Credit where due: Erick Erickson has been on a roll recently. He’s been posting cute animal stuff to help maintain a little sanity, calling out Democrat policy where it’s failed, and recognizing when Democrats act inappropriately, but the majority of his attacks have been leveled at the people who most deserve it: Trump, his enablers, and his cult. It is good to see him so energized, and if I were to look only at the beginning and the end of the Trump Presidency I would see a man who was standing up against the cult at both significant financial and personal cost.
There’s that middle, though…
Erickson was firm in defense of liberty for a few months of the Trump Presidency and even went so far as to give free blogging space to a number of RedState writers who had been fired for not being pro-Trump. (During the actual election cycle, RedState – now a haven for the cult – was a rare holdout, presenting different conservative views in addition to the ravings of flavor-of-the-day populists who were trying to steal the conservative banner.) After a few months of political pressure and a fiscal hit (he has reported a few family medical issues over the last five years) he buckled.
The slide of Erick followed what had become a familiar pattern. He first started to focus on the occasional items that the Trump Administration was correct about. This wasn’t hard; from some of the Israel policy to the stance of Ajit Pai on Net Neutrality to rolling back the decision to seize some public lands for federal ownership, Trump, whether accidentally, intentionally or because he saw personal gain in the action, has on rare occasions either made the right decision or (I tend to believe) had staffers who made the right decision which he then took credit for. Then he started to conveniently forget his own arguments, made against Obama, when Trump claimed credit for things (this is always most notable on the economy, where people who focused on spending and artificial inflation of the stock markets were suddenly cheering Dow Jones numbers instead.) Then he made some noises about judging too harshly and too early. Then he went all-in, attacking people who continued to stand against Trump.
As I said, we’d seen it before and we’ve seen it since. Whether it was money and influence at the top levels or simple peer pressure at the lower levels, the shift happened. In many cases, because they’d now committed and needed to expiate their sin of heresy, they became the most vocal and enthusiastic of cult members.
But Erick… he’s come back.
I particularly like that one because it not only slams the current failure but reminds the cultists of their blatant hypocrisy from just two years ago. There are others.
Erick is, in this case, an early adopter. He is taking the point on what is going to be a concerted effort of the Republican old guard to retake their party. They have been champing at the bit to break from Trumpism, even as they’ve been backing and encouraging him for the duration of his Presidency. Erick is staking out his side, and it is not the side of Sean Hannity.
Erick is a smart man, and an experienced one. He will be a helpful operative for the Republicans as they attempt to reinstate conservatism as a driving concept behind the party. He will be among those who cheers the day when the era of Trump is over. And he will do so while not accepting the notion that somehow, being anti-Trump means that one must become a Democrat.
This is why the Republican party isn’t dead, and why it is not likely to die unless it is pushed in that direction by giving people an alternative party to which they can jump. At worst, the nationalists will win the internal faction fight for a little while longer and the Republicans will learn to accept it as merely a fringe of their group, in the same way the Democrats have accepted the socialists as an influential fringe of theirs – something to which they throw occasional bones and may even secretly agree with but which they recognize is politically poisonous. At best, there will be another Buckley-style purge, or a minor version thereof (think back to the 80’s, with David Duke being kicked out of the party, Reagan refusing to let Roger Stone work on his campaigns and Ron Paul quitting the party because he hated Reagan so much.)
That second option seems good, until it’s recognized that the people in charge are likely to be the same ones who steadily enabled Trump for four years, and turned a blind eye to the growth of anti-freedom grievance politics in their party for years prior.
Erick, it’s great to have you back. I will laugh when you make good jokes, I will nod when you deliver salient points, I will cheer when you speak glowingly in defense of liberty and human rights both domestically and internationally. But I do not trust you, and I will not follow you. Not now, and not twenty years from now. As long as prominent Republicans associate with you, I will not associate with them, because you were among the mass who helped keep Trump in power.
I can forgive, but I will not forget.