The more that conservatives try to shift the blame of Donald Trump onto Barack Obama, the more they clear the way for accepting him as their nominee. Bobby Jindal, for example, penned this in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
Middle-class incomes are stagnant, and radical Islam is on the march across the Middle East. No wonder voters are responding to someone who promises to make America great again. You can draw a straight line between a president who dismisses domestic terrorist attacks as incidents of workplace violence and a candidate who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country.
(I suppose that by this logic you could then blame George W. Bush for Trump, since it was the failure of Bush’s two terms that led to the meteoric rise of Obama, whose Presidency Jindal in turn blames for the ascendancy of Trump, etc. No matter.) Ross Douthat does the same in The New York Times:
It’s not surprising that conservatives would try to deflect blame for the monster they created since that’s what they do every time someone brings up one of their shortcomings. But it’s funny that they don’t recognize that blaming Obama for everything is in part what contributed to the popularity of Trump. By being outraged every time Obama blinked, and by broadcasting that outrage—through media, through congressional inaction and obstruction—the right further isolated themselves in the alternate reality they created, one where conservatism is constantly under siege by a commander-in-chief who is probably a commie Muslim fascist Kenyan.
While I don’t think it’s a conscious effort, shifting blame for Trump away from themselves helps pave the way for their acceptance of Trump. The #NeverTrump ‘movement’ (which is not a movement; movements have people on the streets actually doing things, not politicians like Mitt Romney sending it out in Tweets) undermined itself when Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich all said they would endorse Donald Trump should he become the nominee. It’s a talking point they’ll use until it’s no longer politically expedient, or until their faithful followers finally figure out what it actually means: #NeverTrump during the primaries. #KindaReluctantlyTrump come November.
So while people squabble about a hashtag whose meaning is even hollower than most hashtags, the real issue is #NeverHillary. There are plenty of articles about how Sanders supporters might not show up for Clinton should he not get the nomination, and if my Twitter and Facebook feeds are any indication, there’s truth to it. I wrote a few weeks ago that I don’t think Sanders supporters will hand the election to Republicans (at least those that lean left and vote Democrat when they vote at all), and I think that’ll be even more true if Trump is the nominee and we’re collectively staring down a long, dark path when the election rolls around. Still, the fairly silent #NeverHillary ‘movement’ is there, and because so many of Sanders’ supporters are young and unbending in their principles, they could very well not vote if they don’t get what they want.
Something I didn’t anticipate, though, was this:
Jim Webb: I could vote for Trump, but not Hillary
“No, I would not vote for Hillary Clinton,” Webb said.
Pressed on whether he would vote for Donald Trump, Webb said he was “not sure” but had not ruled it out.
“It’s nothing personal about Hillary Clinton, but the reason Donald Trump is getting so much support right now is not because of the, you know, ‘racists,’ etc. and etc.,” Webb said. “It’s because a certain group of people are seeing him as the only one who has the courage to say, ‘We’ve got to clean out the stables of the American governmental system right now.’ If you’re voting for Donald Trump, you might be getting something very good or very bad. If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, you’re going to get the same thing. Do you want the same thing?”
A ‘certain group’ of people see him as someone with the courage to say we have to clean out the government. If that’s one ‘certain group,’ then there are other ‘certain groups’ that are racist, and that love his anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant platforms, that love his rallies where black protesters get escorted out and beaten. It might have been stupid for some leftists to shout racism when someone said they didn’t support Obama in ’08, but it’s inexcusable now for people to deny the racist factions within Trump’s camp when he has been explicitly endorsed by white supremacists.
Also, if I vote for Clinton, I get more of the same? More of the same as in Obama’s two terms? Then yes, of course I’ll take that. Why wouldn’t I?
I don’t know how many Republicans wearing Democrat clothing actually exist, or how many centrist or moderate Democrats would jump ship and vote for Trump because of their distrust of Clinton. Yes, Webb never made much of a mark in polls of Democratic candidates, but had he been the nominee (lol), he had the potential to attract Republicans and independents. I don’t think Hillary does.
There is a big difference between the left and the right on this issue. On the left, there are too many who won’t support Clinton, some for principled reasons that I can respect even if I think they’re wrong, and some for reasons as stupid as ‘I wanted Grandpa Sanders to get the nom!’ For them, it’s a matter of my-way-or-the-highway, where the threat of them not voting for Hillary or, worse, crossing over for Trump is real. While the GOP establishment flimsily opposes Trump with their hashtag, they will eventually rally behind him, and their voters, even level-headed people who despise Trump, seem far more likely to stick with their party than the left is and elect a certified madmen out of nothing more than their ingrained hatred of Clinton. Nothing really seems to hurt Trump, but hurt can be put on Clinton. Let’s hope it’s not enough to give the election to the right.