Luther Strange had entered the United States Senate temporarily, hand-picked by now-disgraced former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to sit in the seat that became vacant when Jeff Sessions left the upper legislative chamber to head the Justice Department. On Tuesday night, the rest of Alabama’s Republicans came out to make their own pick. In an overwhelming victory, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore shellacked Mr. Strange in the Alabama Republican primary, and Justice Moore now is en route to succeeding Attorney General Sessions more long-term in the Senate.
The curiosity that grabbed the national news pundits is that President Donald Trump campaigned pretty seriously for Mr. Strange, even as others who are and have been strongly associated with the Trump base lined up solidly behind Judge Moore. Sarah Palin backed Moore. Steve Bannon backed Moore. A host of deeply conservative Congressional representatives including leaders of the House Freedom Caucus — people like Mark Meadows, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, and Jim Jordan — backed Moore. Dr. Ben Carson, Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, backed Moore. Jim DeMint, Mike Huckabee, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, even Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty backed Moore.
Despite Trump’s endorsement of the incumbent, the Chief Justice’s support within the Trump base came from so many more. Not Strange at all.
The Trump Haters among mainstream media pundits, Democrats, and college social-sciences professors guarding their campuses’ safe spaces, cocoa packets, and Play-Doh cans will find reason to rejoice: Trump’s candidate lost! The ownership of the Dallas Cowboys, who this past Sunday officially renounced their once-vaunted status as “America’s team,” will find reason to kneel. Colin Kaepernick will enjoy a few moments’ respite from realizing that, like Hillary Clinton, he remains unemployed. And the Republican establishment’s “Never Trump” echo chamber will take solace: Trump’s candidate lost! All will hope and pray and induce themselves into believing that Trump’s base has abandoned him, that we have witnessed the beginning of the end. And that inference will be strange indeed.
Trump’s base never has been tighter, and the selection by Alabama’s Republicans — no George [middle initial(s)] Bushes they — reinforces the degree to which the Trump Movement even transcends Donald J. Trump himself. That Trump base believes solidly not in the people he says he endorses but in the ideas he has espoused, the policy positions he has taken, and the promises he has made.
Despite the beliefs of the pseudo-intellects of the Left who deem every conservative in America to be troglodytic, the Trump base are not stupid. They easily could discern the difference between a pro forma Trump endorsement of a candidate who had proven loyal to him through a few rocky months versus a true paradigm shift in ideology. Trump may be presumed to have felt a sense of loyalty to Strange because Strange stuck with him through the early months of Trump’s administration. Strange backed Trump on the entry bans. Strange supported repealing Obamacare. He was no quirky McCain. He was more dependable than Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. He was a Trump team player. Thus, Trump backers understood that the President was in a bit of a pickle, owing a fundamental loyalty to someone who never had swayed from supporting Trump’s agenda. The decent thing for Trump was to support Strange. Some of us call that: “being a mensch.” That is, if Trump really came to clean the swamp, part of that sterilization process required of him that he avoid the bacteria of disloyalty, duplicity, double-dealing, and selling out a teammate merely based on the direction of the wind current. Whatever the cost, a decent person stands by people who have stood by him or her.
Yet Trump’s backers looked beyond Trump’s words and, like any discerning person who ever has been mentored well, looked to the substance. Chief Justice Roy Moore has been a hero for so many American conservatives. He was removed from his duly elected judicial position when he refused to remove from his courthouse a monument to the Ten Commandments he had commissioned. But, exhibiting proto-Trump strength, he did not back down. He later gained election again to his judicial position, and he thereafter ran into a new controversy by challenging the Obergefell decision of the United States Supreme Court. Unable to comply with the necessary dictates of stare decisis, he ultimately came to see that, if judges must interpret the law but never be the ones who make law, it devolved on him to advance his views by seeking legislative office.
The Moore election victory, by a thumping margin of some ten percentage points, brings home that the Trump base thinks for itself, knows what it believes, and understands how to understand Trump himself. While pundits debate whether Trump really is conservative or now has become a liberal bedmate of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the base continually has had Trump figured out. They look and see beyond the willful blindness of the leftist media and entertainment worlds:
President Trump had a chance to name a United States Supreme Court justice, and he went with Neil Gorsuch, choosing someone as close to Antonin Scalia’s judicial philosophy as can be found among the nation’s appellate judges. He made sure the nomination was secured for passage by leveraging Harry Reid’s corruption to assure Senate consent by a simple majority. Since then, all of Trump’s judicial appointments have been of equally impeccable conservative vintage.
Trump’s entry ban? As conservative as it comes. The wall? He still is pushing to build it. Illegal immigration? Down nearly seventy percent. Sheriff Arpaio? Free as a bird raised like a phoenix. Taxes? Still committed to cutting ’em like crazy. American strength? Ready to pulverize the Pyongyang Doughboy. Kaepernick and the other America-haters? Boycott the NFL. Israel? No longer are Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to be slandered as wrongful, and also will move America’s Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as soon as the fitting moment arrives. Obama regulations? Eradicating them down one by one, playing an improved game of “Administrative Law Whack-a-Mole” where, once struck down, they do not again pop up.
This guy is not a conservative? His Secretary of Education finally is ending the despicable Obama-era “guidance” that deprived hundreds of falsely accused college students the full menu of due process legal rights to defend themselves when accused. His Environmental Secretary is a conservative’s dream come true. Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development. Mad Dog Mattis. Jeff Sessions at Justice. Tom Price at Health. Rick Perry at Energy. Mike Pence in the Vice Presidency.
Not conservative enough? Compare Trump’s cabinet to that of Ronald Reagan. His base gets Trump. The Washington Post cannot read him — too much darkness in that newsroom to grasp the democracy. The New York Times is flummoxed. The CNN-ABC-NBC-CBS-MSNBC cabal channels find themselves chasing their tails thinking they have him figured out, yet emerge daily in utter confusion. Utterly unable to figure him out, they run stories suggesting that he is crazy — as opposed to, say, Maxine Waters.
The base well understands that Trump cannot stand Schumer or Pelosi. It’s just that he wants to get something done — finally. So, by digesting a dinner alongside his two Democrat nemeses, he sends a message to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan: “Listen, fellas. It’s been lovely. Really. A wonderful seven months. Reince told me how effectively the Republicans can govern. But now it’s time for me to get to work. If you cannot get anything done, that is between you and your constituencies, but I am here to get something done. Texas just got blown to pieces, and the people in the Lone Star State need help yesterday. Not when you finally draft a piece of beautiful legislation and then get a CBO scoring that blows it up. Not when you run head-first into a filibuster or devise a Hurricane Harvey compromise that ends up sending two room dehumidifiers to Houston and three water buckets to Galveston. So tell the Grand Old Party that tomorrow will be another day, but meantime I’m gonna sit with those two jerks Schumer and Pelosi and get some immediate relief to Texas, whatever it takes. And you can draw conclusions and connect all the dots you like to figure out whether I mean business when I say that I will start working with them instead of the GOP if you guys cannot get your acts together. Remember the Alamo.”
The Trump base gets Trump. He is loyal to his people. He gets things done. He will work within the contours circumscribed by American law, but he will get things done. The exact opposite of the autocratic dictator-wannabe that Obama was, Trump will not rule by executive fiat that defies the legislative chamber but instead will get things done the way the Constitution requires. This is Trump. His base knows it. And they know that, in an election between a Trump-loyal but politically suspect Luther Strange, who backed his conservative agenda consistently because he had no other realistic political option as a Republican from Alabama, and a substantively rock-solid conservative-in-the-guts Roy Moore, not only will Trump find a way to work with Moore, too, but he will love working with Moore more and more.
Not Strange at all.