President Donald Trump retains the support of his voters, in spite of legislative struggles and media crises, because he has largely kept his promises to his base, and because he fights the mainstream media, who have been bullying conservatives for decades.
Yet there is another, underlying reason that Trump’s voters back him through thick and thin, and it has to do with the Constitution, whose relevance the left and the media have only belatedly discovered.
The roots of today’s crisis date back to 2008 (though, as Mark Levin points out in his new book, Rediscovering Americanism, the assault on the Founders’ vision of limited government has been going on for the past century.)
Two critical events happened in 2008. One was the election of Barack Obama, after he declared his goal of “fundamentally transforming” America. The other was the passage, that same day, of California’s Proposition 8.
To the left, the idea of “fundamentally transforming” America was neither new nor surprising. For the past several decades, the left has spread the idea that the United States is still defined by the original sin of slavery. The Critical Race Theory in which Obama was steeped at Harvard and the University of Chicago held that without expanding the Constitution to incorporate socioeconomic rights, and to mandate economic redistribution, that sin persisted.
Conservatives embrace the traditional view of America’s founding as a fundamental moral break with the past, one that articulated timeless principles of liberty that were destined to be extended to every individual. “Fundamentally transforming” that social compact means throwing the baby out with the bathwater — destroying all that is right in our constitutional system in order to address its inequities, and in the end having neither freedom nor equality.
The Republican establishment was not equal to the task of defending the Constitution, crowning two nominees in succession who could not or would not make the case against Obama. The Tea Party arose in response, dislodging establishment Republicans en route to victory in 2010 and 2014. But the Republican leaders that emerged failed to stop Obama or face down his media allies. And so the party base turned to a fighter, i.e. Trump, as the answer.
Proposition 8 was the state constitutional amendment passed by California voters to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It galvanized the gay rights movement, which fought for — and soon won — the right to same-sex marriage.
But along the way, the courts overturned the democratic will of the people, discovering that marriage as it had always been had no “rational” basis. Gay marriage was achieved, effectively, by a judicial power grab.
And so the lessons the media and the left have taught conservatives over the past nine years are that civility loses at the ballot box, and that votes do not count anyway. That is why Trump supporters tolerate his rhetorical excesses, and his complaints about checks and balances that restrain his power.
They might prefer a more respectful public discourse, and that the president better understood the constraints on his authority (which, thus far, he has obeyed). But Democrats do not obey those principles (or even seem conscious of the fact that they are breaking them), while Republicans who play by the rules are always destroyed.
In Trump, conservative Americans found a weapon with which to push back.
Those on the left and in the media who want to restore civility to our public life should reconsider their radical ambitions, and the undemocratic means through which they have sought to achieve them.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.