2008 was a debacle for the GOP and a debacle for conservatism. Is it better for conservatism if Republicans hold the House this year or lose it by 40 seats? If we consider it in the interest of conservatism to have politicians in power who want to try to pass conservative policies, which would seem to be of some relevance to our enterprise, it is clearly the former. In which case, it would be much better if Trump’s approval rating were 50 percent rather than 40 percent.
Regarding the last point, Jonah and Ramesh concede that I am “surely correct that the fortunes of the GOP are somewhat tied to Trump’s (though we think he overstates the case). This was precisely the situation some argued was worth avoiding in the first place.”
This gets to something I wanted to say in my column but couldn’t because I ran out of space. I think it was right to fight for some other nominee in 2016, but we lost that battle two years ago. And here we are — not only was Trump the nominee, he is president of the United States. There is no undoing this, and we shouldn’t ignore how Trump’s populism played a role.