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Saturday, February 25, 2017

"What Is Conservatism in the Age of Trump?"

Rush Limbaugh on Friday asked the question, "What Is Conservatism in the Age of Trump?"

How has President Trump changed conservatism?

From Limbaugh:
Now, conservatives love to tell you why they think what they think, and it’s usually a means of persuading people to accept it and join it. So now it’s up for grabs largely because the Trump campaign fractured conservatism into many different splinters. And many people who thought that they were the modern-day leaders of conservatism, in fact found themselves in a new category called Never Trumpers. They were the group of people that thought no matter what, Trump should not win.
Even if it meant the implosion and the end of the Republican Party, even if it meant we go back to zero — we go back to the Dark Ages and rebuild from nothing — that would be better than having Trump win. And many of those people are still there. And they are still active in what I call the academic or intellectual side of conservatism. Many people think that I am what conservatism is, and I don’t say that with ego in any stretch. I’m just telling you that I realize how some people look at me. I’ve always thought of myself as a conservative, philosophically, and that’s the way I try to live my life.
My take would be harsher.

Those are the Professional Conservatives.

Conservatives won without them in 2016, and will win without them again in 2020.

Limbaugh got a good zing at some of them: "We’ve got writer conservatives. We’ve got Fox News and book-deal conservatives. [Interruption] What is a Fox News…? Oh, that is a young conservative who wants a Fox News gig and a book deal, and that’s cool. If the young conservative gets that, then it’s a success. But in terms of actually moving things along? No, no, no. It’s a Fox News gig and a book deal. There’s all kinds of people in the conservative movement."

So What Is Conservatism in the Age of Trump (harumph, harumph)?

The same thing it was in the Age of Obama.

Conservatism does not change. CPAC does. Back in 2009 it mattered, because it was all we had left. Limbaugh made a rare public appearance to be the keynote speaker. On a Saturday afternoon, he kicked Fox News ratings into weekday prime-time. We hungered for it. He spoke without notes for 90 minutes -- more than an hour longer than planned.


"Let me tell you who we conservatives are: We love people. When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims. We don’t see people we want to exploit. What we see — what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not see that person with contempt. We don’t think that person doesn’t have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government."

Does that not describe Donald Trump?

"We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. Liberty, Freedom. And the pursuit of happiness."

Does that not describe Donald Trump?

"We don’t want to tell anybody how to live. That’s up to you. If you want to make the best of yourself, feel free. If you want to ruin your life, we’ll try to stop it, but it’s a waste. We look over the country as it is today, we see so much waste, human potential that’s been destroyed by 50 years of a welfare state. By a failed war on poverty."

Does that not describe Donald Trump?

Now Limbaugh has been a conservative longer than I have been and you can read the whole speech -- listen to it to. I am not going to cut-and-paste the whole thing and call it a day.

But what I do offer readers is what attracted me to conservatism are its belief in the virtues of Man, and of the United States.

There is no doubt that both have sinned, are sinning, and will sin again. We are only human. But instilled in each one of us is the supernatural power to go beyond our mortal pettiness and reach out to the hand of God to do extraordinary things.

The history of this nation is so full of good deeds that I can hardly catalog them all.

But the one that sticks out most is the Berlin airlift. The Soviets had cut off Berlin from being re-supplied. America began flying supplies in around the clock in a remarkable (although at times tragic; there were air crashes and people did die) show of obstinate, Americans flew 200,000 sorties carrying 500,000 tons of supplies to keep that city alive for 11 months until the Soviets re-opened the city to Westerners again.

We flew coal into Berlin. Coal! Who does that? Well, they needed coal, so we flew it in.

Limbaugh talked of federalism, of letting state and local officials decide matters, and getting the government out of your life.

From Limbaugh in 2009: "We want the country to succeed, and for the country to succeed, its people — its individuals — must succeed. Everyone among us must be pursuing his ambition or her desire, whatever, with excellence. Trying to be the best they can be. Not told, as they are told by the Democrat Party: You really can’t do that, you don’t have what it takes, besides you’re a minority or you’re a woman and there are too many people that want to discriminate against you. You can’t get anywhere. You need to depend on us.

"Well. Take a look, someone has to say this — I am thrilled for the opportunity to say it in my first national address to the nation — and I’m going to touch on this in more detail in a moment, but this is just to get you thinking — take a look at all the constituency groups that for 50 years have been depending on the Democrat Party to improve their lives. And you tell me if you find any. They’re still complaining, still griping about the same problems. Their problems don’t get fixed by government. And those lives have been poisoned. Those lives have been cut short by false promises, from government representatives who said don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of you. Just vote for us."


And last summer, Trump said the same thing: it wasn't working in the inner cities. He asked peopleto vote for him. "What the hell do you have to lose?"

In 2009, we had only a talk radio jock with a mic.

In 2017, we have the White House.

It is still us against the world, but we have now shown the world we can beat them.

Conservatism has not changed, but the world changed -- because conservatives made it change on 8 NOVEMBER 16.

What has changed is the phonies are outed. Trump may not always say the conservative thing, but he always acts that way.

Judge a man more by how he acts, and less by what he says.

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"Trump the Establishment" is already available in paperback.

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  1. There is nothing more conservative for an American than to protect the American republic and nation.

    -Mikey NTH

    1. And how did they (conservatives) do on that count? Can you enumerate what conservatives actually conserved?

    2. And there is the difference between talking a good game and playing one. Trump has emphasized that and Conservative, Inc. is very upset with him for doing so.

      -Mikey NTH

  2. "What has changed is the phonies are outed." - I see Bill Kristol and George Will hugging each other while crying, wearing their soiled diapers.

    1. Kristol and Will are conservative only in the narrow sense that they worship the status quo. Neither man wants anyone to reduce the power of Washington, DC, so they are much more aligned with the Democrats than Trump.

  3. if i had to choose one word to describe conservatives it would be "ineffectual". given two words they would be "totally ineffectual".

    Trump is sui generis; he's not a conservative. You know that's true because he does get things done.

  4. First principles tell the story. I think Paul Johnson the historian became a conservative when he converted to Catholicism and came to realize the truth in the doctrine of original sin, or concupiscence, as I think they call it.
    Pelagianism seems to be a real dividing line. Most conservatives have an understanding that man is fallen, and likely to act in self-interest and even evil ways, but they have enough faith in their fellow man to allow them to run their own affairs.
    Liberals, on the other hand, believe in the primary goodness of their fellow man, that they will always tend to do what is right, but that society influences them badly, or that wrong-doing is the result of educational deficiencies. But while they believe in the goodness of their fellow man, they think it best that a government run by people like themselves decides what is best for the citizen and his family.
    So I'd say the fundamental split is described best in Johnson,The Intelletuals; and Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed.
    As far as the Trump effect goes, I think his primary beneficial effect has been to largely remove the neocons from seats of power in the conservative movement. In this I am including global capitalists, international financiers, military industrial complex types, Wilsonian foreign policy idealists, and the warmongers whether Jewish or not.
    He is doing as well or better with the socons than anyone would have expected.
    And the alt-right in all its different manifestations has been realist about him from the beginning. They expect to be disappointed, but they backed him because he was their best option from the get go and they realized this from day one. In fact, if you listen to Bannon and Priebus at CPAC Bannon was basically running down a list of goals you could have pulled from Sam Francis be for he died.

  5. Well done is better than well said. ~ Ben Franklin


    1. exactly. conservatives all are talk and no action.

  6. This is nothing more than an aside--especially given the excellent content of this post and its comments--but have you ever read Armageddon by Leon Uris? Your mentioning the Berlin Airlift has me itching to read it again after almost forty years.

    Heh. More time has passed since I read the book than had passed between the airlift and when I read it.

  7. Conservatism, to me, is best summed up in a bit of verse I came across many years ago.

    by H. Lawson

    We hear a great commotion
    'Bout the ship that comes to grief,
    That founders in mid-ocean,
    Or is driven on a reef;
    Because it's cheap and brittle
    A score of sinners drown.
    But we hear but mighty little
    Of the ships that won't go down.

    Here's honour to the builders –
    The builders of the past;
    Here's honour to the builders
    That builded ships to last;
    Here's honour to the captain,
    And honour to the crew;
    Here's double-column headlines
    To the ships that battle through.

    They make a great sensation
    About famous men that fail,
    That sink a world of chances
    In the city morgue or jail,
    Who drink, or blow their brains out,
    Because of "Fortune's frown".
    But we hear far too little
    Of the men who won't go down.

    The world is full of trouble,
    And the world is full of wrong,
    But the heart of man is noble,
    And the heart of man is strong!
    They say the sea sings dirges,
    But I would say to you
    That the wild wave's song's a paean
    For the men that battle through.

  8. Let us not forget the Royal Air Force took part in the Berlin Airlift too. Considering how worn and torn Britain was in the immediate postwar period, that took some selflessness on their part as well.