There was a time when conservatives supported limited government, balanced budgets and less debt. Not so long ago, conservatives also championed free trade, lower tariffs and the spread of democratic institutions across Europe and the world. And yes, conservatives spent the past generation championing an American exceptionalism with values casting our great country as a city shining brightly on a hill for all the world to see.
Onetime Fox News president Roger Ailes was fond of saying, “America has fed and freed more people than any country in the history of the world.” Ronald Reagan launched his historic 1980 presidential campaign with the Statue of Liberty as his backdrop . He framed America’s relationship with immigration in 1981 this way: “Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands.”
Reagan took a position on immigration that most Republicans today would consider heresy, yet voters rewarded him with a decisive victory and a landslide reelection a few years later. Far less popular has been President Trump’s politically toxic policy of ripping children from their mothers’ arms. That depraved stance, adopted as a bargaining chip to use against Democrats, only garnered support from 17 percent of Americans . But it did earn him the antipathy of our closest allies, Pope Francis and every living former first lady .