A Twitter argument I had with Ace of Spades on Saturday night has led me to ponder this question: How did we get here? How did we as conservatives get to the point where what was supposed to be a conservative party has been taken over by a Hillary Clinton donor who hates free trade, supports Planned Parenthood, traffics in lunatic conspiracy theories, and is the antithesis of everything classically liberal get the votes of so many people who claim to be conservative?
Polling has always shown more people identify as conservative than moderate or even left-wing (I do not use the term “liberal” to describe such people because I believe in the accurate use of labels). And yet, looking at the political landscape, not only are conservatives outnumbered in the country as a whole, we’re not even a majority within what is supposed to be the conservative party. This explains the presidential candidacies of Dole, McCain, and Romney. But it only explains the rise of Donald Trump, a man who has no conservative impulses of any kind and even lives to caricature us on the Left’s behalf.
A lot of his supporters claim that a feckless GOP that surrendered to Obama out of the gate on every battle has helped Trump’s rise. They point to the reckless overspending of the Bush 43 years. They point to conservatives losing every cultural battle over the last two decades. From homosexuality to transgender issues to issues of race and ethnicity, it’s hard to see where the Left hasn’t succeeded in smashing the basic fabric of our society. Everything we believe in is being overturned in violation of the democratic process, mostly by judges who write their own laws. Even judges appointed by Reagan, Ford, and both Presidents Bush have participated in taking a sledgehammer to our constitution and our liberty. Our representatives have surrendered on all most all of these issues. So what’s the answer?
According to a plurality of GOP primary voters, the answer is an authoritarian strongman who has spent most of his life cozying up to the hated establishment by buying them off and in exchange being able to engage in the kind of graft we’ve been denouncing the Clintons for since 1992. The answer in their minds to a GOP who wants unlimited immigration to appease the Chamber of Commerce is to elect a man who himself has hired illegal aliens at his resorts. Not to mention the fact he has paid to have ads run in favor of the hated Gang of Eight bill that would have upped immigration of low-skilled people while providing no border enforcement.
In my exchanges with Trump supporters, it appears that they just don’t care about his leftist tendencies. Which makes their claims about the need to defeat Hillary Clinton being priority number one suspect. What good is defeating Hillary Clinton if the victor is a man which her same policy prescriptions? During this campaign cycle, Trump has advocated for taxpayer funding for planned Parenthood, single payer healthcare (i.e. socialized medicine), transgendered bathrooms, tax increases, a 45% tariff on Chinese goods, and retreating from the world stage via Ron and Rand Paul isolationism. Aside from the tariffs, which of these things would we not get from Hillary Clinton?
The result of a Trump candidacy is not only a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton, but it further discredits the GOP not only as a vehicle of conservatism, but it even discredits us as any kind of opposition force to the statist Left. If you thought there was barely a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, just wait until the GOP becomes the Trump Party. The GOP will become pro-abortion, pro-sexual deviancy, anti-constitution, isolationist, anti-free trade, anti-religious liberty, and everything else we despise about the Left. The GOP will also become a nativist, nationalist, populist party that has nothing to offer to anyone. Just as the Democrats are the party of aggrieved racial minorities who want revenge on society as a whole, the Republicans will become the party of aggrieved white people who want revenge on society as a whole.
It is true that Republicans need to do a better job of expanding the coalition; conservatives have a similar task. I’m not counting on a Trump victory just by the number of constituencies he has worked hard to alienate, including parts of the base of the party. Between people defecting to Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, and even Hillary Clinton herself, and the fact Trump isn’t bringing new people into the party, Trump is headed for an epic loss and will likely take down the Senate with him. But since he says a Republican majority isn’t all that important to him, what difference at this point does it make?
Regardless of the outcome of this election, there is going to need to be a lot of soul searching from the Right. My greatest fear is that too many people will do the same thing that happened following the failures in 2008 and 2012; which means, learning the wrong lessons and doubling down on stupid. For some strange reason, after running milquetoast moderates and losing two presidential elections decisively, GOP voters decided to make up for those mistakes by nominating someone to the left of those two failures. In less than a decade we went from the author of amnesty and open immigration to the author of socialized medicine in Massachusetts to a Hillary Clinton donor. If the GOP isn’t careful, the next nominee could be Bernie Sanders himself.
Jack, a longtime viewer of Nerd Rage, is a rare bird: a black American who is also a classical liberal (or conservative if you prefer) in the Northeastern United States. His writings (whenever he has the time or has something to say) can be found wherever someone is willing to post them.