The primaries are over and Trump is the nominee, and instead of whining about it like a Millennial faced with having to get a job we need to step back and ask ourselves if we have learned anything from this bizarre turn of events. The GOP – our GOP – has nominated someone who is not a traditional conservative. He’s not even an untraditional conservative. Hell, there’s probably not even a “c” or a “v” in whatever he is. So we can either try to figure out what happened or keep rending our clothes and gnashing our teeth about how our own voter base took one look at us and rejected us like any sober, sighted guy in a bar at 7 p.m. would reject Lena Dunham.
What have we learned from this? We can’t answer that unless we get beyond the natural tendency to assume that the problem is that everyone else is wrong: “Gosh, if the voters weren’t so stupid they would have totally fallen in line with our commands and right now we’d be watching Jeb Bush being fitted for a gimp suit by Hillary instead of seeing Trump [checks current polls] uh, cleaning her clock. Wait, what?”
Did we ever actually listen to our people? I mean all our people, not just the people who went to the same colleges as us and who hang with us at the same awesome restaurants and read National Review. I mean the actual voters out there in wherever actual GOP voters live. Did we pay attention to them and their concerns? Did we listen to them about illegal immigration, about the impact of free trade, about the wars we supported? And did we fight? I don’t mean just give lip service to how bad and unwashed liberals are, but really get in there and stand up to these flag-hating, gender-inventing, God-booing jerks? Or did we look down on the very people we were depending on at election time?
In short, did we completely screw up? Nah, it’s clearly everyone else who’s wrong. They’re just too stupid to understand that they need to obediently fall in line. After all, their real interests are actually – and super conveniently – our interests.
Seriously – is that where we are at? Because I’m hearing a lot of such nonsense from people horrified at Trump and, by extension, the GOP voters who nominated him fair and square. Can we really blame them for voting for the one guy who actually paid attention to what they were saying?
Did we listen about illegal immigration? Heck, illegal immigration is just wonderful for us. We get cheaper restaurant food, cheaper houses, cheaper maids, and if we own companies we get cheaper workers. So what’s not to love, right? Except maybe you didn’t go to a university and wanted to work with your hands and found that you can’t get a job because all the companies are hiring cheap illegal alien workers. Or your truck got hit by an uninsured illegal. Or your daughter got killed by an illegal who should have been deported. Well, if you have concerns about these things, clearly you’re a racist.
And our response to their massive law breaking is “Well, we can’t possibly enforce the law! [clutches pearls tightly] Why, that would be mean!” Do you think that when some red state Republican voter breaks the law he gets a pass? You think the IRS isn’t going to empty his bank account to pay overdue taxes because he carries a sign reading “I didn’t cross the tax code; the tax code crossed me!” We can’t deport an illegal because his family, that shouldn’t even be here, might be sad, but do you think anyone working for Uncle Sucker gives a half damn about an American’s family if he steps out of line? Our response to the legitimate grievances of the people we counted on in this election was to call them stupid and racist and people are surprised they flocked to the one guy who listened to them?
We love fair trade. But what about the guy whose job that he support his family with gets outsourced because of NAFTA? What are we supposed to tell him? That in aggregate fair trade is beneficial? Yeah, but what if you’re not in the aggregate? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that so far we've been telling him “Suck it up cuz you’re obsolete. Go retrain on computers, dummy.” Yet we’re stunned that our voters have failed to embrace our innovative two-prong approach of ignoring their grievances while heaping abuse upon them?
And let's talk about wars. Generally, it’s our base that fights wars and we haven’t won one on the ground since Desert Storm. Our base doesn’t mind fighting for a cause, but if we're not as dedicated as they are, if we can't even commit to win when they commit to doing the dying, why are we shocked when instead of answering the call for the umpteenth time they let it go to voicemail? And the stuff about NATO and Trump – you know, our voters are not blind. If our allies were doing their fair share, his criticisms wouldn't resonate.
And did we listen when our base asked the establishment to show some fighting spirit? Or are we driven to effectively vote for Hillary because somebody scandalized out tender sensibilities by using the verb “schlonged?” Our base demanded someone who wouldn’t be intimidated, who would fight. Instead, the establishment was dead set on dumping a steaming pile of Jeb on our collective lawn, the same durrwood you can watch on YouTube hanging a medal around Hillary Clinton's wrinkled neck. That pompous geebo can’t even take his own damn side in a fight; why is anyone shocked that our voters saw he would never take theirs?
So what have we learned about ourselves? Maybe that many of us are snobs. There's a lot of class warfare going on here, a lot of backroom snark, with a lot of conservatives who want to believe that the only people who could ever support Donald Trump are knuckle-dragging morons who can't cut it when it comes to anything besides digging ditches. Too many of us choose cultural solidarity with the liberals we live among over political solidarity with the people we expected to vote with us.
“Gosh,” we tell ourselves. “These people can’t even see what’s in their own best interest.” Except maybe they don’t like what they see. Maybe it’s because they decided we aren’t worth listening to. Maybe they don’t like us conservatives. And maybe we better figure out how to fix that instead of whining.