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Outsiders vs. Insiders: ‘Trumpism’ may be a myth but hostility to the president is very real

As this week’s primary elections results revealed, the country – and in some respects even the Republican Party – are still very divided as to the true nature and meaning of the Donald Trump revolution. Whereas two years ago (when Trump secured the GOP’s presidential nomination but hardly won over the hearts and minds of the DC establishment swamp) there was a very real battle over Trump’s legitimacy and viability -- now people are wondering how far his power reach extends.

Donald TrumpLargely coined by his enemies, folks started using the term “Trumpism” to describe the first-time politician’s platform, which from up close resembles a simple blend of traditional conservative ideas (such as cutting taxes, building a strong military and enforcing our nation’s immigration laws) and naked populism (erecting tall trade barriers in order to protect native industries, making NATO partners pay more, etc.).

“Trumpism” could not be disconnected from the now-president’s unique personality, of course. Fueled by Trump’s fondness for Twitter and non-traditional use of language in public appearances, all at once “Trumpism” became a pejorative term the media used to describe a would-be fascist control freak who sought (in a sinister way) to rebuild the American empire on the backs of persecuted minorities and immigrants.

Therefore “Trumpism” evolved into a movement of its own with troops mustered to defend it; it couldn’t be defined yet it was still there.

Through President Trump’s first sixteen months in office, however, “Trumpism” transformed to include anything he’s into at the moment. Last week the focus swung to Trump’s crystal clear remarks delivered at the NRA convention in Texas.

David Sherfinski of the Washington Times reported, “President Trump on Friday reiterated his call to arm qualified teachers as part of the response to the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting, while slamming gun-free zones as invitations to potential mass killers.

“’We strongly believe in allowing highly-trained teachers to carry concealed weapons,’ Mr. Trump said, also calling for ‘highly trained security guards.’

“He said there’s no sign ‘more inviting’ to a mass killer than a sign declaring that a school is a gun-free zone. ‘All of us here today are deeply committed to school safety,’ Mr. Trump said.

“He also told gun-rights activists at the National Rifle Association’s 2018 convention he will protect their Second Amendment rights. ‘Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never ever be under siege as long as I am your president,’ he said.”

In other words, the defiant Trump who spoke last week in Dallas bore little resemblance to the pacified accommodating one who invited rattled snowflake high schoolers into the White House the week after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. It’s clearly in Trump’s nature to try and do what he perceives as what the people desire – and when there are a cluster of kids holding signs outside the White House drawing news cameras like flies on a dung heap, he offers them a chair, a glass of lemonade and an hour of his time.

Trump subsequently held quasi-negotiating sessions with his cabinet and prominent members of Congress where he appeared to be on all sides of the gun debate, including uttering his infamous “we’ll need to take the guns first” faux pas when weighing-in on due process and gun policy.

Trump’s seeming revolving flexibility on guns and other issues – such as his oft-expressed fondness for “Dreamers” – is part of “Trumpism” but he doesn’t really receive credit for it. Instead Trump’s leftist and #NeverTrump enemies accuse him of making false statements at various times in his campaign or presidency, suggest he has no core principles and maintain he’s just full of crapola, an unmitigated egotist who enjoys being president because it’s cool to have his brand (Trump) etched into a nameplate atop the chief executive’s desk in the Oval Office.

Far from it. The main theme in “Trumpism” on guns (and all other matters) is a deep and abiding respect for the views of the American people (Hillary Clinton might call them the “deplorables”) together with practical solutions that will actually work towards solving problems.

In the example above Trump says arming agreeable and trained teachers will make schools safer. The matter is open to debate but there’s no doubt having more defensive weapons present when a killer is on a rampage would tend to lessen the potential damage at the point of attack.

Similarly, if there’s any evidence “gun free zones” are effective in preventing gun violence I’d like to see it. The whole concept of creating space without firearms was probably dreamed up in a conference room in a lavishly decorated building by academics with sociology diplomas on the walls and gourmet coffee in their cups. To eradicate guns and bullets is nice in theory but in reality, it just doesn’t work. Some might even say it’s a matter of provable science.

Kurt Schlichter wrote at Townhall earlier this week, “[I]f you don't have access to effective firearms, and what liberals mislabel ‘assault rifles’ are the best tactical choice, you have a 100% chance of not being able to defend yourself. As the suppressed CDC study that was recently revealed demonstrates, gun use for self-defense happens several million times a year. Unarmed, you have no chance to defend yourself, your family, your community, or your Constitution from threats.

“Ignore the liberals who want an America where you disarmed and defenseless against the tyranny they dream of imposing. Ignore the hateful teens MSNBCNN spotlight and the Hollywood virtue signalers who harangue you from behind armed guards. Ignore the blue falcon Democrat vets who think their tour in Iraq means they earned some sort of moral authority to dictate to you what guns you do and don’t need. If that’s how it works, I did 27 years, so doesn’t my guidance that you should totally buy an AR-15 count? No? Oh, right – their vetsplaining is just manipulative liberal baloney.

“Instead, be guided by science. The science, supported by experience, make clear what you need to do. Buy guns and ammunition. Get an AR-15.”

“Trumpism” may not incorporate Schlichter’s straightforward use of lingo but conservatives can feel confident Trump’s heart is firmly with the defenders of the Second Amendment.

Why? Because the right to bear arms is inherently practical. Gun owners argue their ability to obtain, possess and if necessary, use guns is God-given and natural as a means to defend against tyranny. America’s Founding Fathers recognized the right – and even the necessity – of owning a firearm (there were laws requiring men to own a musket in the 18th century), but in 21st century America having guns is a practical matter as well.

As Schlichter pointed out in his impeccably argued piece, the government “authorities” are rarely close enough in proximity to you and your family to protect you in time of crisis. Schlichter was in Los Angeles in April of 1992 (as I was) when the Rodney King riots broke out. The city’s handlers essentially imposed martial law on the population but it didn’t prevent dozens of people from becoming victims at the hands of marauding hordes of thugs, gangsters and criminals.

It was real; I was there. The L.A. riots may have been the single best “advertisement” for bearing arms that I’ve ever witnessed. There’s nothing quite like watching buildings burn and stores looted – with police standing by watching the whole time – to motivate you to protect yourself instead of relying on the government to do it.

“Trumpism” is all about allowing Americans to do what’s necessary to protect their persons and economic interests. “Trumpism” means tamping down regulations to set business owners free to pursue their ideas without the bureaucracy telling them not to for no good reason. It means property buyers can anticipate reasonably using their land without the EPA shutting them down because some regulator declared that a puddle qualifies as a wetland.

At the same time, “Trumpism” does not mean people must go along with everything Trump does, no matter what the #NeverTrumpers and leftists might assert. Jonah Goldberg of National Review wrote, “Whatever successes the conservative movement has put on the board over the years — the rise of the Federalist Society, victory in the Cold War, the Contract with America, welfare reform, etc. — were achieved in no small part because conservatives were willing to champion ideas at the expense of blind fealty to the GOP and the demands of the election cycle.

“Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the model I’ve decided I want to follow professionally. I’m no George Will, Charles Krauthammer, William F. Buckley, Tom Sowell, or Irving Kristol, but I’m happy to say they’ll always be important role models for me because they were and are the kinds of intellectuals and writers interested in the long game. This is the lane I’ve chosen, admittedly with more jokes. If there are people on the right who think that’s cowardly, illegitimate, or insufficient, they can use ideas and persuasion to try to change my mind. They’ll have less success banging war drums and telling me I have to do my part.”

Goldberg was commenting on the “moral equivalent of war” analogies some conservative commentators have advanced to encapsulate the persistent fight traditional Americans are waging against the Democrats and the left – kind of like, “If you’re not with us you’re against us.”

It’s safe to say many of us spent months trying to persuade holdout conservatives and Republicans – like Goldberg and Erick Erickson – to cease hurting the cause (by pointing out every little flaw in Trump) as opposed to uniting in the greater battle against Hillary Clinton and the opposition. Like every election, 2016 boiled down to a binary choice – and it’s gratifying to say, those of us who joined the Trump cause turned out to be right in just about every respect.

No one claims Trump is a saint – either today or in his past dealings – but with people like Vice President Mike Pence at his side, Trump is advancing a conservative agenda. There’s more than enough room to disagree with him – and those of us with a conscience do from time to time (such as his decision to sign the heinous omnibus spending bill instead of sending it back to Congress with a big fat “VETO” stamp affixed to it), but there’s little doubt Trump has been beneficial to the country, the Republican Party and the conservative cause as a whole.

To continue objecting to Trump because of his “behavior” looks not only futile, it’s bitter. How much credibility have the anti-Trump forces surrendered in these past couple years?

For some the angst might even extend past this lifetime. Rick Moran of PJ Media reported, “A dying Senator John McCain has made it known through friends that he does not want Donald Trump to attend his funeral and would prefer that Vice President Mike Pence attend instead.

“McCain has been battling brain cancer for the last year and recent reports indicate he doesn't have long to live...

“Trump was probably not going to attend the funeral anyway so the request by McCain to exclude the president of the United States was a preemptive move to snub Trump before the president could snub him.”

One would think life is too short to engage in such nitpicky games – bitterness that extends beyond mortal existence. McCain clearly isn’t a fan of “Trumpism” no matter the definition. My question is – will McCain be best remembered for his lengthy and distinguished career or for his snub of the president after his final breath?

Questions over the meaning of “Trumpism” will continue long past Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House. Trump’s supporters believe the outsider president is bringing a refreshing new approach to efforts to drain the DC swamp; Trump’s enemies can’t bash him enough. Where’s the middle ground?

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