I've been hearing about the impending "conservative crackup" for nearly 25 years. The term was coined by
These dire prophesies always reminded me of those "Free Beer Tomorrow" signs. As Annie sings, tomorrow is "always a day away."
Well, thanks to
The level of distrust among many of the different factions of the conservative coalition has never been higher, at least not in my experience. Arguments don't seem to matter, only motives do.
In other words, the
Limbaugh also says that the conservative "intelligentsia" -- in the form of conservative magazines and think tanks -- doesn't want to solve problems, it just wants to score points in an "academic exercise" within a perpetual "debating society." "In other words," Limbaugh says, "some people constantly need something to run against as a reason to exist."
Meanwhile, many in the so-called establishment and intelligentsia have similar complaints about Limbaugh and his imitators on radio and cable TV, although most don't say it publicly for fear of reprisal. I've lost track of the number of congressmen, consultants and so forth who've told me that talk-radio hosts spend their time criticizing fellow conservatives because that's what brings in the highest ratings. (Beating up on liberals just doesn't animate the base like it used to.)
Wherever the truth lies, questioning motives is poisonous, because such claims are not only unfalsifiable, but they also give an instant excuse to ignore sincere, reasoned arguments.
Nearly every position on Trump is immediately subjected to a kind of vulgar Marxist analysis. "You think Trump would make a bad president? Oh, you're just saying that because you're part of the establishment!" "You think Trump would make a good president? Oh, you're just saying that to get attention."
I'm not saying motives don't matter, but they're best left out of disagreements if you hope to persuade your ideological allies.
The one exception to this rule is when your opponents openly acknowledge their self-interest.
Last week, former Sen.
"Do they all love Trump? No," Republican lobbyist
It's hard to criticize
There's no shortage of reasons for why the right is at war over whether or not to take a flier on Trump. All of the various establishments and the counter-establishments overpromised and underdelivered in recent years. Congressional leaders talked a big game while campaigning but played small ball once re-elected. Cruz and his supporters accused his fellow politicians of being corrupt sellouts, and so many people believed him, they'd now rather take a gamble on Trump than back Cruz, a mere politician.
Tomorrow seems closer than ever before.