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After Trump

May 20, 2018

Conservative Republicans have mixed feelings about President Donald Trump, especially if they served in the Administration of Ronald Reagan. Tens of thousands of young conservatives came of age during the campus riots of 1968 and 1973. Those who chose graduate school were philosophically inclined and gravitated to the  University of Chicago, Cornell, the New School and the University of Notre Dame. Some of them even sought out Michael Oakeshott at the London School of Economics.

Or, if they wanted a career in the Law, legal studies at Columbia, Yale or Chicago were the places to go.

Ronald Reagan’s Administration was an “old Man’s” government, however, and harkened back to the good old days of battles with Labor Unions, battles with Nazis and Fascists and especially, “D-Day.”  The World War II generation were not children-oriented and once, having come into their own, did not promote conservative young Republicans who came of age in the 1960s.

We who worked on the Goldwater campaign saw that close up. Lip service was given to “Youth for Goldwater,” but Barry Goldwater’s “conservatism” was skin-deep. His campaign was not based in Burkean conservative ideas championed by Russell Kirk, but was attracted to weaponized Enlightenment ideas like “natural rights.”  Even his wife, Peggy, supported Planned Parenthood in Arizona.

Despite the age differences between young and old Republicans, anti-Communism united us all–except internationalists like Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and Nixon-era appointees who saw a world where Communists and Capitalists divided the world into  respective spheres of influence and ditched all ambitions to nuke one another.

Ronald Reagan, to his credit, argued that we must win the intellectual and political battle with the Soviet Union and developed policies best described as “Peace through strength.”

That era is gone, and Reagan’s own inattention to life beyond 1980 placed a representative of East Coast internationalism, G. H. W. Bush, in the position of Vice President. Personally charming, but clueless about economics (even though he studied that subject at Yale), G. H. W. Bush lacked a strategic cast of mind, lacked even the slightest understanding of what Russell Kirk called “the Conservative Mind,” and was loved by career government executives wherever he served—especially at the CIA.  As Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Bush missed entirely the strategic idea of Richard Nixon’s “China Card” and sought to establish good relations with that totalitarian state.

Of course, G. H. W. Bush was not alone.

Liberal Internationalists sought accommodation with Soviet and Maoist regimes, not policies whose end was removal of this virus from the bloodstream of Western intellectual culture.

We paid a price for that type of “Republican” with defeat of Gerald Ford by Jimmy Carter, the defeat of G. H. W. Bush by Bill Clinton, the losses of John McCain and Mitt Romney to Barack Obama. After eight years of a Marxist educated President from Illinois, the American voter was ready for radical change.

The takeover of the GOP by a celebrity, former Democrat, anti-immigration Populist, proponent of tariffs over free trade, and Big Spender, former television personality Donald Trump delivered a rebuke to Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio–and the list goes on.

We must now ask, “What will happen in 2020?” Will it be a coronation of Mike Pence? Or will we experience a reprise of 1964 when the GOP was wiped from power and influence and a Democrat politician–dominated by his sexual libido–assumed office and expanded a land war in Asia, introduced welfare programs that Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan demonstrated were destructive of fundamental virtues and created a system of welfare dependency, blew the federal deficit into the stratosphere, and fostered a “New Class” devoted to growing, administering, and becoming wealthy on the administrative state.

The Presidential election of 2020 has the potential to bring democracy in America to collapse and give generations of college “educated” Americans who have been denied a civic education since 1973 an opportunity to try something else besides democracy. Even Donald Trump has suggested that elections may have proven to be dated, instruments of an earlier age, and not necessary, at least not as frequent as every two, four, or six years.

All conservatives, for or against Trump, need to ask, “What’s next?”

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