If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, Donald J. Trump is likely to become the next president of the United States. Paul Ryan’s little Kabuki-theater piece demonstrates that the GOP establishment either has made, or is about to make, its peace with Trump.
The organization I work with, the American Principles Project (APP), is now pro-Trump. Many good people, faced with what one of them called the “binary choice” between Trump and Hillary, have no problem choosing Trump. As I wrote last week, Trump has positioned himself as a social conservative. He has promised to appoint good justices and to sign a ban on late-term abortion. I’ve voted before for Republicans (Romney, McCain) whose social conservatism was mostly nominal. What’s different now?
Why won’t I join Team Trump?
1. The first reality is that the world has changed: President Obama has put in place throughout the federal government the regulatory infrastructure to redefine as the equivalent of Jim Crow racism the understandings of sex and marriage that are held by traditional Christians (and others). He is using the power of the federal government to impose his morality on the whole American people. Huge parts of the GOP are either joining the Left or standing down. This is not a battle about one issue; it’s a battle to make orthodox Christianity illegitimate and unacceptable in America, to punish and stigmatize it. The courage to fight this framing and this infrastructure is priority number one for me. I don’t see how I can tell people they should elect a Republican willing to surrender.
Donald Trump’s supporters tell me that he fights political correctness and they assume he will fight this, too. But he has signaled pretty strongly his unwillingness to fight anything the Left deems “anti-gay.” Trump learned, in the days when he threw Carrie Prejean under the bus, the power of this movement to hurt his core business interests. He’s just not going to take that fight on. He said as much when he was asked by APP, the Heritage Foundation, and the Family Research Council in January whether he would prioritize passing the First Amendment Defense Act in his first 100 days of office. He said, basically, no, he would leave it up to Congress. Watch him say he’s for traditional marriage and then change the subject. He’s clear and honest about the fact that this is not a hill he’s willing to die on.
After five judges in Obergefell imposed gay marriage, to name one example, Donald Trump issued no statement, wrote no op-ed, and basically didn’t seem to care about the issue at all. During a CNN interview, Jake Tapper asked him about it. He said he’s for traditional marriage, and that he has a great wife. That’s about it.
Here is the Donald when he doesn’t want to talk about a controversial issue:
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.