because she did not paint a vision for America that people agreed with. She lost because even those who stand to lose the most in a Trump administration did not believe in her enough to vote.
I opposed Donald Trump since day one. But, it’s inarguable that he has earned his collation, won handily, and that our democracy has worked as designed.
None of this is to say I’m any better than many of the liberals I decry. Like them, us #NeverTrump’ers have lost. I believe in America being a dominant power in the world, and leader. Free trade ought to continue to be expanded, and America needs to do more for people of color. Maybe that’s because I’m younger, but it’s clear: the electorate of today doesn’t agree, and we need to accept that.
So, the final stroke of irony this morning: true conservatism is now America’s greatest hope.
For eight years conservatives have been decrying the expanding power of the executive branch, loose interpretations of the constitution, and Congress’ lack of willingness to drive the policy agenda forward. We now have a solidly Republican majority in both houses of congress, which means its time to reassert the narrow, originalist interpretations of the constitution we cherish. In such a scenario, America can not only survive the next four years, but emerge well positioned to thrive in the future.
Donald Trump was not my candidate. I’ve spoken against him. I’ve written at length about his dangers. I cast a ballot in a closely contested swing state yesterday against him. But while he was not my candidate, he will soon be my president.
Our republic rewards participation; now is the time for us to come together, distasteful as it may be, and help President Donald J. Trump find a path forward.