Short Views

Winter of Our Discontent

As fall turned into winter, there were unmistakable signs of paleoconservative dissatisfaction with President Trump.  In various forums, several paleoconservatives expressed displeasure that Trump had surrounded himself with unrepentant Bush Republicans and neoconservatives; that he was listening too much to his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who may be even further to the left than the Bush retreads and neocons; and that many of his key promises remain unfulfilled, including failing to build the border wall and failing to extricate the United States from the many wars in the Middle East.  Some of Trump’s achievements were also questioned, as Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice Roberts and the four Democratic justices in voting not to grant certiorari in cases involving state restrictions on Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood that could have led to a Supreme Court decision affirming such restrictions and even helping to set the stage for the eventual demise of Roe v. Wade.

There was much truth to each of these complaints.  But it needs to be remembered that Trump’s political instincts were not formed by paleoconservatism, even though his victory gave definitive proof of the potency of ideas that paleoconservatives have been advancing for three decades or more.  From the vantage point of those championing reductions in immigration, a repudiation of free-trade...

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