I don’t know if you missed it, or heard it, or paid attention to it, but Barack Obama saved conservatism this past week with his speech at the Democratic National Convention. He did it when he uttered these lines: “Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward. But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican and it sure wasn’t conservative.”
Thank you, President Obama.
He just did us a favor and clearly separated Donald Trump from the Republican Party, but most importantly from what it means to be a conservative. Now, I’ll admit — perhaps most Americans weren’t paying that close attention to the President’s speech. But I believe after this disastrous election cycle, we can go back and play that clip from Obama and help separate ourselves from the narcissistic, hateful, fascist (and dare I say, racist) menace that is Donald Trump.
But Obama isn’t alone in saving us. Let’s also credit much of the conservative intellectual movement, including and perhaps especially, National Review, from separating conservatism from Donald Trump. During the primaries, National Review went bold and devoted an entire issue of their magazine to their cover story “Against Trump.” This symposium gave credence to the hashtag, #NeverTrump, which has gained in popularity all over social media, with those on the Right that opposed his candidacy during the primaries and those on the Left that joined in, fearing the worst for this country.
Donald Trump is clearly not a conservative. It is unclear how long he has even been a Republican. But most of his lifetime he has been a Democrat. Even when he does contribute or support candidates (on the left or right), he typically does it solely with his own business interests in mind (in fact, he brags about this point). He is vehemently opposed to free trade, of which the entire free-market economic philosophy is based on. He has said that he would ban all Muslims from entering the country — and who knows what that means for Muslims that are currently here. It’s clear to me we face a radical Islamic ideology that wants to impose harm on our country and all of Western Civilization (not to mention on other Muslims). But to denounce all people who practice this faith is not only not American, it is surely not conservative. After all, conservatives have spent the better part of the past few years fighting for religious liberty.
I’ve been in the #NeverTrump category for quite some time. From my view through the television set, nothing I observed at the GOP convention made me want to vote Trump. However, watching the Democratic National Convention started to make me consider it. After all, their economic policies are more frightening than anything Donald Trump’s fear-mongering convention speech spelled out. I would suggest Democrats tone it down a bit for the next 90 days to keep people like me on the sidelines.
However, as bad as the Democrats seem to me, especially their nominee Hillary Clinton, I remain firmly #NeverTrump. When I’m agreeing with Hillary Clinton on how bad the Republican nominee is, he must be bad. But she’s not any better. She’s perhaps the most corrupt politician in our lifetime — at least of any who have gained their party’s nomination for President. I feel bad for all women everywhere that Mrs. Clinton could be the first woman President. There are few worse people to represent the fairer and better sex. Her crimes against this country make her more fit for a prison cell, not given more power from the White House.
However, a Hillary Clinton victory on November 8th ends Donald Trump’s political career with the Republican Party. In the days that will follow, all the analysts will show what a mistake it was for Republicans to nominate him. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton will limp into the White House as the most unpopular President (to start her term) in history. For the next four years, she’ll face off against Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who will become the de facto leader of the Republican Party. He isn’t perfect by any stretch of the conservative imagination, but he has the opportunity to channel the “conservative heart” vision of Arthur Brooks. He’s good looking, intelligent, articulate, and a decent and respectable man — a clear contrast to the impostor who has somehow won the Republican nomination for President this year.
Unlike Barack Obama’s smooth talking speeches, our country will get the shrill and angry voice and demeanor of Hillary Clinton. Americans will soon tire of her (they kind of have already). Every poor policy proposal will be challenged by Speaker Ryan’s Republican-led Congress. The U.S. Senate will be split pretty close to 50-50. And in 2018, Republicans will have the opportunity to take more U.S. Senate seats and further control of that body. We will rely on James Madison’s genius of the separation of powers to play defense from Congress and from the states (where conservatives already dominate in terms of control of the majority of Governors and state legislatures). And barring another hijacking by a jackass celebrity candidate, conservatives have a real opportunity to regain the White House in 2020 (Ben Sasse, I’m looking at you and your Twitter account, which is awesome). With hope for the future of this country, perhaps Trump’s “midnight in America” will become a fading memory and a new dawn will emerge for true conservatism: the one Barack Obama expects to encounter and one with a set of principles that National Review magazine can rally behind.
And to think — once conservatism finds its true place in again in American politics — we’ll be able to thank all those in 2016 who were bold enough — or nice enough (like Barack Obama) — to separate conservatism from Donald Trump.