Erick Erickson, who was a member of the “Never Trump” coalition, recently wrote an article titled “Donald Trump’s Start is Rocky, But Far Better Than Many Skeptics Hoped, Which Brings Me to Evan McMullin.” Erickson, an individual I warned would struggle with maintaining his principles when faced with the enticement of a GOP power rush, comes off as more of a reluctant woman playing hard to get with a guy she truly likes than he does a fair critic.
Instead of taking the opportunity to harshly address Donald Trump’s death grip on the GOP – turning them into the big-government lemmings we warned they’d become – Erickson went after the recently launched Stand Up Republic, an organization founded by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn.
An excerpt from Stand Up Republic “About Us” page:
“Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn founded Stand Up Republic to help Americans stand up in defense of the fundamental principles that have made this country the true home of liberty and a source of hope for many around the world. Stand Up Republic will build and organize a grassroots movement in defense of liberty, equality, and truth in America. Our priorities will be to uphold the Constitution and defend the democratic norms and institutions upon which the protection of our basic rights depend.”
Yet Erickson’s issue doesn’t seem to be with the idea of a movement (though I doubt that, quite honestly), but with #NeverTrump conservatives and McMullin himself.
Erickson: “I am skeptical Stand Up Republic can be that vehicle as it is being presented. If it is to be, I think Evan McMullin and those joining him need to be willing to step back from constant criticism and loudly note there has been a lot of good thus far. Riding the praise of the left in the name an anti-Trump crusade that hides behind words like “liberty” and “freedom” is foolish when many of the leftists praising the effort would gladly restrict our freedom and liberty themselves.”
We don’t owe Donald Trump anything, especially accolades, just as Erickson didn’t owe Barack Obama anything. Erickson is so busy thrusting his arm down into the sewer of this Presidency, in hopes of finding a quarter, that he can’t even see the big picture anymore. The cornerstone of “Never Trump” was the knowledge that the dangerous ideals of an egomaniac, one with a heart that beats to the rhythm of authoritarianism, overshadows any minor positives – this is still the case.
Political commentators on both sides of the aisle love tribalism more than anyone else, and they tend to thrive in a world where two sides are constantly at war with one another. The vast majority, including Erickson, have granted little grace – if any – to the leaders of the opposing party. In Erickson’s intellectually dishonest claim that “Donald Trump has also been a leader of sound judgment with his executive orders,” he exposes himself as just another player who wants to be back on the team more than he wants to be an umpire.
Erickson thinks he’s entitled to call out Evan because of Evan’s vote percentage, which seems a bit hypocritical. To denounce populism while saying it’s a litmus test for viability in the same article speaks poorly of his ability to separate an emotional viewpoint from a logical rebuttal. Comparing Evan to Trump as far as sounding the conservative battle/rally cry and claiming it’s somehow redundant because Trump is already doing it is absurd. His approach of “if the good outweighs the bad, I’ll endorse him in 2020” tells you where he sits on that, though, and how flawed his view of conservatism is. And how short sighted his assessment of the actual and long lasting damage that Trump has done – and will do – is.
McMullins constant criticism of Trump isn’t in order to just be popular, or aver a false kind of liberty. Or as Erickson says, “Riding the praise of the left in the name an anti-Trump crusade that hides behind words like “liberty” and “freedom” is foolish when many of the leftists praising the effort would gladly restrict our freedom and liberty themselves.” That the left ostensibly recognizes this, despite all of them not being objective, doesn’t change the fact that they are important to a movement for any successful attempt to change the status quo.
But that’s where many of us may have assumed wrong when we imagined Erickson being interested in changing the status quo.
In short: Erickson’s article, rife with thinly veiled hesitant approval of Trump, is designed to encourage acceptance of our Narcissist-in-Chief’s behavior, and discourage a Conservative counterpoint to his dangerous ideals; at times it even plays apologist to those dangerous ideals. As a friend said after reading, “his articles say no but his sentences say yes.”
Erickson: “Thus far President Trump appears to be trying to keep his promises and is racking up successes with which conservatives should be pleased. If he continues on this path, I will gladly support his re-election in 2020.”
This is more about Erickson justifying his anti-Trump behavior before the election, while setting the groundwork for a smooth transition into supporting him once the stench of the election begins to fade; while leaving wiggle room for a Trump catastrophe, of course. Erickson knows where his bread is buttered, and that’s with clickbait reactionary right-wing individuals who want to hate the left, and live blissfully under a tribal mentality.
One problem: Evan McMullin.
Evan McMullin not only refuses to pander to the tribal mentality, he’s bringing individuals across the political spectrum together, and fueling a united movement that will focus on accountability and honesty – concepts that threaten to burst the bubble of ignorance that has filled the wallets of conservative media elites for far too long.
The question begs to be asked: How many leftists have heard the message of compassionate conservatism because of Evan? Many individuals who once demonized everyone on the right are now listening, something I fear Erickson and those like him never achieved.
While Erickson proclaims that “Rex Tillerson has alleviated any concerns about him. He will make an excellent Secretary of State,” Evan has created a platform to remind individuals that what Tillerson says matters far less than how he has conducted himself in the past. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Erickson’s article minimizes Trump’s bad qualities, boiling them down to grievance-mongering, bad tweets, and protectionism. Erickson’s criticism of McMullin comes off as less of a disagreement regarding method, and more of a man tired of the thorn in his side constantly reminding him that his principles are for sale.
Erickson: “He has raised some valid concerns about President Trump’s praise of Russia and authoritarian tendencies. But it is hard to see how McMullin’s never ending criticisms and a willingness to coalition build with radical leftists like Shaun King against the President makes his new group an accountability group instead of just an opposition group. As of this morning, almost every one of Evan McMullin’s tweets is anti-Trump in some capacity.”
Here’s the rub: Erickson never addresses if the tweets themselves were wrong, he just took issue with their existence.
One major component missing from Erickson’s article is, shockingly, Evan McMullin’s own response to Erickson’s criticism (this the the response sent to The Resurgent on Wednesday evening, and they chose not to include it in their post):
“America’s been blessed with a long period of relative peace and prosperity, and that can sometimes lead us to forget how hard-fought our freedoms really are. While President Trump has made some decisions that should be applauded — I was glad to see Trump’s comments of support for the REINS Act and Mike Pompeo tapped for CIA director, for example — serious concerns still remain. Trump flirted with authoritarianism throughout the campaign, and there are a lot of unanswered questions about his ties to Russia.
I know he was irritated when I entered the Presidential race, and I can only assume he won’t like this new organization either. The reality that Trump should acknowledge is that he himself has the power to make us irrelevant, by coming clean to the American people — releasing his tax returns, disclosing any financial entanglements with foreign countries, and complying with the emoluments clause of the Constitution — and by carrying out his duties as President in a way that respects the proper balance of powers and the fundamental Constitutional rights of the American people.”
Erickson ended his post with the following:
“Frankly, conservative critics and skeptics of Donald Trump, myself included, could well stand to admit in this first week there has been much about which we should be happy. We should admit Donald Trump is thus far, far better than Hillary Clinton. That does not mean we should abandon our concerns. It does mean we should be modest in our approach moving forward.”
The problem is that where Donald Trump has flaunted authoritarian behavior, shown his lack of respect for The Constitution, and his disregard for basic human decency, has far outweighed his successes throughout his first week. Combine that with his behavior throughout his campaign, his ongoing treatment of women and minorities, the way he brought out the very worst in our country, etc., and I suddenly find Erickson’s article to be the equivalent of someone yelling at me to acknowledge that my neighbor baked me a cake when I’m busy asking why they lit my house on fire, slashed my tires, and killed my dog.
Exposing the truth about the negatives in no way stops Trump from doing the right thing, so the real question is why Erick Erickson – an expert in bridge demolition himself – is suddenly more concerned with conservatives who are standing up for our principles than he is Donald Trump’s pattern of complete disregard for American values. Erickson is asking us to travel towards the land of indifference, and once again be a part of the tribal mentality that allowed a man like Trump to bamboozle America.