Hold Your Nose and Vote for Trump

Several days ago Rod Dreher wrote a piece about the “wrath” of the right.  I found that piece in a link from a column in the New York Times by another conservative writer I’ve cited frequently named Ross Douthat.  I appreciate the content of their criticisms but wanted to focus for a moment on a sub-group of conservatives that they both chose to take a moment to excuse in the midst of that criticism.  In his column, Douthat said the following:

“Note that I don’t mean the religious conservatives who supported Trump reluctantly and in a transactional spirit, and who welcome his conservative judicial nominees.”

And Dreher:

“I’m not talking about Christians who reluctantly voted for Trump last fall as the lesser evil. I’m talking about Christians who gleefully embrace the man and what he stands for.”

I appreciate both of these men for the unsparing nature of their criticism, but I wonder how they manage to exempt a broad swath of their party whose actions – while perhaps more conflicted – contributed mightily to the outcome that they lament.

I am reminded, oddly enough, of Ibram X. Kendi, who won a National Book Award in 2016 for his book Stamped From the Beginning.  Kendi fashions his book as a “history of racist ideas.”  Central to his narrative is the idea that the ideas generally follow behind and justify exploitation.  Biological racism developed to justify European ravaging of the African continent and African slavery.

The most compelling part of his argument is that the ideas we generally abhor are secondary to outcomes that we should abhor equally.  The problem is that we don’t.  Instead of eradicating racial disparities in the criminal justice system or in wealth accumulation, we discredit the overt racism and allow the racist outcome to continue with some other justification.

I wonder at what point Dreher and Douthat extend their criticism to those who held their noses.  At what point does the foreseeable and disastrous outcome preclude forgiveness on the basis of conflicted motivation?  I’d argue that it does a hell of a lot sooner than does Dreher or Douthat.