Yes, Anti-Trumpism Is a Failure — And It Was Always Destined to Be One

 

From the moment Donald Trump descended the golden escalator, David Brooks opposed him. The New York Times columnist condemned him in the primaries, then in the general, in the transition and the presidency, with the harshness only growing over time. But in a fascinating column today, Brooks admits defeat.

Titled “The Failures of Anti-Trumpism,” Brooks confesses that the past two years of “Never Trump” derision has only made The Donald stronger. His approval rating hasn’t budged, his policies haven’t changed, and Republicans — pundits, party leadership, and base alike — support him more firmly than ever.

And the promised Mueller-fueled impeachment? It’s abandoned collusion with Vladimir Putin for collusion with Stormy Daniels.

Where did all the Trump mockery go wrong? Brooks finds the central issue:

A lot of us never-Trumpers assumed momentum would be on our side as his scandals and incompetences mounted. It hasn’t turned out that way. I almost never meet a Trump supporter who has become disillusioned. I often meet Republicans who were once ambivalent but who have now joined the Trump train….

Meanwhile, if Republican never-Trumpers were an army, they’d be freezing their buns off in Valley Forge tweeting over and over again that these are the times that try men’s souls….

Part of the problem is that anti-Trumpism has a tendency to be insufferably condescending. For example, my colleague Thomas B. Edsall beautifully summarized the recent academic analyses of what personality traits supposedly determine Trump support.

Trump opponents, the academics say, are open-minded and value independence and novelty. Trump supporters, they continue, are closed-minded, change-averse and desperate for security.

This analysis strikes me as psychologically wrong (every human being requires both a secure base and an open field — we can’t be divided into opposing camps), journalistically wrong (Trump supporters voted for the man precisely because they wanted transformational change) and an epic attempt to offend 40 percent of our fellow citizens by reducing them to psychological inferiors.

As any longtime reader knows, I was a Never Trumper throughout the election. But when the nation selected him, I laid down that label and accepted reality. Trump was my president for the next four to eight years, I earnestly hoped for his and my country’s success, and I would praise or criticize him based on his actions.

But if I were one of those dead-enders who kept fighting reality, the last thing I’d do is rehash the same failed strategy that didn’t stop him in 2016. What is obvious to any Army captain or novice entrepreneur was utterly lost on several of our most celebrated pundits and political strategists.

With Trump’s election, the political landscape changed, just as it did when Obama was elected. Declaring either presidency invalid — due to a Russian conspiracy or a forged birth certificate — was doomed to failure since the voters chose both of them. And mocking a president is easily blurred with mocking the millions who selected him.

There’s an old maxim in marketing: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Likewise, no reader will take advice from a pundit who despises them.

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There are 137 comments.

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  1. Coolidge

    Well done, sir.

    • #1
    • April 10, 2018, at 10:34 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Reagan

    It is a well-written article.

    Trump is succeeding in remaking the Republican Party in his image despite the fervent opposition of Reagan Republicans like me.

    On the other hand Trump has energized liberals and independents, which will likely lead to a bloodbath on the level of 1974 and/or 1932 wiping out the Republican Party. We keep losing races we should have won in the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, in PA-18 in March, and so forth.

    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    • #2
    • April 10, 2018, at 10:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Likewise, no reader will take advice from a pundit who despises them.

    Well said. This seems to be the case with any number of conservative commentators in the current environment. What I find even more irritating is that these pundits who wear their emotions on their sleeves almost never have any meaningful suggestions (i.e. suggestions that are grounded in reality) regarding what they really want to have happen.

    • #3
    • April 10, 2018, at 10:37 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  4. Inactive

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    It is a well-written article.

    Trump is succeeding in remaking the Republican Party in his image despite the fervent opposition of Reagan Republicans like me.

    On the other hand Trump has energized liberals and independents, which will likely lead to a bloodbath on the level of 1974 and/or 1932 wiping out the Republican Party. We keep losing races we should have won in the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, in PA-18 in March, and so forth.

    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    The question is whether the “young, minorities, women in the suburbs” would remake the Republican party in their image if they were not repelled from it by Trump. Jack Kemp’s vision of the Republican cause being accepted “from the burroughs to the barrios” always seemed unrealistically optimistic to me. If the constituencies you mention are going to vote for Democratic ideals just based on who Republicans nominate for president, they don’t sound like reliable Republican voters to me.

    • #4
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    I can’t believe he singlehandedly destroyed those typical bastions of Republican support. That monster!

    • #5
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:04 AM PDT
    • 27 likes
  6. Member

    Like Marxism, real Anti-Trumpism hasn’t succeeded because it’s never been tried.

    • #6
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:05 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Coolidge

    My unfavorable opinion of Trump hasn’t changed since the election. I do, however, regret not voting for him. Going into the election, I determined not to put my faith and trust in a politician, that I would stand on principle and vote for a 3rd party candidate in protest. Then Evan McMullin became as contemptible as Trump for different reasons. 

    Okay America, you convinced me. All politicians are terrible, and I will hold me nose and vote for the one with a chance of victory that at least pretends to be on my side. I’m definitely not going to defend the actions of any of these cretins in office though. 

    • #7
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  8. Reagan

    Bob Wainwright (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    It is a well-written article.

    Trump is succeeding in remaking the Republican Party in his image despite the fervent opposition of Reagan Republicans like me.

    On the other hand Trump has energized liberals and independents, which will likely lead to a bloodbath on the level of 1974 and/or 1932 wiping out the Republican Party. We keep losing races we should have won in the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, in PA-18 in March, and so forth.

    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    The question is whether the “young, minorities, women in the suburbs” would remake the Republican party in their image if they were not repelled from it by Trump. Jack Kemp’s vision of the Republican cause being accepted “from the burroughs to the barrios” always seemed unrealistically optimistic to me. If the constituencies you mention are going to vote for Democratic ideals just based on who Republicans nominate for president, they don’t sound like reliable Republican voters to me.

    They are not reliable Republican voters. But we have to win a portion of them to win elections. Without them, we face a Goldwater election where we won only 38% of the vote.

    We have two problems. First we are losing independents. Second, Trump has totally energized liberals.

    • #8
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Coolidge

    Matt Upton (View Comment):
    All politicians are terrible

    Except Ben Sasse. That guy seems neat.*

    *I’ll be sad if Sasse is indicted for ivory smuggling or something else stupid. 

    • #9
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. Reagan

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Like Marxism, real Anti-Trumpism hasn’t succeeded because it’s never been tried.

    See Reagan, Ronald, as an example of an optimistic inclusive Republican who brought Democrats and independents to his side.

    • #10
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:22 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. Member

    All true, but I still won’t celebrate the dumb [expletive] he says and does. I’ll praise or renounce the policies as warranted, but I’ll not praise the man. I know this will never be enough for some of his supporters, but I’m ok with that. 

    • #11
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:24 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Member

    Matt Upton (View Comment):

    Matt Upton (View Comment):
    All politicians are terrible

    Except Ben Sasse. That guy seems neat.*

    *I’ll be sad if Sasse is indicted for ivory smuggling or something else stupid.

    Funny, glad you’ve hung onto your sense of humor.

    • #12
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Member

    Nice piece Jon. As regards David Brooks, like a broken clock, when he’s right, he’s right.

    • #13
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Thatcher

    Jon,

    Aside from the fact that Brooks has neither personality nor intellect, I really intensely dislike him. He is the most overpaid stuffed shirt in history. Why doesn’t the Times just get a dummy from Macy’s and prop it up with a sign on it that says ‘conservative’.

    They could save his ridiculous salary and it would be pretty much the same for the rest of us.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  15. Thatcher

    I think that Mr. Brooks’ biggest problem is the growing realization that nobody much cares what he thinks.

    • #15
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:56 AM PDT
    • 21 likes
  16. Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    Maybe. The kids, women and minorities we see demonstrating over trump’s latest tweet, like the hysterical ones on both sides are a minority. Do we know who thinks what any more? We know what the media et al say but we don’t know how much they’re influencing who or how deeply. The so called independents who are truly indifferent will bend in whatever direction the media frenzies of the time take them. Will anything done now influence them in one direction or another later this year? It seems to me those who really worry about the Republican party should focus on supporting their candidates and criticize the president for unwise policies, like starting a trade war, rather than blanket attacks on him for his style and personality. That’s what’s not working except among the already convinced.

    • #16
    • April 10, 2018, at 11:59 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:
    Brooks finds the central issue:

    Meanwhile, if Republican never-Trumpers were an army, they’d be freezing their buns off in Valley Forge tweeting over and over again that these are the times that try men’s souls….

    (I don’t know who is the British Army, the American Loyalists, the American Indians, and the French and Spanish armies in this analogy.)

    However, the Leftists are now tricking and slaughtering the wounded Not-Trump surviving generals like Kevin Williamson. General George Will and his column were taken down in some location in 2014 for similar reasons. Commanding General Bill Kristol’s New York Times column was taken down in January 2009 for “sloppiness and uneven quality” soon after eating at General George Will’s house with President-elect Obama. Hollywood-friendly conservative sometime Ben Stein also lost his New York Times column later that same year.

    Since Trump’s election, everything has gotten much more vicious on the big three — Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Every day it seems that some conservative is banned or suspended for essentially doing nothing or something 1/10th as bad as a celebrity big-mouth Leftist. Stories on other social media sites are arguably even much worse. College campuses are the worst! A conservative has to shell out a million dollars or something for security for the high “honor” of speaking at a very angry college campus? General Ben Shapiro is one of the few brave enough and willing to venture into the crazy and hostile college campus scene. General Charles Murray was almost attacked on a college campus while I believe the person with him was taken to a hospital. General Dana Loesch has not received very favorable coverage recently either.

    Kevin Williamson, George Will, Bill Kristol, Ben Shapiro, Charles Murray, and Dana Loesch did not support Donald Trump, but that hasn’t really done them any good.

    The media has gone crazy. Hollywood has gone crazy.

    During the primaries, I think President Trump’s popularity was about 5% here on Ricochet. I remember those polls. It might be close to the reverse of that now — just out of mere constant culture frustration, if nothing else.

    I’ll support President Trump just because I know that the Left wants to silence me and all of my ideological friends and allies. I hope that those who hate President Trump can at least support President Trump as one of the best ways to oppose the Leftist forces which wish to silence “center-right” voices like us.

    • #17
    • April 10, 2018, at 12:12 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  18. Member

    “The main reason Trump won the presidency is that tens of millions of Americans rightly feel that their local economies are under attack, their communities are dissolving and their religious liberties are under threat. Trump understood the problems of large parts of America better than anyone else. He has been able to strengthen his grip on power over the past year because he has governed as he campaigned”.

    I agree with David Brooks on this and applaud his article. Personally the Supreme Court was high on my list to vote Trump as well. I knew the MSM would be ugly because he was a Republican President. Little did I realize we would get Mueller (Mr. Anthrax) and daily prime time coverage of Trump’s moral failures.

     

    • #18
    • April 10, 2018, at 12:13 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    I think that Mr. Brooks’ biggest problem is the growing realization that nobody much cares what he thinks.

    There is a lot of that going around.

    • #19
    • April 10, 2018, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Member

    Matt Upton (View Comment):
    All politicians are terrible,

    The issue is, there is too much central planning and centralized power in this country. It started under Woodrow Wilson and it “worked” until about the mid 90s. Now it’s collapsing.

    We live in a banana republic. Act accordingly.

    • #20
    • April 10, 2018, at 1:02 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Thatcher

    The only problem with this is, as some other commenters have put it better, the term “anti-Trump” can mean several different things, for several different reasons. For a lot of Trump supporters, they assume “anti-Trump” means “liberal.” And yes, for a lot of people, it does. There is also anti-Trumpism that is conservative. The two have very little in common, so it’s hard to use the same term for both of them.

     

    Brooks has always been a moderate, so coming from him, the term “anti-Trump” doesn’t really mean what I would mean if I used it.

    • #21
    • April 10, 2018, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Member

    Icarus213 (View Comment):

    The only problem with this is, as some other commenters have put it better, the term “anti-Trump” can mean several different things, for several different reasons.

    And a person can say the very same thing about being anti-Bush, anti-John McCain, anti-Mitch McConnell, anti-Bruce Rauner, anti-Mitt Romney, anti-Karl Rove, etc.

    As I stated earlier, being an anti-Trump conservative doesn’t gain a person much as the Leftists consider the anti-Trump conservatives to be just as bad or perhaps worse as they are sometimes more willing to venture into Leftist areas like college campuses.

    Some of the Leftists seem to see Charles Murray as David Duke, George Will as worse than Andrew Dice Clay, Kevin Williamson as a would-be hanger of women, Bill Kristol and Karl Rove as war criminals, etc.

    • #22
    • April 10, 2018, at 1:32 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Trump is succeeding in remaking the Republican Party in his image despite the fervent opposition of Reagan Republicans like me.

    On the other hand Trump has energized liberals and independents, which will likely lead to a bloodbath on the level of 1974 and/or 1932 wiping out the Republican Party. We keep losing races we should have won in the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, in PA-18 in March, and so forth.

    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    You complain about Trump causing Republican losses. And yet, you just told everyone to vote for Democrats this fall.

    Who are you, really?

    • #23
    • April 10, 2018, at 1:56 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  24. Coolidge

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Brooks confesses that the past two years of “Never Trump” derision has only made The Donald stronger. His approval rating hasn’t budged, his policies haven’t changed, and Republicans — pundits, party leadership, and base alike — support him more firmly than ever.

    I must congratulate Brooks on figuring out something that many Never-Trumpers or Trump skeptics can’t see – his supporters like him because he is attacked. The more they attack him, the more his base identifies with him.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    You complain about Trump causing Republican losses. And yet, you just told everyone to vote for Democrats this fall.

    Who are you, really?

    I don’t know, but I think I heard somewhere that someone whispered that he considers himself a Reagan Republican. I’m waiting for him to confirm this, but I doubt he ever will.

    • #24
    • April 10, 2018, at 2:20 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  25. Member

    Give David Brooks enough time and he’ll figure it out.

    Woody Allen said, being bisexual doubles your chances of getting a date on Saturday night*

    For Brooks, being wrong doubles his ability to produce content. First the original column, then the “I was wrong” column, which gets even more attention.

    * adopting a child virtually guarantees a date on Saturday night for Woody…

     

     

    • #25
    • April 10, 2018, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  26. Reagan

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Trump is succeeding in remaking the Republican Party in his image despite the fervent opposition of Reagan Republicans like me.

    On the other hand Trump has energized liberals and independents, which will likely lead to a bloodbath on the level of 1974 and/or 1932 wiping out the Republican Party. We keep losing races we should have won in the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, in PA-18 in March, and so forth.

    So, while Trump is consolidating power in the Republican Party, he is destroying the Republican brand with the young, minorities, women and in the suburbs.

    You complain about Trump causing Republican losses. And yet, you just told everyone to vote for Democrats this fall.

    Who are you, really?

    Oh, come on Drew. You are strip quoting me in this and other posts.

    What I said was as follows:

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):

    If you want Mueller, Rosenstein, et al gone, vote Republican this November. If we hold the House, Trump can just fire them all.

    Me: The opposite is perhaps true.

    If you want Trump gone, hold your nose and vote Democratic this November. If the Dems take the House, they have subpoena power. If they take the House by a lot, Trump will be impeached if Mueller finds the evidence to support that conclusion.

    So, my point is that as long as we keep tied to Trump, we will continue to lose. Our history in the last six months is as follows in terms of losing Republican seats to Democrats:

    November: Virginia, Oklahoma, New York and Pennsylvania.

    December: Alabama Senate.

    January: Wisconsin State Senate LD-10.

    February: Florida House LD-72.

    March: Pennsylvania CD-18.

    April: Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    To save our party, we must show independence from Trump and be willing to act if Mueller’s evidence warrants action. I have not prejudged Mueller’s evidence; have you?

     

    • #26
    • April 10, 2018, at 2:56 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Reagan

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Brooks confesses that the past two years of “Never Trump” derision has only made The Donald stronger. His approval rating hasn’t budged, his policies haven’t changed, and Republicans — pundits, party leadership, and base alike — support him more firmly than ever.

    I must congratulate Brooks on figuring out something that many Never-Trumpers or Trump skeptics can’t see – his supporters like him because he is attacked. The more they attack him, the more his base identifies with him.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    You complain about Trump causing Republican losses. And yet, you just told everyone to vote for Democrats this fall.

    Who are you, really?

    I don’t know, but I think I heard somewhere that someone whispered that he considers himself a Reagan Republican. I’m waiting for him to confirm this, but I doubt he ever will.

    Fair enough.

    I have addressed this a dozen times so far, I will address it as long as someone decides to question if I am am a Reagan Republican and not meet my arguments head on.

    I have not voted for a Democrat for President since 1972 when I was in college. I am a registered Republican. I have been a Republican Precinct Committee-person. I have attended the Arizona Republican Party State Convention. One year I gave the maximum allowable to my Republican Congressman. I have run for office as a Republican. I have walked my and other precincts for Republican candidates. I have given over $10,000 to Republicans, and less than $1,000 to Democrats. I am a Reagan Republican.

    • #27
    • April 10, 2018, at 3:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Member

    The best way to restore the Republican brand is to get elected and preside over a strong economy.

    The best way to destroy the Republican brand is to get elected and destroy the economy.

    So far, both Bushes did far more damage to the brand than Trump.

    People vote their pocketbooks. Everything else is detail.

    • #28
    • April 10, 2018, at 3:30 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  29. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:
    an epic attempt to offend 40 percent of our fellow citizens by reducing them to psychological inferiors.

    This is what puzzles me, and not just here but in almost every Presidential election that I’ve seen. And not just Republicans but Democrats too. Most national elections are won by a handful of percentage points. In a general sense the country is split 50/50 on almost everything. So why is it that elected officials want to treat a 53% victory as some overwhelming mandate for a new agenda that will fundementally transformation America (as the past President professed). Why can’t these guys get it that 47% of 135 million people (quick math, thats 63 million people) didn’t vote for you. 63 million! But as the man said, Elections have consequences and I won. 

    As any longtime reader knows, I was a Never Trumper throughout the election.

    I was too, and when James Comey told me in July of 2016 that there were two sets of laws, one for Hillz and one for the rest of us, I became a ReluctantTrump. Since the Omnibus bill I’m back in the NeverTrump bucket. The guy can’t be trusted (Hello,,,,, Mountie,,,,,, We’re talking about Trump here). His next move is to sell out the NRA and gun owners. He’s one bipartisan meeting with Diane Feinstein in the room away from that.

    • #29
    • April 10, 2018, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. Contributor

    Wow. First Brooks, who next?

    Caveat: Reluctant Trump voter here and Reagan Republican (are the two now somehow mutually exclusive?)

    Bottom line – Results matter. 

    Almost every move Trump has made, (deeeep breath) from tax reform, ISIS, judges, removing 22 (not 3 as promised) regulations for every new 1, fighting CA sanctuary state status, restoring the military, peace through strength, North Korea, China (just today budging on tariffs), increasing security on our borders, repealing the individual mandate, getting NATO and the UN to start paying more of their fair share, and finally taking it to the biased media (something we only dreamed the Bush’s would have done) and those are just off the top of my head.

    Unpresidential tweets? Pornstar opportunist? Limited vocabulary? Yeah… not something we can be proud of.

    But let’s do an honest Pepsi challenge. You aren’t allowed to look at the can. Choose between the above results or the opposite.

    In 3 or 7 years Trump will move on, and I am pretty sure things will be much better off than if we ended up with Brooks’ and his NT’ers choice.

    • #30
    • April 10, 2018, at 3:39 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
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