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.
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?
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