Trump flipped from considering his liberal sister for a federal judicial vacancy to adopting a list of highly qualified conservative jurists from which to draw Supreme Court nominees and appointees to lower courts. He went from supporting abortion rights and the country’s leading abortionist, Planned Parenthood, to being the most aggressive advocate of the unborn. His biggest legislative achievement is a tax cut.
These are instances where the party and the movement pulled Trump along. This is the proper relationship for many reasons. Trump isn’t naturally a conservative. He’s new to politics, and though his instincts are often right, instinct needs to be tempered with knowledge, and careful thought, and values. The president is inconstant and intemperate, which means he cannot be relied on always to choose a path that either conservatives in general or his party in particular should follow.
This isn’t to say there’s nothing for Republicans and conservatives to learn from Trump. His populism sometimes goes awry, but it also taps into something important and true that the GOP establishment missed for decades. It is that there is real suffering in the working class, and tens of millions of blue-collar voters disdained by the Left’s culture warriors, who are ready to be Republicans.