Conservatism killed off by its sole focus on economics
Something unexpected has happened with the rise of Donald Trump. The conservative movement has collapsed.
It turns out that the conservative movement was and is uninterested in the welfare of the United States as a nation. America is just a footnote on the way to a global economy that will be the most efficient use of economic resources. But that stance forgets the point of the exercise in the first place, which is human welfare. That is only partly measured by economic welfare. There is social welfare as well, which is arguably more important once basic needs are met.
Most of us, perhaps all of us, didn't realize that the conservative model did not contain any interest in either that or America itself. But that is the wellspring of the hatred – there is no other word for it – the hatred toward Trump from every corner, every leader of the conservative movement and the conservative commentariat. Not just disagreement, but hatred.
The best example is in the much discussed article by Kevin Williamson in National Review ("The Father-Fuhrer" – behind a subscription wall) on March 28, 2016, which insisted that the white working class should shut up and die because they deserve to die. I am neither exaggerating nor misrepresenting his appalling article. It led me to cancel my subscription to National Review and throw all back issues out of the house. Not under my roof.
As with all big ideas, it has taken a bit of time to grasp what we are seeing. But we get it now. Conservative writers have taken economic optimization as the end goal of society, with everything else – everything else – to be disregarded and discarded. The American people, once they found a leader who recognized the consequences of this idea, if not a student of the philosophy behind it, roared back against this dark, savage dystopia that has nothing to do with the American dream.
In the rubble of this idea, the Wall Street Journal's once definitive moral authority has collapsed. The conservative commentariat has collapsed. Apparently, none of them was what we thought they were. Either way, "we now see in a mirror darkly, but then, face to face." (1 Corinthians 13:12).