Category Archives: #NeverTrumpers

President Trump, NeverTrumpers, and keeping kosher

Regarding NeverTrumpers, are there are two different kinds: — the sleazy grifters and the genuinely principled people who cannot swallow the idea of Trump?

The Torah (that is, the five books of Moses) imposes multiple life rules on Jews and how many of these rules a given Jew follows depends on that person’s degree of religious orthodoxy. For non-Jews, the kosher dietary laws are probably the best known commandments that religious Jews must obey.

For those Jews who keep kosher, there are myriad rules about the type of food that may be eaten, the way animals must be slaughtered, the way the food must be prepared, and the dishes on which it can be served. Keeping kosher is complicated and takes observant Jews outside of the mainstream of American eating.

For those with a deep commitment to God, however, the kosher dietary laws are simply a fact of life. Moreover, they find non-kosher food so viscerally repugnant that they wouldn’t dream of knowingly eating it.

God’s laws, though, are still subsets of an even more important principle: The Torah’s highest and most important directive is to choose life. In keeping with this directive, over the centuries the rabbis developed the doctrine of Pikuach nefesh. Per Wikipedia, which seems to be quite accurate on this point:

Pikuach nefesh (Hebrew: פיקוח נפש, IPA: [piˈkuaχ ˈnefeʃ], “saving a life”) describes the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta’aseh (command to not do an action) of the Torah becomes inapplicable. [Hyperlinks and footnotes omitted.]

Specifically with regard to the intersection between Pikuach nefesh and kosher dietary rules, Wikipedia explains as follows:

Non-kosher food may be eaten under the following circumstances:

  • If no kosher food is available to the person, and failure to eat the non-kosher food may result in starvation.
  • If a non-kosher food product specifically is needed to cure an illness.

If necessary for recovery, a patient may eat non-kosher foods. In the Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 82a of Tractate Yoma mentions pregnancy cravings for non-kosher food (the passage discusses a pregnant woman who craves pork on Yom Kippur) as the paradigmatic example of a presumed life-threatening situation where a person is allowed to eat non-kosher food (and is permitted to eat it on Yom Kippur). [Hyperlinks omitted]

The fact that something is permitted, though, doesn’t necessarily mean someone is able to do it. I have heard stories of extremely orthodox Jews who, when rescued from Nazi concentration camps, were unable to make themselves eat if the only food available was not kosher. (This obviously doesn’t apply to quarrels about which plate to use; it applies to being offered pork or some other forbidden food to eat.) These Jews would tell their children to eat the food, but they viewed it with such revulsion — akin to your being asked to eat a piece of ancient, rotten, worm-ridden meat — that they simply couldn’t force it down. I don’t know if these stories are true, but they work nicely for my Trump analogy — or rather, for my NeverTrumpers analogy.

I look at Donald Trump, warts and all, and nevertheless happily accept him as my president. Even if I take away all the affirmative benefits I believe he’s brought to America in terms of the economy, national security, removal from the Kyoto Accord and the Iran Deal, a commitment to the Second Amendment, a willingness to attack Islamic extremism head-on, etc., I’m still incredibly grateful to him for all the negative things he prevented.

As I see it, the 2016 election wasn’t between Donald Trump and someone else who might have been just as good. That imagines an election in which both candidates hewed to a fairly middle-of-the-road political ideology that had America’s traditional well-being at its center, with the difference between the two candidates being that Trump was a little more conservative and the other candidate was a little more Leftist.

Instead, I viewed 2016 as a purely binary election with one candidate who might guide America into more traditional paths and another candidate whom we knew with absolute certainty had willingly sold American interests out to Russia, had purposefully violated national security, and absolutely intended to follow the Obama path by continuing

  • to have the American economy bow down to (and bow under) climate change hysteria,
  • to fund Iran, to pursue a “reset” with Russia that would harm central European allies,
  • to continue to place activist judges with little respect for the constitution on the Supreme Court and other federal benches,
  • to pander to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians while showing hostility to Israel,
  • to pay Danegeld to North Korea,
  • to push for deeper and deeper divisions in America based upon Jim Crow-esque racial theories,
  • to enter into crony deals with big business while destroying our manufacturing sector,
  • to elevate criminals over law enforcement,
  • to destroy gun rights, and on and on and on.

While backing Trump was an obvious step for me to take, there quickly developed a class of ostensible Republicans who absolutely could not stomach Trump and who became known as NeverTrumpers. This essay is about what I perceive as two different classes of NeverTrumpers, one deserving nothing but disdain and the other being people we still respect even if their political take is different from ours.

The ones who deserve our disdain are the Bill Kristol or Jennifer Rubin types. Since Trump’s election, they’ve proven that they were never committed conservatives. Instead, it seems that, in the years leading to the 2016 election, they had merely found a profitable niche for themselves, including Kristol’s effortlessly and undeservedly stepping into his father’s impressive shoes. The same goes for Norman Podhoretz, who came to support Trump, and his louche, entitled NeverTrumper son John.

In the same vein, the McCain family is supporting Biden who, while he plays a “traditional Democrat” on TV, supported every Leftist Obama policy initiative and seems on board with every one of the Democrats’ current Leftist policy initiatives. Keep in mind that this is the man who told blacks that Republicans — the party of Lincoln — were going to “put you back in chains.”

When push came to shove, when it was a choice between their principles and still having Democrat friends in all the right places, these NeverTrumpers willingly abandoned every conservative principle they’d formerly espoused.  They are the kind of self-styled elite Kurt Schlichter appropriately savages in his must-read Militant Normals: How Regular Americans Are Rebelling Against the Elite to Reclaim Our Democracy.

In other words, one has to question whether these people were ever real conservatives or, if like Biden himself pretending to be moderate, they just played conservatives on TV, on cruises, and at cocktail parties where they mixed with the politically connected in-crowd. The fact is that they all seem awfully willing today to back people who stand for everything they once claimed to oppose.

But then there are the people whose values haven’t changed — who still believe absolutely in conservative policies — but who experience a sense of revulsion against Trump that has nothing to do with policies and everything to do with visceral dislike. And this is where I circle back to the kosher food rules.

To me, these NeverTrumpers are not fake conservatives like Rubin, Kristol, or the McCains. Instead, these people remind me of those (possibly apocryphal) survivors of the concentration camps who, even to preserve life, could not force themselves to eat something as completely unkosher as pork or shell fish. Given a choice between dying and eating something repulsive, they chose dying.

In the same way, those who find Trump repugnant at a core level beyond reason will never be able to support him. Given a choice between Leftism and Trump, they choose political abstention. They are conservatives, so they, unlike the grifters, will never vote for a Democrat — nevertheless, because they’re the political equivalent of being kosher, they cannot even force themselves to support, let alone vote for, Trump.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. Some #NeverTrumpers were fakers and grifters all along and they therefore deserve the disrespect that comes their way. Others are deeply principled people whose sense of pure revulsion about a man who is, as even his supporters concede, not quite normal, paralyzes their ability to follow their conservative political instincts. That can’t be changed and needs to be respected.

The post President Trump, NeverTrumpers, and keeping kosher appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

#NeverTrumpers, please get off your moral high horse before you hurt America

In the past couple of weeks, two superb essays came out castigating conservatives who are going to do anything but vote for Donald Trump, whether that means voting for Hillary, Johnson (a closet Democrat who’s been Hillary’s echo chamber), or what’s his name the Mormon. For me, the bottom line is that Hillary will absolutely most certainly totally be a president who cements Obama’s legacy, whether it’s executive overreach, hard-Left legislation from the Supreme Court, an open border ensuring permanent Leftist domination at the polls, crony capitalism, or America’s dhimmitude before Islam.

It’s doubtful that Trump could ever be as bad as Hillary — and she will most certainly be so bad that America might never recover — and a damn good chance that he’ll be better or even much better (as he showed with his recent speeches about African-Americans and immigration). The moral position for any conservatives is to vote for Trump.

But that’s me talking, and you don’t have to believe me. I therefore strongly suggest that you read the following two articles. The first is from Clay Shirky, who doesn’t take sides but simply educates us to the fact that in America there’s no such thing as a protest vote:

People who believe in protest votes do so because they confuse sending a message with receiving one. You can send any message you like: “I think Jill Stein should be President” or “I think David Duke should be President” or “I think Park Eunsol should be President.”

Similarly, you can send any message you like by not voting. You can say you are sitting out the election because both parties are neo-liberal or because an election without Lyndon LaRouche is a sham or because 9/11 was an inside job. The story you tell yourself about your political commitments are yours to construct.

But it doesn’t matter what message you think you are sending, because no one will receive it. No one is listening. The system is set up so that every choice other than ‘R’ or ‘D’ boils down to “I defer to the judgement of my fellow citizens.” It’s easy to argue that our system shouldn’t work like that. It’s impossible to argue it doesn’t work like that.

Read the whole thing and then forgetting about hoarding your precious vote to send a message. Vote for the candidate who probably won’t irreparably damage America.

The other article you should read is Michael Walsh’s The Moral Cowardice of the NeverTrumpumpkins. Walsh takes as his starting point what I also use as my starting point — the fact that Trump is an imperfect candidate (although if you read Ann Coulter’s latest column, you’ll realize that a lot of the attacks on Trump are sheer calumnies that prove, upon examination, to have no basis in fact). No matter how imperfect he is, though — no matter he offends the classy, the intellectual, the thoughtful, the ideologically committed — he’s our guy and he’s better than their gal:

Trump’s opponents on the right fall into two main categories – conservative opinion journalists (most of whom are under 50, who came of voting age after Ronald Reagan left office) and the political-consultant class. The latter’s opposition is easy to understand, as Trump has essentially dispensed with their services, running a bare-bones primary campaign that resulted in the largest vote total in the history of the GOP nominating process. No wonder they’re sore.


What’s more puzzling is the entrenched opposition by a die-hard handful in the right-wing media, whose increasingly desperate (and mind-numbingly repetitious) anti-Trump columns read more like a personal cri de coeur than reasoned political discourse.

The time for opposition was during the primaries. But now, for better or worse, the issue is settled. Increasingly sounding like leftists, the “never Trumpers” appeal to a higher morality to justify their electoral sabotage, but the fact is their stance is profoundly immoral; sore losers, they demand a rules change after the game is over, and refuse to accept the results.

So determined are they to retain their status in the junior wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party, they have put party before country, and swear they’ve done just the opposite.

Meanwhile, the “never Trumpers” continue to offer up spoiler candidates, such as Evan McMullin, a Mormon former CIA officer with no chance of even getting on all 50 state ballots, in the hopes of damaging Trump’s chances in states with significant Mormon populations, such as Utah and Arizona.  The thinking goes that five candidates in the race (Trump, Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein) might cost Trump a state or two, leading to his defeat in the Electoral College.

Some Trump opponents on the right disingenuously claim they have little or no influence on voters; they’re merely advocating a vote of conscience while they await a restoration in 2020 or ‘24.  Further, they risibly assert that a GOP Congress will hold Clinton in check, forgetting how little the Republicans did to stop Obama – and why their base is so furious with them today.

I’m deeply unhappy about the #NeverTrumpers and that’s for a personal reason. I have been for years a very big fan of many of the #NeverTrumpers, especially the writers at National Review. I haven’t always agreed with them (e.g., I wasn’t a Mitt Romney fan, but accepted him once he won the primary), but I deeply admire their intelligence, their thoughtfulness, the breadth and depth of their knowledge, their committed conservativism, their strong principles, and their uniformly excellent writing.

Indeed, admiring them as I did, it troubled me a great deal when a few months ago I realized that I would have to part ways with them. Did I dare to strike out on my own path when such highly regarded people were assuring me it was (and is) the road to perdition?

But you know what sometimes happens to people who are too close to each other? They lose perspective. I came to imagine them going back and forth between each other’s offices, brilliantly, wittily, and thoughtfully reinforcing their prejudices. Collegiality, instead of being a source of strength, and (and has) become both a shackle and a blindfold, preventing them from looking beyond the parameters they’ve drawn for themselves and reaching out for the bigger picture.

Even at National Review, though, people are beginning to accept that Trump is our guy, no matter how much we wish he were not. Dennis Prager wrote a wonderful pro-Trump column which said thoughtfully and elegantly what I’ve been saying in my ragged, scattershot fashion for months now: Trump is better than Hillary and, when there’s a binary election, patriots must choose the least bad option.

Likewise, Victor Davis Hanson, while trying to avoid endorsing Trump cannot help but savage Clinton. He’s too intellectually honest to pretend that throwing the election her way will be anything but a disaster.

Even Andrew McCarthy, once a staunch Trump foe, has come to realize that, when it comes to national security, reasonable people can work with Trump — and he’s better than Hillary.

When you’re brilliant, erudite, and principled, and you’ve loudly, publicly, and often made brilliant, erudite, and principled arguments to support your position, it’s mighty hard to back down. I know that I, who am neither brilliant, nor erudite, nor a lifelong principled conservative (having come late to the game after a Road to Damascus political conversion) had to swallow a bitter pill and a lot of pride to accept that Trump is my candidate.

Lord knows, at my own little bully pulpit, one that reaches only thousands, not tens or even hundreds of thousands, I wrote enough scathing indictments against Trump. During the primaries, he was a political monster when compared to Walker or Cruz or Rubio. But the primaries are over and now Trump is my monster. Instead of being scary, Trump has become endearing and cuddly. This election has been my own personal version of Monsters, Inc., with Trump no longer the killer under the bed but, instead, the hero who saves the day.

Given what both Shirky and Walsh say, it’s time for the #NeverTrumpers to have their own Monsters, Inc. moment. Guys and gals, stop screaming every time you see Trump and learn to appreciate his virtues, laugh at his wacky sense of humor, and line up behind him because, while he’s not a real monster, the monsters are out there and Hillary wants to let them in.

Crossposted at Bookworm Room