I have written a great deal about contentious topics like gun-control, racism, white-saviorism on social-media, and how white Evangelical Christians have forsaken the savior they had in order to obtain the savior they want. But this is the hardest column that I have written. It was hard because this week, I felt that I might have to repudiate my own longstanding belief that people can evolve, and that we should give them a chance to change. After all, I was once a smug, racist, ultraconservative Christian who hated Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants.
Why do I now reject this message of redemption when I myself was redeemed and evolved socially and politically? The answer is that I don’t; at least not in its entirety. I still contend that some conservatives have some redeeming qualities, but being a conservative and supporting Trump are completely different things. But because conservatism and Trump’s ideology of grievance and hate have become so mixed up – not least by the “conservative” media – I feel that I have to unscramble the omelet. The truth is that conservatism is dead.
The Conservatarian ideal that many Republicans claim to embrace – a hybrid of conservative and libertarian ideology – is not necessarily cruel or inhumance. The notion that a distant central government cannot address the well-being of all members of society as well as a local government is something that even I – a socialist – understand.
One size fits all solutions for social ills can be impractical and ineffective in a country as large and diverse as United States .What is good for New York may not be good for small-town Idaho, for example, the $25/hour minimum wage that might be necessary just to get by New York might be devastating to small businesses in small-town Idaho, where living costs, as well as business revenues, are much lower, and the tax base is much smaller.
An argument can be made that big government policies can often miss the realities of local conditions, making the solution as bad, or worse, than the problem. However, none of these classical-conservative critiques of central government actially play any part in Trumpism or the platform of the contemporary Republican Party. Instead of fearing and rebelling against the central government’s power to compel people to act and behave against the individuals will, the modern “conservative” embraces the central government’s authority to enforce their values and ideas onto individual states and citizens across their government.
Yet, there is a persistent myth about “the good Trump supporter” that serves to mystify that reality. This narrative, which appears often enough in the media, and is frewuently repeated by moderate Democrats, hold that many Trump supporters are simply conservatives who do not want a bloated central government involved in their day-to-day lives. Yet, they do want the federal government to intervene in the reproductive rights of women, and to exclude non-Christians, specifically Muslims, from the American community, and they want to use the power of government to prevent LGBTQ+ people from living their lives. None of this is conservative. It is racism hiding behind the mask of conservativism and it is an embarrassment to what was once a legitimate political ideology.
Republican politicians kiss their kids and then go off to do work that harms their fellow humans, by blocking legislation that would give poor people and migrants healthcare, and voting to defund the SNAP program that provides food and housing to children. Like the “good family men” of Nazi Germany, they love their wives, and dote on their children, while blithely implementing policies that bring misery to strangers.
Comparisons to National Socialism are often justifiably controversial, but I don’t think they are hyperbole anymore. The blatant Nazi symbolism in the America First Logo employed by Trump’s team cannot be accidental. And the racism displayed both in Trump’s rhetoric and by supporters at his rallies is certainly comparable to the Nazi rose to power. Such a comparison does not minimize the horror Holocaust, but it does underscore the danger that America is in in 2020.
That is why I no longer believe that we should give Trump supporters a chance. They had their chance. Children that are still in detention camps on our southern border and they have stayed silent at best, and at worst cheered on the brutality. They have seen our president lie to the American public about the dangers of COVID-19 and they have done nothing. They have demanded even more brute force used against peaceful protestors as they watched Trump call Black people thugs and criminals for daring to take to the streets to say that they should not be murdered by the police. And they have screamed loud cheers of support as Trump pushed legislation and executive orders that would push their LGBTQ+ friends and family back into the closets of second-class citizenship.
Trumpism is more than a social ill. It is an evil ideology that will lead to the deaths of our fellow Americans if we do not stand up and shut their hate-speech and hate filled legislation down. If silencing hate and preventing the death of my fellow humans means alienating friends and family, I am willing to do it. Are you?