Quick: Do you have any idea who David Boaz is? How about Brent Bozell III? Erick Erickson? Dana Loesch? How about David McIntosh? Russell Moore? R.R. Reno?
Here’s the answer: They’re among the so-called American conservative thought leaders whose newly declared opposition to Donald Trump’s run for the Republican presidential nomination has been the talk of the nation’s political class for the last 12 hours or so.
Their dissents are featured in the newest issue of the National Review, and this leading conservative magazine believes that their views on Trump are so important that all their names deserved placement on the front cover. In the process, however, they actually revealed how impotent these conservative activists and others like them have become – and maybe always have been.
For not only have you probably not heard of most of them. Many are not familiar to me, either – and I follow these matters reasonably closely. And as for hopes that these real-world nothing-burgers will help stem the apparent Trump surge among likely Republican primary voters – who are arguably somewhat better acquainted with them? That looks like a sure sign that the right wing of the American Capitol Gang, which of course includes National Review staff, has sunk into terminal delusion.
After all, if the Republican grassroots had much confidence in these insta-pundits and think tankers and other assorted professional lobbyists, courtiers, and simple loudmouths, would they be flocking to Trump in the first place? In particular, would Trump-ism have even emerged had this self-appointed conservative priesthood ever said, written, or agitated for anything capable of reversing the declining economic fortunes of working- and middle-class Americans? If anything, Main Street America is emphatically – and in my view, rightly – deciding that these Trump opponents overwhelmingly have been part of the problem.
And here’s an irony for you: National Review‘s lead editorial on the subject largely agrees. Here are some excerpts:
>”[T]here are understandable reasons for [Trump’s] eminence….”
>”He has exploited the yawning gap between elite opinion in both parties and the public on [immigration], and feasted on the discontent over a government that can’t be bothered to enforce its own laws no matter how many times it says it will….”
>”Trump nevertheless offers a valuable warning for the Republican party. If responsible men irresponsibly ignore an issue as important as immigration, it will be taken up by the reckless. If they cannot explain their Beltway maneuvers — worse, if their maneuvering is indefensible — they will be rejected by their own voters. If they cannot advance a compelling working-class agenda, the legitimate anxieties and discontents of blue-collar voters will be exploited by demagogues.”
That last point is especially important. Because any intellectual honest reader asking themselves which current Republican presidential candidate would plausibly and credibly champion the agenda National Review editors claim to support would have to come up with the answer: “None” – at least among the top remaining contenders.
As a result, until National Review and the supposed conservative gurus it’s spotlighting can point to a right-of-center politician likely to deliver for everyday Americans, it will be in the untenable position of telling voters that no one (or anyone currently on the ballot?) is better than Trump. Which is why large and possibly decisive percentages of America’s Republicans and conservatives are likely to keep ignoring them.