The subdivisions of conservatism contain many corridors for channeling a love of liberty, smaller government and rule of law. Fiscal, social, constitutional, national security and immigration passions provide a useful scorecard for assessing the breadth of those seeking to be called conservative.
That discussion is for another day. From right now until the polls close November 8, there are only two kinds of conservatives: those willing to join the fight to protect America from a Hillary Clinton presidency, and those who, for whatever tortured reason they have fashioned, are unwilling.
The posturings of establishment squishes and NeverTrumpers now threaten to derail the task that should unite every conservative from this moment on. The nation must be protected from the ruin of another Clinton presidency, which, more to the point, is another Obama presidency. The contortions of many otherwise smart people have become a spectacle that threatens our nation, our future, our children. Silence is complicity.
The challenge to unity and clarity, of course, stems from the nominee the voters have chosen as Republican standard-bearer. Donald Trump freaks a lot of people out. So much so, that many steadfast conservatives spent some time in a fog, hatching narratives that he might in fact be as bad, if not worse, than she is.
Most have emerged from that haze, realizing that the prospects of a Hillary nightmare are far more real than the sloppy screenplays they had cobbled together in their heads.
The concoctions have been something to behold: He is an authoritarian who will sidestep Congress; he is a Trojan horse bent on sneaking concealed liberal agendas into the Oval Office; and, of course, he is an execrable racist.
Such slander from the left is to be expected. But to see these gems extracted from various orifices on the right is to witness the level of discomfort real change can generate. I took some time before leveling the charge that these people genuinely prefer a Hillary presidency. But how many Jonah Goldberg columns, Jennifer Rubin blogs and Bill Kristol tweets do I need to slog through before taking them at their word? They are willing to subject America to Hillary. For some unfathomable reason, the Obama agenda items they have spent years decrying have suddenly become acceptable, and all because the Republican nominee has put their drawers in such a knot.
There is plenty of fair criticism of Trump on the right. Some of his conservatism seems recently cultivated, and he has only fitful fluency in its language. Doubt is not unreasonable. And some of his pronouncements, from trade policies to the minimum wage, are soundly unconservative.
But his priority list offers a shot at conservative results more satisfying than we might have seen from perhaps half the field he defeated. Immigration, Obamacare repeal, a serious war against global jihad, a Reaganesque tax plan, job creation—if he bats only .500 on these, we will see a far better America than under her malicious stewardship.
And that’s before we get to the issue that will give the next president an imprint on America lasting until the grandchildren are grown: the Supreme Court. It is an unpardonable disconnect for any constitutional conservative to show nonchalance or outright approval as Hillary Clinton plots a savaging of the Bill of Rights.
So Trump is coarse. So he has said some offensive things. So he won’t mix well at George Will’s patrician cocktail parties. So he causes the elites to clutch their pearls and get the vapors. So what? We have a country to save.
And there are two kinds of conservatives right now: those who will take up the fight to save this nation from Hillary Clinton, and those who won’t. From the halls of Congress to the cubicles of punditry, many will be judged for years to come by their choices in the coming days.
And let’s be clear. Taking up the fight means taking up the fight. It does not include mere restraint from savaging the nominee. It does not mean playing Paul Ryan head games containing tepid good wishes wrapped in a refusal to fully endorse.
Taking up the fight means making it abundantly clear to all who listen that every voter should pull the lever for Donald Trump. Anything less leaves America’s door unlocked for the home invasion that will accompany the Hillary Clinton inauguration.
This call comes at a time of particular challenge, amid those stupid Billy Bush bus tapes from eleven years ago. John McCain, whom I eternally revere for his service to our nation, seems unable to navigate a path to clarity for fear that he cannot save the nation without wounding the women in his life.
I hold my wife and daughter in no lesser regard. The difference between Senator McCain and me is that I will be spending every day acting and speaking to protect my wife and daughter from the scourge of a Hillary presidency. I will be joined by countless conservatives who have pivoted from other candidates (I was a Cruz guy), sharing a common mission: to make sure that Bill and Hillary Clinton slink off to Chappaqua where they can never screw up our country again.
That’s one of the two current behaviors of conservatism. The other type will be weaving additional venomous tales of a Trump presidency that they say will be worse. Or maybe they don’t even believe that. Maybe they just hate him so deeply that it will be a notch on their belt to say they stood between him and the Oval Office.
I did not know sufficient engines of hysteria and self-absorption existed to devour the reasoning of so many people I had spent so many years respecting. If they wind up chilled by the sight of President Hillary Clinton attacking the foundations of their beliefs and their nation, I wonder if they will be sufficiently warmed by the embers of their torched reputations.
If that dark day of the third Obama term dawns, those of us who gave the last full measure to prevent it will have the satisfaction of having done the right thing. I do not wish this, but there will be poetic justice as some of the smart kids look around and wish they had focused on our nation and not their Trumpophobic fantasies.
So here’s a crazy idea: Let’s prevent that. After months of condescending cajoling, it is time for some tough love. It is time to give one last chance to the laggards to wake up and join the only ranks of conservatism that can save America from the concept that once united us: the horrors of a Hillary presidency.
Donald Trump did not divide us. He has not created a crisis that threatens the party, or more ludicrously suggested, conservatism itself. He just won the nomination, fair and square, because voters wanted him. The ones focused on rescuing the nation still do.
So it is a time for every conservative to look in the mirror and ask: Where will I stand? Whom will I vote for? What will I permit to happen? Will I allow conservative goals to be savaged by a Hillary presidency because Donald Trump gives me the willies? Or will I wake up, grow up and join the fight?
Because there are only two kinds of conservatives now. Those who will rise up to save us from her, and those willing to see us fall.