Is Trump ‘conservative’?
I’ll certainly admit to being flummoxed by Donald Trump’s brand of conservatism, but in reading one of the heroes of the faith, I find myself re-evaluating The Donald. Years ago, Russell Kirk humbly laid out “Ten Conservative Principles.” As you read number three, bear in mind Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to “Make America Great Again.”
… conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescription—that is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary…. Conservatives argue that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste. It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.
What Democrats loathe of Trump’s campaign is that little word at the end of his slogan: again. They’d much prefer simply “Make America Great.” In fact, Hillary and Bernie could endorse that. It’s their stated aim; it’s their admitted purpose – free college education, men in ladies’ restrooms, the bureaucratic state, and on and on. They scorn the founding fathers and the Constitution and our freedoms and are convinced they should be tossed aside.
Now, along comes a guy named Trump who says, “No. We’re throwing a bunch of stuff out and going back to the way it was.” A call to heritage, custom, respect for those who came before, those who fought for the country – this is the essence of conservatism. Petty policy issues are tangential.
Can one imagine a World War II veteran being opposed to the Trump agenda as outlined at the Journal of American Greatness: secure borders, economic nationalism, and interests-based foreign policy? Seems that would be why they served. Why they fought.
I wince at a lot of Trump’s comments. But where on Kirk’s list are open borders, political correctness, multiculturalism, and free trade? And who said these are tenets of conservatism? I’d direct the #NeverTrumpers to Kirk’s website. And also to National Review – of all places – where Victor Davis Hansen has the courage to call for party unity.
… perhaps #NeverTrumpers should adopt one rule for the sake of party unity: For each of their attacks on the Republican nominee, vow to match it with one attack on the Democratic nominee. And for each conservative guest editorialist in the New York Times or Washington Post deploring what the Republicans have done, perhaps a #NeverHillary liberal might write a commensurate critical op-ed about Clinton in The Weekly Standard or National Review.
While conservatives argue and debate what conservatism is and whether or not to support Trump, the Democrats will be focused on only one thing: winning. Why do they drive the national debate? Because outwardly, they’re unified. Case in point: Elizabeth Warren. Does anyone really believe she meant what she said in endorsing Hillary?
Maybe it’s time for us to recapture a conservatism that’s rooted in tradition, culture, and heritage and “Make America Great, Again”!