I realize we’re in the political silly season known as the presidential campaign, but sometimes watching conservatives turn on each other like a pack of hungry coyotes is just disturbing.
It seems most of the recent backbiting centers around Donald Trump’s surprising leap in the polls.
Trump has apparently found the magic formula. By latching on to a couple of key issues such as immigration and Obamacare, he has vaulted ahead of his opponents in the race for the Republican nomination, seemingly out of nowhere.
This scares a lot of people in the Republican establishment because Trump is not one of their country-club, pedigreed placeholders they like to have running as a candidate. That role is being filled this election cycle by Jeb Bush.
This also scares people on the Left because, although Trump is more of a “centrist” in his overall policies than others in the Republican cast, his campaign has enough power growing behind it that he could win and upset the Democrats’ plans for a third Obama term via Crazy Uncle Joe Biden.
Trump is getting a lot of his support from what is perceived as the Tea Party rank and file, despite what some people claim are his weak conservative credentials.
Which brings us to Glenn Beck, who is at times himself a slightly scary person. He recently went on a Facebook rant about how Trump and his policies are identical to President Obama’s.
“Well, lots of calls from the Trump zombies,” Beck wrote, “wanting me to retract what I said when I thought out loud and questioned: What explains your hatred for the progressive policies of Obama and yet your love for the progressive policies of Trump?
“Is it possible that you accept it from Trump and not from Obama because one is on your side? One is Republican and one is not? Is it possible that it really was all about race?”
Beck’s lunge for the jugular has apparently had the desired effect of stirring up a controversy, but it’s not an entirely unfair question.
I’m not convinced that the nation’s tea partiers have really defected en masse to the Donald. For what it’s worth, my own trolling of local Tea Party groups has revealed a lot of suspicion about Trump’s motives.
More importantly though, Beck’s question rests on some assumptions that may reflect his own personal distaste of Trump than anything else. Buried in the middle of his rantings, Beck complains about his The Blaze being initially excluded from a Trump event, then he complains about not having Trump on his show because Trump won’t deal with Beck’s booking agent and asks that Beck himself call Trump to make an appointment. It’s something Beck’s moaned about before and adamantly refuses to do, so I think there’s more than a little celebrity feuding going on.
What Beck seems to be responding to in his visceral distaste for Trump is that the Donald’s personality is as oversized as Obama’s — as is Beck’s. It’s a competition to see who can out-prima donna whom.
What Beck, the Republican leadership and left-wing pundits all don’t get about Trump’s candidacy is that he has found a springboard by speaking openly and boldly about issues many people drawn to the Tea Party care about.
He’s provided enough lip service to conservative boilerplate to appease the base: family values, check; pro-Second Amendment, check; against political correctness, check; same-sex marriage is a states’ issue, check; decrease the debt, check; ban late abortions, check; climate change is a fraud, check; likes the Bible, check.
Where he’s found his footing is on a few critical issues that he has been able to hammer in ways other candidates shy away from: illegal immigration, Common Core and international trade.
Some pundits, as they do in every presidential election, have focused on foreign policy, which your average American couldn’t give less of a damn about. But Trump’s got it covered. Support Israel, don’t trust Iran, stop apologizing, throw America’s weight around and keep the bad guys in check. What more needs to be said, and what could be more opposite Obama’s policies?
So in answer to Mr. Beck and others who may think like him, no, the Tea Party’s dislike of Obama and sudden like for Trump is not indicative of racism.
What it is indicative of is that for the first time in a long while, whether you believe he’s real or not, there’s a politician on the playing field who at least seems to have a spine.