Conservatism in the Time of Trump

The election of Donald Trump has upended the expectations of what paleoconservatives and others have long called Conservatism, Inc.  The influence of establishment conservatism all but evaporated during the primaries, as its chosen champions—Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, and the rest—fell one by one.  As President-Elect, Trump moved away from an unthinking reliance on Republican lobbyists and cronies.  And while his administration appointments have not reflected a uniform rejection of conventional Republicans, they have been better by a long shot than any Hillary Clinton (or any of Trump’s Republican challengers) would have made.  More importantly, he has changed the way the establishment must think about issues and about the voters whom they have treated with disdain for so long.

This election may have been the first one clearly to show that we no longer live in a free society: We are only choosing one style of authoritarian over another.  Had Clinton been elected, the country would have had yet another president starting undeclared wars, authorizing drone strikes, continuing a policy of essentially unrestricted immigration, and forcing religious believers to violate their faith through the imposition of oppressive regulations.  Trump, though he has broken the progressive hold on discourse, may prove to be an authoritarian of another kind, one who will make deals to keep companies in the...

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