Pixel Tracker

Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 5:41 am | Light Rain Fog/Mist 60º


David Harsanyi: On Trump, Conservatives Have Little Choice But to Take It Issue by Issue


Sure. What would you have us resist? 


There's an expectation — and often a demand — that movement conservatives be all in or all out on the Donald Trump presidency. Lock-stepping partisans of both varieties offer this false choice.

The election phase of the debate is over. Traditionally, presidents offer a menu of policies that more or less comport with the worldview of their party. This is different.

So while I don't contend to speak for all conservatives, I do imagine many are horrified/excited/sad/happy/content/embarrassed by what's going on — often on the same day.

For me, it's repulsive to hear President Trump and friends use authoritarian-tinged rhetoric when talking about the press. Telling the media to "keep its mouth shut" isn't something a person in a position of power should be doing, even if journalists are antagonistic.

Although the administration hasn't yet inhibited the media in any way — by, say, illegally spying on journalists — this kind of statement is distressing because it exposes an un-American view of free expression.

Then again, Trump is also the guy who picked an originalist Supreme Court justice, who, if confirmed, will defuse Democrats' authoritarian efforts to empower the state to ban political speech outright by overturning Citizens United.

Many of us assumed the court would be lost and state power unchecked. Changing the court would be a generational victory.

So why should we expect Republicans to act like only one of the above is happening?

Trump issued a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day without mentioning that the Nazis' final solution was specifically aimed at exterminating the Jews of Europe.

This is offensive, amateur and historically illiterate — and get used to it. Most Jewish organizations condemned the omission, as they should.

Then again, it's also highly unlikely that the Trump administration would send a billion dollars in cash in an attempt to placate an anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying, nuclear weapon-seeking, terrorist-backing regime that openly threatens the lives of millions of Jews in the Middle East. That has been happening as well.

When Trump issues an executive order instating a temporary travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, he inexplicably pulls in green card holders.

Although the hysteria surrounding the order is over-the-top, it's a mess written by inept people.

Conservatives like to claim that immigrants who follow the rules will be welcome in the United States. When they ignore this promise, they undermine trust in the process and our nation.

Yet for many, it's heartening to see a White House that isn't going to pretend Muslim immigration is the same as Methodist or Hindu or Jewish immigration. Unlike the last administration, this one isn't going to talk about radical Islamism — the most pervasively violent and illiberal movement in the world; one that is not only about terrorism but also includes many Muslim theocracies — as if it were a fairy tale invented by conservative media outlets.

The fact that Trump installs a pseudo-intellectual chauvinist like Steve Bannon on the National Security Council is an assault on common sense, norms and decency. But Trump also has James Mattis, Mike Pompeo and other apparently competent cabinet picks that align well with prevailing Republican worldviews.

Most Cabinet members have nothing to do with Trumpism, yet Democrats act as if every selection is a fanatic. Take Trump's education secretary, Betsy Devos, who believes parents should have some measure of choice rather than having to condemn their kids to a failed public school system.

This is something that's invigorating for a lot of movement conservatives and evangelicals. Why should they pick Sen. Chuck Schumer over Donald Trump?

Despite the views of Congress and most of his cabinet, Trump says waterboarding isn't torture. This is troubling. Yet the Trump administration also made a point to participate in the March for Life.

If those who are anti-abortion had to choose between Trump (a person they might find crass or off-putting) and Democrats who now support unlimited abortion on demand until the moment of birth, who would they choose?

Trump will blatantly lie about crowd sizes to ease his petulant ego, and it sounds insane. Trump promises to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, and he signed an executive order requiring two regulations be reviewed for elimination for every new one issued, which sounds fantastic. These things happen simultaneously.

From my perspective, Trump is not presidential, competent or ideologically (or otherwise) coherent most of the time. The alternative doesn't sound that great, either.

I doubt I'm alone on this. In the best-case scenario, congressional Republicans do what ruling parties rarely do, which is hold their president in check.

Trump's negatives might make him one day completely unpalatable for most conservatives. Today, what reason do they give to make common cause with morally preening liberals who overreact to every executive order and utterance?

In this environment, it's perfectly acceptable — even preferable — to take politics issue by issue.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.