One week after the inauguration

Things that should cause conservatives to feel shame

We have learned over the past 12 months that racist appeals can do quite well in the GOP, and to a lesser degree in the country as a whole. The US is much more racist than conservatives believed just a short while ago.

“Conservatism” — as most objective observers would have described it a short while ago — is an elite mindset that most reliably Republican voters follow only reluctantly. The Tea Party movement, which presented itself as small-government, has now been revealed as mostly posturing. GOP voters had a wide range of conservative options, and chose Trump instead, even in virtual head-to-head match-ups.

Rural America voted for Trump in significantly greater numbers than they voted for Romney, McCain, or George W. Bush.

Many conservatives talk endlessly about principle, but we now know that conservatives have changed their principles more easily than liberals would have.

If a kleptocrat is elected president in America, we now see that his own party would need to stand up to him if he is to be stopped. The Republican Party now seems likely to fail this test over the next four years.

GOP voters are, if anything, more enchanted with celebrity and more tolerant of vulgarity in their elected officials than Democrats are, which is remarkable.

The pro-life movement — the part of American conservatism most associated with conscience, moral witness and Christianity — is now tarred by authoritarianism and misogyny, not least because it has already won policy gains under Trump.

Legitimate conservative arguments on immigration policy are now tarred by their association with anti-mestizo racism.

Defenders of the Likud position in Israeli politics are closer than they have ever been to an alliance with American anti-Semites.

Conservatives often claim to prefer the Founders’ “republicanism” to populist democracy. Their nominee and president makes a mockery of that claim, and even the distinction itself. Their one sad, remaining link to “republicanism” is the fact that Trump received fewer actual votes. Liberals, who believe in the “living constitution”, executive imperialism when it advances their politics, and federalism only when it opposes Republicans in Washington, are now clearly the standard-bearers of whatever conservatives meant by “republicanism”.

Many conservatives now seem to be actually torn between schadenfreude at liberal tears, and horror at what liberals are crying about. It has the unseemly look of a man in a sinking ship who laughs at his enemy, because the enemy will also drown.