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Andrew Egger

On Trump, principled conservatives have arrived too little, too late

Since the very beginning of his quixotic campaign, Donald Trump has posed both a grave danger and a tremendous opportunity to the modern conservative movement. On the one hand, Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican primaries has confirmed the suspicions of many outsiders that the conservative label is simply a smokescreen for ignorance, hatred, and rank bigotry. On the other, the Trump phenomenon has given serious conservatives an ideal opportunity to define themselves in opposition to the kind of know-nothing politics the tycoon represents. So why are so many of us choosing instead to sink in our anti-Trump rhetoric to Trump’s own level? It’s no secret that Trump’s political ascendancy horrified genuine conservatives. His disdain for constitutional governance, his brazen lack of policy knowledge or conviction, his uncomfortable authoritarian overtones, his thuggish posturing, and his pure, distilled disdain for all around him were and are a sickening wonder to behold. And in an ironic reversal of the Trump phenomenon itself, we’re hopping mad about it. We’re angry, deeply angry, that such a charlatan, such a demagogue, could be taken so seriously in national politics. We’re angry at the damage he has done to the Republican Party, and we’re angry at the racism, sexism, anti-constitutionalism, and general cruelty with which he smears the name of conservatism in general. But that anger, coupled with our deep conviction of the delusion, even evil, of our current front runner, makes us careless. It makes us willing to sneer, swoon theatrically, throw rhetorical mud, and, occasionally, even play a little fast and loose with the facts. Consider the anger of conservatives like Matt Walsh and Ben Howe who have advocated a “blacklist” for prior political allies who have, for prudential or political reasons, given their intellectual support to Trump. “Message to conservative Trump shills who sold… Read More