Some time ago, a Donald Trump supporter asked, “What makes Trump not a conservative?” The question itself demonstrates just how meaningless the term “conservative” is to too many of Trump’s supporters. If this individual understood what Conservatism meant, the answer would have been obvious. The problem is people supporting Donald Trump are doing to “conservatism” what the progressive left has done to the terms “marriage“, “gender“, and recently even “ethnicity“.
Trump’s supporters have twisted “conservatism” into meaning anything they want or need it to mean. So long as it seems to oppose the Democratic Party, political correctness, multiculturalism, etc. They freely paint the word “conservative” around their own superstitions, prejudices, and motivations, ignoring the well established practical definitions of what the ideology actually stands for. They willfully ignore what prominent proponents of conservatism, such as William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and even Rush Limbaugh, have said about “conservatism” for 60 years now.
Conservatism is NOT an ideological contraposition of leftism, collectivism, or anything else. It is distinct from nationalism, populism, corporatism, libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism, and many other similar ideologies. Simply put, this is “conservatism“:
Conservatism is conserving the principles of Natural Rights and Rule of Law (from Natural Law), for the purposes of economic liberty, civil society, and self governance, via limited state power, as described in the Declaration of Independence and codified by the Constitution of the United States and its Amendments.
Anything else, anything less, anything more, and it isn’t “conservatism“. Though anyone is free to disagree, they will necessarily need to disregard the Declaration of Independence and abuse the letter and intent of the Constitution.
The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.
– John Adams
Now to the original question, is Donald Trump a conservative? Let’s look at his record.
The principle of Natural Law imposes a framework of equality in which individuals may interact with each other. Our United States Constitution imposes a framework of limited, and enumerated powers in which the government may interact with its citizens. Together, these principles of equality and rationed state power are the bedrock of our society. Conservatives understand the philosophical and legal reasons for these frameworks, why they are necessary, and endeavor to defend them.
Trump has demonstrably and habitually violated these bedrock principles all through his business career.
It violates Natural Law and the original intent of the United States Constitution to attempt to deprive another individual of his or her Right to Property. As the right to property is sacred, a conservative would never resort to the power of the state to try to drive elderly widows from their homes and definitely not under the pretense of “public use“. Public parks, public roads, and public hospitals have an obvious “public use“. That’s why they are called “public“. A private parking lot, a private golf course, or a private office building obviously have no “public use“. That’s why they are called “private“. Claiming that a “private property” has a “public use” is utterly contrary to both Natural Law and the Constitution.
Trump has repeatedly attempted to violate the property rights of private citizens, including Vera Coking (Atlantic City, NJ, 1998) and Michael Forbes, et al (Belmenie, Scotland, 2009).
Moral and legal equality is at the heart of our civil society, so all men and women are moral equals to each other. This principle of civil equality is the basis for our society, our justice system, and our principles of civility. Donald Trump has a long history of hurling insults and abuse at private citizens. His insults and belittling of women, professionally and privately, are a matter of fact. Trump has supported violence at his political rallies, even going so far as to promise to cover the legal fees of any supporter that physically assaults someone protesting against Trump. During a presidential debate, he even suggested that he doesn’t have to listen to criticism, because, of all reasons, he is rich.
Trump openly rejects the principle of moral and legal equality, treating individuals who are not as wealthy as him as second class citizens, while disregarding the most basic principles of civility.
By appealing to state power, in Atlantic City, New Jersey and again in Belmenie, Scotland, Donald Trump demonstrated that he believes that the state’s authority supersedes the rights of the individual, and he believes the state should intervene in private property disputes. He has also demonstrated that he believes his wealth and political influence grant him special privilege. This philosophy has a name, and it is called authoritarianism. Trump appealed to the principle of collective benefit as a justification of his abuse of the property rights of the hundreds of families he has bullied over the years. This philosophy also has a name, and it is called collectivism. Together authoritarianism and collectivism are the two faces of the same coin: socialism.
Trump promotes socialist policies, including federalized health care programs and government subsidization of industries, in direct violation of the principles of freedom of contract and freedom of commerce.
So is Trump a conservative? Not even vaguely. It’s not even a legitimate question; it’s so ridiculous. The question, however, begs a much larger and much more troubling question. How have we come to such a state that even self described “conservatives” would defend the very violations of private property rights that caused the Founders to rebel?
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
For the greater part of the last century, the progressive left, with the aid of the predominantly center left Establishment, has been subtly redefining what it means to be American in media and education. Instead of celebrating a culture of patriotism and liberty, the media openly mocks American exceptionalism and delights in injecting collectivist propaganda in the news, movies, and television. Instead of institutions of academic and cultural excellence, our schools fester with “politically correct” thought and speech, demonizing America’s foreign interests as interventionism and imperialism, turning millions of gullible children against their own people.
The difference between objectively good and objectively evil have been abandoned in favor of moral relativism, leaving the country to spiral into a collective madness that rots away our American identity. From Locke and Rousseau, to Jefferson and Madison, to Goldwater, Buckley, and even Reagan, the American people have been cut off from their philosophical heritage by a concerted effort of the left, as they have redefined man and woman, up and down, and right and wrong into categories of exquisite meaninglessness.
Unfortunately, this deconstruction of Americanism has been so complete and so thorough, now that many self described “conservatives” are rising up against this Establishment and its openly collectivist-socialist policies, they are turning their torches to anything any everything. Removed from what “conservatism” even means, they have become worse than the barbarians they claim to be fighting against.
A “conservative” does not betray or destroy those precious ideals at the very foundation of our culture, because a “conservative” preserves life, liberty, property, and rule of law. As conservatives, we must stand together against the madness of leftism on the left and ignorance on the right. We must focus on what we stand for, not against. Stand for Jeffersonian liberalism, light the fire of liberty in your chest and retake the hearts and minds of the American People!
Long live the Republic! Be Brave! Be Free!
Liberty is For The Win!
Wow, this is an excellent article that gets to the bottom line of what’s so significantly wrong with America right now. I appreciate the correct definition of ‘Conservative’ given, and just hope we can restore and preserve it once again.
The problem with Donald Trump lies in his heart.
Thanks. We obviously have a lot of work to do.
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