That doesn’t mean that Mr. Trump doesn’t have any conservative policy successes he can claim. He does, though even here Mr. Trump’s record is not nearly as strong as his Republican defenders claim it is. From a conservative perspective, he’s gotten some things right and many things wrong.
The president is reshaping the judiciary in a conservative direction through his court appointments, but he has also given up on core conservative beliefs in limited government and responsible entitlement reform. He’s shredded federalism and embraced protectionism, both of which cut against conservative principles. It was also on Mr. Trump’s watch that, even before the pandemic hit, the United States set record annual deficits and exceeded $22 trillion in debt. (If Joe Biden becomes president, prepare for Republicans to rediscover a rhetorical commitment to fiscal discipline.)
The president’s conservative defenders point out that he has reduced unnecessary regulations on businesses, but they overlook the fact that he has proudly embraced crony capitalism and aggressively used the federal government to tilt the playing field and pick economic winners and losers.
Mr. Trump has promoted the conservative anti-abortion cause; he has also epically mismanaged a pandemic that has claimed more than 175,000 American lives.