Updated: Mar 7
(Original Article in the Atlantic, August 19, 2022, titled, "The Case for Trump is Getting More Radical Every Year")
No sooner had I published my opinions about the 'mea culpa' of New York Times Op-Ed columnist Bret Stephens than another favorite of mine, David French, weighed in on the same topic. I say David French is a favorite of mine. By that I mean, I consider him a gifted writer and lawyer, with great experience in religious legal affairs and the 'fog of war,' and a devout biblical Christian whom I consider a mentor when he shares his biblical Christian faith. But he has a blind spot that frustrates me to no end. He is oblivious to what I describe as the 'cold civil war' in this country that already exists between the elites and the common folk, and his failure, like Bret Stephens, to truly understand the populist 'American' mindset and what its followers hope to achieve through supporting Donald Trump.
David writes a weekly opinion newsletter for the Atlantic cleverly titled 'The Third Rail.' I highly recommend this newsletter as well as David's posts on the substack platform, the Dispatch. His Sunday morning piece on the Dispatch is for me mandatory pre-church-service reading.
On August 19, David's Third Rail post was titled "The Case for Trump Gets More Radical Every Year - It's Not 2016 Anymore." If you've read my Bret Stephens 'mea culpa' piece, you know that Mr. Stephens concedes that in 2016, maybe Republican voters had a viable case for supporting Trump after all, but alas, after the January 6th 'insurrection,' all logic for supporting Trump now has disappeared. Mr. French latched on to the argument and states that he has been making the same point; if Trump ever was trustworthy as a crusader for all things good, we now know with certainty that this is no longer true.
My, my. This is the source of all my frustration with David. The irony is thick. One of his concluding points in his article is this: "Where do you go after you've declared the election stolen or after you've declared that your opponents are pure evil? He's talking about the Republicans after the 2020 election, but he could just as easily be talking about the Democrats after 2016. In my book series, I'm currently writing about events from 2017, so they are fresh in my mind. The Democrats were still in shock that Trump won the election. They'd convinced themselves that the election was stolen by Trump with the help of the Russians, and certainly, anyone who voted for Trump was pure evil. Their solution to this perceived problem: by whatever means necessary, get Trump out of office ASAP!
I personally don't think the strategy employed by the Trump team, using an obscure nineteenth-century law to help manipulate the electoral college vote count, was a good one. That being said, this approach was nowhere near as bad (evil?) as that of the Democrats after 2016. Let's dig a little deeper.
David French argues the following:
"The case for Trump is changing, right along with the attitudes of the MAGA base. While MAGA Republicanism remains populist, it's radicalizing. The case for Trump now is different from the case for Trump then, and the change is profoundly harmful for American politics."
As we know from all of history, one must be careful when using the word 'radical.' In David's world, Trumpism was 'radical' from the beginning. But is David blind to the tactics that the Democrats have employed to achieve their political goals? Are they not 'radical?' I'm again going to use David's words to help prove the point.
In the Atlantic, David is writing to a left-wing audience, and it shows. He asks his readers to consider the 'new radical core MAGA narrative' that 'goes something like this:'
The Trump Presidency exposed the true evil of the left. They persecuted Trump more than any other president in history. First, there was the Russian hoax, then the impeachment hoax, then they shut down the economy and the schools to destroy Trump; they shut down the churches to destroy the Church. They burned cities. They hollowed out the police forces. They were tyrants. They forced us to wear masks that didn't work and to take an experimental vaccine that has killed tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans.
They hated Trump because Trump was God's anointed leader to save the nation, and it's no surprise the forces of hell came against him.
Even then, they knew they couldn't beat him. So they changed election rules. Dead people voted. Thousands of 'mules' stuffed the ballot boxes, and then they tried to stop Trump from investigating fraud. And if someone is to blame for January 6, it's Nancy Pelosi for leaving the capitol unguarded. They just let people walk in, and now they are holding political prisoners in solitary confinement. Second impeachment was a joke, another hoax. But still they can't keep Trump down. Joe Biden is senile. He can barely walk and talk. Trump is coming back, and they know it, so they are attacking him again.
Why do I stand with Trump? Because God appointed him for this moment. and the hatred of the Democrats is proof.
I'm going to address this narrative line by line, but first I want to point out that what he wrote is truly news to the progressive left. If one is not following both sides of the news, this narrative will be 'new' to you because you have chosen to live in the progressive bubble. Let me also state here that David later qualifies what he wrote by stating that there are probably tens of millions of Republicans (conservatives) who agree with these views, just not as 'intensely' as they've been presented. I am one of these people.
The Trump presidency exposed the true evil of the left.
I am always wary of using the word 'evil,' because it means different things to different people. In my book, The Biblical Christian Worldview - 2016, I describe a framework on ethics from the late Norman Geisler, a renowned expert on the subject. He asks the question, are there any absolute ethical (moral) laws?
One answer would be there are some general laws but no absolute ones. This is the general philosophy of the Democrats in Washington and the ruling elites. This viewpoint acknowledges the need for certain norms but believes there are always exceptions to the norms. Utilitarians (those striving for the greatest good for the greatest number) subscribe to this philosophy. It promotes an 'ends justify the means' mentality. In this case, Trump is 'orange man bad.' Getting rid of Trump (the end game) justifies any means one can think of; even means that reasonable people might deem to be evil.
Using Geisler's ethics framework, Trump supporters do believe that there are absolute moral laws that originate from the Judeo-Christian Bible, many of which are embedded in the United States Constitution.
They persecuted Trump more than any other president in history.
First, there was the Russian hoax, then the impeachment hoax, then they shut down the economy and schools to destroy Trump; they shut down the churches to destroy the Church. They burned cities. They hollowed out police forces. They were tyrants. They forced us to wear masks that didn't work and to take an experimental vaccine that has killed tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans.
Well over half of President Trump's first term was dominated by what we now know as 'the Russian hoax.' The amount of time, energy, and money spent by the Democrats and their willing accomplices (bosses?) in the press was unprecedented. Had they stopped there, after special counsel Mueller had found nothing, it still would have been deemed the largest persecution of any sitting President. But it became crystal clear to all of Trump's supporters that the Washington elite would stop at nothing to get rid of Trump. And the oddest thing about it: they had the utmost confidence that they would get away with it (more on this later.)
One of Joseph Stalin's KGB henchmen once said, "Show me the man, and I'll find you the crime." This was the approach of the power elites in Washington. No crime associated with the election? OK, we'll find a crime in a phone call to a foreign leader. They succeeded in impeaching the President over a phone call, but at the same time solidified in the minds and hearts of Trump's supporters that no one in Washington or the elite press corps could be trusted with anything.
In 2020, the last year of Trump's term, the nation experienced a once-in-a-century (hopefully) viral pandemic. In terms of policies and general approach, this was uncharted territory for our nation's leaders. A two-week economic shutdown morphed into a two-year catastrophe as more than one million Americans perished and much of the economy was ruined. President Trump made some mistakes, but the progressive elite used every tool in the bureaucratic toolbox to negate his efforts to minimize the damage. Small business retailers were forced to shut down while big box retailers remained open. Churches were not given the option to close or to remain open in some form. Only those medical 'experts' entrenched in the bureaucracy had a voice at the table; every decision was weighted toward medical protection from the virus and no provisions were made to combat the psychological effects of the pandemic. No attempt at a cost/benefit analysis was made.
Then, two months into the pandemic, the George Floyd tragedy occurred. Now it suddenly became politically correct to ignore the Covid rules regarding large gatherings, and city protests with destructive tactics filled the summer. Every effort was made by the press and the Democrats to pollute the air with hysteria running up to the fall presidential election.
They hated Trump because Trump was God's anointed leader to save the nation, and it's no surprise the forces of hell came against him.
David French is wrong to include this statement in his 'new radical core, MAGA narrative.' Yes, many of Trump's supporters are evangelical Christians, but many are not. As a biblical Christian myself, I would not be so bold as to make this statement with the confidence that is explicitly stated here. I do believe this, however. "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5:16). I do believe the power of prayer played a major role in Trump winning the Presidency in 2016, and I believe the same people have not ceased praying since.
Christians also believe that "we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world" (Ephesians:5:12). So yes, it is not surprising that 'the forces of hell' are coming against him.
Even then, they knew they couldn't beat him. So they changed election rules. Dead people voted. Thousands of 'mules' stuffed the ballot boxes, and then they tried to stop Trump from investigating fraud. And if anyone is to blame for January 6, it's Nancy Pelosi for leaving the capitol unguarded. They just let people walk in, and now they are holding political prisoners in solitary confinement. Second impeachment was a joke, another hoax.
In elitist Washington, the 'ends justify the means,' no matter what that might be. For the most comprehensive analysis of elite Washington's effort to 'rig' the 2020 election, I refer you to Molly Hemingway's 2021 book titled, Rigged - How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized our Elections. The book's prologue gives one a complete overview of this 'seizure.' For our purposes here, let me say that practically every trick in the book was used to rig the election. I wouldn't go so far as to say the election was illegally stolen, but I will say this. For all sides to agree that an election is fair, each vote must be cast by a citizen who can prove his identity, and each vote must be traceable back to that voter in case of improprieties. Every trick the elites were able to implement in 2020, mainly because of the 'fog' of the covid pandemic, had the opposite purpose.
Trump supporters knew instinctively after the election that it was unfair; that it had been rigged. And they instinctively knew that there wasn't enough time between the election and the certification of the votes by the electoral college to challenge the election. The frustration of being 'had' was real. As I stated earlier, my opinion of Trump's approach to thwart the results of the electoral votes in the swing states by citing a 100+-year-old law was not wise and a long shot at best, but it wasn't a crime. The hundreds, not thousands, not tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, or millions, who broke laws at the Capitol on January 6 (mainly trespassing) did not come close to what a reasonable person would define as an insurrection. January 6 was/is a black eye in our nation's history, but the government reaction to it (a presidential impeachment and the unconscionable treatment of the perpetrators) is far worse.
But still, they can't keep Trump down. Joe Biden is senile. He can barely walk and talk. Trump is coming back, and they know it, so they're attacking him again.
In the end, history will tell us what President Biden's health condition really was, but no reasonable person who has had any experience with the elderly, who exhibit symptoms as Biden does, can say that he isn't in decline, at the least. The Washington elite knows this, so part of their political strategy is to continue to denigrate Trump because they are scared to death that he can beat their 'declining' President in a rematch.
Why do I stand with Trump? Because God appointed him for this moment. And the hatred of the Democrats is proof.
Why might a Trump supporter believe that God appointed him for this moment? Even though most Trump supporters may not be able to articulate it this way, I believe it is because of the following facts:
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Americans instinctively know that the game in Washington is all about power, and most have been taught that the United States Constitution is the best governing document ever conceived that separates power sufficiently to prevent any one person or 'mob' from establishing authoritarian rule.
The Washington elite over the past 50 years has been shredding the Constitution.
Donald Trump wants to preserve it.
Part of the separation of powers logic of the United States Constitution is a judicial branch of government, led by a Supreme Court whose mission is to make sure that any legislation passed by Congress does not violate the Constitution. As I have discussed in great detail elsewhere (see The Biblical Christian Worldview - 2016), the progressives'' concept of a 'living, breathing' Constitution is an invitation to the courts to usurp Congress' authority to create legislation, or as it is known today, 'legislating from the bench.'
The progressive elite in Washington have nominated or consented to Supreme Court
justice nominees with this point of view. Trump campaigned on, and followed through
in his first term, nominating justices who take an 'originalist' view of the Constitution
and leave the legislating to Congress and the states.
The Constitution specifically states what the federal government's functions should be. All other government tasks shall be reserved for the state governments, or to the people. Private sector solutions, with the incentives for innovation and the efficient allocation of capital that comes from appropriately regulated capitalism, are preferable to government solutions.
The Washington elites have been leading this country into becoming more reliant on
big government and less on the private sector. Trump has specifically stated the
opposite: let us allow the private sector to create jobs for everyone through an
environment with less regulation and taxation.
Separating power is not only a national concern; it is an international concern. The Washington elite is actively moving toward a 'globalist' agenda that includes international governing bodies having power over national governing bodies. This approach continues the shredding of the United States Constitution. 'Make America Great Again,' no matter how the David Frenches or the Washington elites want to define it, means retaining the United States as a sovereign nation, where the people are the sovereign. The federal government works for the people, not the other way around.
Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 1994, and at an accelerated pace once Barack Obama became President in 2009, the Washington elites have been fighting for more power by shredding the Constitution wherever they can, growing the size and power of the federal government, and turning to a globalist view for the future where the concept of a United States with a sovereign citizenry becomes a relic of history. Whether God appointed Donald Trump or not at this point in history, his emergence on the scene has created hope for those who see the United States Constitution as one last remaining roadblock to the elimination of our freedoms and liberties. And first and foremost among these freedoms and liberties for biblical Christians is the ability to live the biblical Christian worldview every day of their lives.
I mentioned earlier in this essay that I find it odd that the Washington elite believes that no matter what evil it may project onto Donald Trump, it will suffer no negative consequences from its behavior, no matter how or when it is later proven to be false. Is it because it believes there will always exist a conspiring partner in the mainstream press who will carry its water and fool enough of the citizenry? When the 'fog' of Covid is gone and elections are held where every vote can be traced to a registered citizen, does it believe its ideas and policies will carry the day? I guess we will find out.
As for David French: I will continue to love him and respect his faith and intellect. I just wish he could acknowledge that there really is a cold civil war right now between the elites and the rest of us. And when one acknowledges this fact, the behavior of the Trumpists becomes not only more understandable, but the only rational response to our cultural malaise today.