January 19, 2016: The day that Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for president. This date will be significant for one of two reasons. When we look back ten months from now, January 19 will either mark the point at which Trump consolidated his lead going into the Iowa primary, or the point at which–despite Palin’s endorsement of his rival–Senator Ted Cruz captured the conservative vote.
I won’t scoff and pretend that Palin’s endorsement means nothing. Quite the opposite. It means a lot. Ever since 2008, Sarah Palin has been a kingmaker of sorts; her endorsements boosting candidates who would have otherwise had a hard time breaking through.
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She even endorsed Ted Cruz during his 2012 senate campaign, saying:
“Your conservative principles, passionate defense of our Constitution and our free market system come at a time when these cornerstones of our freedom and prosperity are under attack. Our shared goal isn’t just to change the majority in control of the Senate, but to assure principled conservatives like you are there to fight for us.”
It’s hard for me to understand why Palin would endorse someone like Donald Trump when he’s proven time and time again that he is not a real conservative. His massive donations to Democrat candidates–including $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel in 2010–his untenable deportation plan, his prior support for partial-birth abortion and gun control, his ever-evolving stance on foreign policy, his complete lack of understanding regarding national security, his faux Christianity, and his demagoguing of the NRA show that Trump is simply a political opportunist, who goes where the votes are.
Trump even flipped the switch on Ted Cruz after the last debate.
Back in February 2014, Trump said of Cruz:
“Now one of the reasons that I like Ted Cruz so much, is that he is not controversial. The truth is, he shouldn’t be controversial because why he’s doing is right. He took a stand recently and it was a brave stand and had he really had a little backing, it might not have ended Obamacare, but you would have really gotten a big chunk out of it…But he really is a special guy. He’s now a very very popular and important figure in all of our lives.”
Following the debate, however, Trump changed his tune, telling ABC:
“Look, the truth is, he’s a nasty guy…Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him…he’s got an edge that’s not good. You can’t make deals with people like that and it’s not a good thing. It’s not a good thing for the country. Very nasty guy.”
So why would Palin endorse someone so–to quote Trump–nasty? I can’t know Palin’s mind, but I’m guessing it has to do with Trump’s “outsider” status.
Trump’s flashy, he’s brash, and he sticks it to Washington. Palin is very much the same way. She’s likely drawn to Trump because of their similarities. While Trump is certainly not conservative, he’s positioned himself as “the outsider.” Palin, much like the writers at Breitbart, seems to have been blinded by the sheer force of Trump’s personality. She’s been duped. Palin isn’t endorsing a real conservative, she’s endorsing a wrecking-ball. She’s under the shameful misapprehension that a President Trump will do more to change D.C. than will Ted Cruz.
Trump has truly developed a cult of personality–and it’s captured someone I once considered a conservative champion. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement.
Unfortunately, Palin got on the wrong ship. As National Review reports, the establishment views Trump much more favorably than Cruz:
“The developing feeling among House Republicans? Donald Trump is preferable to Ted Cruz. ‘If you look at Trump’s actual policies, they’re pretty thin. There’s not a lot of meat there,’ says one Republican member in Ryan’s inner circle…If Trump were to get the nomination, he would ‘be looking to answer the question: ‘Where’s the beef?’ And we will have that for him,’ says the member.”
I just hope Palin’s cachet among conservatives has faded, because the fate of our republic rests on this nomination.
This is the moment that will define the conservative movement. Will conservatives vote for someone who doesn’t share their values simply because a prominent conservative endorsed him? Or will conservatives be intelligent enough to see past the rhetoric, and look to what’s on the record?
If Palin’s endorsement puts Trump over the top in Iowa, and subsequently helps him snag the nomination, we’ll have our answer. Constitutional conservatism, brought to us by someone with personal integrity and extraordinary intelligence, will have lost to a loudmouth jackass with a big bank account.