“The astonishing political campaign of 2016 involved much debate about whether Donald Trump is a conservative,” writes Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn in a perceptive Imprimis essay. Trump was “not always facile with the lingo of conservatism,” Arnn explains, “yet there is a lot we can learn from him about conservatism.”
For Arnn, conservatism involves the reality that “things that have had a good reputation for a long time are more trustworthy than new things,” especially those “original things” that come first, from which the term “principle” derives. Yet for some establishment types in the Republican Party conservatism means something else.
For these Republicans, conservatism means coming from a prominent family, having a lot of money, and knowing famous people in the corridors of power. Those who run in establishment circles like to look down their noses at working people, and in this respect they resemble the left-wing coastal elites who disdain those who dwell in the American heartland.
In 2012, the elitists had the ideal presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, son of former Michigan governor George Romney. In the run-up to the 2012 election, Romney enjoyed some key advantages.
The incumbent Democrat Barack Obama was a man shrink-wrapped in statist superstition, and that showed on every hand. The president told business owners they didn’t build their own businesses. The president backed losers like Solyndra and spent money at a rate that, by the time he leaves office, will double the national debt to $20 trillion. The president did nothing to trim entitlements and created new federal agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The president’s “re-set” with Russia gave the Kremlin everything it wanted, including the most intrusive missile agreement in U.S. history and cancellation of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. Islamic terrorism surged abroad and on U.S. territory, even Army bases. When “Soldier of Allah” Major Nidal Hasan gunned down 13 at Ford Hood in 2009 the President of the United States called it “workplace violence,” not even “gun violence.”
All that, and much more, served up a target-rich environment for Romney. The Republican also had access to strategic and potentially devastating intelligence.
In 2012 Grove City College political science professor Paul Kengor released The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor. As it turned out, the man portrayed as the happy-drunk poet “Frank” in Dreams from My Father was in fact a Stalinist and Communist Party member who spent his life trashing the United States and defending all-white Soviet dictatorships.
Professor Kengor unearthed Davis’ 600-page FBI file, which designated him a security risk. Kengor found “remarkable similarities” between the writings of Davis and the policies and rhetoric of the president. Several key players from Davis’ Communist Party network in Chicago were now installed in Washington. Kengor also explored Occidental College student Barry Soetoro’s “Pop” poem, but did not make the case that Davis was also the president’s biological father. Others found the evidence compelling.
The 1995 Dreams from My Father contends that the president’s maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham “might” say that the Kenyan student Barack H. Obama looks like Nat King Cole. He doesn’t, but in Dreams from My Real Father Joel Gilbert showed the strong physical resemblance between the president and Frank Marshall Davis. The 2012 documentary also proved very thorough on Frank’s old Chicago network, from which emerged key White House advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett.
In the run-up to the 2012 election, Mitt Romney had ample evidence to charge that President Obama was not exactly who he claimed to be, and therefore a phony and a fraud. The Republican candidate did no such thing, but in 2016 he did charge that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was “a phony, a fraud.”
Romney thus showed how gutless elitist establishment Republicans can be, and how wrong. As the world knows, Donald Trump won the election largely because, unlike Romney and Hillary Clinton, he listened to working Americans.
For all its rhetoric, the American left neglects the workers and in Gramscian style favors the cultural elites that show little affinity for the flyover states. Trump understood that the workers want someone who will champion their cause. The person who understands that reality could be the frontrunner for president in 2020. As Winston Smith said in 1984, “If there is hope it lies in the proles.”
Meanwhile, is the current president-elect a conservative? As Larry Arnn notes, last January 16 Donald Trump wrote:
“The United States of America is a land of laws, and Americans value the rule of law above all. Why, then, has our Congress allowed the president and the executive branch to take on near-dictatorial power? . . . What is needed in Washington is a president who will rein in the executive branch and work with Congress to make sure the legislative branch does its job.”
“Trump has said that these are his purposes,” Arnn concludes. “Pray that he achieves them.”