Guest Contributor: Eric Buss, Writer for Pissed Off Conservative
In addition to my passion for political oversight, it may be no surprise that I am also something of a cinefile. While the film Chronicles of Riddick gave us such a memorable line as “It’s been a long time since I smelled beautiful,” delivered by none other than the amped up action hero Vin Diesel, it also provided a scene analogous to the impact Donald Trump has had on the Republican Party.
A race of beings known as necromongers led by their godlike Lord Marshal, decimate the planet Helion Prime in one night. The inhabitants of the planet are portrayed as a peaceful and religiously pious people, hence the inability to form a meaningful resistance. In the aftermath, Lord Marshal demands that they convert to the necromonger religion and submit to his will.
At this point, the quasi-evangelist known as the Purifier sermonizes them to adopt the necromonger way. Murmurs of dissent erupt, and one steps forward from among the attendees to challenge Lord Marshal’s proposal. In a demonstration of his supernatural powers, the half-dead emperor quickly rips the soul from the man’s body as he drops dead to the floor with an expression of awe on his face. And as we pan the room, the gathering of people begin to kneel one by one in the face of such overwhelming dominance.
That concludes this excursion into Hollywood’s brief blockbuster.
In my mind, the parallels are clear. Donald Trump came on the political scene, and over the course of his campaign ripped the soul out of the Republican Party. The “Purifiers” in right-wing media and FOX News touted the benefits of supporting the all powerful and benevolent leadership of Trump — leaving out the shadows of his past as they simply advocated trust in his present promises. The resistance to such a hostile takeover was largely ineffective and in some cases, non-existent.
Party reps and membership alike knelt in fealty, but there were murmurs of dissent. There were those skeptical of the promises … those who asked questions.
Among his primary challengers — the resistance if you will — was Ted Cruz, who made several statements that have proven prophetic:
“Donald Trump’s consistently disgraceful behavior is beneath the office we are seeking and we are not going to follow,”
~ Ted Cruz (March, 2016)
“This race is simple. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both big government liberals,”
~ Ted Cruz (April, 2016)
“The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist—a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.”
~ Ted Cruz (May, 2016)
Cruz made this statement coinciding with his Senate re-election bid:
“I made a very conscious choice that I’m going to roll up my sleeves and work hard with the president to deliver on our promises. We’re getting an enormous amount done.”
~ Ted Cruz (October, 2018)
Among the so-called conservative media:
“Just because the left has ignored and disparaged truth for years is no excuse for the right to do so as well. And unfortunately, truth-free politics seems to be growing exponentially on the right.”
~ Ben Shapiro (December, 2016)
“Trump has won me over. Frankly, he won me over as soon as he clinched enough delegates to win the GOP nomination.”
~ Ben Shapiro (July, 2018)
“It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity…If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice.”
~ Glenn Beck (March, 2016)
“So, Donald Trump, here’s a guy who marries a supermodel, is like, ‘Yeah, I can make it with any model I want.’ He’s over the top, but he fights back, he doesn’t flinch. He is the almost cartoon of an alpha dog. You know what I mean? And I think because we have taken alpha dogs and shot them all, when he comes to the table there’s a lot of guys that are out there going ‘yeah, damn right!”
~ Glenn Beck (March, 2019)
How about the Conservative stalwart and proprietor of Conservative Review, Mark Levin?
“I’m not voting for Donald Trump. Period. … These bully, dirty tricks, Nixonian tactics, they’re only going to backfire. So, count me as never Trump,”
~ Mark Levin (April, 2016)
“If you’re a conservative, you must admit that Donald Trump has been more conservative than you anticipated, which is why most conservatives – I’m not talking about self-aggrandizing, pseudo-conservatives who worked for Bush or self-aggrandizing, pseudo-conservatives who were a part of the Never Trump movement….I’m not talking about them. They’ve got their own agendas and their own psychological issues. When you look at this honestly and objectively – and remember, I supported Cruz in the Republican primaries, so I know of what I speak – you have to conclude that Donald Trump is the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan.”
~ Mark Levin (December, 2017)
So, what about his Republican colleagues?
“I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”
~ Sen Lindsay Graham (February, 2016)
“What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be president,”
~ Also Sen Lindsay Graham (December, 2017)
“Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded. It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world – the cause of conservatism.”
~ Former Texas Governor, Rick Perry (July, 2015)
“The onslaught that goes at him, the forces of evil that are arrayed against him, it’s stunning, And let me tell you, he is a happy warrior. We talk about Ronald Reagan being a happy warrior. Ronald Reagan ain’t got nothing on Donald Trump. This guy is fascinating. His stamina. Watch him on TV. He is amazing.”
~ Rick Perry (August, 2018)
On a “positive” note: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have remained unwavering in their commitment to Donald Trump from the outset.
While it may be surmised that the above quoted individuals had an epiphany, a moment of clarity, that guided them in this absolute pivot from previously held views, I have a hard to pinning down when that was. Each of them seemed to come to their particular realization at various times. It may also be surmised that the collective epiphany took the form of dollar signs hovering over Trump’s golden podium. The plus side is, the average Trump supporter seems to harbor no grudge or ill-will toward these Johnny-come-lately former adversaries.
Seriously though, what has happened that proved their initial assessments wrong? How did he take some of the most principled media figures and compel them to kneel before his dais? Was it his abandonment of any form of the conservative platform that convinced them it was no longer a viable movement? Was it as simple as the monetary value of riding the tide of enthusiasm? There must be some truth to that since most of never Trumpers have profited nothing from their hard stand against his violation of all they believed in.
The fact of the matter is Donald Trump has occupied a vacancy in the GOP, one of leadership that values conquest regardless of the cost or what is gained, while all those with a broader voice have succumbed, submitted and yielded to the temporary placeholder in the White House. They are not seeing the long term damage, only the short term gain.
In the end, after he leaves office, their careers will suffer the same fate as all who have adopted the Trump Brand. They will be tainted by his reputation, and the ranks of #MAGAmongers who have filed-in behind him will attempt to decimate any opposition to his status as their ruler.
Abandoning the view that the lesser of two evils is still evil, the GOP and its cadres have come to terms with, and even embraced it because … Democrats and stuff.
“In normal times, evil would be fought with good. But in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil.”
~ Aereon (Chronicles of Riddick)
Eric Buss is an avid reader and studies history, military, philosophy and politics.
He considers himself a Christian Conservatarian