A Guide For Perplexed Conservatives In The Age of Trump

Published at NBC News Think:


How are we going to survive this thing?

These are (to put it mildly) tough times to be a conservative, especially one who is skeptical of Donald Trump. While there will be some real policy victories — the judiciary for example — conservatives have watched these past nine months as conservativism has been tarnished by a politics of cruelty, insult, and erratic tweet storms. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

So far, only a handful of elected Republicans have been willing to speak out — Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, John McCain and Bob Corker come to mind — but we are going to have to hear more from contrarian conservatives if the movement has any hope of salvaging its brand, and its soul.

Being a contrarian comes rather naturally to me (maybe it’s genetics), and I suppose this current dissatisfaction takes me full circle. Back in the 1970s, I became a “recovering Liberal,” when I looked around me and decided I no longer wanted to be a part of what that movement had become. My decision came slowly, but it was ultimately liberating to break free from tribal politics and its tendentious talking points.

So this feels familiar to me. If the conservative movement wishes to be defined by the nativist, authoritarian, post-truth culture of Trump-Bannon-Drudge-Hannity-Palin, then I’m out.

So what does that mean?

As difficult as it may be, conservatives need to stand athwart history once again — this time recognizing that Trumpism poses an existential threat to the conservative vision of ordered liberty.

This will be a complicated undertaking, given the pressures of political tribalism and the reality that many of Trump’s policy items appeal to conservatives. Rather than conformity, however, conservativism needs dissidents who are willing to push back. We need, contrarian conservatives who recognize that their movement now finds itself reduced to a remnant in the wilderness.

But the wilderness is a good place for any movement to rethink its first principles, rediscover its forgotten values, and ask: Who are we, really?

Read the rest here: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/guide-frustrated-conservatives-age-trump-ncna813226