For a party that once held itself out as Virtue, Inc., these are strange days. In the last few days, Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has proffered a string of arguments suggesting that the president of the United States shouldn’t even be judged on moral grounds. That so many Republicans are treating special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as a vindication, rather than a sobering account of Trump’s moral failings, indicates that the great majority of them are prepared to stand by their man.
A vote for Weld, then, would be a political tithe paid to the conservative sensibility and its supra-ideological constituents: modesty, restraint, decency, patriotism. It may well be that Republicans in 2020 will want nothing to do with any of that, or free trade, or limited government, or fiscal prudence. And conservatives must be clear about what that would mean: There is an emerging democratic-socialist party in the United States, along with a right-wing nationalist party that is increasingly radical in its affect and rhetoric, if not in policy, and no conservative party that a Bill Buckley, a Sen. Barry Goldwater or a President Reagan might recognize as such.