Collaborators: Understanding Trump’s Rebellion

Is Trump a true conservative convert in the tradition of Reagan?  Time and elections will tell.  What is clear is that, in the words of one disgusted conservative, voting for Trump is a “Hail Mary” pass many conservatives are quite willing to make given the lateness of the hour.  Meanwhile, the usual alliance of liberal activists and collaborator attorneys and powerbrokers already is talking of impeaching Trump should he be elected president.  This should surprise nobody, especially those who must daily wage guerrilla battles simply to preserve the right to remain a conservative.

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By Andrew Thomas | May 2, 2016

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Donald Trump’s candidacy for president already has passed from political campaign to genuine popular movement, stunning the political class with its strength and longevity. As this mass mutiny matures into organized rebellion, conservative leaders still are scratching their heads about the ultimate sources of the phenomenon.

Indeed, why have so many sincere conservatives, including a plurality of religious voters, backed a candidate whose fidelity to their principles is subject to challenge? The conservative grassroots’ embrace of Trump is more than a rebuke to the Republican establishment. Trump’s romp through the reddest of states indicts not just the feckless GOP leaders who have settled for managing American decline.

There is also within this collective swipe a vote of no confidence in what can only be termed the conservative establishment. This is the conglomerate of right-leaning interest groups, publications, pundits, et al. who partly presided over these decades of domestic crisis, and who now oppose Trump. Why else would these voters ignore their fervent pleas to vote against him?

Conservatives sense betrayal, and not just from politicians. They perceive that at the apex of political and intellectual life in America, the conservative establishment also has sold out to a broad liberal despotism that has taken root in America.

Sauron and the PC Empire

As Sauron in The Lord of the Rings overwhelmed surrounding kingdoms with a creeping darkness, so has a militant left steadily overtaken America’s preeminent institutions. Decades ago, in classic Leninist fashion, left-wing leaders captured higher education, then began forcefully indoctrinating college students. They converted the nation’s universities into a feeder for the Democratic Party (no wonder Bernie Sanders wants free college tuition). The left then sent forth the best and the brightest to seize the nation’s main centers of power.

Entire institutions became redoubts of political correctness (PC). Daniel Henninger and others have enumerated them. Now, the resulting PC Empire is flexing its muscles.

Two recent essays in The Federalist capture this well. Angelo Codevilla notes “America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.” Paul David Miller notes those who do not kowtow to this PC elite “are socially ostracized, sued for discrimination, forced to resign, and driven out of business.”

A nation hemorrhaging jobs to illegal immigration and outsourcing is also becoming a place where conservatives increasingly cannot live and work without persecution. No wonder conservatives feel under siege and blame the Republican establishment.  But just as GOP leaders appease the liberal media and other PC moguls to gain perpetual reelection, many private-sector conservative leaders have shown fealty to the empire. They have done what people for thousands of years have done when forced to choose between a job and regime change. As a top conservative congressional aide recently observed, they have opted for a “comfortable life.”

These familiar figures are the amiable piñatas on mainstream media news shows, who hold down a conservative panel “seat” by not being too adamantine or threatening; the designated conservative columnists at liberal newspapers who conveniently tilt left when, for example, the subject is Trump or Ted Cruz; representatives of conservative foundations bankrolled by patrons favoring (and often enriched by) open borders, advocating the same stale policy prescriptions.

When conservative voters ignore entreaties from such notables, the latter finally receive some measure of justice. These insiders have done well during decades of leftist aggression by “playing the game.” They have prospered by merely pretending to fight as the nation’s slide accelerates.

Most disappointing are many professional Christian leaders. Decades of judicial and cultural attacks on Christianity have reduced the faith from the unofficial affiliation of the middle class to a severe professional liability. Yet, many leaders have eschewed battle armor in favor of de facto compromise with the PC Empire, benefiting themselves. They are the Christian lobbies and lawyers content to advocate futile legislation routinely thrown out by liberal judges, or who litigate trifling cases at the margins, rather than honestly confront the left-leaning judiciary or other powers-that-be lest they suffer reprisal. Others settle for presiding over marginalized Christian ghettoes in education and the like without genuinely challenging the system or society to which they belong. Rejecting the explicit injunctions of Christ to expect persecution and embrace sacrifice, they have become the Pharisees of our time—and part of the problem.

A New Premium for Honesty

If these leaders will not sacrifice any income or reputation, why should politicians? Indeed, our most brilliant and effective conservative leaders have been savagely targeted and neutralized by the left: Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Sarah Palin, the late Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas are national examples; former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is one at the state level. Martyrs of the left gain movies or songs dedicated to their memory; the conservative fallen are simply left on the battlefield. Republican leaders, seeing there is no premium being paid for heroism on tough issues (e.g., illegal immigration), naturally back off.

And, yet, last year brought us a conservative grassroots revolt, Donald Trump, and a concomitant reward for speaking politically incorrect truths. Quite suddenly a tipping point was reached and the rebellion was on.

Is Trump a true conservative convert in the tradition of Reagan? Time and elections will tell. What is clear is that, in the words of one disgusted conservative, voting for Trump is a “Hail Mary” pass many conservatives are quite willing to make given the lateness of the hour. Meanwhile, the usual alliance of liberal activists and collaborator attorneys and powerbrokers already is talking of impeaching Trump should he be elected president. This should surprise nobody, especially those who must daily wage guerrilla battles simply to preserve the right to remain a conservative.


A graduate of Harvard Law School, Andrew Thomas was twice elected Maricopa County Attorney, district attorney for greater Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of four books, including Clarence Thomas: A Biography, and The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech. Thomas is a Fellow with the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, Director of the Empower the States Project, and a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis

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