Danielle Pletka, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has announced that while she never considered voting for Donald Trump in 2016, she may well do so this year. She is being driven to this extremity, she says, by the "hard left ideologues" of the Democratic Party.
Judging by chatter on the right, this rationalization — so redolent of the Flight 93 argument from 2016 — is somewhat popular. So, let's take a closer look.
Though she dutifully wrist slaps Trump for his lies and tweets, she does so as a backhanded compliment. The trouble with his style is that it "has managed to obscure his administration's more-substantive accomplishments, such as focusing the world's attention on China's threat to global security and brokering a new era of Middle East peace." So, you see, it's not that he is degrading the very idea of truth or undermining cherished national ideals, it's just that those darned tweets distract from his great accomplishments!
The notion that Trump has awakened the world to the threat from China is risible. He has, in fact, been played by China. After four years of tariffs and obsequiousness toward Xi Jinping, China is more powerful and the U.S. weaker. Trump may deserve a measure of credit for the peace deals between Israel and the Gulf Arab states, but it's more likely that those are the unintended consequences of Obama's Iran deal, which scared the Gulf States into Israel's arms.
But her chief complaint is not about foreign affairs. "Joe Biden would be a figurehead president, incapable of focus or leadership, who would run a teleprompter presidency with the words drafted by his party's hard-left ideologues."
What is the evidence for this? Biden ran a centrist campaign throughout the Democratic primaries despite lots of encouragement to tilt left. He resisted the siren song of "Medicare for All," and opposed open borders, free public college tuition, banning fracking and defunding the police. If the left couldn't budge him when he was just one candidate in a field of 29, what makes people think they will have better luck when he is the party's nominee — or the president of the United States?
Besides, these congeries of horrors assume that if Democrats achieve majorities in both houses and take the White House in 2020, the democratic process will be over. The pedestrian truth is that if Democrats overestimate their mandate and go too far, they may find that voters clip their wings in 2022. Amazing how that works.
What these doomsday scenarios also overlook is that if Biden is elected and Democrats take the Senate, they are going to have their hands full attempting to guide the nation safely through the remainder of this pandemic.
But perhaps Pletka only gets to her true complaint toward the end:
"I fear the grip of Manhattan-San Francisco progressive mores ... (and) virtue-signaling bullies who increasingly try to ... encourage my children to think that their being White is intrinsically evil ... and the leftist vigilantes who view every personal choice — from recipes to hairdos — through their twisted prisms of politics and culture."
If Pletka is genuinely alarmed by the extremism of the left, maybe the best solution is not to throw herself into the arms of an openly racist, authoritarian right-wing extremist who embodies every stereotype the left harbors about conservatives. Pletka doesn't like Manhattan-San Francisco progressivism. Neither do I. But like so many in modern America, she confuses cultural and political arguments. We don't elect a chief executive to outlaw drag queen story hour.
Nor does the left operate in a vacuum. The extremism of the right, enthroned in the White House no less, is stimulating ever more reaction from the left.
Pletka highlights this or that sin or tendency on the part of "progressives" and declares it to be the true essence of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, she disregards Trump and the grotesque menagerie he has invited into public life.
People on the left and in the center would be forgiven for concluding that Trump is precisely the "mainstream of the Republican Party" if he is reelected. And who among the leaders of the Democratic Party has offered anything like the encouragement to extremism that Trump has given to QAnon and the vigilantes on the streets?
The one essential rock upon which this country depends is the rule of law. It's more crucial than blocking "Medicare for All," more essential even than preventing another Iran nuclear deal. If the rule of law is undermined as Trump is doing and threatens to accelerate, everything else — prosperity, civil cohesion, security — is in danger. Those are the stakes, not the filibuster, not hairstyles and not virtue signaling.
Mona Charen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her new book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore