If I Lose Friends Over Trump, So Be It

From: thefederalist.com,  by Tom Nichols,  on Apr 26, 2016,  see the article HERE.

Cruz and Trump together

Donald Trump’s candidacy isn’t really about politics, which is why it divides people so deeply. It’s about revenge.

I have been thinking about Peter Wehner’s piece in the New York Times yesterday, in which he talks about the sadness of losing friends over Donald Trump’s candidacy. I have not—yet—lost any friends over Trump, but it’s possible. Unlike Wehner, I am less concerned about it. The Trump campaign is a test of character, and many Americans are failing it.

Put another way, if my opposition to Trump is going to cost me friends, then all I can say is: So be it.

I know people who are voting for Trump, including members of my family. I do not immediately find myself opposed to anyone who would vote for Trump; to the contrary, I find a lot of fertile ground for discussion and argument with conservative friends who disagree with me only about the lengths to which the “never Trump” movement should go. They might not be comfortable with Trump, but they will do anything to stop Hillary Clinton, and I understand that position.

By Now, You Know What You’re Getting

But I find almost nothing to say to people who are full-throated, enthusiastic Trump supporters, especially now. Back in August, I could console myself that most Trump supporters just didn’t know what they were getting into, and that they would return to their senses and regain their decency once they got a look at the unhinged huckster onto whom they’d signed.

As Jonathan Last noted recently, an attorney and blogger who calls himself “Thomas Crown” summed up this kind of voter in a recent article. Crown discussed one of his clients, a pseudonymous “Mrs. Martin” who was supporting a Trump she mostly knew through bits and pieces of information, none of them too close to the truth about the actual man. “Mrs. Martin” seems a decent sort, even if I’m having a bit of trouble believing that she’s as untouched by Trump’s reality as she claims.

All these months later, however, the pretense has to stop. Trump’s supporters are voracious consumers of his public and television appearances, and they now know what kind of man he is. With my friends and family who still cling to Trump, I never waver from my insistence, directly and firmly, that they are making a terrible mistake, and that Trump is making them worse people for being involved in his message. I still love them, and they still love me. (I think.)

Friendship With Political Opponents Is Possible

In a lifetime spent in and around politics, I actually haven’t lost many friends over political disagreements. In my academic life, I have always been part of a political minority; I once did a campus radio show with a colleague who admitted happily that during the 1960s he had denounced his father as a class enemy on national television. (He settled into being somewhat more of a conventional liberal 30 years later.) I doubt that being a conservative helped my early career, but few of the people I knew in those days broke even a casual friendship with me.

I also have liberal friends from my days working in politics. We stayed friends even as they and I worked for opposite sides, and while I wrote articles (and speeches for a GOP senator) excoriating their ideas and their party. Much like the sheepdog and the coyote in the old Warner Brothers’ cartoon, we would fight each other during the day, punch the clock, then go out and enjoy a friendship based in a common interest in politics, even if from different sides of the field.

But Trump’s candidacy isn’t really about politics, which is why it divides people so deeply. Trump and his views are ghastly in a way that goes beyond politics. They challenge our human decency and patriotism. That’s why they test not only our political associations but our friendships.

A Rant Is Not a Policy

Yes, fellow conservatives: Trump is worse than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Their policies are liberal, even leftist, often motivated by cheap politics, ego, and political grandstanding. But they are policies, understandable as such and opposable by political means.

Trump’s various rants, by contrast, do not amount to policies. They are ignorant tone poems, bad haikus, streams of words whose content has no real meaning. They’re not positions available either to the GOP or Democrats, because they do not contain a vision of the future over which those parties can fight.

In fact, Trump’s policies are not policies. They’re just feverish revenge fantasies. Trump, a scam artist whose entire career has been based on victimizing the working class, should be the target of that anger. Instead, he is encouraging Americans to turn their hostility away from him and against their fellow citizens, inviting us into a war of all against all over which he will preside as an amused dictator.

The division between Trump’s supporters and the rest of us is not about reconciling our political differences. It is not about opposing policies we hate. (Most of Trump’s policies are actually quite liberal, but that is irrelevant.) There are no real principles on the table here, only Trump’s demagogic stoking of incoherent and even paranoid rage.

Revenge Destroys Friendships

This is what destroys friendships. Trump’s supporters are now like roaring drunks in a bar fight, people who you might have tried to reason with five drinks earlier but now are just lashing out at everyone in every direction. Pumped up on talk radio conspiracies, overdosing on the venom of Sean Hannity and Judge Jeannine, comatose with irrational fury, they are no longer part of any sensible political debate in America.

This blind madness puts both political and emotional distance between Trump supporters and the rest of us. Most conservatives have already told Trump that we will not sell our character as Americans, and indeed our very souls, just to feel the pleasure of resentful anger for a few months. All we can do is to keep trying to talk our friends out of making that very mistake, or at best to hope that buyer’s remorse will set in.

Still, if anyone who knows me really believes I am now a traitor to my country because of the way I’m going to vote, then I can do without their friendship. If they end their relationship with me because Donald Trump has identified people like me as the source of their problems, then maybe we were not that close in the first place.

In the end, I can only say it again: if I lose a friend only because I am opposed to man who is, in my view, a mortal enemy of everything American, then so be it.

Tom Nichols is a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and an adjunct professor in the Harvard Extension School. Views expressed here are his own. Follow him on Twitter, @RadioFreeTom.


This article is one more chapter in a saga which is yet to end. My own sympathies parallel with Mr. Nichols’ as well as my estimation of Donald Trump. He has clarified something in my mind though, and that is that the gulf between Trump supporters and those of us who support Ted Cruz isn’t about plans and policies at all, in that area, there is no comparison. No, it is about what strikes an inner chord within us. Trump, the reality star, has used his acting talents to entice his supporters, who swoon at every recitation of his lines and apparently don’t care (or notice) that his lines are pretty much the same – the same talking points – the same simplistic memes on every occasion. They apparently don’t care how he accomplishes his promises – in fact, I doubt that they’ll hold him accountable if (when) he reneges on them. They’ve become “groupies,” camp followers, and as such will accept any activity on his part, because just being in his digitally-transmitted presence is good enough. It would hard to reestablish confidence and respect for someone who had contributed to the election of someone like Donald Trump, especially after waiting for years to have a real conservative as a candidate.

I heard Trump give a prepared speech today – using a teleprompter – and it was pathetic. No wonder he preferred to “wing it.” God help us if he is elected.


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37 replies

  1. Thank you for this. Trump is so very different. I’ve grumbled as Republicans won before and often consoled myself with thoughts that there are things they do very well. In this instance, I see only a collective temper tantrum manifesting itself in the form of a man so ignorant and malicious that I am genuinely afraid.

    …and I can’t help thinking that was exactly the point for many who voted for this man.


  2. Ooooh, drat! I wish I could have responded to THAT statement from Shane/SGC!! Alas . . .

    But we were discussing this contretemps over dinner, and my wife, the Divine Ms. MMMM (she was M cubed when we were dating, but I took her to a higher power!) stated the obvious!

    “If Trump wins the nomination, it’s time to Go GALT!”

    I smacked my forehead it was so obvious!

    In the mean time, I’m seeing so much discussion of tactical ways to prevent the Trump nomination. I don’t think the public discussion is actually beneficial. But the prevention of, or still birthing of, his nomination is something that must be sincerely contemplated!


  3. Guys and gals, “smallgovernmentconservative” is none other than Shane with a new moniker. His comments are coming from the exact same IP address that Shane’s came from, being

    Nice try Shane, but you are so busted.


  4. Trump may not be Patrick Henry, but neither is the Cuban-Canadian-Israeli:

    Cruz is very much a Washington insider and he’s not all that different philosophically from his peers on capital hill.
    He would like you to believe that it’s because he’s an outsider and anti-establishment candidate. But that’s not really the case.



    • So Cruz is a Washington insider and you know that how? Partner, your perspective is so tainted by your Paul-colored glasses (now tinting towards Trump orange) that you’re manufacturing “facts” out of personal opinions. It’s apparent the the one being fooled here is you, and by Donald Trump. I’ve been aware of Ted Cruz for some time, have researched his background and history and think I know his stance pretty well – I suspect that your knowledge of him is rooted in Trump sound bites. And if you believe that Cruz is a covert establishment candidate, well, you’re just easily influenced by a billionaire with small hands and a bad comb-over.


  5. All of you neocons who supported Bush’s DISASTROUS wars and then nominated McCain and Romney over Ron Paul…you’ve no one but yourselves to blame for Trump (and Obama btw).

    As a libertarian I’m tickled by the fact that you CINO’s are finally being exposed…even if you manage to sabotage Trump (as I predict you will) and ensure a Hillary (who’s more like you neocons than not) Presidency, the truth will be revealed for all to see.

    What Ron Paul began, Donald Trump will finish: Destruction of the original party of big-govt. (the Constitution-and-America-killing GOP). Anyone TRULY interested in more liberty…the Libertarian Party patiently awaits!


    • Well said Shane!

      As you can see from my name, the Conservative Movement (CoMo) has become so watered-down (largely thanks to that phony-baloney Ronald Reagan) that I have to actually SPECIFY that I’m a “SMALL” govt. con. I’m so sick of Big GoCo’s that I’m close to self-identifying as libertarian myself.

      Ron Paul was a principled, good, and honorable man who would’ve made a GREAT nominee–but these traits, I’m ashamed to say, aren’t very popular in today’s CoMo. Juan McAmnesty (how STUPID are Arizona Cons?!) and Mitt “Ted Kennedy Jr.” Romney are, apparently, the apex of ‘conservatism’ to many in the CoMo–which makes their opposition to Trump laughable.

      For many of us its now Trump-or-bust…he might be our last chance to undue the incalculable damage done to America by Reagan’s & Kennedy’s treasonous amnesty.


    • And “CINO”, hadn’t heard that one before! The CoMo is FULL of ’em!


      • Except Trump is not now, nor has he ever been, a conservative! He is a carnival barker playing you both as chumps using sound bites brash, yet vague, enough to allow you to read into them what YOU want to see! He’ll do none of it, if nominated and elected.

        Yet, you ignore the true small government conservative constitutionalist in the contest overtly because of his lineage.

        Yeah, both stances speak really highly of you as American patriots. NOT!


      • –curtmilr

        We had a chance to nominate possibly the greatest Constitutionalist in American history: Ron Paul.

        An overwhelming majority of the CoMo rejected him. So, please don’t give me any baloney about wanting one now.

        Now, we either try to undue Reagan’s amnesty and focus on America first, or we cease to exist as a nation.

        W/Trump there is a slim hope, w/Cruz (who is just a run-of-the-mill neocon) there is none.


      • Some of us, meaning me, were with Ron Paul from his first run for Congress, so cut the crap. You’re really undoubtedly a newbie by comparison.

        I won’t go into details as to why he failed as a national candidate, but it wasn’t constitutionality that did him in. He was, however tone deaf, and too enamored with the devotion of his cultist followers to reach a national audience.

        This is a trait shared by Trump, except Trump has none of the constitutionalist bona fides or policy chops that Dr. Paul had acquired thru the years in office.

        The Trumpians and are setting themselves and the nation up for a big disappointment. I won’t be party to helping create that disaster.


      • SGC, I have to hand it to you Paulites, you ARE persistent. Ron Paul, while a principled, good, and honorable man (as you said), he couldn’t convince enough voters to vote for him – he failed. Let it (him) go, he’s over and done with as a presidential candidate. What I can’t believe is that you could be both a supporter of Ron Paul and Donald Trump – that “solution” doesn’t compute – at all. You are berating us for voting for McCain and Romney – neither of whom we wanted, but we voted for them to try and keep Barack Obama out of the White House. If you can’t understand that, you’re beyond help.


      • Its interesting that most anti-Paul types NEVER wanted to debate principles in 2008 & 2012…the only thing I heard from them was “McCain/Romney are electable, Paul isn’t” (and McRomneys’ TROUNCING by Obama proved you people WRONG).

        How does it feel for the shoe to be on the other foot now? Trump is OBVIOUSLY the “most electable” Republican still standing and if he doesn’t get the nomination Hillary is a SHOE-IN.

        When will you people start listening to your betters? Nominate Trump and WIN a 40+ state landslide or…nominate GOP Hack and LOSE a 40+ state landslide.

        IMHO many of you are probably of the aging Boomer Generation, and therefore becoming out-of-touch w/the changing political climate. For the love of America…LISTEN TO YOUR BETTERS FOR ONCE!


      • Our betters? You have the unmitigated gall to THINK that you’re my better? Or any of the contributors to this blog. ANY of us are your intellectual betters – yet you come here and tell us that we don’t know shit? That’s such an asinine statement that it almost leaves me speechless. I guess we should expect that from an arrogant, spoiled, petulant brat who identifies with Donald Trump. I sincerely doubt that you are anyone’s better.

        BTW, bye bye.


  6. HINT: Mix in a few more non-Trump articles…it’ll help cover up your GOP-shilling.


    • Thanks for your helpful hint. Think we do too many Trump articles? Be sure to read the one I’m publishing tomorrow, you might learn something.


    • Good morning, Shane! Glad to have your input.

      It is faithful adherence to the Constitution that defines a true American.

      I’m from Texas. Cruz is my Senator, whom I helped elect to that body to do precisely what he has done: wrestle with the GOPe and fight the Demonrats tooth and nail. As a Christian, he stands beside Israel, who is our strongest, most vital American ally in that region, but he is not Israel first. He is America first, in the true sense. As a first term Senator his power to affect change in a system that has been corrupted by a lack of guiding constitutional principles and the overbearing influence of money, is limited. But his voice has been clearly heard as a genuine leader espousing the conservative, constitutional principles he is now campaigning on. You apparently reject both concepts, as is your right. But if you do, you can’t truly claim to be an American, just an occupant. You know, like the 11 million illegals ignored by the current political establishment, and fostered by its corruption.

      Which brings me to Trump. He has revealed total ignorance or abject rejection of constitutional principles. Nothing else, certainly not being a loud-mouthed braggart, indicates true political leadership. Trump has also bragged about using his wealth to bribe and otherwise influence the corrupted political establishment of both parties referred to above. Further, Trump’s foreign policy approach, of dictating to our allies and foes. is about as worthless as Obama not abiding by our established agreements. He will just a compound the ongoing disasters at greater costs.

      On the testimony of two witnesses, you can judge the case, and there are three. Trump has condemned himself. Not as a political loser! That may not happen! But as a loser as a patriotic American, upright statesman, and true ally. Some things he apparently has in common with you.

      Have a great day, and a good weekend!


    • Shane keeps forgetting that his hero, Ron Paul, is a self-declared conservative, that he helped elect Ronald Reagan and that he ran for POTUS as a Republican. But rabid libertarians tend to live by their own realities. It’s true, the Republican Party ain’t doing so well. Maybe Shane could update us on how the Libertarian candidate is doing.

      FYI, Shane is a one-trick pony. What you see here is all he’s got, but he never tires of saying it over and over again. He’s not here for a debate. Just wants to vent some anger. As I told him at my site, I’m not the least bit interested in his anger. I have my own anger to deal with. Besides, he hates this country and is just waiting to move to the land of freedom, otherwise known as Chile.


  7. Like Mr. Nichols I am perplexed at what’s happened. I too thought that when people realized Trump is no conservative that their inebriation over his refusal to be PC would quickly give way to remembering that they’ve been yearning for a conservative for 20 years or so. Instead, as Nichols points out, they’ve dug in their heels and gotten vicious with anyone who threatens to burst their bubble. That’s where I’ve seen the most revealing breakdown in character.

    The friendship question is, for me, an impossible conundrum. The roaring drunk in the bar fight may be a great guy when he’s sober but that doesn’t make the damage he does when he’s drunk any easier to accept.

    Where I differ from Nichols is that I DO care that Trump is a liberal. That, to me, is far more important than his nastiness, although, you really can’t separate the two. As I’ve said before, if Trump were a true conservative he wouldn’t behave in the petty, self-indulgent, asinine way that he does, so to speculate as to whether I’d support the asinine Donald if he were actually a conservative is moot. Donald’s behavior, perhaps more than anything else, is the most telling indication of his political philosophy.


    • I think that it’s a sad commentary on our country when an uncouth, petulant man is elevated to being a cult hero by a sizable portion of our electorate. If Trump were still a pre-teen, he might be forgiven with the thought that he would grow out of that kind of behavior, but The Donald is all grown up, at least physically, though he’s never matured emotionally and at his current age, that’s unlikely to change. What we see is what we’ll get and it won’t be pretty.

      He SAYS he cares about the country, but he cares not for what he can do for the country, but what the country can do for HIM – make him more billions.


    • If Cruz weren’t an Israeli-puppet and neocon he’d have a chance…unfortunately for GOP hacks, real Americans are tired of fighting wars for Israel and the U.N.


  8. I liked the allusion to drunks in a bar.

    Trump is addictive. When I finally got off Trump, I realized how many internal compromises I had to make:

    – Accepting his bullying of those who disagree with him, including his excessively-crude comments towards women

    – Self-proclaimed bribery of every politician

    – Suing to solve all his problems

    – Hypocrisy of his business practices to his rhetoric

    – Wanting to wield the out-of-control Washington bureaucracies for his agenda, not reduce/reform them

    – Wanting to dismantle republican electoral processes in favor of “democracy “, thereby creating change that would make even Obama blush

    – Having no clue what type of judges/Justices Trump will nominate

    Talk all you want about the faults of Cruz, he is still the only candidate I can be reasonably sure will try to govern with real conservative principles. My conscious is clear supporting him, because I would rather lose on those ides and principles than because we offered a terrible circus act as our nominee.


    • My compliments for quitting cold turkey, Mr. Kenobi. I can’t understand why so many who have fallen under his spell, can’t recognize those points that you list. They are all accurate and true representations of Donald Trump’s persona and they’re not positive attributes for someone who wants to be president. I agree with your stance on Ted Cruz as well and, like you, would rather lose with a principled candidate than win with a man who has exhibited no positive principles.


      • Hehe, thanks.

        As mentioned elsewhere, I’m guessing a big block of Trumpettes are driven purely by revenge…at the establishment, at Congress, at the executive. Trump is promising to get even with all of them without explicitly saying so. A faux Equalizer.

        Also, like the pull of gravity, the gas giant Trumpiter is attracting into its orbit the complete loons at the fringes of the Right.

        And like I was, there are many conservatives latched onto his movement for fear that his is the only path to victory. Time is running out but Cruz has to find a way to reach this segment.


  9. It’s true this election has been a test for many friendships, as we’ve discussed here before, and I supposed we’ll just have to see how it plays out. In some ways it’s as if we’ve turned into three parties – the Rs, the Ds, and the Trumpbots, which is a mixture of both, because while Trump is spewing about what the conservatives want to hear, but at his core, he’s really a democrat.

    One of the main dividing arguments is that Ted Cruz is stealing Trump’s ideas, when nothing could be further from the truth, but once that idea is planted in their heads, there’s no changing their minds with facts. Cruz started his campaign in March, spreading his stance on the issues and stating his intentions once elected. Trump announced his candidacy in June by yelling about the borders and the wall. Now who copied who?? It’s hard on friendships when one side won’t accept the facts.


  10. Garnet, I was working, so only read Trump’s speech. It read decently, but was mainly superficial, with goals both admirable in intent, but impractical or impossible in reality. There was no actual meat to it, but enactment of the goals would result in trade wars at best and shooting wars most likely.

    Still it appears that the GOP die is cast with Trump, to my chagrin. Whether this results in Hillary or Trump, I foresee disaster on the horizon, for the Party & the nation regardless who wins in November.


    • I only heard perhaps ten minutes or so, but at the time I was so taken by the staid, emotionless delivery that the contents didn’t even register. If Trump had delivered all of his speeches that way, we’d be calling Ted Cruz the presumptive nominee. It was awful.

      Since then, I was considering writing a piece on it. I located a transcript and read it fully. It was, as has been described elsewhere, contradictory, rambling, and sounds like Trump had a hand in writing it – it mimicked his style in the words – and left me about as unimpressed with the contents as I’d been with the delivery. It simply wasn’t indicative of someone who was qualified to be POTUS.

      I wish I could disagree with your summation of where we are with Trump and Hillary to “choose” from. I think I’d rather have a daily colonoscopy if that was a third option.


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