Donald Trump’s rise reflects American conservatism’s decay

Looking on the bright side, perhaps this election can teach conservatives to look on the dark side. They need a talent for pessimism, recognizing the signs that whatever remains of American exceptionalism does not immunize this nation from decay, to which all regimes are susceptible.

The world’s oldest political party is an exhausted volcano, the intellectual staleness of its recycled candidate unchallenged because a generation of younger Democratic leaders barely exists. The Republican Party’s candidate evidently disdains his credulous supporters who continue to swallow his mendacities. About 90 percent of presidential votes will be cast for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, refuting the theory that this is a center-right country. At the risk of taking Trump’s words more seriously than he does, on some matters he is to Clinton’s left regarding big government powered by an unbridled presidency.

His trade policy is liberalism’s “industrial policy” repackaged for faux conservatives comfortable with presidents dictating what Americans can import and purchase at what prices, and where U.S. corporations can operate. Trump “wouldn’t approve” Ford manufacturing cars in Mexico. He would create a federal police force to deport 450,000 illegal immigrants a month, including 6.4 percent of America’s workforce in two years. Yet the 25 million jobs he promises to create would require more than doubling the current rate of legal immigration to fill them, according to economist Mark Zandi. Of the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision diluting property rights by vastly expanding government’s powers of eminent domain, Trump says, “I happen to agree with it 100 percent.” Even Bernie Sanders rejects Kelo.