Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness
Almost everything the Democratic Left said about Donald Trump causing a Republican Party implosion proved untrue—and yet is proving true this year of the Democrats.
Trump’s agenda, for the most part, was Reaganesque, with a few important exceptions—closing the border and enforcing immigration law, getting tough with China’s unfair trade policies, restoring assembly and manufacturing jobs to the hollowed-out interior, avoiding optional wars abroad, and trying to drain the proverbial federal swamp of its careerist bureaucrats and revolving-door apparatchiks.
Those wrinkles from the Republican agenda, in fact, were consistent with traditional conservative values, and thus even among establishment and mainstream Republicans still polled well enough. That reality later was empowered by Trump’s effort to keep his campaign promises, by an economy at near-record employment, and by foreign policy recalibrations that are starting to win grudging, if unspoken, bipartisan support on China, given news coverage of the Hong Kong crackdown, the reeducation camps, the coronavirus debacle, and the Orwellian surveillance state apparat.
Even before Trump’s governance, the NeverTrump Right was emasculated, largely because its pundits and politicians could offer no alternative party agenda superior to Trump’s. Moreover, they had spent much of their lives advocating most of the very policies Trump was advancing, and increasingly was getting results. Nor before or after the election could they ever convince Republicans that Trump’s crassness and uncouth tweets were quite unlike the White House crudity of past presidents (e.g., Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton) rather than in part attributable to the Internet/social media age and the new tabloid media.
All those facts explain why Trump in 2016 received nearly 90 percent of the Republican vote, at par with, or better than, previous Republican nominees. Polling suggests that in 2020 Trump will do as well with Republican voters, or even better than four years ago. Certainly, the current NeverTrumpers, for all the “character is king” lectures, remain inert, and without influence. Again, they have never squared the circle of opposing the implementation of agendas they spent their careers promoting.