Donald Trump Lied About Conservatism

trump_bsa_ftWatching the 2016 election season unfold, I’ve become a bit tired of two things in particular about the media, and Donald Trump.  In the first instance, Trump is wholly unwilling to discuss details of his plans, and the media dutifully accepts his empty rhetoric in an unquestioning manner almost as thorough as some of his supporters.  In the second instance, Mr. Trump is lying, and it’s a big lie that we conservatives must debunk.  It could be that Trump is just ignorant, so that when he spews his lie, he’s simply the parroting of talking points emanating from the rabid left and the DC establishment. Either way, a lie is a lie, whether it originated from Trump’s own mind, or he’s merely passing it along unthinkingly.  So what’s this big lie? On Thursday, Trump tweeted that conservatives are to blame and that conservatives have failed the country.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, but once again, debunking it requires the examination of a few salient details.  His throngs of supporters won’t be moved by this, just as they won’t be moved by any other rational argument. By and large, they’re proving immune to facts, reason, and details.  It should come as no surprise to conservatives that in one respect, I think there’s a nugget of truth that makes Trump’s lie seem superficially plausible, but it’s just a nugget.  It’s time to deconstruct Trump’s lie.

djt_conservatives_tweet

The first thing one must consider in answer to Trump’s assertion is: “Who are the conservatives?”  The truth in answer to this question is that actual, thinking, breathing, ideological conservatives constitute a minority of the Republican party.  The truth is that there are almost no actual conservatives in Washington DC, and to have been the party to blame for the state of the country, that is where one would have needed to be, not simply in a geographical sense, but in the sense of political efficacy.   Actual conservatives haven’t had any power to speak of in Washington DC for nearly two generations.  From the time of the middle of Reagan’s second term, there has been little one could properly label as “conservative” in our nation’s capital.  Where one can find any justification of Trump’s lie, despite the reality, is that for too long, we conservatives have let people who had no real attachment to conservatism pose as our representatives.

George H.W. Bush was no conservative.  Bob Dole was no conservative.  George W. Bush was no conservative. John McCain is no conservative.  Mitt Romney is no conservative.  I can extend this list to include current candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio to an extent, and any number of other conventional Republican politicians.  Paul Ryan is certainly no conservative, but neither were his immediate predecessors, John Boehner and Dennis Hastert.  Mitch McConnell and his caucus of establishment Republican cronies aren’t conservatives either, but the problem is that we have permitted them to claim conservatism, and we’ve allowed them to thereby define conservatism by the association with us.  Most Americans simply don’t pay much attention to politics, and in their barely-informed state of political ignorance, they’ve accepted the following basic formula: Republican = Conservative.  They may have accepted also: Democrat = Liberal.  Both of these are tragically wrong, and I will suggest to my conservative brethren that we are at least somewhat collectively guilty for letting this stick.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve permitted this to happen.  We’ve been so busy trying to expand the “big tent” of conservatism that we’ve permitted the party-crashers of the establishment to redefine what conservatism is, at least in the popular culture, by their constant association with us.  It’s been going on since Teddy Roosevelt, who was a progressive in Republican clothing.  For my part, here on this website, I’ve always endeavored to make clear the distinctions.  One cannot go through the columns of these pages and make any mistake about the fact that the form of conservatism advocated and advanced here has no relation whatsoever to the Republican party, never mind its establishment.

Of course, the truth is far removed from Trump’s nonsensical allegation.  Most actual conservatives, I’d nearly assert all, do not support the actions of the establishment, moderate, “center-right” wing of the Republican party.  Most conservatives actually detest those people, and would replace them with actual conservatives if it was in their power to do.  Every time conservatives have gone along with the GOP establishment in order to try to move things in the right direction, two things have been true almost without exception:  The GOP establishment betrays us, and we wind up moving backward.  A case in point is immigration: Those who call themselves “conservative” but are aligning themselves with Rubio in this election cycle have a very “YUGE” problem: Their guy is an amnesty-monger, having proposed the most exasperatingly un-conservative bill proposed by a Republican in quite a long time.  The so-called “Gang-of-8” bill was a nation-destroying monstrosity, and it would never have attained launch, much less threatened passage, without the efforts of people who claim to be “conservative.”

This is the problem exposed by Trump’s lie: It’s only plausible because we conservatives permit others to define what is conservatism.  We permit the misapplication of the term to people who may on occasion, for their own political expedience(and too frequently, ours) to associate with us and our body of political philosophy.  Since the greatest number of Americans don’t really pay that much attention, and use generic labels in order to short-cut thinking, we have a responsibility as conservatives to define what that means, and to take great pains to differentiate conservatives from anything else.

The facts supporting Trump’s assertion dissolve the moment one asks: “What is a conservative?” The laundry list of non-conservatives mentioned above is just a sample, but it should serve as a decent basis for understanding the problem in its proper context.  When Donald Trump talks about “the conservatives failed,” what he’s actually saying is that “Republicans have failed.”  That’s demonstrably true.  The problem is that conservatives haven’t failed, largely since they’ve never really held power in Washington, except for the briefest few years immediately after the ’94 “revolution” in the House of Representatives.  Even its leader, Newt Gingrich, isn’t really a conservative, but some of the people around him were, and a few of the people who led early efforts in those environs were, but they were short-lived as was the influence of conservatism.  To find substantial, muscular conservatism, one must return to the first term of Reagan’s presidency, which is why conservatives so thoroughly long for a Reagan-like leader.  It’s also why the fakers, the so-called moderates in the GOP, can’t wait to bury Ronald Reagan in long-forgotten history of the Republic.

We conservatives must separate ourselves from the GOP establishment in a political and cultural sense.  We must create clear separation from the party’s moderates because by failing to do so, we permit the broadest brush to be used in defining our cause, our philosophy, and our values.  It won’t be easy to do, but I believe it must be done.  The most promising of the current crop of GOP candidates, who may be able to draw this distinction, is probably Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX,) simply because on so many issues near and dear to the hearts and minds of conservatives, he bucked the political trends in Washington DC, abandoning even his own party at times, apparently on the basis of principle.  It may be that for him to fully set conservatism apart from the muck of establishment GOP politics, he will find himself required to loudly and forcefully make the distinction clear, not merely in his words, but in the clear-thinking actions of his office, so long as he may be in it.  Otherwise, Trump will succeed in painting him, and conservatism, as just more representative of the whole of the Republican party, and with such a faulty attribution of blame, conservatism label will continue to be the generic container into which the wider voting public will file all Republicans.  I suspect Trump knows all of this, but his campaign isn’t one of nuance or detail.  Quite to the contrary, his campaign is one of generic sloganeering, with thinly-veiled emotional appeals substituted in place of syllogisms.

It’s because I do believe that Trump knows the difference that I consider this attack on conservatism to be a lie on his part.  There is some small chance that he is so thoroughly ignorant that he doesn’t understand the distinction, but I suspect that’s not the problem.  I believe that Trump is gambling on and playing to the electorate in a disingenuous fashion, knowing that his prospective voters don’t understand the distinctions anyway, and won’t be motivated to discover them.  Thus far, he’s been largely correct in this assumption, although it remains to be seen whether it will hold up through the entire campaign season.

The problem for conservatives is “Yuge” because they’re stuck in the same sort of problem, in almost exactly the same fashion, as is the basic reputation of “capitalism.”  This is not coincidental.  Capitalism continues to be blamed for all the evils of statism, in its various manifestations, because few are interested in learning the distinctions between what America’s actual economic system is, and why capitalism bears no actual resemblance. In much the same fashion that we haven’t even had approximately conservative governance in more than a generation, so too is it the case that capitalism was vanquished in America by the enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Sherman Act is wholly antithetical to capitalism, and whatever economic system we may have had since, it is not and cannot be labeled as “capitalism.”  Of course, once again, the propagandists for statism have managed to re-cast the meaning of the term in precisely the same way that “conservatism” has been redefined so as to include all “Republicans.” It’s nonsense, of course, but that fact does not stop them from doing it. One must be attentive to details, in a disciplined way.  It’s an article of faith among those same propagandists that our system of government be referred to as “democracy,” but that bears little resemblance to the actual form of government our Constitution’s framers designed and ratified. The United States is, by definition of its organizing document, a “constitutional representative republic,” but too often, as a matter of ease and propaganda, folks drop that longer, much narrower description, and it is to the detriment of the body politic, unless you happen to be a propagandist or advocate for statism.

The truth Trump won’t tell you is that had conservatives had their way over the last three decades, we would never have approached the state of desperate gloom under which we now suffer.  What he won’t tell you is that statism is the responsible political philosophy, in large measure because he has been among its practitioners and advocates.  When he proposes solving the “student loan problem” with another government program, he’s advancing statism. When he proposes replacing Obamacare with what seems to be a Canadian or British-styled single-payer healthcare system, he’s proposing more statism.  He’s doubling down.  When he states that eminent domain is an important tool in private initiatives, he is declaring statism in big, broad terms, while he is defiling the good name of capitalism to do it.  Donald Trump isn’t a capitalist, but instead a cronyist.  He has greased palms and bought favors with campaign contributions as much as any person who has ever sought the office of President, and maybe more.  His well-documented use of government officials and offices in the name of his private concerns is evidence neither of capitalism, nor conservatism, and that to date, he has gotten away with this mislabeling and slander is at least in part the fault of we conservatives.

After all, it’s the same thing: Jeb Bush calls himself a “conservative” and most of us won’t bother to debunk his claim.  His brother called himself a “compassionate conservative,” but too few of us challenged his claim though it was obvious in most notable respects that his presidency was rife with the growth of statism, and the advancement of anti-capitalist measures.

Yes, Donald Trump is probably going to succeed in blaming conservatism for the sins of GOP establishment, moderate actions.  His lie will stand mostly unchallenged because most of us will not even stand for our claimed political philosophy.  While I can’t do a thing about that, I can and will continue to speak out about the lies of Trump in this regard: Conservatism is not to blame for the ills of this country, any more than one can blame capitalism, and for the same exact reason: We haven’t practiced either in so long that the terms have lost their true meaning.  Trump knows this, and he’s gambling that his supporters won’t discover it either.  It’s our job, the job of actual conservatives, to educate the electorate on the differences.

Editor’s Note: The Tweet image was added again after the fact because either I didn’t save the article with that image in it, or it dropped it, or something or other. Anyway, that is what I am referencing. Conservatives didn’t HELP the GOP betray its voters.

 

 

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  • the unit

    ” Republican = Conservative…….we are at least somewhat collectively guilty for letting this stick.”
    I’ll look to support the contender that says…the “stick” stops with me.

    • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

      Unit, I guess the question is: who is that? As in my conversation with Reb, above, I don’t know who is worthy of my support. I’m starting to think the whole thing is a big sucker-bet.

      • RebinTexas

        yep……and the worse is that……I get the feeling more and more…..that We are the suckers….

  • RebinTexas

    EXCELLENT article Mark….I concur with it all…..with a few exceptions. While I have many problems with Trump…..there are a number of things that Cruz has done that has me just as concerned – he voted to help “the Trade” bill along, before he voted against it at the end, knowing exactly what he did. Cruz has also been for a “Yuge” growth in the H1-B visa program – which we most certainly do NOT need. There is more, but this is enough for now. I personally do not have a candidate I can REALLY get behind and support because of their track record and positions.

    I do like the fact that you have clearly pointed out how well Trump has used generalizations, rather than any true specifics in telling US who he is and what he will do.

    No surprise to me – we are basically of the same mind. I will now post a link to this on my facebook page.

    • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

      Reb, I agree with you. I have a few problems with Cruz too, particularly the two you’ve mentioned. That said, I look at Trump’s record and I’m aghast at the whole of it. Then his mouth. Do I really want a guy who drops F-bombs and P-words and all of that leading the country? No, I can’t accept that. Like you, I feel pretty much like a man without a candidate… AGAIN!

      • RebinTexas

        You took many of the words right out of my mouth Mark…..yep, we are of one mind…

  • Sue Lynn

    I find Trump self funding refreshing and the more the establishment goes after him the more I like him. He like many are in a different place than we were 20 30 years ago. Heck I voted for Jimmy Carter once. I also voted for Ronald Reagan, Nixon Bush, Romney. My point is he could be living the good life but has put himself up to serve. He is invested in America has worked hard and is putting long days now he has kids grandchildren never did drugs drank or smoked . Sarah Palin endorsed him for good reasons and one big one is no special interest money which corrupts the entire system and leaves you the voter out of the process. Rome was not built in a day and Trump delivers a huge wrecking ball to the current corrupted system and that being the first blow maybe we can get the conservative of first choice next go around. Like a Sarah Palin. I’m voting Trump and glad he is in the race.

    • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

      Sue Lynn, this is the most reasonable thing any Trump supporter has said to me to date. If you’ll remember back to 2012, there were some things Ron Paul advocated that I supported(and still do) mostly in the economic vein. The problems I had with Paul often arose from the behavior of his supporters. This is true with many of Trump’s supporters from my POV. Glad it’s not all. Thank you!

  • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

    Um, no. Sorry, realized this didn’t show up in article. I’m going to fix that, but here: http://markamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/djt_conservatives_tweet.jpg
    If he’s not assailing conservatives as the culprits, what/who is he talking about?

    • Ima Lindatoo

      Wow, Mark, serious? Thank you for replying and it would be good to add that. But he was clearly talking about the POLITICIANS not keeping their ‘promises to the base’

      • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

        It’s not clear to me, but then again, the whole tone of Mr. Trump’s campaign is to avoid explanations, details, and principles, at least to date. I’m hoping there’s some chance that will change. I can’t vote for people who spew garbage like the P-word and the F-bomb and all of that rot, and I’m definitely not inclined to see conservatism take the blame for the malingering and scheming of the GOPe.

        • Ima Lindatoo

          Mark, you can make your own mind up, but I would hope you hold others to the same standards you are claiming for Donald.

          First of all, like even your own post, inferring and twisting for ones message is not exactly what Donald Trump himself said. And I have seen it repeatedly where someone else is making claims doing or saying something THAT HE DID NOT. He gets blamed if someone from the audience says something….if he doesn’t use a word, but people (just know what he wanted to say) crap. . It IS ALMOST surreal.

          Second. Don’t follow other candidates empty memes. It only confirms you aren’t paying attention to Donald Trump, but influenced by others.

          I will leave you just with this piece. And then leave you to deal with the rest honestly and on your own.

          And I will tell you, I don’t want him to give the every detail of his plans to give others the chance to try to coOpt it. I’ve seen THAT lying strategy too many times.
          Peace.

          http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/02/11/donald-trump-talks-new-hampshire-south-carolina-and-negative-ads

          • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

            I don’t infer anything. He said what he said. It wasn’t particularly clear, if we accept your spin on it, but to me it looks like the GOP assisted by conservatives. If he didn’t mean voters, regular folk like me, why didn’t he SAY THAT? I realize there’s a 140 character limit on Twitter, but maybe if you’re going to make a point like that, it’s time to post it elsewhere, where you can say more than 140 characters to make clear what you mean. That’s Trump’s fault. His whole campaign is an ambiguous, vague, non-specific pile of sloganeering, at least to date.

      • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

        And I’ll take that a step further: He should be clearer. He should shut his mouth, think about what he’s going to spew for 5 whole seconds before he erupts, and then say something that doesn’t come across like the volcanic south end of a sick northbound mule.

      • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

        I want you to tell me why I should support a man who hurls invective and obscenity all over the place. Good role model? Good champion for my values? Excuse me, but HELL NO. Maybe that will be better understood by the Trumpertariat. Maybe if I start hurling some f-bombs and all the rest, maybe, just maybe, I’ll break through to the pinheads who don’t understand why THAT IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE ACCEPTABLE TO ME! Maybe I scream it. Maybe I preface it with MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN[INSERT DEAN_SCREAM} AAAHHHH…

      • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

        If Trump ever is going to imagine getting my support, he’s going to need to eat a bar of soap for about an hour, and then he’s going to need to start speaking in details about his proposals. From what I can see RIGHT NOW, given the sparse details of his campaign, he’s every bit as liberal as Hillary, and he’s just as apt to appoint the likes of Elana Kagan to the high court. Sorry, but in that case, I might just as well vote for Hillary herself. Skip the middle-man. So more details, less huff-puff-and-stuff.

  • the unit

    Ah so (think he meant…try to see your way of thinking) as my Chinese friend from Hong Kong said in college. We’ll have a caucus (interesting points made) here and then vote. Unless the establishment of both parties figure out how to have super delegates turn the general election. Then we won’t have to have picture I.D.s or even go to vote.

  • Sarahistheone

    Well here’s the “dill”…………I am no longer considering conservatism to the full extent. That’s over it doesn’t mean anything now. We need Trump! None of the candidates are outsiders except Trump. You can have conservatism, liberals all that bullshit. It doesn’t matter. Gov Palin ran her ass off all over the country to get so called conservatives elected. What happened nothing. You must elect a man that loves America the way we do. He is giving back for all of his fortune because he lives in the greatest country in the world. All I know is that Trump loves America and finally we have someone to stand with us. That’s all I care about. No one else will close that border, not even a conservative. Another reason is Gov Palin. She would never sell us out. That also is enough for me. We have given all politicians the reign for over 200 years! Time to change and try a businessman. How much worse can it be after the shithead we have now. If he doesn’t come thru in four years we say Buh-Bye. I think Trump will follow thru on every promise because that’s the kind of guy he is. I a voting Trump and I can not wait!

    • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

      So what is the basis on which you will judge proposals? Whatever sounds good? Whatever “dear leader” says? What’s the standard of measure??? How do you know right from wrong? What you call *bs* is at the core of why we even have a country. I’m sorry, but I can’t endorse that kind of thoughtlessness, not here, not anywhere, and I’m beyond dismayed that so many people will cast off their long-held beliefs so easily.

      If I don’t find an acceptable candidate, I won’t vote for one, and if the GOP’s nominee is too objectionable to my sensitivities, I’ll actively campaign against them, and that means anybody.

      • Sarahistheone

        I find Mr Trump very acceptable. Conservatives have done NOTHING! Time to try a different strategy. Time for business.

        • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

          Which conservatives? I’ve been fighting for decades. I’m a conservative. If you’re saying I’ve done nothing, maybe you’re right, but why are you on my website? Don’t confuse “conservative” with “Republican.”

          Setting that aside(and I hope ImaLindtoo is reading this,) how will you judge the success or failure if you discharge all your principles?

        • http://www.markamerica.com/ Mark America

          Well how very nice that you find him acceptable. Apparently, this means you find his ceaseless vulgarity acceptable too. Here’s my question: Why should your opinion of his “Acceptability” hold any sway with me when you’ve already told me principles and ideology don’t matter, that they’re *BS* , and so on? I mean really, you give up the yardsticks by which such things as acceptability are to be measured, and then expect me to adopt YOUR judgments? From which alternate universe have you landed?

  • Dave Pavano

    Sorry Mark, but I can say for a fact that Conservatives have let this country down with the exact same attitude you have Mark. If you don’t like the candidate you won’t vote for him or you’d rather vote for Hillary. Even though we knew Romney and McCain were RINOs was that really a reason for conservatives to stay home and not vote letting this garbage ruining our country get elected??? Every black voter turned out to vote for Obummer and most of the conservatives stayed home, not once but twice! We blame the liberals for being that stupid when it is people that refuse to vote for the nominated Republican that are equally if not more to blame.

    I also know that you are a big fan of Cruz and I was waiting for the article to get to him while reading it, and sure enough, there he was. I have another friend that is supporting Redneck and his idiot beer drunk choice for VP and it really makes me miserably angry because I know he is a conservative! Not only that but I’ve been constantly bombarding ‘Republicans For Bernie Sanders’ with truths about him and “Democratic Socialism” like that is any different than Marxism or Communism especially since Sanders is and always has been a Communist. It just boggles the mind that I’m arguing with other conservatives and Republicans! Yes I agree they are 2 entirely different entities but until a true conservative party rises up out of the ashes Republicans are all we got!

    As far as Cruz is concerned, I’d hate to burst your bubble, but he is the phoniest candidate of them all. To me at least since I have studied people my whole life growing up in a family of fakes and liars. Even bringing them to Jesus didn’t help! But I digress… Like people were blinded by Obama’s BS and people are actually falling for the Burn’s BS I believe you are, well, remember the song ‘Snowblind’ by Styx? Could you be a bit Cruzblind? I have been seeing this in your posts when you do have the time to post them, and I’ve always agreed with your analysis for many years, but this time I believe you are missing the big picture here. Setting aside the foul language, I see Trump as pissed off as I am along with the vast majority of true Constitutional Conservatives. I do have some doubts about him that I’ve been blasted for mentioning, but I truly believe we have a 50/50 chance that he will turn this country back around. Any other established politician running I give a big fat 0 chance.

    We all know that there is no longer a 2 party system since both Republicans and Democrats have been batting on the same team to destroy our liberties and freedom since Daddy Bush first announced the New World Order and unsuccessfully pushed Agenda 21 through which Clinton signed in via his executive pen. Conservative politics ended with Reagan but he certainly had his fair share of dealings with liberals and the policies they passed which he constantly gets the blame for … Trump being the only pissed off uncompromising outsider is the only choice in my eyes compared to the rest of the pusillanimous establishment political candidates.

    btw… while writing this comment, I just heard the news that Justice Scalia was found dead on a hunting trip in Texas… This we can all agree is horrible in so many ways…

    Respectfully
    Dave