Why so many conservative intellectuals became Trumpists

Jaffa and his students (including Anton) contend that Wilsonian progressivism aimed to bring about a fundamental change of the American “regime” (or form of government) instituted by the founders — and that the expanding administrative state is finally making that change a reality, regulating ever more areas of life, enforcing a uniform secular-egalitarian-globalist view on the country as a whole, actively crushing dissent, usurping popular sovereignty, and placing ever-greater portions of it in the hands of a coterie of elite experts and bureaucrats.

And that’s where Trump comes in.

The crux of Anton’s case for supporting Trump was that if he didn’t win, it would mean the effective end of self-government in the United States. For eight years Obama expanded the administrative state more radically than any president since Lyndon Johnson, injecting intrusive regulations much further than ever before into the health-care sector, the energy sector, marriage, religion, even bathroom use in public schools. If Hillary Clinton prevailed, it would mean that those innovations would become the new baseline for even more acts of administrative overreach. After four to eight more years of that, the century-long progressive transformation of the American regime would be complete, rendering constitutional government and the conservative movement lost causes once and for all.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Anton (as Decius) came out in favor of Trump, in part, because he hoped the real-estate mogul would serve as a blunt instrument to bring down key elements of the administrative state, including those outposts of the conservative movement (which he memorably dubbed “Conservative, Inc.”) that live like parasites off of the federal government even while criticizing it and waiting for the next election that gives them an opportunity to trim it at the margins and change nothing fundamental about it at all. But Anton also hoped that Trump’s full-throated defense of the nation, borders, and citizenship would catch fire among the American people, who would at long last rise up to demand that the administrative state be put back in its place — to make room once again for constitutionalism, statesmanship, and republican government of free and equal citizens.