Trump: "I'm a conservative but at this point who cares? We've got to straighten out the country."

Michael Moore’s tweeting today that the GOP is dead. I doubt it, but movement conservatism is pretty well dead and the quote above is a decent epitaph for it. It’s a nice summary of Trump’s appeal too. You know how Cruz would answer this: “I’m a conservative because I believe conservative policies are the way to straighten out the country.” It’s not some tribal title you adopt or litmus test you pass to help you clear a primary and then set aside once you take power. It’s a philosophy of governance that’s supposed to guide you — if you really subscribe to it. “Who cares?” would never cross your mind.

But more Republicans (and certainly more general election voters) would side with Trump on this than Cruz. Trump’s not going to insist on the conservative solution to every policy problem, he’s going to insist on the right solution. To a movement conservative there’s little daylight between those two statements. To everyone else, especially a Trumpist who’s convinced Daddy will always do what’s right, they’re distinct and Trump’s position is the pragmatic one. With Cruz, you’re putting your trust in his willingness to follow conservative doctrine as president. With Trump, you’re putting your faith in his instincts, wherever they might lead on policy, which is more in sync with the kingly role Americans increasingly seem to have in mind for the presidency. I think he genuinely doesn’t understand why Jeb Bush would resist supporting him as nominee when presented with that choice, dogma versus instinct. He can only understand it as personal pique (of which there’s some, no doubt), not as principle. Isn’t anyone better than Hillary? If so, who cares if there’s a conservative in charge? That’s the core of the disagreement between Trumpers and #NeverTrumpers.

Exit question: Who needs a conservative movement when you can have a “smart movement”?

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