If post-Trump conversativism doesn’t grapple with its own pre-Trump mistakes, then it’s hard to see what the value proposition is for those of us who wouldn’t be on the hiring shortlist for the Hogan administration. I presume that he, like his boosters, would be more traditionally pro-trade, and that he wouldn’t base as much of politics and policy on the negative collective demonization of disfavored groups based on their immutable characteristics. But even there, I would hesitate before pronouncing Hogan & Co. significantly better on immigration. As I pointed out last month, while the Maryland governor is “a critic of Trump’s family-separation policy and talks like a comprehensive immigration reformer…he has also bashed sanctuary policies and balked at Syrian refugees.” His fan club ain’t Trump, but funny things happen to even the most immigration-friendly of Republicans when they have to face GOP primary voters—Jeb Bush starts playing the “anchor baby” card, Chris Christie proposes treating legal immigrants like FedEx packages, John McCain suddenly wants to complete the danged fence.
Trump rocketed to popularity in part because he convinced grassroots conservatives that he, unlike the GOP establishment, actually meant what he said about doing whatever it takes to restrict both legal and illegal immigration. Regardless of who steps unto the breach, I’m waiting to hear more self-reflection from those who made a living for so long pandering insincerely to a base they not-so-secretly loathe.
Will Trump’s challengers be as aggressive as he in slowing the growth of regulation? Hogan did brag in his 120-word section on tangible accomplishments about “clear[ing] away the tangle of regulatory undergrowth,” so maybe, but the last time the #NeverTrump crowd had sway in a Republican administration, they contributed to the biggest regulatory ramp-up since Richard Nixon.