Claiming The Republican Party: Bushism, Trumpism, Or Conservatism

The 2016 Republican presidential nomination is a collision course of competing political and cultural views of America. The nomination is a ferocious war among different cultural, economic, and philosophical forces attempting to lay claim over the Republican Party, and South Carolina is now the latest battle. These forces are: Bushism, Trumpism, and conservatism.

Bushism represents those business-friendly Republicans who generally favor international trade agreements, comprehensive immigration reform, a vigorous foreign and defense policy, an active government that supports business interests and traditional entitlement programs and a cautious approach to conservative innovation and reform. Bushism symbolically appeals to traditional conservative positions, but tends to qualify these positions with notions of electability. Thus, George H. W. Bush appealed to a kinder and gentler county; George W. Bush wrapped his conservative arguments in compassion, and Jeb Bush talks of a right to rise. Bushism is the antithesis of populism and finds its greatest support among traditional-establishment political, business, and Wall Street interests. It loves to make deals and side-deals. As a popular political force, it is in decline and its message seems weak. Its donor class is oblivious to this political decline. They invested over $100 million in Jeb Bush, only for him to perform poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trumpism is a populist movement of the disaffected and disadvantaged, many of whom are inclined to a cultural conservatism and national patriotism. They are economically insecure, distrustful of elites, politically voluble, and generally working class. They are hostile to political correctness, establishment etiquette, the bi-coastal elites, and the media. Unlike the philosophy of Bushism, they are opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, guest-worker programs, bad trade deals, and international corporations that export jobs and plants abroad. They don’t like nation building. Unlike Bushism, which finds its home in the Republican Party, these voters can migrate from one party and personality to another. In southern Ohio, for example, from Steubenville to the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati, these voters alternated from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to Ross Perot to Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush. In Donald Trump they find a champion that they could not find in Barack Obama, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. They are energized by strength.

The final force is the divided force of conservatism. It includes advocates of limited government, free enterprise, restrained foreign intervention, a strong defense, and a fidelity to traditional values of family, community, and faith. Since 1988, national conservatism has been sliced and diced among its various parts without a credible and coherent set of leaders and principles. Thus conservatism has been divided among libertarians, neo-cons, paleo-cons, and social conservatives. Conservatism can express itself in popular and national success such as in 1994, 2010, and 2014-15, but has so far failed to win a national presidential election. In some instances, conservatism has lost its appeal due to accommodation with Bushism and the establishment, while at the same time could find natural alliances with the Trumpian forces.

These three forces are now competing for the control and direction of the Republican Party. It is no wonder that the Republican primary has become a bitter and personal campaign. The personal and economic grievances of the Trumpistas, the last gasp of the establishment, and the division among conservatives is the perfect storm for a weak and wounded Republican nominee for president. The campaign has worsened the relationship among these forces, and has raised the prospect that none of these forces could come together in a consensus. While it is true that many voters aligned with Donald Trump stayed home when McCain and Romney were the Republican nominees, it may be equally true that many movement conservatives will stay home if Donald Trump is the nominee.

Perhaps the South Carolina primary might clarify the direction of the campaign. A victory by Donald Trump will make it hard for the divided conservatives and the declining establishment to provide an alternative. Conservatism, as we understand it as a political and social philosophy, is on the line in the Palmetto State, and may not recover its national importance for years to come.

– See more at: Vision & Values

Limbaugh Just Revealed One BIG Sentence Trump Said That’ll ‘Make News’…

Donald Trump has received heavy criticism in recent months for not being a genuine constitutional conservative. Thursday morning, Donald Trump tweeted, “Remember, it was the Republican Party, with the help of Conservatives, that made so many promises to their base, BUT DIDN’T KEEP THEM! Hi DT.”

The tweet caught the attention of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh who described the tweet as one that will, “make news.” Limbaugh said depending on how the tweet is interpreted, many different conclusions about Trump may be drawn.

Limbaugh described the seemingly carefully crafted tweet, explaining some interpretations. “Depending on who tells you this, depending on how you first see this and if you just see it by yourself and you’re left to your own devices to interpret it, react to it, or if you see it as part of a piece that somebody has put together in a way to influence, some people are gonna see this as Trump admitting he’s not a conservative,” Limbaugh said. He added, “Some people are gonna say: “See? Trump is now so in the driver’s seat he feels free to come forward and admit that he’s not a conservative and it’s actually conservatives that screwed everything up.”

Indeed, the tweet does seem to imply Trump is differentiating himself from conservatives, much like liberals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders already do. But Limbaugh also explains there is another way of interpreting the tweet. He said:

Others are not going to see it that way. Others are gonna see that Trump is right on the money here.  Others are going to look at this, “Hey, he’s exactly right. That’s why we’re ticked off. We had so many conservatives, we thought, conservatives making promises to us and they didn’t do diddly-squat.” And then they’ll name some names for you. They’ll tell you they thought John Boehner was a conservative. They’ll tell you they thought Mitch McConnell was a conservative. They’ll tell you they thought any number of people that they voted for and elected as Republicans were conservative.  And yet there wasn’t any push-back to Obama, and there wasn’t any attempt to stoppage.

Western Journalism reported not only on Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s shortcomings as conservatives, but most recently, Paul Ryan‘s as well. Ryan was heavily criticized for not using his position as the Speaker of the House to prevent the passage of President Obama’s massive omnibus spending bill. Ryan worked with House Democrats to pass the 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill with nearly no push back from House Republicans.

Limbaugh Says Which GOP Candidate Is ‘Closest In Our Lifetimes’ To Reagan- It May Shock You

Voters who want to see another Ronald Reagan in the White House have a candidate they can rally behind, according to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

“If conservatism is your bag, if conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote, there is no other choice for you in this campaign than Ted Cruz, because you are exactly right: This is the closest in our lifetimes we have ever been to Ronald Reagan,” Limbaugh said on his program Wednesday.

“In terms of doctrinaire, understandable, articulated, implementable conservatism, there’s nobody closer,” said Limbaugh, who noted a vast ideological difference between the Texas senator and Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

“If you look at Trump’s coalition, there’s a lot of assumptions being made about it, because he’s running as a Republican and in the Republican primary, and it’s assumed the Republican base is who’s voting here,” Limbaugh said. “Therefore, it’s assumed the majority of Trump’s coalition’s conservatives. And there are a lot. But he’s broad. He’s all over the spectrum.”

Later he added, “Donald Trump — and I’ve never said otherwise — Donald Trump is not an ideological candidate.”

“He sees people in entirely different ways. He looks at them in different ways,” Limbaugh said, using Sen. Charles Schuler, D-N.Y., in an anecdote to explain how Trump’s assessment of an individual is based upon whether they are of use to Trump.

“The fact that Chuck may be a screaming leftist, none of that matters. But he’s that way with everybody. That’s why Trump’s circle of friends and associates are all over the place.”

“But for those of you that conservatism’s the answer and conservatism is the way, you have no choice here. Ted Cruz has got to be your guy. There’s nobody even close. Nobody,” Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh added that implementing conservative principles is essential for the future of America.

“Conservatism is what’s gonna have to be implemented here to reverse the direction we’re headed,” he said. “That’s why people who are supporting Cruz are supporting Cruz. That’s why conservatives get worried when other conservatives do not support a conservative, ’cause the problems we have are directly traceable to liberalism, and the antidote, the cure, the vaccine, the nuclear device to wipe it out is conservatism.”

h/t: Hot Air

Donald Trump, National Review, And The Battle For The Conservative Mind

The editors and writers of National Review recently did something extraordinary. They came out en masse against a Republican candidate during the primary. Their “Against Trump” symposium and accompanying “Editors introduction” offer up a barrage of attacks on Donald Trump’s surprising presidential candidacy.

For the symposium, National Review assembled an enormously diverse group of conservative thinkers, from “movement conservatives” to more “establishment” types, to “conservatarians.” Clearly, this is no monolithic bloc. Yet there they are—an eclectic bunch of odd bedfellows making the same core argument: Donald Trump is not a conservative based on any meaningful definition of the term.

The National Review’s writers make this case fearlessly, meticulously, and thoroughly. In past and current statements or actions, Trump has violated virtually every pillar of conservatism. Some of his positions defy constitutionally limited, liberty-motivated government (e.g. his support of eminent domain); contradict traditional values (e.g., his sometimes support for Planned Parenthood); and call into serious question whether he really is a foreign-affairs conservative by any measure (e.g. his protectionist proposals on trade or his willingness to contemplate Russian hegemony in the Middle East). On whether Donald Trump is a consistent, true conservative … the case is arguably closed.

But if National Review editors’ intent was to cause Trump supporters to question their loyalties, such efforts are doomed to fail for one simple reason: Many Trump enthusiasts are not the reliable conservatives that National Review wishes them to be. Consider:

One widely touted source, YouGov, reports that only 13 percent of Trump voters describe themselves as “very conservative” versus 20 percent that describe themselves as liberal or moderate. Only 30 percent of them say that they identify with the Tea Party movement, according to a Newsweek summary of the YouGov data on Trump. In short, the “Trump is not especially conservative” refrain doesn’t work with his supporters because neither are they.

How can it be so? How can it be that the Republican currently garnering a large plurality of support in a crowded but highly qualified field of candidates (many of them unquestionably conservative) is the one with the feeblest conservative credentials and some of the most heretical statements and positions?

One plausible and compelling answer to this question is embodied in Tim Groseclose’s path breaking book, Left Turn. The book covers an awful lot of ground, beginning with a detailed demonstration of how to define, quantify, and trend liberal media bias; and an amazingly rich and systematic account of how liberal media bias actually happens in practice. These are, in themselves, hugely important contributions.

But the most relevant finding of the book is reflected in its subtitle: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. Simply put, liberal media bias is exerting an independent effect on the “political quotient” of the average American and is moving it steadily and substantially leftward. By Groseclose’s math, media bias has shifted the average American political quotient approximately 20 percent further left, to the point where it is worth about 8 points in presidential elections in favor of Democrat candidates. That is significant.

Other widely accepted data sources validate the trend, if not the causes. According to recent data from Gallup, the percentage of Americans who identify as “conservative” outnumbers “liberals” by 37 percent to 24 percent (with 35 percent identifying as moderates). But in 1992, that same percentage for conservatives was 43 percent versus 17 percent for liberals. A 26 point gap between conservatives and liberals has shriveled to 12 points in just over 20 years.

Is America still the “center-right nation” it is so often assumed to be? Perhaps. But it is far less so than it was, not even a generation ago. True, the fight isn’t fair. Undoubtedly, liberal media bias forms colossal, perhaps even insurmountable headwinds for conservative ideas.

Regardless, it seems abundantly clear that the conservative punditry is overestimating the conservatism of the Republican and national electorates. Just to offer a couple of examples, the current Republican front runner frequently argues against entitlement reform. Worse still, the Republican candidates (as a group) are talking less about the debt and deficits than at any other point in recent memory.

Put differently, conservatives must confront the simple reality that they are losing the argument. This being the case, at least one truth is manifest: effectively making the case for conservative ideas is more important today than ever before. Conservatives can either take up this fight, or accept being mere enablers in the self-reinforcing “triumph” of American liberalism.

Certainly, conservatives can (and should) also debate the wisdom of their flagship journal taking such a definitive stance regarding one particular candidate this early in the cycle. But the effort to clearly define and passionately argue for true conservative ideas is really the best hope they have. In this battle for the conservative mind, National Review’s contribution has always been and continues to be, invaluable.

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Watch: Trump Asked To Define ‘Conservative’ – His Answer Has Some Supporters Worried

Donald Trump, when asked to define a conservative, responded first by saying it is someone who is risk averse, then adding it is someone who wants to conserve.

While a guest on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, the candidate went on to liken his evolution to being more conservative politically on many issues to the journey former President Ronald Reagan took.

Face the Nation host John Dickerson asked Trump how he responds to the charge GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz and others level that the businessman has not been a consistent conservative. “Usually, I just invoke the name Ronald Reagan,” Trump replied. 

“I mean, Ronald Reagan was a fairly liberal Democrat, and he evolved over years and he became more and more conservative. And he was not a very conservative person, but he was pretty conservative. And he ended up being a great president,” the candidate added. 

Cruz does not believe Trump’s comparison to Reagan is accurate. “I would note that Ronald Reagan spent decades as a principled conservative, spent decades traveling the country sharing his conservative, free-market views [and] defending the Constitution,” Cruz said.

“Ronald Reagan did not spend the first 60 years of his life supporting Democratic politicians, advocating for big government politics, supporting things like the big bank bailouts, supporting things like expanding Obamacare to turn it into socialized medicine,” the Texas senator added. 

Reagan was a Democrat who supported Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s and Harry Truman in the 1940s. In the 1950s, he joined the “Democrats for Eisenhower,” backing the popular World War II general who successfully ran and won under the Republican banner.

Reagan changed his party affiliation in 1962 (when he was 51), and threw his full support behind conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign. The Hollywood actor then ran for office himself later in the decade as a Republican, being elected twice as governor of California.

Reagan would say when explaining his switch to the GOP, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the party left me.”

The three legs of Reagan conservatism are: limited government/pro-growth fiscal policies, a strong national defense, and support for traditional values.

When asked to define what a conservative is during his Face the Nation interview on Sunday, Trump responded, “Well, I think it’s a person that doesn’t want to take overly risks. I think that’s a good thing,” Trump responded.

“I think it’s a person that wants to — in terms of government I’m talking about — a person that wants to conserve, a person that wants to, in a financial sense, balance budgets, a person that feels strongly about the military. And I feel very strongly about the military,” he added. 

What the candidate failed to discuss was traditional values. Trump’s bona fides in this area are already suspect with many social conservatives because the billionaire candidate described himself as very pro-choice in 1999 and has voiced support for certain homosexual rights, though he has not backed same-sex marriage.

National Review dedicated an issue last week to arguing why Trump is not a conservative, hitting on his changing views on social issues, past support for Democrat candidates, and support of certain “big government” programs and bailouts.

Trump responded:

h/t: CNS News