Editor: Johnathan Meyers | Tactical Investor
Paleoconservatism, the movement that explains Donald Trump
“People can support Donald Trump, but they cannot support him on conservative grounds,” former George W. Bush aide Peter Wehner writes at Commentary. “The case for constitutional limited government is the case against Donald Trump,” declares Federalist founder Ben Domenech. “Instead of converting voters to conservatism, Trump is succeeding at converting conservatives to statism on everything from health care and entitlements to trade,” complained National Review’s Jonah Goldberg.
Trump is an odd standard-bearer for paleocons, many of whom are conservative Catholics and whose passionate social conservatism doesn’t jibe well with Trump’s philandering. His foreign policy ideas are also more interventionist than those of most paleocons. But the ideas that have made him such a controversial candidate aren’t ones he got from liberals. They have a serious conservative pedigree.
Trump fits into this tradition quite well. He’s less stridently a anti-welfare-state, and less socially conservative than most paleoconservatives. But he is a great exemplar of the movement’s core belief: America should come first, and trade and migration from abroad are direct threats to its way of life.
And while his foreign policy worldview is not really isolationist, it’s definitely obsessed with putting “America First,” a term he actually used in his major foreign policy address in April, and which has a long pedigree in paleocon circles dating back to World War II. He wants to defeat ISIS, but he also wants to steal Iraq’s oil for America; pure paleocons would object to embroiling America in foreign matters like that, but the nationalism driving the position is really different from the ideological pro-democracy agenda of the neoconservatives.
“We are getting out of the nation-building business, and instead focusing on creating stability in the world,” he declares. “Our moments of greatest strength came when politics ended at the water’s edge.” That’s pure paleocon. Full Story
The ‘To Be Sure’ Conservatives
Then there’s the middle group: The “to be sure” conservatives. They want to remain faithful to principles they once championed. But they also want to be as faithful as possible to a president who enjoys near 90 percent approval among Republican voters. Thus, their writing includes “to be sure” paragraphs that breeze by Trump’s blatant assaults on long-held conservative values in their rush to find something, anything, to congratulate him for.
The reaction to Trump’s performance at this week’s nato summit nicely illustrates the phenomenon. Perhaps the most common conservative critique of Barack Obama’s foreign policy was that he bashed America’s allies (Israel, in particular, but also countries in Eastern Europe) and appeased America’s foes (Iran, in particular, but also Russia). “Obama has been hell on allies,” wrote the National Review editor Rich Lowry in 2009. “The more pro-U.S. a country is, the more it can expect scolding or neglect from the president of the United States. It’s our enemies and the authoritarian big powers that Obama wants to woo.” In his book, How The Obama Administration Threatens our National Security, the National Review contributor Victor Davis Hanson declared that under Obama, governments “previously deemed hostile to the United States earned more attention than staunch allies” who the president enjoyed “hectoring.”
I suspect Lowry knows this. But since openly acknowledging it would require openly confronting Trump, he tries to breeze by Trump’s hostility to nato in his “to be sure” paragraph (actually, two paragraphs):
Donald Trump has made the German chancellor one of his favorite rhetorical targets, especially over Germany’s anemic defense expenditures. This has led to worries about the future of the trans-Atlantic alliance, and to reflexive support for Merkel among the American political elite.
Trump shouldn’t openly mock Merkel or suggest that Germany has failed to pay its annual dues to nato. Trump tends to view foreign countries like contractors trying to scam him in a development deal. This scants history, geo-strategy, and the national pride of other countries — as usual, Trump would benefit from at least a gesture toward statesmanship. Full Story
There’s an old conservative playbook behind Donald Trump’s threat to regulate Google
Any time broadcasters chose not to carry his show, Manion saw an opportunity to reinforce two core conservative ideas: liberal media bias and conservative persecution. Manion learned this lesson early on. His radio show began in late 1954, and by 1957 he was embroiled in a controversy over a labor strike in Wisconsin. The network that carried his program, Mutual Broadcast System, was the most conservative of the four national radio networks in the 1950s, but even they were wary of carrying Manion’s interview with Herbert Kohler, who owned the plant involved in the strike. They worried the network would be sued for defamation or otherwise drawn into what had been a pretty litigious conflict. As a result, they refused to broadcast that episode.
So what happened? Manion cried censorship, and not only got significant press coverage — the Kohler interview ended up getting far more national notice than it would have if the episode had actually aired — but also had a case to point to in order to bolster his argument that conservatives were blacked out of the national media. And he raised a ton of money, too.
Which is not to say he was wrong. Mutual made a pretty questionable call, one that avoided broadcasters’ obligation to cover controversial issues. But Manion was able to take that censorship framework and apply it to everything. Full |Story
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