WASHINGTON, October 30, 2017 — While Democrats and members of the hard left have been driven nearly out of their minds over the election of Donald Trump as president, doctrinaire conservatives have also raged against populism and the Chief Executive.
Despite the fact he has done more to advance their ideological goals, like keeping an originalist majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Neither conservative or liberal, it is Trump’s populism
Acting very much like their Democratic colleagues, many of the GOP’s congressional empty suits have opposed the repeal of Obamacare and passage of tax reform, which would allow hard-working Americans to keep more of what they earn and repatriate corporate cash from overseas to create jobs here at home.
And these “conservative” Republicans are beginning to feel the heat for acting a lot like Hillary Clinton followers than Republicans determined to fulfill their campaign promises to the American people and in support of President Trump’s legislative agenda, which a few short years ago was their own.
“Conservative” Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona took to the well of the United States Senate to explain why he will not seek re-election, blaming the
“coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set up at the top [President Trump]. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country: the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for the truth and decency.”
In other words, President Trump’s effective use of what Theodore Roosevelt called “the bully pulpit” threatens to end the careers of the GOP’s never Trumpers.
As the Arizona Republic said of Flake’s speech:
“Flake ran through a long, but not nearly exhaustive, list of problems posed by President Donald Trump’s behavior. But at the heart of it all is the reality that Trump’s views are increasingly the views of Republican voters.”
And therein lies the rub.
Having failed to produce anything but hot-air speeches, or receiving glowing reviews for their ideological purity from conservative journals like National Review, the conservatism of conservative pols has produced little in the way of tangible results since Ronald Reagan left the national scene in 1988.
President George W. Bush and compassionate conservatism
GOP conservatism’s last White House champion, President George W. Bush, helped to morph the ideology into what he dubbed “compassionate conservatism.”
Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard described Bush’s novel brand of conservatism back in 2005:
“Big government conservatives prefer to be in favor of things because that puts them on the political offensive. Promoting spending cuts/minimalist government doesn’t do that.”
In other words, former President Bush and today’s establishment Republicans believe it’s a lot easier to buy votes with other people’s money than it is to promote freedom from government interference in the personal and economic lives of average Americans.
When Republicans, like members of the Bush family and Sen. John McCain, say they want to “reach across the aisle,” it’s in service to this brand of conservatism.
That is to say, in service of big-government, Democratic Party policies.
GOP voters becoming populism’s next charge
GOP voters have had their fill of this failed brand of Republican conservatism. This is why Republicans like Flake are quitting politics rather than face ignominious defeat at the hands of primary challengers.
Trump’s populism is taking over the GOP because conservative ideology has melted like a snowball, its puddled principles evaporating into thin air.
America First populism, on the other hand, has become a potent and noble replacement for the empty gesturing of failed conservatism.