Donald Trump represents more than a change of tone in presidential primary politics. He is redefining what it means to be a mainstream Republican.
Some folks, namely those who have led the “conservative” movement to its present low, are unhappy with this. Late last week, editors of the National Review released a lengthy account of why they oppose Trump. Essentially, their grievances boil down to Trump having a mind of his own, therefore eschewing ideology for the sake of practicality.
Indeed, the Donald being a problem-solver, and making no bones about thinking outside the box, has conservative ideologues rattled. They want a purist (though perhaps “cultist” would be the better term) who accepts conservative dogma like a 19th century Irish peasant lapping up Roman Catholic doctrine.
The question is, what has conservatism brought America, let alone the GOP?
These days, being an intelligentsia-approved conservative means, among other things, supporting free trade (all hail the wonders of the market when manufacturers offshore 1000 more jobs to China!), taking a sympathetic tone on immigration amnesty (those illiterates with twelve kids have come to enrich the vibrancy of our nation!), denying healthcare to the sick and needy (they should be happy with a third-rate private plan whose deductible can never be met!) and opposing abortion rights (is it not pro-life to bring yet another hungry mouth into generational poverty?).
When all is said and done, conservative purists want candidates who are unelectable on the national stage.
National Review editors were soon joined by 22 heavyweight pundits, who filled the magazine with arguments for standing against Trump. While each commentator had reasons of his or her own, here is the common thread: Trump is not ideologically sufficient. National Review’s anti-Donald activism was preceded by prominent talk radio hosts, including Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, and Glenn Beck. Their beef also relies on the charge of ideological impurity.
Thinking men and women should forget about Trump’s detractors and focus on what he brings to the table.
The Donald’s candidacy represents two long-forgotten factions in Republican politics: Old Rightism and Rockefeller Republicanism. Trump merges these two formerly distinct approaches into a cohesive whole, one which has broad public appeal and the potential for seriously getting stuff done.
The Old Right emphasized a limited central government, both in terms of domestic and foreign policy. This meant that not only could there be no excess spending on, say, public studies about gender dysphoria, but no funds allocated for overseas military intervention. Our armed forces were only to be used in self-defense, not so politicians could nation-build.
Immigration was a no-brainer; shut it off unless the “new Americans” were ready to surrender the ways of their ancestors for assimilation to our Anglocentric macro-culture. Also, these folks had to be financially self-sufficient. International trade was not essential to free enterprise, and when absolutely unavoidable, had to benefit Americans. This advantage was secured through a robust tariff system; anything weaker was considered suicidal.
Freedom of speech, and individual rights generally, held primary significance.
Rockefeller Republicanism was rooted in deal-making. The late, great Governor of New York, and eventual Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller formed this philosophy. In the Empire State, he found people had very different political ideas, and that often caused conflict. He singled out key issues and zeroed in on aspects of them which rational minds could agree on. The result was one of the longest, and most successful, governorships in US history.
Rockefeller’s ability to propose, negotiate, and close a deal earned him national celebrity status. It ultimately made Gerald Ford select him for the second highest office in the land.
Trump combines the nationalistic spirit of the Old Right with the contemporary sensibilities of Rockefeller Republicanism. This should allow for spectacular success in the Oval Office; a patriot who can see the forest through the trees. It would also expose several modern-day conservative voices for the shills they are, as well as the political damage they do.
Today’s conservative intelligentsia overwhelmingly back globalist economic and military policy. They use pseudo-Christian-flavored domestic programs to distract concerned citizens from realizing that their standard of living is being eroded.
Do not be the intelligentsia’s fool. Vote your interests. Vote Trump.
Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org