Traveling this week in California and Texas, I was struck again by how every political discussion is about Donald Trump. People who used to bring up state races—“We’ve got a hot election for governor going on here”—rarely mention them, and immediately revert to the national. Like no other president in my lifetime, he obsesses the nation.
I heard two things that stuck with me and reminded me of what a lot of us know is the special tragedy of this moment—that most people on both sides of the pro- and anti- Trump divide are trying to be constructive, to think seriously and help the country. That is what makes our division so poignant.
A rock-solid Republican, a veteran of the Reagan wars who knows what it is to have all forces arrayed against you, spoke of opposing Mr. Trump. It isn’t a matter of style or snobbery, isn’t knee-jerk. The veteran said: People who are for Trump always say “Look, he’s got an unfortunate character and temperament, but he’s good on regulation, good on the courts.” The problem, the veteran said, is the but. Once you get to the but, you are normalizing him—you are making him normal, which means you are guaranteeing a future of President Trumps. That means you have lowered the presidency forever, changed it forever, just when the world’s problems are more dangerous, and thoughtfulness and wisdom more needed.
The veteran is trying to be protective, and a patriot.
Trump supporters, on the other hand, chose him and back him because he isn’t normal. They’d tried normal! It didn’t work! Of course he’s a brute, but his brutishness was the only thing that could surprise Washington, scare it, make it reform. Both parties are corrupt and look out only for themselves; he’s the one who wouldn’t be in hock to them and their donors. Is he weird? Yes. But it’s a weird country now. He’s the only one big enough to push back against what’s pushing us.
To continue reading Peggy Noonan on the Wall Street Journal click here.