What ultimately makes this so, more than any particular set of policy positions, is one characteristic: predictability. While we know how Clinton would govern as president, no one, not even his supporters, can tell us how Trump might behave once in office. And even when it comes to quotidian policy matters, Clinton has better conservative credentials. Trump proposes—among other radical changes—undoing the global security architecture that has ensured unprecedented peace and prosperity since World War II, engaging in trade wars with various countries, and vowing to act beyond the constitutional bounds of the presidency—bounds that are set by precedent and traditionally accepted by the officeholder in tacit respect for the limits of the office.
Needless to say, respect for “precedent” and “limits,” two crucial elements of the conservative temperament, are not characteristics that Donald Trump possesses.
A frequent charge levelled at the current administration by conservatives, and not without reason, is that President Obama frequently overstepped these bounds, doing more than any of his predecessors to empower the executive branch at the expense of the congress and judiciary. Rather than remain philosophically consistent, however, many Republican politicians and so-called conservative “intellectuals” are now defending a candidate who openly disdains the rule of law.