Days of Change

Statement of Principles | January 2, 2019

The Washington Examiner proposed the question “What does it mean to be a conservative in the Age of Trump?” I would suggest that what it means to be a conservative has never been fully settled and changes with each White House, even each Congress. Most likely, this is a roundabout way of asking “Is Trump a conservative?” or “Is the Trump Administration good for conservatism?”

First off, I’d say that many Trump supporters are conservatives in the same way Trump is. They are old fashioned, seeking to return to actions and behaviors that worked in the past. This goes against peripheral conservative ideas like libertarian economics or neoconservatism. For example, cutting taxes is a core conservative principle since the Reagan era. Fighting Communism is an even older principle, but the neoconservative idea of fighting terrorism though regime change is much newer.

Halting illegal immigration has been a Republican platform issue for decades, but it competes with the libertarian idea that illegal immigrants are here because America is great and their drive to come here is a benefit. In reality, Americans have always been against amnesty and illegal immigration and the Republican Party has often been slow to respond.

Conservatism has been defined by the total of all leading conservatives. If you believe that those conservatives have either been excessively critical of Trump or more likely to change their stance based on Trump’s words and deeds, then conservatism itself has changed in the Age of Trump. Of course, Trump is now a leading conservative by virtue of his position. We won’t know for some time how conservatism changes again after the Trump Era is over.

 


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