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I’ve noticed something lately.

Why is it the Big Three (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity) are elevating Donald Trump to the same level of conservatism as Ted Cruz?

I’ve been a listener of Rush’s since 1989. Ever since the beginning, I’ve heard how we conservatives need to find the next Ronald Reagan. That is, we need an articulate constitutional conservative who will not cozy up to the entrenched establishment, Wall Street, or K Street; someone who can take our conservative message to the electorate in a thoughtful and coherent way–not as a folksy caricature–but in a way that allows people to recognize they too, are conservative, and then vote accordingly.

So why is it, when we finally find that constitutional conservative candidate in Ted Cruz, the Big Three repeatedly elevate the other guy–Donald Trump?

I just don’t understand it.

Daily, I hear the Big Three lift The Donald to the same level of conservatism as Ted Cruz, even though the two Republicans are on the opposite sides of the conservative political and ethical divide. Listening to them, you’d think Trump has fought the crony politicians instead of being the crony buying them off.

Limbaugh often says he’s just an observer. Well, guess what, Rush? You’re not. Whether or not you want to, you and Mark and Sean have influence over a weekly audience of tens of millions of listeners. Many of us conservatives look to you as a news source for issues we care about and as a barometer for the nation’s political climate. No, we don’t need you to think for us, but you do have an effect on our lives and our opinions.

“It’s not hard to understand this at all. Except the Republican Party, I don’t think understands what is animating and motivating their base supporters. They’re not worried about the Republican Party future. They’re not worried about the image of the Republican Party, not worried about the media liking them. They’re not worried about money being donated. They’re worried about their country. They oppose, stridently, the modern-day Democrat Party. They oppose the policies of Barack Hussein O. It isn’t personal.

They just don’t like what’s happening. They don’t like the out-of-control spending. They don’t like $4.5 trillion printed and given to Wall Street, and here’s Wall Street squandering it now! They don’t like any of this. Somebody comes along and says, “I don’t either. You know what? We’re gonna work together, and we’re gonna make this country great again. We got stupid people running it.” Well, Trump’s not criticizing Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives. He’s criticizing stupid people.

He’s gonna be smarter. He’s gonna make great deals. He’s gonna make the country great again. People want to believe that.”

– Rush Limbaugh, January 20, 2016

Now, I ask you, is that conservatism? No, it is not. It’s not even coherent populism.

“He’s gonna make deals”? Is that what I heard? Isn’t that what got us $20 trillion in debt to begin with? Isn’t that what conservatives have been railing against since Reagan? People who put profit before principles?

We attack leadership in DC for this mindset, but on the campaign trail, it’s cool? Really?

Is hatred of the establishment and a desire to see the mainstream media dismayed so strong that you’d bestow the mantle of conservatism on the likes of Donald Trump just for short-term gains? Or is a membership at Mar-A-Lago what explains it all?

The only things Hannity is missing in his enthusiastic support for Trump is the pom-poms! Sean’s Trump support is doubly damaging since he has a television show in addition to radio, but my real concern is Mark. As one of the preeminent constitutional scholars of my generation, I have tremendous respect for Mark Levin. That’s why it troubles me to see him take on the role of Switzerland in the battle between the constitutional conservative Ted Cruz and the carnival barker Donald Trump. The chasm between the two Republicans is so vast and so deep while the stakes—the very survival of our Republic–have never been higher.

In this age of soundbite media and bumper sticker campaigns, we need clarity from those who claim to be our conservative champions in media. What we do not need is moral equivalency between a proven conservative and a Donald-come-lately espousing what the masses want to hear.

Ultimately, people will make up their own minds when it comes to who to vote for, but for the record, I don’t believe Cruz needs the help. It’d simply be nice to hear conservatives backing a conservative instead of whining about where can we find one for the next  25 years.

Photo Credit: Curtis Kennington