In light of Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries, I’m hearing a lot of people say that the Republican party is dying. However, I’m not entirely convinced of this. It is not because I am overly-optimistic about the state of the GOP. Rather, I believe the GOP is deteriorating in accord with the devolving ideology held by most Republicans: Conservatism. Talking about Conservatism in the past meant talking about traditional family values, free market policies, and a government that conforms to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. However, Conservatism has be overrun with Populism, protectionist economic policies, unconstitutional governmental overreach in the name of national defense, unhealthy nationalism, xenophobia, and a general loss of the traditional ethical and political philosophy which made Conservatism something worth identifying with.
Trump embodies all of these problems. Trump has been statistically shown to appeal to the undereducated, those who are afraid of foreigners (or even worse, flat out racist), and those who are generally frustrated with a country that has been struggling under the burden of Progressive ideology to the extent that they have indulged some of the ugliest parts of human nature. Trump has engaged in xenophobic rhetoric; making sweeping generalizations about Mexicans and Muslims, and in doing so raising and fostering paranoia and racism (note that saying Trump has taken an extreme position does not place me on the other extreme. My position on immigration is a talk for another day). Trump has promised to play games with tariffs and protectionist economic policies (the same kind that helped trigger the great depression) to “help America win again” economically. Trump has “flip flopped” on lgbtq+ issues, abortion, and even his political leanings.
Trump is nothing more than a political chameleon who changes his colors to blend in with the environment of a frustrated Republican party, but that is exactly what we ought to expect given the descent of the Republican party into Populism – an attempt to make the “every day American” happy. The Republican party is no-longer centered around ideals and core beliefs which must be conserved. Rather the Republican party is characterized by attempts to placate the disgruntled, solipsistic hordes of self-described “average-Joes.”
The Republican Party is not dying. It is devolving from Conservatism to Populism, and its choice in candidates reflects that reality. True Conservatives have lost their party. Perhaps the Libertarian party will make Conservatives politically relevant again. Perhaps it will be a different party altogether. But for now, Conservatives have lost their party to the disgruntled hordes. Accordingly, Conservatives have lost their political voice. Principled Americans have been replaced with xenophobic, undereducated, self-interested ‘Mericans who do not even understand what America truly is.
America is, at its essence, the harmony of ideals of liberty and natural rights which form the purpose and structure of our highest law -the Constitution. This is what true Conservatism is centered around. The Republican party was once characterized by that kind of Conservatism, but it is now a vehicle for Populism in the disguise of some kind of pseudo-conservative abomination. Donald Trump is that pseudo-conservative abomination incarnate. Conservatism is dying. Populism is taking its place.
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