And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot
To mark the full-fraught man and best endued
With some suspicion. I will weep for thee,
For this revolt of thine methinks is like
Another fall of man.
Henry V, Act 2, Scene 2
Someone once observed that character is who you are when no one is looking. He might’ve added it’s also who you are when you are under pressure. Anyone who doubts this should consider human behavior after a power outage that lasts more than a couple of days, or during a bad traffic jam, or in an airport after flights are cancelled, or in any interaction with any federal agency anywhere.
In many ways the rise of Donald Trump is another such “gotcha” moment in which the character, and maybe just the common human weakness, of many nominal conservatives has been exposed. However this finally shakes out — whether Trump finally succumbs to the 27,431 sage prognostications of his collapse or becomes, as is clearly his wish, the new Holy Roman Emperor of the Greater Americas — there has been a kind of death of innocence among conservatives that will not be fully recovered from for a very long time, if in fact it’s ever recovered from at all.