I Didn’t Leave the Republican Party. It Left Me for Trump

Although I’ve been a registered Republican since 1980, I’ve never been a big political party man; for me a political party is a means to an end.

When Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, he was instrumental in transforming the Republican Party into the home of conservative values, principles, and policies.

Since Reagan, the labels ‘Republican’ and ‘conservative’ were usually taken to mean the same thing.

No longer. Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s current leader, is the man who said, “This is called the Republican Party, it’s not called the conservative party“.

And now in the age of Trump, the Republican Party that used to be the home of rule of law, small government, free markets, and a certain modesty about the scope and competence of government has been up-ended.

Trump is wasting no time in making it clear he is no conservative, by openly advocating for and pursuing anti-conservative, anti-free market, crony capitalist, big government, president-centric policies.

Will constitutional conservatives in congress at some point find their voice and push back against the current Trumpian zeitgeist?

It’s a good question. Some conservative political pundits like radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt is currently busy hyping his latest book, ‘The Fourth Way – The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting GOP Majority’ where he lays out a road map for governance that if I understand correctly includes an attempt to integrate Trump’s populist/nationalist perspective with a more traditional constitutional conservatism he claims stands the best chance of giving the Republican Party a position of political dominance for the foreseeable future.

In terms of some policy box-checking and personnel, constitutional conservatives will likely find themselves in the dilemma of largely approving of many of Trump’s conservative-friendly policies and picks for the Supreme Court and other government positions, while strongly disapproving of his crony capitalist, protectionist economic approach that concentrates the economic benefits to a favored few at the cost of the many.

But for constitutional conservatives who believe that character is destiny, the wild card and area of greatest concern will always be Trump *the man*.

Peter Wehner, a conservative who served in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush White Houses said of Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries:

“I don’t oppose Mr. Trump because I think he’s going to lose to Hillary Clinton…my opposition to him is based on something completely different, which is first I think he is temperamentally unfit to be president. I think he’s erratic, I think he’s unprincipled, I think he’s unstable, I think that he has a personality disorder, I think he’s obsessive…I think the main requirement to be President of the United States isn’t where you check the boxes on policy…but it is temperament, it’s disposition, it’s the idea of whether you have wisdom and judgment and prudence. Not only do I think that Donald Trump is worse than Hillary Clinton on that score – and that is a low bar – I think he is worse than anyone I’ve ever seen in public life.”

Will good – or even superb – Supreme Court and cabinet picks, along with great policies like de-funding Planned Parenthood and strengthening border security, be enough to compensate for Trump *the man*?

I’ll let Wehner answer: “This isn’t going to end well.”


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