A Word on Trumpian Conservatism

A Word on Trumpian Conservatism January 22, 2024

a close-up of the Liberty Bell
image via Pixabay

I’ve been thinking about conservatism today.

It started when I saw a tweet from Kevin Roberts, the head of the Heritage Foundation: Governor DeSantis has an extremely bright future in the conservative movement. While we all rally around our movement’s leader—President Trump—we also know that the future of conservative policies will be in how effectively we implement Trumpian conservatism. There is no one, other than President Trump himself, who has done more in that regard than Gov. DeSantis, so I thank him immensely for showing what the future of our movement—and the country—is. Now, let’s go take back this country, united and resolved, on behalf of the forgotten American.”

It’s been pointed out that a think tank like The Heritage Foundation shouldn’t really be telling people to “rally around the movement’s leader” in the first place, but that’s not the part I kept on coming back to. I kept looking at the phrase “Trumpian conservatism.”

Trumpian Conservatism.
That’s a word salad if ever I read one.

I am not a conservative anymore and I don’t think I could ever be one again, but once upon a time I was pretty conservative. I voted for McCain and liked him, and then I voted for Romney and thought he was pretty okay. My opinion of Romney hasn’t changed very much. I considered myself a conservative because I was a pro-life Catholic who cared about “family values” and I didn’t like government waste.  I still know a lot of people who are pretty conservative, and I don’t think they’re bad people.

The last word I would use to describe Donald Trump is “conservative.”

In fact, I wouldn’t call most of the people at the helm of today’s Republican party conservative. Conservatism is supposed to be all about small government, free enterprise, and keeping out of Americans’ business. I’m not saying that was ever how conservatives governed, but that’s what it said on the tin. They claimed they were the people who wanted to keep the government from bullying people and businesses so we could all do what we wanted and make money. They claimed to want to be fiscally responsible, create jobs and stop government waste. Your modern day conservatives are the opposite of that. The Heritage Foundation has a great big plan to consolidate power under the Executive Branch so the president can rule like a king, and they’re not quiet about that. Trump was fiscally a disaster, the first president since Hoover to leave office with fewer American jobs than he started with, and he drove up the national debt astronomically. People who aspire to be mini Trumps all over the country have plenty to say about what medical procedures you can get for yourself or your children even if it’s an emergency, what books you can read even if it’s just the dictionary and what you can do in general. How is any of that conservative?

The hypocrisy of the American Right is so egregious it seems silly to even bring it up these days, but I just have to point out that the Heritage Foundation claims it stands forthe principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” I think the Heritage Foundation is talking out of its rear end, but I think that most people who call themselves conservative do hold those things to be valuable.

So if you’re a conservative, let me ask you: do you really think you’re going to get those under Trump?

Do you want free enterprise, or do you want a kleptocracy run by a notorious con artist who’s worth far less than he claims? A rigged system where rich men who know how to grease the right palms get everything? Do you really imagine that that economic system will lead to free enterprise, and that it will go well for you and your family?

Do you want limited government, or do you want a totalitarian state run by white Christian Nationalists, ironically with a non-practicing Christian at the helm? One that wants to tell your family exactly how to live and slap you down if you step out of line?

Do you want individual freedom, or do you want a government that will make your most intimate personal decisions for you? Particularly, to my readers who are Catholics: do you really think that the white Christian Nationalist movement, which statistically has far more Evangelical Protestants than Catholics, isn’t going to turn on you and treat you like you aren’t a Christian either?

Do you want traditional American values, whatever those are? Do you want traditional values of any kind at all? Do you want ethics and morals and sweet nuclear families with a mom and pop and cute little children who go to Mass on Sunday? Or do you want the thrice-married cad who’s been proven in a court of law to be a sexual predator?

Do you want a strong national defense, or do you want the clown who pals around with dictators and oligarchs, who can’t get enough of Vladimir Putin, who praises Kim and Xi?

I think I know your answers to all of those questions.

I’m just asking rhetorically because I’m angry.

I want you to at least be honest about what it is you want for yourself, your neighbors and your whole country. And then I want you to tell me why you want something so destructive and dangerous.

I don’t really care that it’s not conservative, but we can start by talking about that.



"Well, its not so much that learning about nature "freed" me from believing in God, ..."

From Evensong to Prime
"Nope, we'll stay. We're not the godless heretics. You are."

On the Removal of Bishop Strickland
"Only a partial where I live so I pretty much ignored it. But your accolade ..."

From Evensong to Prime

Browse Our Archives