The label “Never Trump” is off the mark — not because true conservatives could potentially support Trump, but because our rejection of him has nothing to do with his name or who he is. Instead, rejection of Trump has everything to do with his policies and behavior as President. In more ways than not, his conduct has been antithetical to conservatism’s core, in direct tension with most everything for which we’ve claimed to fight in the past.
Put simply, Trump is not conservative. Here are just a few reasons why (in no particular order):
- Trump has unilaterally levied billions in tariffs in contravention of free trade and free market principles, raising prices for consumers and putting the squeeze on domestic businesses that rely on foreign sources of supply. Not conservative.
- Trump has brokered preferential tax deals for companies like Carrier, picking winners and losers in the exact same way Obama used taxpayer money on pet projects like Solyndra. Not conservative.
- Trump has ignored the constitutional separation of powers on several occasions. He has, among other things, tried to unilaterally end the statutory asylum process for refugees and, most recently, threatened to unilaterally declare a “disaster” at our border to appropriate funds that Congress won’t give him. Just because the Constitution makes things tough sometimes doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Not conservative.
- Trump has cozied up to our enemies (e.g., Russia and North Korea) for little-to-nothing in return and strained relations with some of our closest allies (e.g., Britain and Canada). Not conservative.
- Trump has conducted himself in a way wholly unbecoming of the dignity of the office he holds. He tweets about the fleeting topic du jour like an impetuous teenager and directs the nation’s attention to the dramatic and inconsequential. Not conservative.
- Trump has utilized the antitrust laws to threaten and attack certain companies, like “Amazon’s Washington Post,” in order to execute a personal vendetta or just because he’s been rubbed the wrong way. Not conservative.
- Trump has routinely made judgments about the quality and ability of Americans based on their race. He once claimed that a Hispanic Article III judge (who was a native-born US citizen) could not fairly adjudicate a dispute because of his heritage. Not conservative.
- Trump has, on a number of occasions, undermined the rule of law and the legitimacy of our courts by personally attacking career Justice Department and FBI officials, and attacking the independence and competence of Article III judges. Not conservative.
- Trump blindsided his top military advisers and key allies when he abruptly announced that he would withdraw some 2,000 troops from Syria. Ill-planned and lacking any coherent rationale, the move provoked the resignation of then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Retreating from battlefields on a whim and abandoning our allies like the Kurds is a weak betrayal of our values and our commitments. Not conservative.
- Trump has waged war against the press, creating hostile environments for reporters and chilling the freedoms that the Constitution guarantees and upon which this country was built. He attacks and deflects instead of answering questions head on. Snowflake. Not conservative.
- Trump’s politics are vindictive, personal, and mean-spirited. He often opts to demean his opponents and critics by calling them names and publicly shaming them, and very rarely makes substantive counterarguments. Not conservative.
- Trump has also increased the national debt to historic levels on the back of his $1.3 trillion omnibus spending binge. At $21 trillion, the national debt now stands at a near all-time high. But, Trump is busy tweeting late-night missives at folks and could care less. Not conservative.
- Finally, Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be morally bankrupt. He knowingly lies when the facts are uncomfortable for him, rarely if ever takes responsibility for his mistakes, and has attacked women, minorities, the disabled, and vets for political gain. Not conservative.
Just two years ago, conservatives were busy taking folks like Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio to task for being insufficiently conservative over miscues paling in comparison to Trump’s heresies. The cult of hypocrisy that surrounds Trump today is killing our movement’s coherence. Doing a few things we might like doesn’t make up for a mountain of bad things that make a mockery of our beliefs.
So — if you consider yourself a conservative, but you’re wearing a red MAGA hat cheering the president’s every move, please look in the mirror. Ask yourself if Trump really passes the conservative sniff test. Then, snap out of it, throw the hat away, and let’s get back to our principles.