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A columnist’s heroes: David Horowitz and Donald J. Trump

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Bruce Bawer is a regular contributor to Front Page Magazineonline.  In his view, David Horowitz and Donald J. Trump are not “principled conservatives” – except that the opposite is true.  Here’s Mr. Bawer:

In their article, [Ronald] Radosh and [Sol] Stern contrast David Horowitz to what they call “principled conservatives.” This is a term we see often these days. It is used by never-Trumpers to describe their own wonderful selves. It is premised on the notion that before Trump came along, the GOP was a party of perfect dignity and decorum, seemliness and respectability, ethics and honor. Well, let me put in my own two cents here. Nearly four decades ago, I began my career writing for conservative publications – mostly about cultural topics (novels, poetry, movies), rarely if ever about politics per se. At first, it didn’t matter that I was gay. Homosexuality wasn’t a frequent topic in political magazines in those days. A few years later, however, as gay-rights issues heated up, it began to matter quite a bit.

Even back then, there were many gay writers at conservative publications. But some weren’t out to their editors, fearing that they would be fired if they revealed themselves. (One of them told me at the time that his editor looked upon him as a son, but if he knew he was gay, “I’d be dead to him.”) Many others were out to their editors, but, knowing the unwritten rules, didn’t mention their sexual orientation in print. One friend of mine was an exception: not understanding those unwritten rules, he published a book in the early 1990s in which he referred in passing to his homosexuality. As a result, he was, to his everlasting shock, given the boot by the editor of the conservative magazine to which he was a frequent contributor. His offense, the editor made clear, wasn’t being gay – the editor had never had a problem with that – but mentioning it in print. Anywhere.

It was a different time.

In 1993 it was my turn. In that year I published a book, A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society, that argued for the full inclusion of openly gay people in American society while also criticizing the “queer” left for its far-left radicalism, hatred of America, and love of its own marginality. I saw it as a deeply conservative book. But it made many conservatives, especially members of the pre-boomer generation who still held the reins at the magazines and journals, uncomfortable. Over the course of a year or two, I found myself estranged from all my conservative outlets – an estrangement that would last two decades, until (in most cases) a younger generation of editors took over. Some of those publications closed their doors to me; others I walked away from, recognizing that, for the time being at least, my continued presence there made both me and my editors uneasy, and that my hours there were almost surely numbered anyway.

And it was at precisely that point that David Horowitz – a virtual stranger to me, but aware of what I was going through – reached out, inviting me to write for his magazine Heterodoxy. It was a gesture – dare I say a principled gesture? – that I have never forgotten.

My feelings about David Horowitz are in many ways mirrored by my feelings about Donald Trump. As noted, self-regarding conservative veterans like Radosh and Stern tend to write about the pre-Trump GOP as if its leading figures were amalgams of Edmund Burke and St. Francis of Assisi. For my part, I cast my first presidential vote ever for Gerald Ford and my second for Ronald Reagan. But after that, the party’s presidential candidates, whether they won or lost, held little appeal for me. (This is not to say that their Democratic counterparts were any better.) They all used ugly, malevolent gay-bashing to win votes, implying that gay people were the greatest threat of all to American values. Trump – “vulgar” Trump – never stooped that low. He never came close. During the 2016 campaign I kept holding my breath waiting for it to happen – it had to happen; he was a Republican – and it never happened.

Vulgar? Nasty? No, in thunder. He was nothing less than noble. Not just in the way he talked to gays, but also in the way he addressed blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, Appalachian coal miners, Midwestern farmers, the military, the police. There was not a hint of Democratic identity-group pandering, and none of the awkwardness of a George H.W. Bush, say, trying desperately to pretend to relate to people about whose lives he was utterly clueless. Yes, Trump was a billionaire, but he had spent his adult life on construction sites rubbing shoulders with plumbers, carpenters, welders, roofers, glaziers, electricians, and other working stiffs; and he had hired and promoted – and fired – on the basis of excellence and nothing else.

And that was only a small part of what he did. He effected changes in the GOP that I had been dreaming of my whole adult life. His love for America, and respect for Americans, high and low, were palpable. He made most of the GOP presidential hopefuls before him, and most of the Republicans in Congress during his own tenure, look like wimps, hacks, careerists, phonies, cowards. Unlike all those “principled conservatives” whom Radosh and Stern celebrate, Trump was a Republican presidential candidate whom I could cheer without serious reservation. He knew what the real issues were. He knew who the real enemies were. He knew the real America, and was fully on its side. And through it all, he was never afraid to speak the truth, loud and clear.

Just like – yes – a certain American hero named David Horowitz.  

Full article is here.

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