We all understood it. Very many of us greatly sympathized with it. The idea that Donald Trump, long-time Democrat and close buddy of the Progressive Establishment was to be the Republican Party’s standard-bearer was a lot to swallow. It just didn’t seem right. Add to it Trump’s background of divorces, sharp business practices and general crudities, and it was just a bridge too far. It couldn’t be borne.
Some of us, though, did decide to bear it. I freely admit to happily voting for Donald Trump at the end of the day: I calculated that a Hillary Administration would be so destructive of our liberties (especially our right to free exercise of religion) and so hopelessly corrupt that nothing Donald Trump could do would be worse – and, relying on hope, I figured that some things I liked might get done, even if more by accident than design. But, still, there was a rational point to being a Never Trump Conservative right up to election day and beyond. But now we’re a year past election day and it is time to take stock.
Over this past year, we’ve had a bunch of strict constructionist judges appointed. It is impossible to over-state how important this is (I know our “law, all the time” Amazona is delighted with this). Are you irritated with all those judges who rule against the Constitution and plain common-sense just so they can virtue-signal against Trump Administration policies? That is what you get when you have Democrat Presidents: judicial appointees who aren’t remotely interested in the law, but only in whatever it is Progressives want at the moment. Four to eight more years of that and we could rely on it that the Judges would rule that the 2nd Amendment is void, that Free Exercise means “you can do it as we want, or not at all”, that Free Speech is trumped by alleged Hate Speech. Instead, we’re getting judges who will rule, for decades, the opposite of that – and Trump is just getting started. Unlike past Republican Presidents, Trump seems determined to find judges who are exactly what we want…there won’t be many, if any, stealth Progressives appointed by Trump to the bench. Over the next decades, these Judges will rule in favor of law to our immense benefit.
A good part of the reason for our economic doldrums over the previous eight years was the suffocating tentacles of government regulation. Really, it had been going on since Reagan left office (neither Bush ever made a serious effort at deregulation), but under the Obama Administration it took off like a rocket. Eight more years of this and only well-established firms able to bribe the government would be able to exist in our economy – everyone else would be shut out by a mountain of red tape. Trump has vigorously attacked regulations since he took office and he looks to keep going strongly at it until his last day in office. The importance of this is vast – and twofold. It not only frees up the economy and allows us to grow, but it also reduces the power of government. As far as regulation goes, Donald Trump is a small-government Conservative’s dream…and a Libertarian’s dream, as well.
On taxes, Trump wants complete reform – but as it looks like he can’t get that at the moment, he’s at least pushing for across-the-board cuts. This is also good for the economy and also good for liberty because each dollar government extracts from the people is just one more small piece of personal liberty chipped away.
Trump wants Obamacare repealed and replaced. GOP fecklessness has prevented this, so far, but given time and continued GOP Congressional majority, it will happen.
Trump is not a Pen and Phone President – he wants his policies enshrined into properly enacted, Constitutionally-valid laws. This devolution of power from the Presidency back to Congress is crucial to the long-term health of our republic. Whether Trump is knowledgeable on the theory or just realizes that its better to use the system to fix the system is unknown and irrelevant – that he’s doing what needs to be done to redress the balance of power between the Executive and the Legislative is crucial.
Trump isn’t anti-immigrant – he’s just in favor of legal immigration over illegal immigration. This is a no-brainer even if you are a Conservative in favor of large immigration. Of course we want all immigrants to be legal immigrants. Duh! Only an idiot would want illegal immigration to be any part of our immigration system. Whether we take in ten per year or ten million, it must be according to law. Trump is the first President since Reagan who actually wants to get hold of the problem and fix it – really fix it; not fake-fix it where we pretend we’re reforming immigration but all we really do is legalize the illegals and do nothing to prevent another ten million illegals from showing up.
Trump wants to win the war(s). Trump is not a war-monger in the least. In the old, Isolationist American tradition, he’s actually quite a peacenik…but he also realizes that if you gotta fight, then you’d better fight all the way. No pettifogging concerns about i-dotting and t-crossing. Let the troops do their job, and watch their backs as they do it. Find allies who are willing to do the things we’d rather not, and then don’t get squeamish when they do it. Rebuild our military power (since the first Bush Administration, our military establishment has been gutted…and training and readiness have come in second to politically-correct twaddle). Let our enemies know that while we are the best friend anyone can have, we’re also the worst enemy anyone can have.
In the Reagan and two Bush Administrations, foreign policy remained largely in the hands of permanent State Department employees who were beholden to the Progressive idea of what foreign policy should be. Reagan managed to buck it enough to ensure that his program vis a vis the Soviet Union was carried out, but the two Bushes were continually undercut – mostly because they carried the false idea that the bureaucrats at State were patriots interested in what was good for America, rather than what they were: Democrats who’s primary loyalty is to the Democrat party. Tillerson is cleaning house at State – over the next years, the foreign policy of the United States will be under the control of the President elected by the people to conduct our foreign policy…and, more importantly, by clearing out the Progressive deadwood and putting in our people, even after Trump leaves office there will be a legacy of rational, pro-American foreign policy inherent in the State Department.
I could go on but, seriously, what more do you want? For a Conservative, this is a bonanza. This is, policy-wise, better than Reagan. Yes, we’re missing a few things – be nice to have Trump be serious about debt reduction, for instance. But, you can’t ever get all that you want. But we’re getting plenty. Trump’s actions over the past year have completely negated any actual Conservative concern about the direction of Trump Administration policy. Whatever he was before he announced himself a candidate, he’s all we can ask for or reasonably hope to get. Even his outrageous Twitter antics are obvious, now, as tactics to irritate his opponents and fire up his base. Irritated opponents do stupid things – and we see Trump’s opponents getting stupider by the day. A fired up base means you retain the political capital necessary to take policy risks. All in all, Trump has been excellent. So, why do we still have Conservative Never Trump?
Well, I don’t think we do. Bill Kristol, a standard-bearer of Conservative Never Trump, the other day Tweeted out that Trump’s policies are bringing out his inner socialist. Indeed. Of course, no Conservative has an inner socialist. Quite honestly, you can’t carry a bit of socialist in you and be Conservative. But Kristol’s inner socialist is coming out – and that reveals that he never was a Conservative to begin with. And, at this point, no person who holds to Never Trump can be Conservative. How can you? What are you fighting against? Conservative judges? Tax reform? Strong military? Rule of law? If you’re doing any or all of that, then I’ve got a news flash for you: you aren’t Conservative. So, there’s no need to retain the concept of “Never Trump Conservative” any longer – Conservatives are on Trump’s side. He’s done the things we need done – and done them enough to fully justify a conviction that he’ll keep doing them…and thus earn ours support for his re-election in 2020. We can now just say that Trump’s opponents are all Progressives – that some will still hold on to the title of Conservative for a while is irrelevant: we’re used to Progressives hiding their real desires behind false fronts.
It’s good this happened – we now know why we kept on losing even though Conservatism is the only rational political ideology to have: we had Progressives in our midst who continually cut us off at the knees and found justifications for accepting Progressive innovations. Trump has torn the mask off them and they have self-purged from our movement. We can now go forward knowing that those who are on our side are actually on our side. This will work well for us long term – we might even keep winning for a while.
Great post Mark and I agree 100%. To me, the following is the most pleasant surprise:
Trump is not a Pen and Phone President
I initially thought Trump may have a strong inclination to rule by fiat considering his CEO and business background, but Trump has proven to be the most Constitutional President I can remember. He is forcing Congress to actually do their job and cast the tough votes and because of this, he is exposing the “progressives” amongst the GOP. I am convinced that the GOP Senate (with the exception of a few) led by progressive Mitch McConnell never had any intention of repealing Obamacare …. but Trump is not letting up and they will be forced to address this issue whether they want to or not.
I agree, Cluster—-I think most Republicans who ran on a promise to repeal Obamacare never really intended to follow through on it. I am loving the pressure to reveal the actions of these people, to make them accountable for their lies.
Is it just me, or does Mitch look backed into a corner and a little frazzled lately?
Mitch is completely worthless. It’s very disappointing that someone of his weak character and lack of leadership occupies the position he does…….proving beyond any doubt that Washington DC is NOT a meritocracy.
I’m pleasantly surprised with Trump as well. Even his tweets seem to be moderating a bit. I am somewhat surprised that there haven’t been any assassination attempts, or at least not any that were publicized. I do hope that all the financial/economic analysts who predicted a catastrophic stock market crash if Trump won the election shorted their entire portfolios.
I do wonder if he’ll make it four years – seriously. The level of hatred directed at the man far surpasses anything I’ve ever seen, and in the attacks on Senator Paul and Congressman Scalise, we’re seeing that there are Progressive kooks who can be incited to extreme violence. I mean, I’m sure we’ve got kooks on our side…but they aren’t incited, nor told that being insanely violent is in service of the common good. All it takes is one determined person.
That will be as it may, of course.
Trump seems to be too smart to be assassinated easily. I am glad he has his own long time security people working with the secret service. I also don’t think it hurts he spends a lot of time on his own properties where he has loyal staff to watch out.
….at this point, no person who holds to Never Trump can be Conservative…” —– unless your identification as a Conservative is based on Identity Politics instead of political philosophy. This is another element of politics that is having its disguises stripped away—-not just the Establishment hacks in Congress hiding behind the Rs on their lapels while supporting and enabling Leftist policies, but the media pundits as well who have ridden to fame and fortune on the claims of Conservative beliefs and who are now being unmasked as Identity Politics sheep. Maybe the politics they supported were Conservative in nature, but we are seeing that the real reason these people were supporting them was based on identity more than ideology.
Mark, your opening paragraphs about Trump are spot on.
BTW, while I do believe that selective enforcement of the law leads to tyranny, as the law becomes whatever the person or party in charge says it is, I firmly believe in process. That is, changing laws that need to be changed. If there is a core virtue in the Constitution it is the establishment of process and the insistence on adhering to that process (as we see in the 10th Amendment). It is in its determination that while any law can be changed, it must be changed according to the process, and the process always comes down to government of the people and by the people. The biggest danger to the republic would be abandoning process.
The biggest danger to the republic would be abandoning process.
We’ve been abandoning the “process” since before the ink was dry on the Constitution. In fact the only other sure thing besides death and taxes is the constant assault on the Constitution by Progressives. I don’t know if any of you are following the current push to have an Article V Convention of the States for the purpose of amending the Constitution. That “process” is moving along, albeit at a snail’s pace. Last I heard there were a dozen of so states that had passed the necessary resolution to hold a convention, with 34 states needed to do so. Absent an amendment that establishes penalties and an enforcement mechanism for a public official (including elected, unelected and judges) violating his or her Constitutional oath, the best we can hope for is to periodically slow the Left’s subversion of the Constitution.
I agree, there have been efforts to nibble away at the protections and restrictions of the Constitution before the ink was even dry. The FDR years were a period of extensive bypassings of process as laws, such as the Social Security laws, were passed in spite of Constitutional restrictions. We are constantly seeing Liberal judges supporting acts that can’t truly be considered in compliance with Constitutional restrictions on various things. These are battles that will always have to be fought.
But I think a major turning point came during the Obama years, when the administration simply declared, sometimes by word and more often by deed, that enforcement of laws was wholly dependent on whether or not those in power felt like enforcing them. While the laughably named racist Department of Justice openly refused to prosecute certain crimes due to race considerations, the worst offenses were in the area of illegal immigration. And this has continued, as we now have entire cities openly refusing to obey the law and challenging the government to do anything about it, while elected officials blatantly endorse and support this kind of thing. We actually had the President of the United States, presumably AS the president and not just as a citizen, SUE the governor of a state for enforcing federal laws!
I don’t know if we need an amendment to be able to hold officials to their oaths of office and the duties associated with their jobs. The Civil Service Act did not require an amendment, and therefore it can be repealed or dramatically amended to allow for and even call for the termination of the employment of anyone covered by the Act who does not perform the duties of the job. I need to go back to the Constitution to see if there is anything in it making judges lifetime appointments. As there is already wording referring to egregious violations, I doubt it. So I think simple legislation making an oath of office binding would be adequate.
The reaction would be for scofflaw communities to simply eliminate oaths of office, and I’m not sure what could be done about that. I can’t imagine a strong argument that law enforcement and judges should not be required to uphold the Constitution and enact the law, though I am sure there would be the predictable squealing from the Left. Perhaps it would be possible to legislate a requirement to clearly describe and define job duties, which would be binding even in the absence of an official oath of office, for jobs not in law enforcement or the judiciary. Requiring an oath of office, pledging to uphold and defend the Constitution, would probably require an amendment., but in its absence perhaps legislation worded to cover “oaths of office and other descriptions and definitions of job duties, responsibilities and requirements” or some such thing would be adequate. If there is one thing we have learned about the Left, it is that they have a rodent-like ability to wriggle through holes or create their own.
The thing is, when someone is hired to do a specific job, whether that is to rule objectively and in accordance with the Constitution or to install a water heater, there are certain expectations of acceptable execution of that job. We can fire the water heater installer, or put pressure on his boss to do it, but for some reason we let the most important jobs, such as law enforcement or the judiciary, get away with what ranges from incompetence to insubordination to outright misconduct, and we let ourselves be intimidated into just letting it happen.
As far as judges go, it would take amendment:
And I think we should amend it – certainly for courts inferior to the Supreme Court. I think 20 years is long enough.
Of course, what is “good behavior”? Maybe Congress can define that in such a way that judges who issue orders found to be egregiously unconstitutional can be removed?
Spook, do you have a list of the states that have passed that resolution? And, as you have been following this, do you happen to know which states have the strongest movements to get this accomplished?
Here’s the most recent info I could find:
Mark, you said what I was thinking—that really all we need is a definition of “good behavior”. It is appalling that we should have to define “good behavior” in a judge as ruling in compliance with the laws and the Constitution, but that’s the time we live in.
I also think the wording is ambiguous, as it doesn’t really give terms for the judgeships. I think that legislation defining both terms of judgeships and the meaning of “good behavior” would be an ideal first step. This legislation would be challenged, of course, and would probably find its way to the Supreme Court, but we have to start somewhere.
I’d also add that anyone removed for not-good behavior lose his or her benefits. That would get the attention of the smug and arrogant.
I think the feeling in the country is moving toward term limits anyway, so I think there would be support for such a bill.
Jonah Goldberg has a long article on how he would define “Conservative”. I think he wanders a little off-course in a few places, and he never does pin down my own definition, which I limit to 21st Century American political conservatism as the word can mean so many things to so many people, including not wearing stripes with plaid, or preferring Dean Martin to the Ramones.
But he makes some good points along the way, and I especially liked this: It’s more of a comment on the worldview of people who also then gravitate toward political conservatism, but I still like it.
This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite meditations on conservatism from my friend Yuval Levin: To my mind, conservatism is gratitude. Conservatives tend to begin from gratitude for what is good and what works in our society and then strive to build on it, while liberals tend to begin from outrage at what is bad and broken and seek to uproot it.
I think Goldberg is one of the few people still claiming the title of Never Trump who will eventually abandon it rather than Conservatism. That is a pretty good starting point for Conservatism.
For me, it is that definition provided by the Progressive (but extremely fair-minded) historian Will Durant…Conservatism is the acceptance that our laws and customs are built up in the laboratory of society over generations and shouldn’t be tampered with except at extreme need. We, ourselves, are not as wise as all of us, together, including those who have gone before us.
I think even Durant’s definition leans more strongly toward the social and community definition, while I prefer to separate the political from the social.
So I stick with my definition of a political conservative in 21st Century America politics, which is someone committed to the belief that the federal government must be severely restricted as to size, scope and power, with most authority left to the states or the people.
The problem with Durant’s definition is that I think many who vote Dem would also see themselves in it, and just define their actions as either legitimate interpretations of the Constitution or undertaken “at extreme need”.
I think of politics as a Venn Diagram. in which many characteristics can overlap each other, which is why I think it is important to distill a definition down to its most basic level. So in my mind, one can be a political conservative in 21st Century America and still think we should expand our welfare state and liberalize abortion—he would just see these agendas as being in the realm of state or local government, not federal. On the other hand, there would be social conservatives who fit Durant’s definition and several others, regarding all sorts of personal belief systems, who would of course fit the political conservative ideal as well.
I contend that limiting the definition of “conservative” to people who fit most or all of the other definitions other than political isolates the political from too many voters, telling them that if they don’t accept all the criteria in addition to the political one they can’t call themselves Conservatives and should probably vote for the side that echoes their social and emotional beliefs instead.
I think when we get tangled up in dictionary definitions of root words, such as “conserve” and “progress” and “liberal” we tend to try to apply them to political terminology, where they don’t always fit precisely and can distort the political reality.
As for Goldberg, I think he is overcoming his Identity Politics stumbling block regarding Trump.
Conservatives begin from gratitude …… liberals begin from outrage
Excellent summation. I believe conservatives always look at issues as the glass half full, while liberals are glass half empty people, and deem themselves as the only ones with refill bottle. And for an example, I present Exhibit A – MSNBC Panelist Fernand Amandi:
You know, Florida and many other states would be decimated — Florida’s children, other children. And I think it leads to the question: Is it any surprise that the party that is pro-pay-for-play, pro-Putin, and now with Roy Moore, pro-pedophilia, the fact that they’re anti-children, is that any surprise? I don’t think it is. And I think, Joy, this is emblematic — this CHIP scenario where you mentioned nine million children — children — without health insurance. I think if you take a step back, one has to ask themselves — and I think the American people should ask themselves the broader question: What has the Republican in the last 10 years done to help the American people? What have they done? This is not a political party — this is a domestic terror group. And I think what the American people should consider when they ask themselves that question — with a party that has done nothing to help the American people — is to vote them out and consider possibly afterwards locking them up
What have Republicans done in the last ten years to help the American people? Well, we denied the presidency to Hillary Clinton. That’s a pretty huge win for Americans.
I notice the repetition of the new meme, that whatever they are claiming Roy Moore did has morphed into doing it with pre-pubescent girls. It’s moved from inappropriate to aggressively flirtatious to soliciting sex from teenaged high school girls to molesting young girls nowhere near high school age, in just a few weeks.
And, of course, the demographic that is fighting for the right to live for millions of unborn babies is considered anti-children.
It’s interesting to watch the new American Progressive. The Obama years gave him such confidence in his omnipotence that he is now openly braying the movement’s goals which had been (wisely) hidden or disguised during its ascendancy. Now they feel confident enough to come right out and say they are in favor of limiting free speech, attacking the right to worship, and want to imprison political opponents.
I wonder if the poll saying that a majority of college students admire Stalin has anything to do with the new move to impose Stalinism on America.
Well I was just reading an article where a progressive on CNN was blaming the United States for the failures of communism in Cuba …… so there is that. But back on the topic of liberal negativism, I present Exhibit B:
Obama only “has four years to save Earth.”
Here are 3 decades of progressive negative alarmism:
Cluster, from your linked Daily Caller article:
The question they can never answer, because to answer it truthfully would destroy their entire narrative, is why would they want to eliminate sources of energy that account for from 65% (electricity generation) to 97% (vehicles) without a credible replacement? There is only one reason why anyone would want to do something that stupid — control, control of the kind of vehicle you drive and control of where and how you live. This might work in Europe where the majority ride bikes or drive enclosed motorized skateboards and live in 400 square foot apartments, but it’ll never fly in the United States. If all Democrats who live in even modest houses and drive decent cars were forced to live for a year in any major European city, the entire political paradigm in this country would flip on its ear.
If all Democrats who live in even modest houses and drive decent cars were forced to live for a year in any major European city, the entire political paradigm in this country would flip on its ear.
Isn’t that the truth. They are always wanting to “tax the rich” but when it is them that are being taxed … ie; Trumps elimination of state tax deductions effectively increasing the tax obligations of the wealthy in high tax Blue States, they squeal in opposition like school children.
I don’t think the average Liberal who thinks we should be more like European social democracies has the slightest idea how most people in Europe live. The average house in the UK is 915 sq. ft., while the average new build is even smaller – 818 sq. ft.. Average house size in Greece is 829 sq. ft., in Ireland, 947 sq. ft., and in the Netherlands a whopping 1,055 sq. ft. Or you could buy an average apartment (650 sq. ft.) in Paris for a measly $350,000 euros.
The per-capita income of Germany, the economic powerhouse of the European Union, is $41,902. The per-capita income of Mississippi, the nation’s poorest State, is $40,593. The median home price in Mississippi is about 115k, in Germany about 275k. So, you get to be slightly richer than Mississippi, but pay a lot more for your house…
The MSNBC panelists are currently engaged in an overly excited conversation about the Trump tax plan and how Trump personally stands to benefit at the expense of the poor. Who knew the poor had so much money? One of the progressive panelists even suggested that the tax plan favors “white males”, while another was worried about what Trump will HAVE to take away from the poor in order to give himself more money because it is a “zero sum game” (yes, she actually said that). But my favorite comes from everyone’s favorite “conservative” Joey Scarborough who equated Bill Clinton receiving 6 figure speaking salaries from hostile nations to Trump’s tax breaks for the rich, ie; himself. Joey also just proclaimed that the economy is a “lumbering aircraft that takes years to turn around and the growth we are seeing now is a result of what Obama did a few years ago” – what exactly Obama did was not mentioned.
And such is the state of the progressive media. How they tie their shoes in the morning I will never know.
Yet more evidence that Liberalism is a mental disorder.
It truly is a mental disorder, or maybe they’re just stupid. We can’t over look that possibility. Here’s even more evidence. Here is a recent statement from the Prince of Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince vowed to “pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth” as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.
Now where do you think the Prince found this new strength to make this proclamation? Could it be Trump and Tillerson’s meetings with the Arab community earlier this year and their commitment to the war on terror? Well here is how the progressive media covered that Trump-Tillerson meeting:
President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia was bizarre, unseemly, unethical and un-American.
Some people have some interesting theories of just what, exactly, is going on in Saudi Arabia and, indeed, the whole structure of American activities over there. We’ll have to see how it comes out – but, so far, I’m encouraged.