I attended the RedState Gathering in Denver this weekend, not knowing what to expect, and even prepared for a brawl. I joked with friends that if I saw talk radio flame-thrower Steve Deace walking by, I would trip him.
The RedState Gathering is an annual political event hosted by RedState, the right-wing media group led in recent years by Erick Erickson. I have followed Erickson for years and held him in high esteem as a deep thinker and a solid defender of conservative values – small government, free markets, and personal responsibility. But then Trump happened, and Erickson and I parted ways.
Somehow, out of 17 GOP candidates for president, Trump won. My first favorite, Carly Fiorina, held on as long as she could, but was never really a contender. My second favorite, Ted Cruz, put up a good fight that got ugly at the end. Trump emerged, without the support of the majority of voters, as the only alternative to Hillary.
The right side of the electorate immediately fractured into four groups, deftly described by Guy Benson in the final panel discussion at the Gathering, and only slightly modified below by me.
- There are those who were on the Trump train from the start, and will gleefully vote for him in the general election. They are furious that no one in government has listened to them for a long time, and they want to blow up the Washington DC cartel and start over. They have no reservations about Trump’s character or ability.
- Then there is the group that is not crazy about Trump, but see the election as binary, and are terrified of the inevitable and irreversible harm a Hillary presidency will bring: activist courts shredding the Constitution for decades to come, accelerated immigration that will guarantee liberal domination into perpetuity, unstoppable growth and overreach of government, ridiculous imposition of political correctness, destruction of jobs and the economy, loss of national security, racial and gender disharmony, and Clinton Corruption in every corner. This group feels compelled to vote for Trump. I am in this camp, as are most conservative media pundits: Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity, Hewitt, Gallagher, and others. Hugh Hewitt defended our case admirably to the Gathering.
- The third group which includes Erickson and RedState are so disturbed by Trump’s personality, and the perception that he is not a pure conservative, that they are actively campaigning against him. They refuse to vote for or support Trump on principle; they just can’t live with a president who is persistently politically incorrect. They suspect his motives, even though he has never been in government and has no policy record. They don’t like Hillary either, but are willing to let her slip into the Oval Office in the hopes that they will be able to re-group and pick up the pieces in four years.Iowa radio talk show host Steve Deace is the most vitriolic Trump critic – you can imagine the blood spurting from his eyes as he rails against Trump on the radio every day. Other less strident members of this group are radio host Michael Medved and Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard. Katie Pavlich, TV spokeswoman for Townhall.com, rationalized her opposition to Trump to the Gathering this morning, saying Trump will not beat Hillary anyway, so she is doing no harm. Erickson, a newly ordained preacher, views the election in biblical terms. He said, “The weather after November is going to be really bad. Expect to see houses falling from the sky.” But Erickson and his followers won’t vote for Trump, or stop criticizing him, under any circumstances. Glenn Beck passionately pleaded with the audience to not vote for Trump, promising an apocalypse if he is elected. He made the obligatory criticisms of Hillary, but he wasn’t specific about what actions Trump might take that will cause the mountains to crumble and the stars to fall from the sky.
- The fourth group is made up of people who claim to be conservatives and have decided they will vote for Hillary. I agree with Erickson’s observation that these people are mentally ill.
As I said, I didn’t know what to expect, but I still brought home some surprises from the Gathering. I thought the attendees would be predominantly anti-Trump; they weren’t – most people there will be voting for Trump. I thought the stridently “NeverTrump” organizers would be unwilling to accept or listen to opposing views; they weren’t – they were patient and understanding of those whose views don’t line up with their own. And I thought Senator Ben Sasse, who Kristol and Erickson floated as a third-party opponent to Trump, might be a self-serving demagogue; he certainly isn’t. In fact, his homespun Nebraska common sense, along with his extraordinary speaking skill, makes him a serious contender for leader of the conservative renaissance, if the “right side” survives.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
So let’s leave it alone ’cause we can’t see eye to eye
There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy
There’s only you and me and we just disagree