The same is true of discussions of the government shutdown that Covington briefly eclipsed. There is an intrinsic interest in keeping the machinery of government running as well as in ensuring that federal employees are not subjected to unnecessary hardships because of a political impasse. But this shutdown was different from previous budget standoffs. The willingness to go to the mat over funding for border security was about saying “no” to Trump — and to his desire for a “wall” that in one way or another Democrats had supported in other instances — more than it was an ideological difference such as the 2013 debate about funding for Obamacare. If efforts to bridge the gap between the two sides failed, it was not because a compromise on how much to spend on the border, or on what to call the barriers and other measures used to secure it, was impossible. It was, rather, simply a matter of fighting or defending the administration in every way possible.
Many conservatives and even some liberals may think there is still room for a debate about the great issues of the day without involving Trump. That ought to be especially true given his lack of interest in ideology and the inner workings of policy discussions. But it’s hard to think of a single domestic or foreign-policy issue about which the debate has not become one on which Trump’s position has not determined the stances of the participants. The willingness of former conservatives such as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot to switch sides on Iran, Jerusalem, or climate change, issues on which they had once taken strong stands, has illustrated one aspect of Trump Derangement Syndrome. But this trend now extends beyond the few remaining Never Trump stalwarts still in the field.