“Fleece vest” or “MAGA hat”—which one are you?

Gerard Baker for the Wall Street Journal:

Sometimes, if I listen really carefully, I can hear in my head the fragments of a dialogue between two voices capturing the ambivalence thoughtful conservatives feel about their current political choices. Yes, I’m hearing voices so you might not want to take anything I say seriously. But before you demand my immediate institutionalization, at least listen to the conversation, and, as Donald Trump builds an unassailable lead in the barely-started-but-already-apparently-over Republican primary, ask yourself if maybe you might not be hearing the same things. It goes like this:

Fleece vest-wearing conservative: “How can you possibly vote for Trump?”

MAGA hat-wearing conservative: “How can you possibly not vote for Trump?”

Fleece vest: “I’m sorry, you’re going to have to explain yourself.”

MAGA hat: “You go first.”

Here’s what the “MAGA hat” conservative had to say:

MAGA hat: “Well, for starters, you’ve acknowledged that Mr. Trump has been the victim of an unprecedented level of institutional obstruction, denigration and even prosecution. That alone excuses a lot of his behavior.

“And I’m not so sure the 2020 election wasn’t stolen. Maybe the fraud stuff didn’t get through the courts, but the whole way in which the election was conducted; the Covid emergency voting provisions; the media manipulation of the story; the continuous background threat of a repeat of that summer’s street violence from far-left crowds if Mr. Trump won. Are you really sure that was a free and fair election?

“But here’s the really important thing now:

“People voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 (and again in 2020) because he was the most plausible champion of those of us no longer prepared to tolerate the trashing of our culture and nation by an elite that despises us. For decades conservatives sat back as the progressive revolution swept through our institutions, substituting open borders for controlled immigration, global economic opportunity for national interests, a green and woke orthodoxy for traditional values and faith.

“It was Mr. Trump who led the counterrevolution. In this election cycle it is more important than ever that we prevail. The counterrevolution is catching fire around the world in places as different as Argentina and the Netherlands while the left’s foot soldiers around the world are out in the streets supporting Hamas.

“Do you really think anyone other than Donald Trump is capable of this? He has transformed politics, turning the GOP into a multiethnic coalition of Americans committed to defending conservative values.

To see what the “fleece vester” had to say in this hypothetical exchange, read the whole thing. Archive link here.