Election 2016

18 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is a Vulgar, Two-Bit Caesar, According to America's Conservatives

The National Review issues an anti-Trump manifesto.

Photo Credit: Image by Shutterstock, Copyright (c) Albert H. Teich

The Republican Party’s “serious people” wing has issued an anti-Donald Trump manifesto in the vaunted conservative journal, National Review. The piece is filled with irony, humor and blunt assessments of how the GOP is crumbling from within. But it’s all there, confirming everything that’s been said about what Trump represents and how he has exacerbated the Republican Party’s identity crisis.

Without further ado, let’s go to what 18 arch right-wingers are saying in the takes-one-to-know-one department.

1. Imagine, the builder wants to see government build things.

“When conservatives desperately needed allies in the fight against big government, Donald Trump didn’t stand on the sidelines. He consistently advocated that your money be spent, that your government grow, and that your Constitution be ignored.”

Glenn Beck, nationally syndicated radio host, referring to Trump’s support of the 2009 economic stimulus and the auto and bank bailouts

2. A dictator who will make Obama’s executive orders seem quaint.

“Equally troubling is his idea of the presidency — his promise that he’s the guy, the man on a white horse, who can ride into Washington, fire the stupid people, hire the best people and fix everything. He doesn’t talk about policy or working with Congress. He’s effectively vowing to be an American Mussolini, concentrating power in the Trump White House and governing by fiat.”

David Boaz, Cato Institute executive vice president

3. A Republican politician who doesn’t read what we write.

“A real conservative walks with us. Ronald Reagan read National Review and Human Events for intellectual sustenance; spoke annually to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Young Americans for Freedom and other organizations to rally the troops; supported Barry Goldwater when the GOP mainstream turned its back on him; raised money for countless conservative groups; wrote hundreds of op-eds; and delivered even more speeches, everywhere championing our cause. Until he decided to run for the GOP nomination a few months ago, Trump had done none of these things.”  

L. Brent Bozell III, ForAmerica chairman and Ted Cruz supporter

4. He’s a boor, a creep, a louse and political fraud.

“We can talk about whether he is a boor ('My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body'), a creep ('If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her') or a louse (he tried to bully an elderly woman, Vera Coking, out of her house in Atlantic City because it stood on a spot he wanted to use as a garage). But one thing about which there can be no debate is that Trump is no conservative — he’s simply playing one in the primaries. Call it unreality TV.”

Mona Charen, Ethics and Policy Center senior fellow

5. He appeals to Republicans left behind by their party.

“The Trump voter is moderate, disaffected, with patriotic instincts. He feels disconnected from the GOP and other broken public institutions, left behind by a national political elite that no longer believes he matters … In order to build a governing majority, conservatives do not need Trump’s message or agenda, but they urgently need his supporters.”

Ben Domenech, publisher of theFederalist

6. He's an egomaniac who changes his mind too much.

“We should not put a new conservative in charge of conservatism or the country, so that he does not become puffed up with conceit and fall into condemnation. Republicans have wandered in the wilderness already by letting leaders define conservatism in their own image. Donald Trump needs more time and more testing of his new conservative convictions.”

Erick Erickson, editor ofThe Resurgentand Atlanta-based talk radio host

7. No knowledge of what a president actually does.

“Trump exhibits no awareness of this supreme constitutional task. His facially worthy challenge to political correctness is not a sufficient governing platform. Worse, his inclination to understand our problems as being managerial rather than political suggests he might well set back the conservative cause if he is elected, if not make the problems of runaway executive power even worse. Restraint is clearly not in his vocabulary or his character.”

Steven F. Hayward, Pepperdine University visiting professor

8. He lacks every important qualification for office.

“He doesn’t know the Constitution, history, law, political philosophy, nuclear strategy, diplomacy, defense, economics beyond real estate, or even, despite his low-level-mafioso comportment, how ordinary people live. But trumping all this is a greater flaw presented as his chief strength. Governing a great nation in parlous times is far more than making 'deals.' Compared with the weight of the office he seeks, his deals are microscopic in scale, and as he faced far deeper complexities he would lead the country into continual Russian roulette.”

— Mark Helprin, novelist

9. More vulgar than an “American Mussolini."

“In a letter to National Review, Leo Strauss wrote that 'a conservative, I take it, is a man who despises vulgarity; but the argument which is concerned exclusively with calculations of success, and is based on blindness to the nobility of the effort, is vulgar.' Isn’t Donald Trump the very epitome of vulgarity? In sum: Isn’t Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn’t the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?”

William Kristol, editor ofThe Weekly Standard

10. He’s not being held to critical standards.

“Why is there a double standard when it comes to evaluating Donald Trump? Why are other politicians excoriated when they change their minds — as, for example, Rick Perry did on the question of whether HPV vaccinations in Texas should be compulsory — but when Trump suddenly says he’s pro-life, the claim is accepted uncritically? Why is it unconscionable for Ted Cruz to take and repay a loan from Goldman Sachs to help win a tough Senate race but acceptable for Donald Trump to take money from George Soros? Why is vetting Trump, as we do any other candidate, considered 'bashing'? Aren’t these fair questions?”

Dana Loesch, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and Fox News analyst

11. He knows less than zero about foreign policy.

“The global jihad is complex, comprising terrorist organizations and abettors that include rogue nations and other shady accomplices… Donald Trump does not have a clue about any of this, careening wildly from vows to stay out of the fray (leaving it in Vladimir Putin’s nefarious hands) to promises that the earth will be indiscriminately scorched. The threat against us has metastasized in our eighth year under a president who quite consciously appeases the enemy. But the remedy is not a president oblivious of the enemy.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, former chief assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting terrorism cases

12. He’s a poser who’s trashing the Republican Party.

“Donald Trump is no conservative. He’s a populist whose theme is: Our government is broken, and I’ll fix it… Trump beguiles us, defies the politically correct media, and bullies anyone who points out that the emperor has no clothes. None of that makes him a conservative who cherishes liberty.”

David McIntosh, Club for Growth president

13. He’s re-enforcing (the correct) stereotypes of conservatives.

“Trump’s brawling, blustery, mean-spirited public persona serves to associate conservatives with all the negative stereotypes that liberals have for decades attached to their opponents on the right. According to conventional caricature, conservatives are selfish, greedy, materialistic, bullying, misogynistic, angry, and intolerant. They are, we’re told, privileged and pampered elitists who revel in the advantages of inherited wealth while displaying only cruel contempt for the less fortunate and the less powerful… Trump is the living, breathing, bellowing personification of all the nasty characteristics Democrats routinely ascribe to Republicans.”  

Michael Medved, national radio show host

14. He’s a sexist pig and a predatory businessman.

“One also cannot help but look at the personal life of the billionaire. It is not just that he has abandoned one wife after another for a younger woman, or that he has boasted about having sex with some of the 'top women of the world.' It’s that he says, after all that, that he has no need to seek forgiveness. At the same time, Trump has made millions off a casino industry that, as social conservatives have rightly argued, not only exploits personal vice but destroys families.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

15. He’s made money by soaking the poor and bribing politicians.

“Trump has made a living out of preying on and bullying society’s most vulnerable, with the help of government. He isn’t an outsider, but rather an unelected politician of the worst kind. He admits that he’s bought off elected officials in order get his way and to openly abuse the system.”  

— Katie Pavlich, Townhall editor and author

16. He’s mentally ill and would be worse than any Democrat.

“In any integrated personality, the id is supposed to be balanced by an ego and a superego—by a sense of self that gravitates toward behaving in a mature and responsible way when it comes to serious matters, and, failing that, has a sense of shame about transgressing norms and common decencies. Trump is an unbalanced force. He is the politicized American id. Should his election results match his polls, he would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime.”

 — John Podhoretz, editor ofCommentary

17. The GOP is now a magnet for loonies like him.

“The Republican party has become home to a growing number of Americans who want to burn down our political and economic systems and hang our cultural elites. They’re tired of being policed by political correctness, often with the complicity of supposed conservatives. They don’t like Republican candidates who denounce them as 'takers' with no future in the global economy. And they suspect, rightly, that the Chamber of Commerce will sell them down the river if it adds to the bottom line. All true, but it’s sad that this frustrated cohort now fixes on Trump as its savior.” 

R. R. Reno, editor ofFirst Things

18. He’s a thin-skinned crybaby and bully.

“On January 13, Trump spoke to a packed convention center in Pensacola, Fla. While he made many good points—especially when it came to uncontrolled immigration—he was rambling and unfocused. He spent time criticizing his 'poor-quality' microphone and said he wasn’t going to pay for it. Far cry from Ronald Reagan’s 'I am paying for this microphone' line during the 1980 New Hampshire–primary campaign, which conveyed strength, not petulance.”  

Cal Thomas,USATodaycolumnist and Fox News contributor

The Takeaway

If Trump snares the GOP nomination, the nation’s leading conservatives have given a great gift to his Democratic Party competitor. They need not look any further than the National Review anti-Trump manifesto to confirm everything Trump’s critics have been saying.

Those who know Republicans best know why he’s captured their party’s base and is a perfect reflection of the political groundwork they have been fomenting for years. When the GOP looks in the mirror, they do not see the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, but the image of Donald Trump, smiling smugly.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

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