This is for the people, like me, who realized sometime between June 2015 and June 2016 that Donald Trump is at least better than Hillary and possibly a transformational character who can reverse America’s descent into chaos.
“A leader is a man who can adapt principles to circumstances.”
– General George Patton Jr
You might think this post is an attempt to reach #NeverTrumpers and bring them on board the Trump Train. I wouldn’t do that. Those #NeverTrump people are emotionally unreachable. They have barricaded themselves inside a perfect world that never existed. I published Turning On Trump as a last lifeline to the NeverTrumpers, but most slapped the line away, rejecting life in the real world. Switching metaphors, more than one NeverTrumper told me, “this is the hill I want to die on.”
#NeverTrump people, the dozen or so remaining, believe being principled means making perfect the enemy of good. Because of that limiting belief, #NeverTrumpers turned on Ted Cruz yesterday, as viciously as they turned on their other friends and loved ones who support Trump.
Senator Ted Cruz never went #NeverTrump, but a lot of NeverTrumpers believed he had. Glenn Beck, Dana Loesch, Ben Howe, and Erick Erickson expressed emotions ranging from depression to rage. Most of their comments centered around #NeverTrump’s disordered view of what “principled” means.
What Are Principles?
While people recognize many principles, most people recognize security as a key principle. Security is so important that, without it, no other principles are possible. In his book Principle-Centered Leadership, Steven Covey argues there are four fundamental dimensions of life: security, guidance, power, and wisdom. He argues that principles are external. They are the lay of the land. Values, on the other hand, are internal. Values are the filters through which we see the land.
In other words, principles are observed and tested facts. Principles are the way the world really works. Values are how we navigate that world, and our navigation requires well-ordered security, guidance, power, and wisdom.
A friend (and unswerving conservatives) was a Cruz delegate from Missouri. You know him: State Senator John Lamping.
When Cruz dropped out and Trump’s nomination became certain, Senator Lamping immediately switched to Trump. Lamping’s example highlights Covey’s idea of principles and values. He sees principles as the way life works, and he used security, wisdom, guidance, and power to advance his values given that reality.
Politics is like war, and commander’s intent comes into play. Our intent is a more perfect union to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our descendants. When we find the situation on the battlefield to be different than we expected, we don’t abandon the fight and go back to the commander for a new plan. We do what’s necessary to achieve the objective.
This Cruz delegate did that. He realized that, with Antonin Scalia’s chair empty, a Clinton win would mean a final loss of that key objective. Rather than waiting for instructions, he improvised. He redirected his fire. Lamping sought to achieve the commander’s intent. He used his power to win, his guidance to choose tactics, his wisdom to break from past tactics, and his need for security to attack with vigor.
We call Lamping’s example “leadership.”
I’m pretty sure #NeverTrump would disagree with Covey and Lamping. Those #NeverTrumpers apparently see principles as internal and boolean. They also seem to believe principles are unseverable. Unseverable meaning every “principle” is equally important.
#NeverTrump’s Perverted Principles
To #NeverTrump, a person who agrees with 99 percent of our principles is as evil and dangerous as the person who agrees with zero percent. NeverTrumpers demand complete allegiance to every position they personally hold. Deviation is deviance. Deviance is a sin.
To #NeverTrump, there is no such thing as more conservative or less conservative. There is conservative, and there is progressive, and any amount of deviation from their orthodoxy is a total rejection of their orthodoxy.
According to Beck, Loesch, Erickson and their ilk, Ted Cruz exposed himself as “unprincipled” by endorsing Trump. Therefore, to the tiny and shrinking colony of #NeverTrump, Ted Cruz is no better than a progressive.
That light you see on the #NeverTrump hill is not John Winthrop’s shining city. It’s a colony of cultists setting themselves ablaze.
Also published on Medium.