Two rather shocking pieces came out Friday which represent a seismic shift in the conservative front vis the GOP. More of a salient, a bulge, so to speak, in the battle lines.
George Will‘s call to a von Clausewitzist Total War against Donald Trump, along with Jonah Goldberg‘s sharp excision of Trumpists who seek to pre-blame #NeverTrump activists for their Lord’s loss in November paint a grim picture for the GOP. Together, they led me to think in Biblical terms. I call it the Samson Contingency*.
If you remember your Sunday school lessons, Samson was a Judge of Israel and a super hero who fell tragically in love with a Philistine woman. Delilah seduced Samson into telling her the source of his super powers. Stripped of his power, the Philistines blinded Samson and paraded him into their temple for their own warped entertainment. Then Samson called upon God for one last burst of super strength, and pulled down the temple on himself and his captors. It’s all in Judges 16.
The Samson Contingency is the GOP pulling down the temple on top of itself, knocking out the pillars to collapse the party so what remains is pure. I’ll get to the how in a bit, but first let me set up the why.
There’s something to be said for purity, at which the irredeemably compromised Republican leadership snickers and grimaces as Barack Obama did when he found M&M’s in his trail mix. As Erick wrote:
Instead of claiming these conservatives were putting profit ahead of purity, these guys were claiming that conservatives were making money off enforcing purity to the detriment of the greater party good and the advancement of the agenda incrementally.
My colleague Josh Hammer framed it thusly, “The problem is that, in the midst of this existential fight, the Republican Party’s spineless establishment has revealed itself to be exactly what we thought it was.” I added the emphasis. This is no longer just a fight for the control of the GOP, it’s now an existential fight.
I always thought Trump would place the GOP in the position of staring into its own grave, but I honestly never thought they’d jump in.
The only way to save the party, should it sell out to Der Apfelstrudelfuhrer, may be to bring down the whole temple on top of the corrupt leaders and those who line up behind Trump. A simple black list won’t cut it anymore. Hurled threats of “we won’t forget!” will go unheard–who would expect them to listen after 20 years of not listening?
Here’s what Will wrote about Trump’s potential running mate. This was my “Samson moment.”
Ted Cruz’s announcement of his preferred running mate has enhanced the nomination process by giving voters pertinent information. They already know the only important thing about Trump’s choice: His running mate will be unqualified for high office because he or she will think Trump is qualified.
The very act of thinking Trump is qualified to possess the nuclear launch codes of the United States is enough to disqualify anyone from any high office. And what are we, the unensorceled, to do to prevent the man from ascending to office? Really, we don’t have to do anything. The country is not insane enough to elect him.
But those under Trump’s sway aren’t just going to go away on their own. They are going to blame the rest of us for causing him to lose, which in turn will bring a whole brood of vipers, biting insects, and venomous spiders out from under their rocks to feast on our flesh for a generation while they find the next “malleable” reality star to promote for their own profit. None of the blame game antics are remotely true, but it’s the narrative. Goldberg:
But let’s go back to the claim that Trump will win in the general election by flipping blue states in a populist tsunami. If that analysis is even remotely plausible, why should #NeverTrumpers matter? Indeed, if you take Trumpian rhetoric from his talk-radio and other cheerleaders seriously, the anti-Trump forces are a negligible bunch of eggheads, pinheads, and finger-sniffing shut-ins completely disconnected from the authentic and volcanically powerful volksgemeinschaft. If Trump has any chance of flipping New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, we shouldn’t matter at all. And yet, according to the increasingly shrill and whining bleats from his supporters, we will be to blame if he doesn’t win. Well which is it? Is this a revolutionary populist movement that will sweep aside ink knights like me or not?
One comment on this: Since when has the narrative been required to make sense? Obviously, if these same people believe (or pretend to believe) Trump will Make America Great Again™, logic eludes them.
Will’s shocking plan is the Samson Contingency.
Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life. Second, conservatives can try to save from the anti-Trump undertow as many senators, representatives, governors and state legislators as possible.
Were Trump to lose all 50 states–a landslide of such profound proportions that the question of blame becomes moot–the overwhelming rejection would shock the Republican Party to its foundations. Many consultants would lose their jobs immediately. Quislings and profiteers would shake in their boots. The talk would be practically never-ending as each shard of the broken GOP is carefully examined.
In short, none of the Trump boosters would get away with blaming anyone but themselves. The message to those who participated in the putsch: Repent or be exiled. The Samson Contingency goes beyond simple “I’ll stay home” #NeverTrump-ism. It’s a call to actively destroy the pillars and collapse the temple on top of us, while trying to preserve what remains.
Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. (Judges 16:28-30)
If the GOP nominates Trump, we may be called to do what Samson did. In fact, I think it will become clear that it’s exactly what we need to do.
*Apologies to Brad Thor, Joel C. Rosenberg, Robert Ludlum and ever other action novelist whose publisher threw such mordant titles at them.