In his 1965 New York mayoral campaign, Bill Buckley found his constituency among outer borough Archie Bunker-type voters, a preview of Reagan Democrats; if Donald Trump’s father, Fred, voted in that race it’s easy to imagine him pulling the lever for Buckley.
Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have been the powerful conservative figure he was in the late-1970s if he hadn’t pounded away at the premier populist-nationalism issue of the time, resistance to giving back the Panama Canal to Panama. “We bought it. We built it. We paid for it. It’s ours.”
Even George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis in 1992 not as a WASPy establishmentarian, but on the strength of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and crime, especially the emotive Willie Horton case.
We can argue about what role populism and nationalism should have in conservative politics, but that they have a place, and always have, is undeniable.