The conservatives’ sin, and I’m part of this, and a lot of us in the conservative movement are part of this by acting as though every hill that was worthy of fighting on was also worthy of dying on, meaning it wasn’t just that everything is bad, it’s that everything is at the ultimate crisis point, and if we don’t stop it right now, the world ends. That leads to this kind of panic, OK, who’s the guy who is the most famous, has the biggest name recognition, is the angriest, will fight the hardest. That was a mistake. It’s possible to be urgent without being alarmist, and I think that we have to be careful about that in the future.Yes, Shapiro is actually saying that Trump's rise is the fault of the voters who chose him and the political environment they dwell in. A radical idea, I know.
Well, it does seem radical, because so many people seem to believe that Trump is liberals' fault. As Republican operative Karol Markowicz wrote last summer, we liberals described past GOP nominees in such alarmist terms that GOP voters were simply desensitized in this election season:
Mitt Romney ... George W. Bush, John McCain, and any Republican who has the audacity to challenge a Democrat for the presidency are treated to ever more alarmist rhetoric. Every gaffe, every uncorroborated story is blown up by a media seemingly unaware of its extreme bias....Markowicz's theory gained such wide currency that even Bill Maher seemed to be invoking it this past weekend on his TV show:
So in 2016 when there is a Republican candidate who might be, actually, dangerous, it’s unsurprising that many mainstream Republicans don’t care. It’s too late for the media to say “no, no, we really mean it this time.” Republican Never Trumpers, like myself, find that when we call Donald Trump scary or unfit, voters have heard it so often before -- and about people like mild-mannered, decent, knowledgeable Mitt Romney -- that it doesn’t resonate at all.
Maher admitted to being too harsh in criticizing Republican candidates before Trump, acknowledging that they wouldn't have been the "end of the world."But conservatives never believed any of our critiques of Romney, McCain, Bush, or any other past Republican. So why would our words have such an impact on the GOP's candidate choice this year? Does that make any sense?
"I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy [George W.] Bush like he was the end of the world, and he wasn’t," he said. "And Mitt Romney we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney."
Maher said neither Romney nor Sen. John McCain would have "changed my life that much" if they'd defeated President Obama.
"They were honorable men who we disagreed with and we should have kept it that way," he said. "So we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different."
Shapiro's theory is much more plausible. Conservatives listen to other conservatives. And what those other conservatives have been saying for years is that every moment is a crisis point, with the fate of civilization at stake, all because of Democrats who are so evil they need to be exterminated en masse. Say that often enough and, yes, maybe the only solution seems to be voting in the larger-the-life rageoholic extremist.
I don't agree with Ben Shapiro on much, but he's right: Conservatives work one another up to greater and greater levels of outrage, and come to believe that only radical remedies will save them. So this year they went for Trump. It was their own hyperbole that led them to that choice. It wasn't any hyperbole on our part.