Silver Lining's Candidacy
This afternoon my fantastic father, as he is wont to do, emailed me a story from PowerLine wherein Steven Hayward dissects the reaction of mainstream media types to Donald Trump’s recent call for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Putting aside for a moment the fact that I’d already seen the story in my Feedly, the piece highlighted what I think is a silver lining to Trump’s candidacy, abhorrent and nonsensical as it has generally otherwise been.
Hayward examines the media’s reactions through the microcosm that is the NBC Nightly News report from Tuesday evening. He rightly points out that while Trump is essentially the GOP’s worst nightmare at any given moment of the 2016 election cycle, he is simultaneously the media’s best friend. Hayward observes that from a traditional journalist’s point of view,
covering presidential campaigns is really boring. Most leading candidates are fairly disciplined, and stick to a standard stump speech. They don’t make a lot of national news, with the exception of having to respond to events (or in this case, respond to Trump). If you’re covering Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio right now, you aren’t getting much broadcast airtime or front-page space. Covering Trump has to be the best thing since the invention of moveable type: you never know what he’s going to say.
Now it first must be noted that this is inherently dangerous to the Republican field. If Trump were to somehow win the nomination after continuing to spout as he has, he would thereby become the de facto poster boy of the party. At which point, those in the Democratic opposition will continue to have at their disposal a panoply of examples with which to exclaim, “You see what absolute lunacy conservatives and Republicans stand for?!?!” and the prospect of a Republican being elected president might well be doomed.
However, should Trump continue to absorb fire from the left by being himself to his fullest potential only to not earn the Republican nomination, the eventual nominee will seem starkly sane and reasonable in contrast. This is perhaps not true for the media or dedicated Democrats, who will always find ways to portray conservative and libertarian types as the very incarnation of evil. But perhaps to my more moderate or independent millennial contemporaries, a great many of the current field of GOP candidates might seem quite appealing in comparison once it comes time to cast votes.
The silver lining to Trump’s candidacy is exactly the characteristic at which myself and others commence to eye rolling on a daily basis, and it’s precisely why he will not be the Republican presidential candidate on the ballot come next November. Simply by being his loathsome oafish self he is effectively throwing his doughy body atop the media hand grenade, and whether it’s his or his campaign’s conscious decision or not, he is clearing the path for a real conservative to earn the nomination.
I dislike Trump greatly, but much as he is hated by many conservatives and progressives alike, I do believe he’s contributing a net positive to America’s political environment.
And just so we’re clear, Jimmy Carter enacted a pretty similar proposal to Trump’s in 1980:
Fourth, the Secretary of Treasury [State] and the Attorney General will invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.