Prominent neoconservative Bill Kristol shared his election-year hallucinations with the nation. From the ashes of the Republican primaries would rise a man to stand for president against victor Donald J. Trump, a Sisyphean task that has been attempted and failed by 17 other worthies.
This individual is David French, an attorney, a decorated Iraq War veteran, and writer for the decidedly “Against Trump” National Review. Curiously, Kristol’s independent candidate is a “devout social conservative,” an evangelical who questions the merits of “de-stigmatizing” homosexuality, rejects the progressive premise upon which the transgender, potty wars are being waged, and would keep women out of combat.
Why, then, would a “relatively secular faction within the Republican Party,” the neoconservatives, make common cause with the Party’s fundamentalist wing? Jeet Heer, senior editor at the New Republic, asks this question—a riddle familiar to students and scholars of American conservatism. The alliance, or, rather, the master-servant relationship between neoconservatives and the Religious Right is an old one. Political evangelists have long since been brought to heel by the Washington-based neoconservatives. ” Most on the Religious Right have hardly resisted such cooptation, having perhaps nowhere to go financially, politically or professionally,” wrote Dr. Paul Gottfried in The Conservative Movement, his 1993 prophetic, forensic examination of the roots of the conservative crack-up.
French is vested in an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy. His impressive military credentials, in his role as a tool of democratic internationalism, are meant to provide a stark contrast to Trump’s nativism. At least as Kristol sees it.
French is not an American Firster in the way Donald Trump is. For a man can don the uniform and fight Caesar’s wars, but that doesn’t necessarily make him someone who puts his country first—unless one conflates the interests and well-being of ordinary Americans with wars of choice plotted by the New York-Washington axis of power. This error is not one Mr. Trump commits. While the presumptive Republican Party’s nominee clearly has great affection for America’s veterans, he doesn’t love all the wars they’ve been ordered to fight.
Leave it to Hillary Clinton and Mr. Kristol to collapse the distinction between spreading democratic values around the world (their way) and acting in the national interest (Trumps’ way).
As much as he abhors Trump’s America First chauvinism, Kristol ought to have realized by now that Trump won his primary fight by standing for Middle-American populism and American interests, as against the establishment Right’s internationalism. How many more “professional Republicans” will the political elites toss at Trump? This political blood sport is becoming as degrading to all parties as dwarf tossing.
Concessions to the Religious Right notwithstanding, Heer maintains that the Libertarian Party’s “Gary Johnson-Bill Weld ticket looks like a much more credible anti-Trump force on the right” for Kristol to consider. From the perspective of this writer, a long-time libertarian, however, the mindset of the two goofballs aforementioned by Heer is more statist and deferential to state structures than Trump’s.
Weld: Some of the stuff that he’s running on I think is absolutely chaotic. I’m going to do this to Mexico. OK, that’s a violation of the North American Free Trade agreement, which is the supreme law of the land. It is a treaty. We signed it. I’ll do this to China. No questions asked. OK, that’s a violation of the World Trade Organization rules exposing us, the United States, to sanctions. And we would be the rogue nation. I don’t think we want to be the rogue nation. You know? Let’s let North Korea be the rogue nation, not us.
By Weld’s telling, Trump must refrain from doing what he has proposed to do lest he violate this or the other agreement between the U.S. government and various supranational systems, which Weld treats as holy writ. Granted, radical libertarians will contend that the Constitution itself is the thin edge of the wedge that has allowed successive U.S. governments to cede the rights of Americans to these supra-state systems. Specifically, the “Supremacy Clause” in Article VI states that all treaties made by the national government shall be “the supreme Law of the Land,” and shall usurp the laws of the states.
Either way, all libertarian-minded conservatives who yearn to breathe free should want the chains with which others have bound Americans dissolved. Johnson and Weld object to Trump renegotiating agreements or optimizing them for Americans, on the statist grounds that to so do would violate agreements that by their nature sideline the American people. Smashing or refashioning these agreements and reclaiming national, state and individual sovereignty, as Trump proposes, is certainly more libertarian than the Johnson-Weld worldview allows.
On this front, the dissident Right—Trump’s right-wing populists and right-thinking libertarians—ought to agree.
After Indiana, it was game, set, match for Trump. Late in May, Trump reached and surpassed the “1237” delegate count. When that magic number of delegates was secured, “1237” became the new “300” (a reference to the comic-book rendition of the epic Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC).
Isn’t it time for Bill Kristol and his neoconservatives to stop tossing dwarfs at Donald Trump?