When Donald Trump won a divisive election, he promised to unite a divided America and many people simply did not believe that he could accomplish that.
The events of last week however, have shown that through putting America on the path to war, he has done just that.
He has united his once deeply divided party behind the attack on Syria and threats towards North Korea. Democrats are now more united behind attacking anti-war Democrat and Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard than they are united against Trump.
The mainstream media talk about the ‘beauty’ of an illegal strike against a country which did not, could not and will not ever threaten America. Perhaps most predictably of all, Russiagate has magically disappeared from the headlines.
But this unity has come at an expense. First and foremost the expense is to the innocent victims of the war crime Donald Trump ordered upon Syria.
Secondly, there’s the danger to wider world peace posed by the speculative removal of President Assad from power which would unleash Salifist terrorism in the heart of the Arab world, without any meaningful, able resistance.
Thirdly, there is the looming threat of war between nuclear powers; North Korea and the United States.
But finally, there is the internal consequence: the division Trump has sown among the base which helped him get elected against considerable odds.
The political unity that the US is experiencing under the fog of war will be short lived. Indeed, John McCain is all ready complaining that things haven’t gone far enough, fast enough.
But the divisions Trump has sown among his base may never heal.
Many Trump supporters may never fully forgive him for breaking his pledge to keep America and by extrapolation the wider west out of entangling, deadly, costly and counter-productive wars.
These people are not Communists who became conservatives nor are they Russian agents, Putin puppets or Manchurian candidates. They are certainly not pacifists either.
Many of them, such as Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars have taken a view that American culture and American values are superior to that of virtually all others. I can’t recall the last time I’ve heard President Putin, President Xi or President Assad echo those remarks. I do not think that similar remarks have come out of North Korea either.
And hence we stumble upon a problem that mainstream media pundits are too dogmatic to even acknowledge and many former Trump supporters struggle to cope with and as a result, struggle to articulate.
In doing a U-turn on his anti-interventionist pledges, Trump has not pushed out an obscure band of anti-Americans who might have been dragged before the House Un-American Activities Committee in a previous generation.
Thee people he has alienated are flag waving, American patriots of the contemporary generation.
In this sense, Trump has re-opened a silent but profound wound in the modern American conservative movement.
He has caused a rift between the following two groups of conservatives:
1. Flag waving patriots who believe in small accountable government, non-intervention in foreign affairs, people who generally hate the UN as much as Communism (some actually equate the two) and those who love the Second Amendment as much as the First.
2. Flag waving patriots who will support big government so long as it is presented as tough and militaristic. This group will support any and all foreign wars as it makes America look strong (according to them). These are people who generally have no view on the UN, but are still happy to act without it. This group of people love the Second Amendment more than the First, so long as restrictions of the First are used to shut up ‘dirty peaceful hippies’ (aka, ultra-conservatives like myself and libertarians like Ron Paul).
As a candidate, Trump was able to unite these groups as the second set of people are generally fine with America not going to war, so long as the domestic agenda remains conservative. Unlike liberal interventionists and neo-cons, this second group of conservatives will generally support any war America gets involved with, but up until the involvement begins, they generally have no great concern for the liberal and neo-con arguments about why America should be involved.
In this sense, Trump has taken a group he united fairly early on in the campaign and has divided it, almost irreconcilably. Facebook is filled with members of the first group accusing the second of ‘selling out to the New World Order’ and likewise, members of the second group are shouting to the first ‘You are un-American and you don’t support our troops’.
I admit that I support the first group and not the second. I did so before Donald Trump was in politics so it is no surprise that my loyalty to the first group (though I do not agree with everything they say..the UN for example) has remained firm.
With Donald Trump seemingly going down the path to neo-con hell, it is difficult to see how he can ever win back the support and the votes of those who support conservative values and patriotism, but at the same time fully oppose interventionist wars.