In my Open Letter to Principled Conservatives, I described the profile of a ‘Principled Conservative’ politician in 2016. It is a politician with an exemplary ability to shout Reagan aphorisms from the rooftops while voting to increase the size of and scope government, acquiescing to Leftist ideals.
There is a cultural root to this issue, and while I touched on it in my open letter, the man behind Conservative Pundit, a Twitter parody account, hit the nail on the head. In an interview with The Daily Caller, he said the following:
…I don’t think that the problem with respectable conservatism is just that they’re afraid of being called racist or sexist or homophobic. They certainly are afraid of that, yes, but I think that the deeper problem is they’ve fully internalized a whole raft of premises about race, about gender, about “sexual orientation” that are extremely recent, extremely radical, leftist, and in many ways totally incompatible with the traditional American worldview that they purport to cherish.
The contemporary conservative pundit is in a precarious position. On the one hand, he agrees with his liberal friends that the United States prior to, say, the 1960s was a frightfully bigoted and hateful place, full of all sorts of phobias and -isms and other such indefensible attitudes. On the other hand, he wants his liberal friends to respect the political and cultural principles we’ve inherited from that evil and benighted past. It’s a weak position, and I don’t think many people besides other professional conservative pundits find it very compelling.
These professional pundits, such as George Will, Bill Kristol, and David Brooks, among others, have spent decades crafting a ‘Principled Conservative’ ideology on this basis. Republican candidates for office trip over themselves to adhere to it, rendering Republican elections purity contests.
These ideological battles are useless, as the policies which come of them continue to harm America. Trump has come on like a house on fire because he stands in opposition to what these Principled Conservatives have actually achieved in office, as opposed to the things Principled Conservatives purport to believe in.
That is a big difference. Take for example, the National Review and their criticism of the Omnibus bill which Speaker of the House Paul Ryan passed in December:
Since Democrats have hastened to embrace a policy of de facto open borders, come what may, it falls to Republican officeholders to offer a more sober assessment of our immigration policy — which they should. It’s good policy and — given that 9 out of 10 Americans want immigration levels either kept where they are or reduced — it’s good politics. Republican leaders should be attempting to halt illegal immigration, reduce legal immigration (especially from countries that pose a particular threat to American security), and figure out ways to assimilate immigrants who are already here and to reform the failed procedures by which we evaluate those who want to come.
Sounds great, yet the National Review is staunchly in the #NeverTrump camp, despite Trump being the only candidate who speaks to the concerns they’ve addressed. One could be mistaken for thinking the aforementioned quote was written a Trump supporter, rather than his most fervent detractors.
That is exactly the problem many on the right have with ‘Principled Conservatives.’ The only consistent principle they seem to have is to do what it takes to keep power within the Leftist Frame. This is why the likes of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and others do not engender enthusiasm.
They are vanilla actors who will play by the Leftist rules. Trump says to hell with those rules, we’ve go a job to do, let’s do it in the most efficient way we can. Trump is less concerned by ideology and more interested in what works.