The 123rd post from the Journal of American Greatness originally published in June, 2016.
The label #VichyRepublicans seems to be appearing all over political Twitter of late. And while this Journal has on numerous occasions criticized Trump for his policy ignorance, lack of discipline, apparent deficiencies in character and demeanor, and even “vices,” we find these incessant comparisons to Hitler more than a little ridiculous and really quite irresponsible.
However, let us consider the Vichy metaphor for a moment. It may be useful, if extended slightly, in one sense. For even a basic reading of history would indicate that if there are in fact #VichyRepublicans, then they must have been preceded by #MaginotConservatives.
Who are the #MaginotConservatives? They are, of course, the pundits and “elites” that have sat frozen in fixed positions designed for the last war of 20 years ago, facing in the wrong direction, aiming at strategically unimportant targets, elaborately funded yet totally incapable of effective action–providing a false defense of a demoralized, politically dysfunctional nation while (most visibly if not necessarily most importantly) neglecting even to secure a significant portion of the border.
In other words, leaving aside the analogy, if Trump is really so terrible, what does his winning the nomination say about the opposing version of conservatism?
There are three possibilities to explain Trump’s victory under this premise: (1) Trump is an evil but highly competent genius. However, given everything written by the #NeverTrump crowd about his bankruptcies, low fundraising, and lack of a “ground game,” it doesn’t seem that anyone, with the possible exception of Scott Adams, believes this. (2) The American people have become so degenerate that they are incapable of identifying or resisting a tyrannical demagogue. We haveconsidered this possibility at length as well. But, if it is true, surely both parties and their “intellectuals” must share a significant portion of the blame for failing to prevent this development. And, finally, (3) conservative leaders are so incompetent, conservative ideas so discredited, and conservative failures so egregious that even the most sensible, public-spirited voters would prefer someone as flawed as Trump over anything that TrueConservatism™ has to offer.
Thus, whatever one’s opinion of the mix of (2) and (3), remaining trapped in TrueConservatism’s™ bunker mentality is surely a downhill path to permanent, total, and in many ways dishonorable defeat. It is the unconditional surrender of the country to failed ideology.
Now, in fairness, we have also noticed recently that many conservative leaders and thinkers have begun acknowledging their own omissions and showing greater openness to rethinking conservatism. Let’s hope that continues. One does not even have to embrace Trump to recognize some merit in Trumpism, or, as we prefer, the Greatness Agenda. Undoubtedly that is a much healthier and more effective response than overwrought, deranged Twittering.