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No, Trump is not especially ideological . . . and that's not such a bad thing
If one theme is constant among conservative #NeverTrumpers, it’s that Donald Trump is not really a conservative. People cite his past support for things like single-payer health care and abortion rights, as well as his fondness for eminent domain – which he’s used to his advantage as a real estate developer.
People like me counter by citing his current policy proposals – cutting taxes, replacing ObamaCare with market-based health care mechanisms, unleashing domestic energy – as evidence that his current thinking is much more in line with conservatives than his thinking of the past.
But I think we can all agree on this: Trump is impossible to label as a lifelong liberal or conservative based on the way his thinking has changed over time. He cannot be said to be a “committed conservative” with the long-term pedigree of a Ted Cruz or, dare I say, David French. This leads some conservatives to insist he is really a liberal Democrat, because that’s what you must be if you haven’t spent your entire life advocating for every cause embraced by movement conservatism.
If Trump is a liberal, you sure wouldn’t know it by the way the left reacts to him! And of course, he isn’t. Trump is what most people in the business world are – a practical, pragmatic problem-solving type who really doesn’t care which side of the ideological spectrum an idea comes from, as long the idea works.
Should that worry conservatives? Would it make him easily hoodwinked by clever liberals who present ideas that appear to “work” while actually just advancing the creep of big government?
I don’t think so, especially if Republicans maintain control of Congress, and here’s why:
A non-ideological person may not automatically embrace your idea just because it’s a “conservative” one, but he also won’t put his head in the sand and accept nonsense just because his ideology demands it. That’s the real problem with Obama, and would be the same problem we’d face with Hillary. The nation is spending and borrowing its way to bankruptcy, and any rational person can see that. But liberalism doesn’t permit you to acknowledge it, so when Congress sends you bills designed to address the problem, you veto them.
Trump doesn’t have to be an ideological conservative to recognize we can’t keep going in this direction. He just has to be a rational person who knows how to recognize facts.
The same is true of ObamaCare. Anyone with basic intelligence can see that while they claim more people are “covered,” this has come at the terrible cost of soaring premiums, lessened quality and growing scarcity – not to mention the cost to the taxpayers to keep bankrolling all the subsidies, and the future cost of insurance company bailouts.
Trump can recognize that this needs changing without ever having read William F. Buckley Jr. or Russell Kirk. He just has to use his brain. This is the sort of circumstance he would change immediately if it occurred in one of his businesses, not because of ideology but simply because it obviously needs to happen.
But if you’re still worried, here’s what you need to do: Be sure we maintain our House and Senate majorities. Because if we do that, then conservative legislation will be put on Trump’s desk in the Oval Office, and he will have no reason not to sign it – provided, of course, it really addresses the nation’s problems. Trump might even serve as a useful challenge to congressional conservatives by making sure they’re passing bills to deal with the right problems rather than just because their ideology tells them they’re supposed to.
To my mind, there’s little difference between a committed conservative and a person who simply operates according to common sense. They both lead you to the same place. The results of a Trump presidency will likely be to conservatives’ liking, even if he is not officially one of them.
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