Over the holidays, I paid a visit to my old stomping grounds on conservative forums and social media to see how much has changed since I left, if at all. I noticed that the corralling mentality and cajoling to present a united front to the opposition in the absence of policy consensus has grown much worse than I remember; or perhaps I may have never noticed it as much as I do now.
For instance, I pulled up a post on the resignation and then firing of Defense Secretary Mattis over Trump’s abrupt choice to pull our troops out of Syria. It was a complete barrage of negativity, much of it quoting Trump as saying that our allies in Coalition Against ISIS are rich countries who can do the fighting if they believe the fighting needs to be done.
There was no mention of the Syrian Kurds as an ally, much less as an ally with the most to lose and to whom much was promised, and in my view the conversation was lacking the depth necessary to form an opinion one way or another. They seemed to have no idea of the role played by Turkey in the creation of ISIS in trade of goods and arms, and specifically of Turkey’s role in the fall of Kobane: shutting the boarder gates to refugees being pursued by ISIS and standing by watching from the hillside as the carnage unfolded.
Yet, regarding Republicans in congress who oppose Trump’s decision, there was an exasperation expressed in the assertion of maintaining a united front against criticism rather than trying to understand why they might be opposed – to perhaps not leave the Kurds to slaughter by Turkey.
In my view, there is a lack of humanity in the choice Trump has made regarding withdrawal of our troops from Syria that echoes something like the fall of Saigon. But the difference here is that it isn’t difficult to deter Turkey from carrying out its dark ambitions toward the Kurds just by being in the area while diplomatic work of forging a political settlement between Turkey and Kurds in Syria that would allow the Kurds to police themselves in exchange for peace is completed. Then we can leave. But my old conservative friends don’t want to hear it because protecting Trump who is neglecting the work required to withdraw troops from Syria responsibly is so much more important than preventing gratuitously indiscriminate taking of innocent lives a world away.
It’s disgusting and makes me want to bawl.
This isn’t the only issue where there’s a huge blind spot either. Regarding Chief Justice Roberts being the swing vote for upholding the stay on Trump’s order that denies asylum claims to people who enter the US illegally, none of my old friends bothered to read the lower court’s decision to implement the stay and compare it what the law says regarding who can make an asylum claim and when. There are very few limitations on making an asylum claim, and the law says explicitly that such claims can be made either inside or outside of the country. Robert’s choice was a reasonable one. Instead of pointing out that perhaps the law is thing generating their displeasure, the discussion of the matter was entirely personal toward Justice Roberts, going to the level of raking his foreign-born adopted children over the coals because, certainly, what Trump wants is the important thing – to hell with the law.
Conservatives are in a bad place philosophically right now with almost no substance, and nothing Reaganesque or noble left in them. The utter mess left behind Trump’s brashness without a purpose isn’t worth owning. They need to let go of him and save themselves.