Is it better for conservatives to have a more flatly transactional relationship with the GOP president? Trump is not in any way a social conservative. And he does not seem to have any kind of constitutional philosophy. To win over social and judicial conservatives he adopted a more confrontational and less discreet approach than Republicans usually do. He provided a specific list of judges. And he took the unusual step of promising only to appoint justices who would overturn Roe. In the past, Republicans have always tried to fudge and fold this into their promise to nominate “originalists.” Trump’s explicitness probably helped him.
Conservatives gave him their votes. And he is giving them their judges faithfully, much to my own surprise. Perhaps having a more transactional relationship is indeed better for conservatives. Someone who had been accepted by social conservatives as a true believer might have been able to abuse their trust more.
And it’s a sign of progress and political maturity to accept a transactional relationship when you can get it. The test of political strength isn’t in getting people who agree with you to do what you want when they are in office; it’s to get people who don’t agree with you to do what you want.