Conservative writer George Will made an impassioned plea in a December 23 Washington Post column. His thesis? That Donald Trump’s nomination could mean no less than the end of the “conservative party.”
Conservatives’ highest priority now must be to prevent Trump from winning the Republican nomination in this, the GOP’s third epochal intraparty struggle in 104 years.
After mining through 20th century history to explain how Republican revolts in 1912 and 1964 led to the foundation of today’s GOP, Will says that Trump’s nomination would not just hand the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton but that it “would also mean the loss of what [William Howard] Taft and then [Barry] Goldwater made possible — a conservative party as a constant presence in U.S. politics.”
Will concludes with the ominous proclamation that “one hundred and four years of history is in the balance.”
Will’s no crackpot, but this song is played out. Anyone that looks at Donald Trump’s record – to say nothing of the policies he espouses today – can see that he’s not a “conservative” in the generally accepted form of the word. He’s extraordinarily right-wing on some things – immigration, for instance – and relatively liberal on others, such as taxation. Put him in a conservative litmus test with Ted Cruz, and it’s not even a contest.
But let’s face reality here. Electing traditional Republicans is what gave us the current House of Representatives. Would Speaker Paul Ryan qualify as a conservative in George Will’s estimation? Undoubtedly. Yet he just presided over a $1.1 trillion spending bill that reads like a Democrat Party wish list. That’s to say nothing of the last eight years, which have been marred by one Republican surrender after another. Or the last two elections, where moderate Republican candidates were trounced by Obama.
At the end of the day, Trump is the only Republican willing to do the ugly work of securing our southern border. If we continue to allow illegal immigration to run wild, it won’t matter if we elect the ghost of Ronald Reagan next November; the game is up. This is the Democrat Party’s ultimate demographic triumph, and it could forever push the GOP to second-tier status. Without a country where laws matter, what difference does it make who the president might happen to be?
Even Trump’s biggest supporters regularly express reservations about him. No one is going into this with the slightest belief that he’s as great and wise as he boasts. No one is fooled by his “there will be so much winning” rhetoric. Many of his supporters even have serious doubts as to whether he can actually deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
But political bluster wasn’t invented by Donald Trump, and you would have to have been born yesterday to buy into any campaign promises without chasing them with a grain of salt.
What Trump brings to the table is a refreshing disdain for politics-as-usual. And as his numbers continue to grow, it could be that his supporters recognize that there’s more wrong with this country than which party is occupying the White House. There is an infection in the system. Is Trump the cure? We might soon find out.