Following defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and the failure of their attempt to restore the deposed James II to the English throne, upwards of ten thousand Irish soldiers boarded the ships of their French allies and sailed to France. They were the Wild Geese of Irish lore, the exiles who would thereafter fight and die in the service of foreign kings in foreign lands, never to see home again.
Perhaps with just a touch of self-aggrandizing melodrama, I fancy myself a wild goose, together with my unyielding and unrepentant Never Trump brothers and sisters who were formerly stalwarts in the Republican Party, all of us self-exiled from the Trump GOP and fighting at the side of people we do not know and for whom we often do not particularly care. No Irishman from the hinterland of County Mayo wandering about in Paris in 1692 was more bewildered than I sometimes am by the company in which I now find myself and by the language they speak.
Consider but three of the many ways that cultural and political dissonance afflict Never Trump Wild Geese. First, I am often a racist by default without having done or said anything smacking of racial prejudice. U.S. Representative Ayanna Presley, a charter member of the Squad, stated last week that anyone who does not support across the board forgiveness of student loans up to $50,000 is not an anti-racist. As I do not support across the board student loan forgiveness, I am not an anti-racist on this issue, which causes me to fall afoul of Ibram X. Kendi, an undergraduate alumnus of our own Florida A&M and a big name in critical race theory, who states categorically that anyone who is not anti-racist on an issue is a racist with respect to that issue.
There is no middle ground, no safe harbor anywhere for proponents of integration, assimilation and color blindness: You are either foursquare against the Man, or you are the Man. So I am the Man on across the board student loan forgiveness and likely to remain so, as is the case with any number of other issues I do not even think of as being race related — teaching and testing proficiency in mathematics, for example — because I do not see the world exclusively through the prism of race while Kendi says that every policy issue without exception involves race.
Then there is Drunken Sailor Syndrome. The Biden administration is going hog wild on spending — trillions ladled on top of trillions — and the deficit be damned. ( Yes, I did oppose Trump’s mammoth corporate income tax cut and the resulting increase in the deficit.) In this context, the word infrastructure now has less meaning than hero, patriot and terrorist. Child care, elder care, and health care are all infrastructure, as are a long list of other things far removed from concrete, steel and communications. Wants have become needs, and it has become the business of government to satisfy every need using whatever stalking horse is convenient.
The magic words to get in the queue are “through no fault of their own”, because anyone disadvantaged through no fault of their own is an innocent victim deserving succor. The magic is that nothing is anyone’s fault anymore; individual accountability is très passé. Every undesirable outcome is the result of ineluctable historical and economic forces and constitutes a wrong to be righted by government. The Roman Empire in its decadence depended on bread and circuses to mollify the masses and purchase their loyalty. America in its decadence is short on circuses, but, by God, there will be bread in abundance.
Finally, there are the mysteries of sex and gender. In the last 40 years, the universe of people who are not cisgender heterosexuals has through repeated linguistic mitosis become LGBTQIA+. I am up to snuff all the way through transsexual, but beyond T things become murky for me. If Q stands for questioning, then I get it, but when it stands for queer, then I do not know how queer folk differ from the other folk — but I’m reading about it. And I have given no thought at all to what may lay behind that +. So once again I am out of step with my allies, this time by virtue of my relative lack of interest in the intricacies of identity politics.
These are the vicissitudes of Never Trump exile. But as long as the likes of Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio endure and Trumpism remains an existential threat to American representative democracy, then we, too, must endure. Having come so far after leaving so much behind, there is nothing for it but to fight to the finish.
Mac Stipanovich was chief of staff to former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez and a longtime Republican strategist who is currently registered No Party Affiliation.