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Wednesday 09 November 2016

Conservatives Against Trump

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 5th November 2016

As well as conservative Christians who doubt his sincerity and comprehension of religious social conservatism, Donald Trump has another source of naysayers- "movement" conservatives. Why don't conservative Republicans like their own candidate?

In January 2016, the flagship US conservative National Review published a series of articles about why Donald Trump was unsuitable for the role of Republican presidential candidate. Trump might now spin himself as the heir of the earlier Republican "Tea Party" populist insurgency, but he was not among their supporters. Cato Institute libertarian David Boaz found his religious and racist scapegoating objectionable. Brent Bozell denounced Trump as a carpetbagger and opportunist. Mona Charen (Ethics and Public Policy Centre) also doubted his sincerity and authenticity as a bona fide fiscal conservative. Steven Heyward (Pepperdine University) questioned his commitment to limited government. Mark Helprin castigated Trump's lack of experience when it came to economics, politics and defence. William Kristol excoriated him for "vulgarity,' while Yuval Levin cited his managerialism as a reason for 'movement conservatives' to distrust him. Andrew McCarthy accused him of being profoundly ignorant when it came to Middle East politics. David McIntosh condemned him for his retrograde protectionism against free trade. Michael Medved worried about Asians and Latinos rejecting the conservative agenda due to Trump contagion. Russell Moore (Southern Baptist Convention) slammed him as narcissistic, populist and shallow. John Podhoretz(Commentary)remarked on Trump's narcissism, egotism and sanity. Thomas Sowell worried about incipient fascism from his quarter.

Nor is National Review the only conservative journal of note to castigate Trump. InCommentary, John Podhoretz (16.10.2016) has also denounced him as a carpetbagger and opportunist whose narcissism and egotism had produced a grotesque cult of personality that might not even end up winning the election and he even questioned the utility of Trump's authoritarian populism to the conservative Republican cause on strategic grounds. Matthew Continelli (10.2016) argues that Trump's ascendancy represents the bankruptcy of US media when it comes to substantive, in depth analysis. And he includes FoxNews within that matrix. The media created the dangerous populist demagogue that is Donald Trump, he argues. Jonathan Tobin (12.07.2016) compared him to Richard Nixon, someone else whose integrity and authenticity was suspect, and who was overly enamoured of populist sycophancy.

Ironically, given the prominence of many of these figures within the Republican establishment, there is little that many centre-leftists would find particularly objectionable in this context. Principled conservatives find his religious sectarianism and racism just as reprehensible as most of us on the centre-left. Many on the centre-left have warned about the dangers of authoritarian populism as a proto-fascist political strategy from the Thatcher and Reagan era onward. The other ironic aspect of anti-Trump conservatism is the sudden awareness that conservative media outlets have colluded in the creation of such a monster. Given the significance of televangelism to religious social conservatives, it is no wonder that many have ended up seduced by Trump- his philosophy is their own. His anti-Muslim sectarianism segues into their own. His anti-Mexican and anti-Chinese racism speaks to the unreconstructed racist recent past of the US Christian Right's core constituency, the Southern United States.

And again, the US LGBT community is missing within this public discourse. Trump isn't fighting Clinton on the basis of LGBT concerns like marriage equality and transgender child health and safety, he is using altogether more atavistic and primitive cues to mobilise his constituency. But how faithful are these right-wing extremists to the broader Republican conservative agenda and does this demonstrate the absence of awareness of the global realities of multiculturalism and multi-polar international politics today?


Matthew Continelli: "Donald Trump, Media Darling"Commentary:19.10.2016:https://www. articles/donald-trump-media- darling/

John Podhoretz: "The Truly Forgotten Republican Voter"Commentary:16.10.2016:https://www. articles/truly-forgotten- republican-voter/

Craig Young - 5th November 2016

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