What’s the most important thing we’ve learned about the Republican establishment in this primary in which they’ve watched their party leave them for a fling with a 69-year old billionaire?
They have no idea what conservatism really is.
Sure, they know the basic rules. Cut taxes, absolve polluters, let bankers regulate themselves and let straight white men make all reproductive decisions, the way Jesus and the free market intended.
But by continually attacking Donald Trump as not being “a real conservative,” they reveal that they think they’ve only taken control of both houses of Congress and most state legislature because they think billionaires shouldn’t pay capital gains taxes and people love Climate Change.
The truth is that Donald Trump is possibly the most perfect example of a “conservative” America has ever seen.
To understand how a guy who has donated to the Clintons and changes wives the way most people change drapes is a super conservative, we need to turn to science.
First, political science.
Political scientist Corey Robin, a piercing critic of both the right and left, offers a description of conservatism: “…the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back again.” That could only be more concise if were “Make America Great Again.”
And if the soft sciences don’t turn you on, cognitive scientist George Lakoff makes a stunning case for why the right and some moderates are crazy for Donald in this must-read article “Why Trump?”
You should read it but the big ideas are worth summarizing.
Not only is Trump conservative, he’s the personification of the “Father Knows Best” mentality that guides the right — despite his inconsistencies. That’s because actual policies are secondary to the way he makes voters feel.
Trump voter on Fox News says he likes that Trump doesn’t give specific policy ideas because otherwise other candidates might steal them.
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) March 2, 2016
As opposed to liberals who have a “nurturing family” worldview, “strict father” conservatives want “winners” who enforce a “natural order” and rein over the domains using any power that’s available — eminent domain, political donations, white supremacists in the crowds — to enforce your rule. They want simple answers and believe in their innate right to be proud their prejudices.
We shouldn’t pretend that’s some absurdly bizarre mentality.
There’s touches of it in most of us, which is why most of us have enjoyed action movies where hero cracks heads of foreigners without taking names.
Lakoff’s most crucial insight is something establishment Democrats don’t seem to get at all, hence their never-ending glancing to the center whenever they feel threatened: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MODERATE.
“In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them,” he writes.
Which one do they use? The one that gets reinforced most.
That’s why Trump is so dangerous. His constant saturation in the media is his biggest asset. I’m even helping him right now.
“It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.”
Given all the different elements of conservatism he appeals to, it’s no surprise that Trump is figuratively bending over his Republican opponents.
To combat this, we must first expose that he’s not just a Republican — he’s the epitome of a dangerous, reckless and super-conservative conservative.
[Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]