That, for me, will always be the core of conservatism. Not support for limited government or tax cuts. Not favoring open markets. Not fighting for higher defense budgets. But standing for a politics conducted in an elevated key, emphasizing virtue, honor, moral rectitude, earnestness, devotion to principle and integrity, deference toward received authorities and traditions — and speaking of these ideals without irony or shame.
It is in this sense that a party led by Donald Trump can never be a conservative party, because it will be a party led by a crude, loutish vulgarian — a man who called an opponent a “p–sy” at a public rally and bragged about the size of his manhood during a nationally televised debate; who has a long track record of treating women as objects to be consumed and then discarded like trash; who lies blatantly, constantly, and shamelessly; who views charity solely as a vehicle for self-promotion and self-enrichment; who viciously and relentlessly insults and attacks anyone who dares to criticize him; who repeatedly demonstrates open contempt for the norms and institutions of American democracy.
The list of Trump’s flagrantly unconservative words and deeds is nearly endless. Indeed, Trump may be the most thoroughly and actively anti-conservative presidential candidate ever to get this close to the White House. That he’s also running under the banner and with the institutional imprimatur of a political party that has considered itself conservatism’s home base in the United States for most of the past four decades is truly remarkable and more than a little troubling.