On January 20, 2017, after losing the popular vote by nearly three million ballots, Donald Trump took office and instantly set records for having the lowest approval rating of any new President. There was no honeymoon; the man was instantly reviled by a majority of citizens and political commentators. Even Fox News, a news organization dedicated to the objectives of the Republican party, took issue with some of Trump’s statements. In short, for months now, it has been incredibly easy to find critics of President Trump calling for his defeat.
Despite this diverse and plentiful enmity against our sitting Republican President, a curious trend has emerged among self-proclaimed liberal Democrats: they are championing the criticisms of Trump’s conservative critics. All over social media, mainstream Democrats who had supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy have been sharing anti-Trump pieces by conservatives and seemingly rallying behind any Trump critic despite that critic’s political history and agenda. And they should stop. This practice serves only to the legitimize the Right, helping them further peddle their influence in a post-Trump America.
To many, it seemed not to matter that Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald was a supporter of both Ronald Reagan and George Bush, because he was the great Democratic hope running a string of anti-Trump articles. But despite Kurt’s truly impressive ability to be the only human on the planet who could make neo-conservative Tucker Carlson seem rational and even likeable in a debate, he is the least insane pick of the new Democratic heroes.
Millions of Democrats also seemed to forget Megyn Kelly spent years as the face of Fox News, selling Roger Aile’s agenda to discredit the Democrats at every turn. Nor did it matter that in a moment of jaw-dropping racism and/or cultural insensitivity, she once needed to explain to black children everywhere that the fictional character of Santa Claus was white. When Kelly took issue with Donald Trump’s overwhelming sexism—an issue that directly affected her as opposed to, y’know, caring at all about people of color—she received a stream of praise from liberals. How much praise? So much, that soon you will be able to tune in for her show on MSNBC. Just like that, Kelly went from attending Fox News barbecues with the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Neil Cavuto to sitting side by side with Rachel Maddow, and all she had to do was be disgusted by a man a majority of the country seems to find disgusting.
Without question, however, the most baffling candidate of newfound Democrat support is senior editor of The Atlantic, David Frum. Recently, my social media timelines have been besieged by Democratic friends sharing this lifelong neo-conservative’s critiques of Donald Trump. Frum has voted for every Republican President who has ever run, supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and drafted George W. Bush’s axis of evil speech that helped lead America into an immoral war in Iraq, causing the needless loss of thousands of lives. Yet none of that is relevant to those who keep sharing his articles and tweets because, apparently, Mr. Frum wants to warn us that Trump is on his way to creating an autocracy. Sure, you can get that opinion from the overwhelming majority of people in America, but for some reason Democrats want you to hear it from a speechwriter to a man they used to call the worst President in United States history.
“What’s the problem with that?” these Democrats say. “I might not agree with him/her on everything, but a good point is a good point!” The main problem is that what these people deem as a “good point” are those points with which they already agree. They assert it is fine to divorce a statement from the credibility or integrity of its speaker, essentially stating: “I can tell a liar is telling the truth when I agree with something he or she says.” Yet, these same people are incredulous that so many Trump voters did just that. Think of how many Trump supporters said, “Well, I may not like everything about Trump, but he’s right when he says our economy’s suffering, our foreign policy is flawed, or our healthcare system is failing.” How can such liberals praising conservative rhetoric be annoyed at voters who disregarded the monster of a man that Trump clearly is just because he echoed those voters’ own beliefs?
But there is a far deeper problem than hypocrisy. With each retweet, each Facebook share, each Medium think piece praising the anti-Trump assertions of conservatives, the Right becomes increasingly legitimized. Once we hold up someone like David Frum as a man of good ideas—on topics we already have opinions on—it becomes increasingly easy to accept his point of view on topics where our opinions are less-informed and more malleable.
With people like Frum given constant representation in our Democratic marketplace of ideas why would we be so quick to reject their opinions on more nuanced issues like fracking, regime change, or the virtues of a single payer health care system? Is it really so difficult to believe Democrats could be conditioned to accept those things they once found unacceptable? How many Democrats who were so rightfully angered by the due process abuses of Bush’s PATRIOT Act were completely unaware of the more constitutionally egregious provisions of sections 1021 and 1022 of Obama’s NDAA? How many people who insisted that Gitmo be closed seemed too willing to back-burner that issue during Obama’s Presidency? How many outraged by Bush’s foreign policy became resigned to the last eight years of constant war? For thirty years, mainstream Democrats have been ready to hold the center or step right. How else could there already be 7,000 garbage articles written about the glory of George W. Bush—a man who loved thwarting the Pro-Choice movement almost as much as he loved misleading a country into war—just because he can paint portraits worthy of a talented junior high school student?
In a world where basically five guys already own the whole of major news media, is the best path of Democratic resistance really finding conservatives to champion our fight against Trump? It sets such conservatives up as the reasonable alternative to our woefully inept President, which of course, is precisely why such commenters are peddling their influence in the first place. Not to join the growing resistance of the left, but to position their objectives and candidates as the worthy leaders of tomorrow.
Gladstone is the author of the
Internet Apocalypse Trilogy
of novels on Thomas Dunne Books. He has written for publications including Cracked, Slate, and Thrillist.