Trump, Conservative Ideolgues and Populists

Conservative ideologues want to keep things essentially as they are, making only marginal and generally ineffective changes. Populists want to change things to be more consistent with what “we the people” want. Often, what we the people want is better than what our “leaders” want or try to provide. Under these definitions, Trump is a populist, not a conservative ideologue. That’s good.

According to Dictionary. com, these are attributes of “conservatives:”

Disposed to preserve existing conditions, restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

According to the same source, “populism” means:

Any of various, often anti-establishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.

Grass-roots democracy; working class activism; egalitarianism.

National Review recently published an entire special edition devoted to attacking Trump on the ground that he is insufficiently conservative. Whom did National Review support in 2008 and 2012? Guess or go to the link. He did not win.

NR - Trump

Writing at PJ Media about National Review’s special issue, Roger L. Simon argued that 

Many of their arguments revolve around whether Trump is a “true conservative.” Instead of wading into the definitional weeds on that one — as they say on the Internet, YMMV [Your Milleage May Vary] — allow me to address the macro question of what the purpose of ideology actually is. For me, it is to provide a theoretical basis on which to act, a set of principles. But that’s all it is. It’s not a religion, although it can be mistaken for one (communism). [Insert and Emphasis added.]

Ideology should function as a guide, not a faith, because in the real world you may have to violate it, when the rubber meets the road, as they say. For those of us in the punditocracy, the rubber rarely if ever meets the road.  All we have is our theories. They are the road for us. If we’re lucky, we’re paid for them.  In that case, we hardly ever vary them. It would be bad for business.

Trump’s perspective was the reverse. The rubber was constantly meeting the road. In fact, it rarely did anything else. He always had to change and adjust. Ideological principles were just background noise, barely audible sounds above the jack hammers. [Emphasis added.]

When National Review takes up arms against Trump, it is men and women of theory against a man of action. The public, if we are to believe the polls, prefers the action. It’s not hard to see why. The theory has failed and become increasingly disconnected from the people. It doesn’t go anywhere and hasn’t for years. I’m guilty of it too. (Our current president is 150% a man of theory.) Too many people — left and right — are drunk on ideology. [Emphasis added.]

Were the “old White men” who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence, and those who fought for the colonies in the Revolutionary War, conservative ideologues? Did they want to preserve existing conditions under the King of England, his governors and military? Or were they pragmatic populists, as well as men of action, who opposed the King’s establishment and offered unorthodox solutions appealing to the “common” people? It took a lot of pushing from such revolutionaries as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, but the pragmatic populists won.

I don’t want to suggest that Donald Trump is this generation’s George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin. Times are now sufficiently different that doing so would be frivolous. Among other differences, there should be no need to go to war now because we still have an electoral process, flawed though it may be. Nor are we ruled by an unelected, hereditary king; we are ruled by an elected president who considers Himself a king, ignores or twists the Constitution to fit His needs, often ideological, and acts by royal executive decree when the Congress declines to do His bidding or goes about it too slowly to suit Him.

Be that as it may, what’s wrong with the populist notion encouraging members of the governed class — the “vulgarians” — to have greater voices in how they are governed than those who govern them, often to their own benefit, while mocking those whom they govern? Sometimes we the people make mistakes and sometimes we get it right. Ditto our dear leaders. Why not give us a chance for a change?

Into which category — conservative ideologue or populist — if either, does Donald Trump fit, do we need him now and, if so, why?

Here’s the 2012 video Whittle referred to in the video above:

Which of the current Republican candidates has taken, or is the most likely to take, positions comparable to those suggested in the above video?

In September of last year, I wrote an article titled To bring America back we need to break some stuff. There, I quoted Daniel Greenfield for the following proposition:

What we have now is not a movement because we have not defined what it is we hope to win. We have built reactive movements to stave off despair. We must do better than that. We must not settle for striving to restore some idealized lost world. Instead we must dream big. We must think of the nation we want and of the civilization we want to live in and what it will take to build it. [Emphasis added.]

Our enemies have set out big goals. We must set out bigger ones. We must become more than conservatives. If we remain conservatives, then all we will have is the America we live in now. And even if our children and grandchildren become conservatives, that is the culture and nation they will fight to conserve. We must become revolutionaries. [Emphasis added.]

I also suggested that if we don’t seek real — even revolutionary — change we might as well try to join the European Union. That would keep things pretty much as they now are and would, therefore, be more the “conservative” than the populist thing to do.

Our unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy could merge with that of the EU and our Congress could merge with the impotent EU Parliament.

Here’s a new Trifecta video about a proposal by the Governor of Texas to amend the Constitution which, he contends, has been broken by those who have improperly increased the power of the Federal Government while diminishing that of the states.

The Constitution is not broken. It’s just been poorly interpreted, twisted and otherwise ignored. In recent years Obama — who claims to be a “constitutional scholar” — has done more to ignore, twist and misinterpret it than any other president I can remember. Depending on what amendments might be adopted and ratified, an Obama clone (Hillary Clinton?) might well do the same; perhaps even worse. A president can personally stop that process by not doing it. A president can halt poor judicial interpretations only by nominating judges unlikely to make them.


Trump is not perfect; nobody is. However, he says what he thinks rather than spew multiculturally correct pablum. Few are sufficiently thick-skinned to do that. A “vulgarian,” he is not politically correct. Others are because they don’t want to offend. Trump recognizes that Islam is the religion of war, death and oppression and does not want the further Islamisation of America, which is already proceeding apace. Few leaders of either party are willing to take that position, mean it and act on it effectively if elected.

We are mad, not insane. We want to give we the people a bigger and stronger voice in how and by whom we are governed. If, by voting to make Trump our President, we make a big mistake so be it. Worse candidates with fewer qualifications have been elected and reelected. During His first and second term as President, Obama has gone far in His quest to transform America fundamentally and in the wrong directions. If Trump does not come sufficiently close to correcting course to meet our expectations during his first term, we won’t vote to reelect him. In the meantime,

Opps. I almost forgot this




About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in 2016 elections, Bill Whittle, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Courts, Declaration of Independence, Democrats, Donald Trump, Estblishment, European Union, Executive Decree, Federal Agencies, Foreign policy, Freedom, Islam, Multicuralism, Obama, Obama's America, Political Correctness, Populism, Progressives, Republicans, Revolutionary War, U.S. Military and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Trump, Conservative Ideolgues and Populists

  1. Ruvy Kossover says:

    Hi, Dan,

    I don’t like Donald Trump. I’ve already had a dose of his flip-flopping. First he refused to say that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, and then he proposed to move America’s embassy to Israel there from Tel Aviv. Frankly, I do not want the American embassy staining OUR HOLY CITY. They can stay in Jerusalem and continue to use the high priced prostitutes THERE. We don’t need them. So, Trump, like all American leaders, will flip-flop. I didn’t like him as a land-lord either when I lived in Bensonhurst, 30 years ago. But, these are personal preferences. Given the other choices that Americans face, and given the trash presently occupying the president’s chair today, he stands way above the other possibilities – ALL OF THEM.

    So, I’ll stand behind your endorsement of the man. As for those of us who have left the United States, and who are now loyal citizens of other countries, like Israel, it is up to US to come up with leaders who will put whatever arrogant American is called “president” in his place.

    I hope you continue to do well in Panamá.


  2. Tom Carter says:

    Trump is entertaining and funny, bombastic to the point of being clownish. I fear that it would be a huge (pardon me, Donald) mistake to elect him President. He has few specific plans that would implement his ideas; in fact, he avoids specificity like the plague. In the few cases where he talks about doing a specific thing, he sounds like a fool. For example, he says he will deport all 11 million (or however many there are) illegal aliens in two months. He will not do that. Period. It is legally and logistically impossible.

    More than that, If he actually did some of the things he’s talked about, he would have to violate the Constitution at least as seriously as Obama has.

    We need a serious, responsible president with the political skills to work with Congress and other stakeholders in government (the military, cabinet officials, etc) to get things done. Obama failed in that respect. So will Trump, perhaps much more spectacularly.

  3. Mike says:


    Tastes a bit of straw. I agree in one respect, the Constitution is not broken. Rather, it has been abandoned.
    “The theory has failed and become increasingly disconnected from the people..” The Theory is one of Sacred Individualism. It can never disconnect from the people. It can only be sacrificed at the alter of Mob Rule… which is most often referred to as populism. Frankly, I have long held that populism is simply a term used by the intellectually lazy to describe themselves in order not to convey they idea that they have not really thought about what they think. It’s a trash can term. With that in mind, I believe it describes Trump.
    Pragmatists have always been the unknowing allies of Socialists Worldwide. In the description of difference between Ideology and Religion the point is made that an Ideology is such as it retains the flexibility of not always needing to be adhered to. Fair enough. But it has always been the M.O. of those advocating Government Force to get the their opposition to be as flexible as possible as often as possible. And this Strategy has worked very well for them… which is why we’re even having this discussion.
    In the End, I will apply my Bozo the Clown approach. That being, I will vote for Bozo the Clown before I vote for a Democrat Socialist, Democrat or Socialist. So Trump gets my vote if it comes down to that. But it is exactly the push back he is receiving which was always intended by the primary process. It’s good that he gets tough questions which are Ideologically based. It should be the expectation of the public that he attempts to answer them… not denigrate those who ask them.

    Without question this is one of the most interesting primary seasons in decades. And it is Good.

  4. Pingback: Off Topic | Trump, Conservative Ideolgues and Populists |

  5. Morgan Burns says:

    Trump is the epitome of the status quo statism, big government cronyism and enshrining Obama’s man of action unconstitutional style of governing. As he announced in Nevada he is ready to embrace the establishment and make deals with Democrats (i.e., disavow his populist rhetoric). If you want higher taxes, labor unions dictating job policies, government single payer healthcare, a liberal Supreme Court, higher cost of consumer goods/higher cost of living, government by executive orders, a continuation of Obama’s leadership from behind foreign policy then liberal progressive RINO Trump is your boy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s