But as even minimally sentient Trumpified Republicans know, what Charen said at CPAC was true. NeverTrumpers haunt the conservative movement the way Polish or Czech dissident intellectuals such as Czeslaw Milosz and Vaclav Havel haunted that segment of Central European intelligentsia that made its peace with Stalinism after World War II.He probably really believes this, when in fact Trumpists view Never Trumpers the way Churchillians view Chamberlains.
The Trumpers (and Stalinists) traded conscience for power; the NeverTrumpers and dissidents chose the reverse. Conscience can be made to suffer, but in the end it usually wins.I can accept this as red meat for a NYTimes audience, but I don't think it's simply that. He genuinely believes this.
I write this as a parallel contest is taking shape within the Democratic Party, most visibly in the rift between traditional liberals and the social-justice warriors of what used to be the far left. Dianne Feinstein’s failure this week to claim her party’s nomination for the Senate seat she’s held since 1992 is another depressing indication that the rift is widening.She lost her seat because of identity politics, the thing "traditional liberals" have been pushing since at least the 1960s as a means to destroying the increasingly white Right.
One side believes in the power of reason, the possibility of persuasion, and the values of the Enlightenment. It champions social solidarity for the sake of empowering the individual, rather than creating a society of conformists. It doesn’t see compromise as a dirty word. Its belief in the benefits of civility and diversity does not override its commitment to free speech and independent thought.Importing foreigners so that you don't have to have a political debate is totally about reason and persuasion and the Enlightenment, and not raw power best characterized as warfare.
My advice to traditional liberals is not to repeat the establishment Republican mistake of not taking the threat of populist illiberalism seriously, and of not fighting it fiercely. The fabric of an open society is more frayed than most people realize, and it is coming unraveled from more than one end. What happened to the G.O.P. in 2016 could happen to the Democrats in 2020.What happened to the GOP is it woke up to the fact that Democrats won and successfully changed America. What's happening to the Democrats is the completion of their revolution: the removal of white faces. (((Traditional liberals))) have white faces.
There's a saying "you go bankrupt slowly, and then all at once." The intellectual collapse of conservatism and traditional liberalism is similar because ideology has turned into identity politics on all sides. What he's writing may have a grain of truth in there, but even he is blinded by identity and can't admit the underlying reality. The only traditional liberals remaining voted for Trump in 2016, they are GOP voters who still believe in ideas such as civic nationalism and color blindness. If anyone will "save America" in the way Mr. Stephens means, it is Trump voters. But his arguments ring hollow because it's not at all an intellectual or moral argument, but one based on his own identity.