Here are some reasons I have no obligation at this point to support Donald Trump.
- I haven’t voted in the 2016 primary yet. No one, in fact, has. That someone is the “front runner” doesn’t mean anything. We get to vote and we get to have opinions about who will serve us best. After there is a nominee, we can talk about support. Since when did having an opinion about who to vote for constitute a reason for vitriol?
- A lot of people are anti-establishment. I don’t think that phrase means anything. I am pro constitution. I am pro conservative. I take both of those ideals seriously. Bernie Sanders is anti-establishment. He is also a socialist. I won’t vote for him even though he is anti-establishment.
- Anger is an emotion and not a reason to vote for someone. I am not a member of the anger party. I vote based on constitutional principles. Yes, I am a purist. Yes, I believe ideas are important.
Jonah Goldberg nails it.
As I mentioned above, my favorite form of this fallacious argument is that National Review — or me personally — is required (required!) to support the GOP frontrunner. When Donald Trump signed that pledge to support the GOP nominee a few months ago, scads of people asked whether I would do likewise. Can they really not see the category error here? My job — our job — is to write and say the truth as I see it. That’s it. Of course we can be wrong. It’s happened plenty of times. But to think we should be wrong on purpose is to confuse National Review for a press release or a bit of direct mail marketing.
But the real irony of this “support the front-runner” nonsense is that it runs completely counter to the usual gripe we get — that we’re too supportive of the GOP. Which is it? Are we “GOPe” hacks carrying water for the party? Or are we fools and traitors for not backing the party front-runner just because he’s the front-runner? Trump is a hero “because he fights.” We are knaves and traitors because we fight back.
I have another question: Now that the establishment is rallying to Trump, can I be anti-establishment again if I stay critical of Trump? That’d be nice.
The point here is that “anti-establishment” is not a synonym for “conservative,”as I wrote the other day in the Corner. One of the reasons I can’t stand the use and abuse of the term “establishment” is that it’s like a three-legged pack mule carrying the load for an entire wagon train of assumptions.
“Anti-establishment” is almost entirely devoid of any ideological content whatsoever. An ideological category that can include Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Occupy Wall Street, the tea parties, Ted Cruz, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Ben Carson is not a particularly meaningful one.
Some reply, oh no, it shows that the people are angry! I hear this all the time. And I agree. And I’m angry too. But you know what? Being angry is not a frick’n argument. I’m angry that Washington has drowned the country in debt. I’m angry that Obama has been a failure. I’m also angry that broccoli doesn’t taste like chicken and that Fox cancelled Firefly. Being angry is probably a necessary condition for fixing a lot of problems, but it isn’t sufficient to the task. And it isn’t a particularly powerful defense of Donald Trump.