May 8, 2016
He’s holding a Bible. What more do you people want?
So, this whole “Trump is not a real conservative” thing has me a bit rattled.
It’s nauseating to try and grasp.
Donald Trump’s looming nomination has spurred some leaders of the conservative movement — for generations, the backbone of the GOP — to break free from a Republican Party now being rapidly reshaped by the New York billionaire’s incendiary tone and unorthodox populism.
“It’s a crisis,” said Al Cardenas, a former chairman of the American Conservative Union who is withholding support for Trump. “If we do away with the fundamental strength of the conservative movement, which is our ideas and values and principles, then you don’t have anything left but politics. A movement can survive the loss of an election cycle, but it can’t survive the loss of its purpose, and that’s what we’re battling here.”
The moment potentially marks the closure of a historic half-century in Republican politics in which conservatives have accrued dominant influence — on Capitol Hill, in gubernatorial mansions, at think tanks, on talk radio and in the grass roots. Since Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful but edifying 1964 presidential run, the conservative movement has been at the crux of Republican campaigns, from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 sweep to the 1994 revolution to the tea party’s rise in 2010.
Yet, by taking a stand they see as a stroke of moral clarity, conservative leaders are at risk of separating their coalition from a Republican Party in which voters coast to coast have effectively shifted the center of gravity by choosing Trump as their standard bearer. In the primaries, Trump defeated a string of classically conservative candidates by peeling away many of the movement’s core supporters: evangelical and working-class white voters.
There is talk in various quarters about a potential independent challenge to Trump and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, though there is no consensus candidate, and a third-party bid would be exceedingly difficult for anyone to mount at this late stage.
Freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is a vocal proponent, but he is not offering himself as a candidate. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is involved in discussions to draft an independent conservative and huddled last week with Mitt Romney, though the former Massachusetts governor repeatedly has ruled out another White House bid.
Erick Erickson, a prominent conservative commentator, is among those urging a third-party candidate.
“One of the silver linings that can come from this is that the conservative movement as an entity pulls back away from the Republican Party,” Erickson said. “During the Bush administration, it became a subsidiary of the Republican Party. This gives us a good opportunity as conservatives to stand on our own two feet.”
The conservative resistance was expressed most prominently last week by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the country’s top-ranking elected Republican, who announced that he could not support Trump until the business mogul demonstrated his conservative bona fides and offered a more inclusive vision. Trump snapped back with a retort that neatly underscored his belief that movement conservatives should no longer dictate the GOP mission and platform: “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda.”
That was really, really funny.
“If there’s an ideological leader of our party right now, it’s Paul Ryan,” said former senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). “He’s not part of the shouting crowd; he’s part of the doing crowd. But the party’s voters have gone with the shouting crowd. It’s reflective of the failure of the doer crowd to get things done.”
This is the guy who’s funded Obama’s massive budget project which included Obamacare and the import of tens of thousands of ISIS terrorists from Syria.
Indeed, Trump and Ryan are miles apart. Ryan is the architect of sweeping proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security; Trump has pledged not to touch either. Ryan supports a muscular foreign policy; Trump is proudly non-interventionist. Ryan champions free trade; Trump is an avowed opponent. Ryan defends religious freedom; Trump wants to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. Ryan advocates bipartisan immigration reform and opposes mass deportation; Trump wants to build a wall at the Mexican border and deport the roughly 11 million immigrants who are living in the United States illegally.
If this is what “conservatism” is, why on earth would anyone support it?
Ryan and his conservative allies in elected offices nationwide still have a firm grip on the party’s governing playbook and institutions. But Trump has forced a heated debate over Republican identity and whether it is synonymous with conservatism — a threat to the authority of movement conservatives.
“The Ryan agenda isn’t just about Paul Ryan, but it’s what conservatives have agreed on as the best way forward — and Trump is deviating from that in so many ways,” said Lanhee Chen, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who served as Romney’s policy director during his 2012 presidential bid.
“The big question really is, to what extent is the Trump phenomenon an aberration in policy versus some more fundamental shift?” Chen asked. “I tend to think of it as an aberration.”
Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus has sought to broker an accord between Trump and Ryan with a planned meeting Thursday in Washington, but Trump’s public comments suggest that changes by him are unlikely. Trump has said he would meet with Ryan, “before we go our separate ways.”
So, I’m just going to throw this out there: it actually makes me physically ill to try and figure-out what the GOP establishment means when they say “Trump is not a conservative.”
It’s head-spinning nonsense.
I mean, I know it is just propaganda against him, but it feels like there has to be some bit of something there that they are pointing at. But I really, really can’t grasp what it is.
Stereotypical hook-nose Ben Shapiro is the True American Conservative.
But I just don’t really have any idea what it is they are trying to communicate.
I mean. Ultimately, I do understand. Of course I understand. What I don’t understand is what they expect the people they are trying to convince to think about what they are saying.
I thought conservatism was about conserving traditional cultural values.
Trump checks every box on that front:
- First and Second Amendment
- Christian values
- Traditional marriage
- Preserving historical heritage
Sure, you can say “well, he used to be pro-choice,” but that was true of both Reagen (the hero of the conservative movement) and more recently Mitt Romney. And they don’t usually argue “well he used to not be conservative enough” – they are speaking in the present.
The above article points at Paul Ryan’s support for:
- Cutting Medicare and Social Security
- Aggressive military intervention in foreign conflicts
- Free trade
- Moslem immigration
- Amnesty for illegals
And indicates that these are the pillars of conservative policy.
Does any voter who identifies as a “conservative” support any of these policies? Or do they exclusively identify with the first list, which Trump is on-board with?
Moslem immigrants and amnesty for Mexicans are “true conservative values,” Paul? Really?
These places where Trump disagrees with Ryan are all places where Hillary would agree with Ryan (except on cutting entitlements) – in fact, one could argue she is much more aggressively in favor of these policies than the “conservatives.”
No wonder the #NeverTrump movement supports her.
Conservatism Should be a Social Agenda
“Conservatism” only makes sense in terms of a social policy agenda. Mixing in free trade, open borders, Moslems, foreign wars and all that doesn’t make any sense. This has never been what the movement was about, these were just things which attached themselves onto the movement through the Jewish neoconservative movement.
That is the best way to make sense of what they are saying: when they say “Trump is not a real conservative,” what they are actually saying is “Trump is not a neoconservative.”
Trump’s populism is “conservative” on the social front. He will protect our culture and values.
And that is what matters to American conservatives.