The Corner

Politics & Policy

Personality vs. Party

Pretty much every day, I hear or see people arguing, shouting, screaming, or even threatening that all Republicans must give Donald Trump more or less unqualified support. Some very smart people even suggest that “sniping” at Donald Trump is out of bounds. I’m not going to revisit all those arguments.

But one thing I find interesting is how so many people couch these arguments in terms of party loyalty. Wade through the replies in my Twitter feed someday and you will find literally hundreds of people shouting, “It’s us or them! If you don’t like Trump, become a Democrat or a liberal!” And, of course, a thousand varieties of “RINO!”

So, actually, that’s not the interesting part. That’s old news. What does intrigue me is how most of these same people feel no reluctance whatsoever to heap scorn and ridicule on the Republican House and Senate — and the GOP leadership, in particular — whenever it helps Trump.

Do you see the disconnect? If the anger from Trump defenders was really about defending the party, you wouldn’t expect this much vitriol against elected Republican leaders — a great many of whom outperformed Donald Trump in 2016 and outpoll him among Republicans.

Now, when the criticism is valid, I have zero problem with criticizing any Republican, be it Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, or Donald Trump. But that doesn’t seem to be the rule for a lot of Trump supporters. They seem to have mirrored Trump’s own stance of always finding someone other than Trump to blame. That’s annoying and silly on its own terms. But it is particularly pathetic to wrap yourself in partisan loyalty when it helps Trump and then instantly opt to piss on the party from a great height when that suits his purposes.

If you always end up arguing that one leader can do no wrong, you aren’t really a member of a party, you’re a member of a cult of personality.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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