The Hannity Hate

Despite my conservative convictions (or, maybe, because of them), Sean Hannity was never my favorite pundit.

His appeal seemed built upon bombast and his rhetoric often felt more marked by show than substance. One might say this vague description would broadly characterize all media personalities, but Mark Levin, for all his anger management issues, displays a substantial amount of intellectual prowess—especially on matters pertaining to the Constitution.

I think Hannity has reached a new low in his constant demonization and debasement of those conservatives—at National Review and elsewhere—who have not embraced Donald Trump for reasons of conscience. To his credit, Mark Levin offered his own brief rejoinder to Hannity.

The problem here is not Hannity’s position on Trump. While I am sad that he jumped on the Trump train out of preference early on, rather than necessity after the primary was wrapped up, he is entitled to that position and many conservatives likewise made that choice. Rather, it is the fact that Hannity has been tearing into fellow conservatives since well before the nomination was wrapped up.

There is a tension here that is both historic and inherent to conservatism. There are certain principles that conservatives generally consider inalienable and inviolate, but there are vast differences in opinion as to how one conserves and upholds such principles. Principled purists will typically value holding the line at all costs, even if it means spurning a Republican candidate or losing an election. Principled pragmatists will typically value the best possible option at any given time, even if it is a very unappealing option. The degree to which one belongs to one of these camps will likely determine whether he or she is #NeverTrump or a Trumpkin.

I have highlighted this divide before. There are pathways toward peace between these two groups, but the pathways are being spurned. Rather, a number of conservatives in both camps would rather resort to demagoguery and vitriol than to recognize a principled difference over methodology between friends.

This is why the Hannity hate so perturbs me. His lack of intellectual nuance in this complex debate, let alone his lack of basic respect, confirms what I have long expected: he is conservatism’s empty-suited equivalent of failed, former MSNBC pundit, Keith Olbermann. There has always been a lot of sizzle to Sean Hannity, but little steak.

If Hannity had the wherewithal to engage in a rapprochement with his fellow conservatives, he might acknowledge that Donald Trump has revealed an elitism within conservative ranks that must be remedied by engaging in the sort of blue collar nationalism that will expand the base, which will enable the GOP to defeat one of the most noxious progressives in American history. This victory, even by a GOP candidate who is more nationalist than conservative, is necessary to preserve a line in the Supreme Court and elsewhere against the continued encroachment by progressives against conservative—rather, American—ideals.

Hannity could also express a certain deal of understanding toward those conservatives whose consciences simply cannot abide the unprincipled and often progressive nationalism of Trump. He may not win converts, but he might help foster a more ecumenical spirit for the future. Instead, Hannity continues to hammer the point that refusing to vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary. While this point is technically true, it is also a petty point.

Why? Hannity, along with Sarah Palin and others, forced conservatives into this horrible dilemma. They—and Ted Cruz early on for that matter—legitimated Trump in a GOP field that was otherwise filled with real, principled conservatives. Shame on Hannity for putting conservatives in this untenable position and then mocking them when they highlight their plight.

Many conservatives will end up supporting Trump in order to avoid Clinton, but they will not celebrate their choice or the pundit who pushed them to make it.

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