You’ve got to pick a side


Note:  Since I originally posted, this commentary has been published on The Daily Caller.  See


As I’ve told my son’s little league squad, you win as a team and you lose as a team.  If your pitcher is missing the strike zone, you don’t take your bat and ball and go home.  That will not get you to the championship.

And yet that is what a lot of conservatives are trying to do these days.

Donald Trump is now the Republican pitcher.  He is the GOP standard bearer.  Whether or not, in Paul Ryan’s words, he lives up to our standards.

It is true that Trump breaks with conservative orthodoxy on a number of issues. He embraces protectionism on trade. He refuses to address entitlement reform.  He does not say mean things about Planned Parenthood.

He also rejects traditional GOP foreign policy tenets even as he advocates for renewed strength abroad.  He disavows the war in Iraq and other neoconservative projects to implant Western democracy in places that have never known it.  He questions the relevance and viability of NATO.  He second-guesses strategic aid to countries that refuse to foot the bill.

Maybe some of Trump’s loose policy pronouncements are ill informed or shortsighted.  If so, and if he makes it to the White House, maybe he will change course.  It would not be the first time he has abandoned positions.  In fact, it is Trump’s lack of adherence to principle (not to mention a mixed history of supporting Democrats and their agenda) that has driven so many of the GOP establishment and pundit class to pledge allegiance to #NeverTrump.

Unwavering conservative principle girded the Ted Cruz campaign.  Consider where that got him.

Some of the fiercest rivals and critics of Donald Trump have been quickest to reverse course.  Last year they took turns deriding Trump as a “narcissist egomaniac” (Bobby Jindal), “like being shot” (Lindsay Graham), and as a “barking carnival act” and “cancer” (Rick Perry).  Now each has climbed aboard the Trump train.

For this, some members of the conservative punditocracy label them pathetic traitors.

What is their alternative plan?  William Kristol pines on about drafting a true conservative third party candidate.  Peter Wehner blithely promises to vote for someone else or abstain.

Mitt Romney and the Bush brothers literally commit to stay home, refusing to pay tribute to the presumptive nominee by attending the nominating convention in Cleveland.

This crowd needs to wise up.  Isn’t anything other than an embrace of Trump de facto a vote for Clinton?

Exactly.  And some implacable critics like Robert Kagan are openly planning to join the other team.

Seriously?  How can anyone who opposes the heavy-handed, growth-depressing, world-destabilizing policies of the Obama era do anything other than work to block a third Obama term with Clinton at the helm?

Many Republicans have personal animus for Clinton.  They detest the way she holds herself above the law and makes blatantly false statements to avoid accountability.  They resent the way her ruthless quest for power and wealth has trampled on helpless civilians, from the women her husband abused to the families of the Benghazi terror victims. They cringe at the sound of her voice.

But Clinton could be the most honest, gracious, and likeable public figure, and she would still usher in another span of liberal governance that undermines liberty, squelches growth, and damages American global interests.

At the end of the day, I think that conservative hold-outs simply cannot countenance the idea of a crass person like Donald Trump headlining the party of the conservatives.  He does not fit their ideals. He does not fit the model. They do not want to settle until they meet Mr. Right.

George Will counsels conservatives to fight Trump in the general election.  Then, after a single Clinton term, the voters will see the error of their ways and come around to a principled conservative that meets Will’s standards.

How bad do things need to get before Will and others recognize that change is needed now?

Trump wasn’t my first choice either. I got over it.  The benefits of a Trump presidency far outweigh the potential flaws.  On the critical issues of Supreme Court nominations, tax and regulatory policy, healthcare reform, and homeland security, Trump is squarely better for conservatives than Clinton could ever be.

Points where I strongly disagree with Trump – trade policy and entitlement reform come to mind – are tough pills to swallow.  But again, I can’t see a Clinton White House doing any better.

Electing Trump will undoubtedly ruffle feathers in the office of diplomatic protocol.  We will see behavior and comments that we would never expect from a commander-in-chief.

Well okay.  But like I said, Trump’s on the mound now.  And I want to go to the World Series.



Filed under Electoral Politics, Presidential Campaign

11 responses to “You’ve got to pick a side

  1. I agree. It’s time to play ball.


  2. Arnie Rubenstein

    You can really say it all well. You are on a roll. Would send this blog to The AMERICAN THINKER.


  3. zane Pollard MD

    MICHAEL: you are 100% correct. no one gets everything he or she wants in this life. Your evaluation of the situation is a very smart and mature one.


  4. Hi,
    I’m sorry but you have missed the most important point of all. He is the worlds most amoral man and nothing will change that. George Will and Bret Stephens are right, we can survive Hillary. Our country changes forever in a negative way if we elect that guy.


  5. I have followed this race for years now and Trump has always been my first choice. I feel confident you will go to the World Series with or without the handful of conservative establishment members. It’s time for the Republican Party to get with the times. Those handful of establishment members are unaccomplished and not gaining any importance. They blow whichever way the wind blows. Trump goes against the wind but shelters well. The dissenters will go with the popular demand for Trump if they don’t want to lose face. Otherwise, Trump will take his bat and ball to the other team ( my team- Independent ) and it will be a loss the Republicans will never get over.


  6. If your goal is to win and go to the World Series you do not have to win every game. At the same time your not going to put together a team that will have 9 home run hitters or a pitching staff that will not allow a single hit. But instead you want to have a team that has specific talents that will work together to develop a spirit to work together to attain the different strengths to make it work. Keeping the coach from creating the strengths only creates disharmony which prevents the team from being able to perform at its best. Your analogy is right on. Thanks for sharing.


  7. David Barlin

    Eloquent as always, but allow me to share a couple of reasons that one might be #NeverTrump

    A) I cannot in good conscience tell my children in any way shape or form that Mr. Trump is a positive role model. He would be a role model for millions and millions of children and adults and that would have material consequences (in a way that an NBA or NFL role model does not).

    B) A Trump presidency would have material long tail risk to the the way the world works – he has casually thrown into doubt the edifices of modern society. For just a few examples he has casually questioned NATO and that the US will always pay back its debt. He has encouraged nuclear arms races and massive trade wars, and proposed normalizing the targeting of innocent women and children. Even were he the most thoughtful planner, the words of the US president can quickly spiral out of control and cause massive impact. Whatever Clinton’s flaws (and they are real and material) she will not casually upend the core of how the world works. The potential (far from guaranteed) of a better supreme court justice is not worth a material threat to the core of a running world economy and politic.


  8. Role model/politician is an oxymoron. Trump has lovely children plus he works in business with them successfully. That says something.


    • David Barlin

      Sloane – I suspect that we would agree the world would be better if politicians were not role models. However, they are. Despite Mr. Trump’s family which may be quite well adjusted, if you believe the way he talks to and about women, the disabled, his opponents, and those who endure torture voluntarily to protect our freedoms is the same as a typical politician, I respectfully disagree.


  9. Interesting thoughts Rubes, but I have to say (and it won’t be the first time, old fraternity bro) that I heartily disagree. I totally feel for Republicans who have to rationalize their support for such a demagogue, and I mean that. I have no doubt that the same could happen on the left. You might even say it has. But the truth, however apt the baseball analogy might be, is that it fails where it counts the most: Trump is NOT on your team. He’s not on anyone’s team but his own. I can’t remember where I read it, but I saw a comment somewhere that he intends to use the Republican Party the way someone uses a cheap rented tuxedo – it’s his ticket to the prom. It is only a vehicle for Trump to get to the Presidency. He has no team, because he has no principles. He’s to the left of Bernie on some issues, to the right of Cruz on others – and then he shifts to the reverse, depending on the conversation (or even within the same conversation). So, in this context “wanting for your team to win” means nothing, because you’re pulling for him – but he’s not pulling for you. He’s for one person: Trump. And even if he was actually “on your team,” to David Barlin’s point, many of his policy points are not just nonsensical, but they’re dangerous – as in, literally in the sense of global nuclear stability dangerous. And his words on the campaign trail would be harmless – if this man was still a reality show star, and not in line for the most powerful position in the world.


  10. Not since Washington and Lincoln have presidents been true role models. Let’s be honest- Reagan had to consult with Nancy and Nancy had to ask her palm reader. Trump if elected will not be the first questionable president.
    Trump gets caught up in his own glory, for sure, though he will win over the rest of the world just as he has the American people because he speaks a certain truth that we all recognize in ourselves.
    You have 2 choices as Michael has so uniquely and smartly suggested. Lies spoken sincerely from Hillary or unfiltered indignation from Trump. Trump is smart and flexible in his platform because it is necessary to live safely and successfully. More than anything Trump, the winner, would not want to fail the American people.
    As a parent, someone might ask you, ” who is your favorite child?” You answer,” the one I am with at the time”. It’s not insincere. It’s admirable and appreciated. That is how Trump supporters feel about Trump. I think he will win well and move America to a better place.


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