Forced to grapple with Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primaries, a number of prominent conservatives are hoping that the energy fueling Trumpism can be channeled toward conservative ends. This is wishful thinking.
Let’s review how Trump’s successes pose a problem for conservatism. Trump has run a campaign that is devoid of the type of conservatism that has mobilized activists for decades. His record prior to seeking the GOP nomination would have placed him as a liberal — advocacy of a socialized health system, stricter gun laws, and confiscatory taxes; opposition to banning partial birth abortion; and support for massive government spending on public works projects to fuel the economy.
Though he has modified a number of his positions since then — and throughout the campaign — he has still taken many stances while seeking the nomination that are incompatible with conservative ideology.
Trump still touts massive federal infrastructure spending as the key to boosting the U.S. economy. He generally doesn’t want to touch the nation’s unsustainable entitlement programs, except for when it comes to having the federal government set drug prices. He has opposed free trade and defended Planned Parenthood (along with status quo abortion laws).