The conservative thinkers seem to have no clearer understanding than the mainstream national media do that the country is disgusted with 20 years of failure in national government by both parties in all three branches. The system has broken down, and the country wants people in charge who are not complicit in the shambles of the housing bubble and the Great Recession, the Iraq War, the doubling of the national debt in seven years, the botch of health care, the humiliation of the country in a misconceived pursuit of universal democracy, followed by an incoherent appeasement of Iran, the imposition of self-erasing red lines, and being frequently out-maneuvered by the Russians.
In fact, Donald Trump is reasonably conservative. He opposes tax breaks for the rich and back-handers for rich cronies, if not as histrionically as Warren Buffett does (though Buffett has often been a beneficiary of them). Moreover, he spares the country the tedious spectacle of politicians ambling about with begging bowls or cupped hands asking for money, because Donald is paying his own way. His presentational methods grate on the nerves of sophisticated people, but it is an Archie Bunker approach by a man who is a successful businessman rather than, like Archie, a blue-collar clock-puncher. And the approach works: He is leading the polls. In a democracy, the people are always right, and if he wins, it will be because an impatient and disserved people wish it so.
In straight policy terms, consider his proposals to stop illegal immigration, his tax and health-care suggestions, and his general foreign-policy outline of defining the national interest and maintaining it (neither an over-extension such as George W. Bush attempted nor a bunk disguised as a “pivot,” as Obama has tried to effect). None of this is offensive to a reasonable conservative except the bravura about making Mexico pay for the wall along the border or the absurd and impractical call not to allow any Muslims into the country except accredited diplomats.
His comments on John McCain’s war record and Carly Fiorina’s appearance and various other reflections were offensive. But, as Mark Steyn wrote of Trump’s recent appearance in Burlington, Vt., his casualness is refreshing. He is un-self-conscious, not at all formal or self-important; there were no urgent aides whispering in his ear and guiding him by the elbow. He’s just Donald. The point is, the traditional politicians have failed. After the first Bush and the first Clinton (and they had their shortcomings), we’ve seen failure all along the line, and the country won’t willingly stand for it any longer. Trump, Cruz, and Sanders are the beneficiaries of this.