Aren’t You Embarrassed?

Donald Trump. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.)

It’s become immensely embarrassing to be a conservative in the United States.

Many of us have coped with that embarrassment by reregistering as independents. A few found it so intolerable that they changed their views on policy altogether. I’ve resisted that temptation as a matter of intellectual integrity, but I understand it. The shame one feels at being associated with the modern right might conceivably burn so hot that it can be cooled only by embracing an adversarial party.

Or, perhaps, some of those wayward conservatives who moved left did so because they no longer trust the good intentions of their former comrades. The wisdom of right-wing cultural policies may take on a different complexion when championed most visibly by authoritarians. And the leftist critique of those policies as dangerous and illiberal may hit harder.

Wherever you sit on the spectrum of disaffected right-wingers, you’re likely nagged by the sense that you’re no longer sure what your old comrades in the conservative movement are capable of. I torment myself regularly by wondering how many rank-and-file Republicans would have condoned a coup by Trump in 2020 if he had found some quasi-legal way to pull it off, giving it a patina of legitimacy.

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