‘There is no returning to the pre-Trump conservative consensus’: Right-wing editorial warns against GOP uprising
The Donald Trump era has underscored the ideological divisions on the American right. President Trump’s more vocal right-wing critics, from libertarians to neocons, argue that he has been terrible for the conservative movement in the United States. But in a new editorial for the First Things website, a group of 13 pro-Trump right-wingers argue that Trumpism has permanently reshaped the American right—whether Trump’s critics like it or not.
Collectively, contributors to the editorial (who range from the American Conservative’s Rod Dreher to the Claremont Institute’s Matthew Peterson) warn Never Trump conservatives, “There is no returning to the pre-Trump conservative consensus that collapsed in 2016. Any attempt to revive the failed conservative consensus that preceded Trump would be misguided and harmful to the right.”
The editorial asserts that while “consensus conservatism”—that is, conservatism that preceded Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign—“played a heroic role in defeating communism in the last century,” it had many failures as well. For example, it “too often bowed to a poisonous and censorious multiculturalism” and promoted “free trade on every front.”
The editorial criticizes former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a libertarian Ronald Reagan appointee, for his pro-choice rulings on abortion and goes on to describe some of the characteristics of Trumpism it sees as positive—such as opposing “a borderless world” and “attempts to displace American citizens” in favor of “potential immigrants.”
Echoing familiar Trumpian themes, the editorial declares, “Americans take more pride in their identity as workers than about their identity as consumers. Economic and welfare policy should prioritize work over consumption.”
The piece concludes by asserting, “We respectfully decline to join with those who would resurrect warmed-over Reaganism and foreclose honest debate.”
Trump’s blend of social conservatism, protectionism and isolationism has often drawn comparisons to the 1990s presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan, now an enthusiastic Trump supporter. And in the comments section, one of the readers of the First Things editorial, Brian LeCompte, noted the Trump/Buchanan parallels—posting, “These statements remind me very much of Pat Buchanan’s ideas. What seemed reactionary in the ‘90s during the Clinton era is now considered revolutionary.”