Donald Trump

Trump Not Conservative Enough? Could His Fans Care Less?


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sounds like he wants a repeat shot at inexplicable frontrunner Donald Trump in tonight's GOP presidential debate.

While the paid ad he intends to run during it does not mention the Donald by name, it does stress Paul's cred as the "real conservative."

What this means is he's the guy for cutting taxes and spending, term limits, a flat tax, and making Congress read the bills they vote on. He also says, though the ads do not, that Trump is definitely a "fake conservative" and that might be a good thing to bring up tonight.

Paul's ad:

The Club for Growth, meanwhile, a leading GOP-oriented pressure group for fiscal conservatism is also reported to be aiming at Trump, with:

two 30-second ads detailing his less-than-conservative record. The Club writes on their website: "Trump is the worst Republican candidate on economic issues—plain and simple. In fact, short of Bernie Sanders, he may be the most liberal candidate in the whole field on fiscal policy."

One of the ads goes through his longstanding history as a Democrat and friend of the Clintons who supported higher taxes, corporate bailouts, and a national health care system. It serves a reminder to voters about Trump's recent and conveniently timed embrace of a vaguely defined conservatism, driven primarily by his nationalistic fearmongering about immigration.

Matt Welch reported here at Reason last week on a plethora of conservative intellectual and sort-of intellectual anti-Trumpism.

Understandably, those attached to a certain vision of limited government and who believed the GOP was their rightful vehicle, are disturbed by mighty unhinged political id of Trump, dedicated, and selling very well indeed, to little but vauntings about greatness and winning and the idea that he's the guy to bring them to us. It's not the kind of political message the historically conscious are very comfortable with.

The problem is, the GOP grew to think that what their audience wanted was true conservatism. Big parts of their audience might have even thought so. Trump is making it seem that's not true at all, at all. He didn't get where he is being any kind of conservative, or even claiming to be one.

Unless, that is, all that conservatism ever meant was a desire to have fewer immigrants in the country and a larger military.

As Nick Gillespie discussed yesterday in a post on Trump as pick-up artist, something more primal is going on with Trump's appeal, something that we (fortunately) haven't had a lot of occasion to have to think about in contemporary American politics.

While taking the Trump route was a path laying there for anyone bold and wealthy enough to walk it, for the most part American politicians in the modern era tried to play politics as a relatively respectable game, one tied to a set of ideas about what government should do, how it should do it, and whose interests it should respect; one that is also weighed down by questions of culture and group identity that cross our two parties in ways not necessarily logical but that we all have come to understand. 

Trump recognized a market demand for a style of politics that the normal political candidate never felt emboldened enough to pursue: one with little ideological coherence (or even partisan coherence, a subtly different matter) and running on personal bluster and glamour, even if it's a glamour that most people who write about politics (me certainly included) don't feel we have a great grasp on. Trump's appeal just doesn't make sense to lots of political types.

But as a human type, it should. Trump is cooler than you, poindexter, more sure of himself, more confident, doesn't need you though it's OK if you wanna join the team, and you can make your little political points about conservatism and the size of government and political ideas and all that, but, c'mon man.

Rick Wilson at Politico thinks the others in the debate can score by striking back at Trump with mockery and condescension. It's certainly a better idea, for the reasons above, then trying to convince viewers he's not a "real conservative." But those who remember the schoolyard might realize that there are communication strategies certain personalities can get away with that lessers cannot, and on the levels Trump works at, I don't think any of his opponents can best him even if they try.

You're just a loser, Trump can and will respond, whether or not in so many words. I'm a winner. I'm great. Let's talk about greatness and winning, and I'll snidely bat you aside, often with (as Gillespie explained yesterday) the appearance of an offhand compliment. It shows that I can afford to care less about you. But you, you gotta care about me. I'm Trump. And I'm the frontrunner. Conserve that, loser. But hey, I love my conservative friends, they've done a lot of great things….but I'm Trump!

NEXT: Second Republican Debates Air Tonight, Court Halts Oklahoma Execution, Beer Giants Might Merge: P.M. Links

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  1. What does ‘conservative’ even mean anymore beyond opposing whatever Team Blue does?

    1. Conservative means being vehemently against gay marriage and illegal immigration, while constantly calling for a limitless military and defending Israel, at all costs.


      1. And why, pray tell, would we NOT defend Israel? Since Lebanon was allowed to go down the khazi (plenty of blame to go around on that one) Israel is the only country in the middle east that would not be seriously improved by carpet bombing the capitol by surprise. Maybe, MAYBE if we helped the Kurds cut a country for themselves out of theta mess, we could have TWO countries worth crossing the street to help in the area.

        The Derangement of the “It’s all Israel’s fault” crew never ceases to amaze me. Oh! The poor, poor Palestinians! They picked a side in a war of treachery and LOST.

        1. It’s less that “it’s all Israel’s fault” and more “let Israel (or Yahweh?) defend Israel”.

        2. When the fuck was the last time US troops fought for Israel? Did US planes fight over Bekaa Valley in 82? Was it US tanks that crossed from Sinai in 73? Did US infantry get trapped and killed in Jenin? Outside Arab propaganda, of course.
          US wouldn’t sell Israel weapons when its existence was under threat, only allied with them after Arabs went all-in for Soviet bloc, and after Israel beat them in 67. Israeli provided intelligence on captured Soviet arms for decades. How does that compare to, say, Germany, Korea or France, countries that outsourced their entire defense policy to US at no cost to themselves? And, unlike other allied countries, Israel doesn’t poke US in the eye, criticize it, fund terrorists who attack it, or expect US troops to die for it.
          Stop giving Israel military aid, sure. Also stop arming and funding its enemies. Obstruct its foreign and domestic policy as much as it does to US. Israelis would certainly go for that deal.

        3. Did I say “it’s all Israel’s fault?” I need to spend more time looking into the hidden meaning of the words I type.

    2. As much as it ever did: nothing. It was always an incoherent fraud with no hope of achieving lasting victory. Conservatism = prog enablement

    3. Therein lies the problem. Given that the only two things conservative politicians have done for their base are Jack and Shit, the brand doesn’t carry much cache anymore. Indeed, they’re probably grateful Trump isn’t one.

  2. “But those who remember the schoolyard might realize that there are communication strategies certain personalities can get away with that lessors cannot, and on the levels Trump works at, I don’t think any of his opponents can best him even if they try.”

    I think Fiorina could pull it off. She’s a bitch, in a good way.

  3. Oh yeah? I want to know what The Hair Club For Men has to say about Trump.

    1. Trump was their president all along.

  4. The problem isn’t that he’s not conservative. Can someone name me one thing that Trump could be defined as being libertarian on? Just one?

    1. I believe he as expressed opposition to the war on drug users in the past. Though I have no idea what his stance on it is at this time.

      1. Followup question: are those drug users ugly classless Mexican rapist losers?

    2. Can someone name me one thing that Trump could be defined as being libertarian on? Just one?

      There was that whole “legalize all drugs and put the cartels out of business” thing but other than that all I can think of is the “a pox on both their houses”.

  5. Quo usque tandem abutere, Trump, patientia nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? Quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia? Nihil ne te nocturnum praesidium Capitolini, nihil urbis vigiliae, nihil timor populi, nihil concursus bonorum omnium, nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus, nihil horum ora voltusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris?

    O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit. Consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? immo vero etiam in senatum venit, fit publici consilii particeps, notat et designat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum. Nos autem fortes viri satisfacere rei publicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus. Ad mortem te, Catilina, duci iussu consulis iam pridem oportebat, in te conferri pestem, quam tu in nos omnes iam diu machinaris.

    1. Ad mortem te, Trump…

      God dammit!

  6. Conservatives fawning all over Putin should have been a sign that they never cared about small government. They just wanted a head-bashing strongman leader instead. Trump fits that bill.

    1. I dunno buttplug, you might have something there.

      Maybe conservatives, are like a chick who wants to dump their pussy-assed boyfriend.

  7. Something tells me Club for Growth’s protests are going to fall on deaf ears. SoCons are getting pretty sick of supporting tax cuts for multinational corporations that promptly turn around and wave a rainbow flag in their face. Why vote for tax cuts for people that obviously hate you?

  8. I look at Donald Trump and think, “Yeah, that guy probably sees lot’s of problems that, as president, he doesn’t think he or the government should get involved in, that shouldn’t try to fix.”

  9. Brian,

    It’s very important for freedom and liberty that we pick one of those Jindal/Paul/Bush/Rubio/Kasich/Fiorina/Perry snoozers. Not so much because they are that great, but because we need them to appoint another libertarian like Alito or Scalia to the Supreme Court. That, and we need to defeat the hideous coalition of progressive college students and unrepentant racists that make up the hive-mind of the Sanders/Trump two-headed hydra. Get it?

    1. american socialist|9.16.15 @ 5:25PM|#

      Pay your mortgage yet?

  10. Term limits? GTFO with that.

    The California legislature is a good example of how that goes wrong. Now instead of a bunch of corrupt assholes running the state, we have corrupt assholes running the state that don’t know what they are doing and don’t care because they are just looking for their next job when they’re termed out.

    1. Right. Much better to have experienced career politicians with decades of mutual taint-licking with lobbyists and special interests behind them.

    2. The second term guys also have a bad habit of pushing whatever crony giveaways will ensure post government employment

  11. Maybe some of his support can be pealed off by reminding them Trump was a big backer of TARP. TARP infuriated tea partiers and if just a few dump Trump, his polls will start to go down, even slightly, and that may be the kiss of death for his candidacy.

  12. Trump is cooler than you, poindexter, more sure of himself, more confident, doesn’t need you though it’s OK if you wanna join the team…

    Only if you think a 69 year old man talking about his daughter as hot is cool. The guy’s “glamor” is that of one of the low-rent discotheques in one of his casinos.

  13. he’s the guy for cutting taxes and spending, term limits, a flat tax, and making Congress read the bills they vote on

    This all sounds like the job of a Congressman…

  14. I will say this, though, if Fiorina rips off his toupee or makes a dick joke at Trump’s expense, I will seriously have to consider voting for her.

  15. this article is a passive aggressive bitch fest. Yeah, we all know the GOP sucks, but we were going to use it as a vehicle to, once again, tell everyone that the free market is the bestest ever and that we need to hold our nose for the tenth time to vote for some bible-thumper who tells us its morning in America just so rich people don’t have to pay a few measly dollars more in taxes. Because, yeah, two trillion dollar wars suck and all, but you know what would suck more? Having billionaires pay taxes. Fuck that.

    But then along comes this asshole who is pushing all our best friend forever conservative sparkle ponies off the stage and making us look stupid and irrelevant. There’s lots of smart people getting paid big bucks to tell us how great the Wal-Marts of America are and they are all writing what must be expensive opinion pieces on how great rand Paul and bobby jindal are, but No one will listen. Oh well… Maybe we can write one more lazy and totally dishonest article on how Donald trump is like Bernie sanders. I say there’s a certain sense of desperation on your part, Reason Mag.

    1. Man, I think sparkle ponies would be awesome. I am struggling like a hat being shat from a cat to grasp your taxation animus. Taxation should be made illegal until we figure out a way to stop politicians from confiscating shit from anyone until this place is run like a fucking real house with a real fucking budget and real fucking payments where every single fucking tax-payer can see what shit their seized bucks are buying.

      I’d make the entire system of taxation accountable for every single fucking dollar and I’d use that NSA monstrosity in Utah to build a legit system brutally transparent to the point where these horrible cannibals we vote in run for the hills when citizens track the crap they buy.

      FUCK taxation until we fix it and set it up like your goddamn bank account online.

    2. american socialist|9.16.15 @ 6:19PM|#
      “…’Maybe we can write one more lazy and totally dishonest article on how Donald trump is like Bernie sanders’

      Naah, at least he’s smarter than Sanders. And you.
      BTW, asshole, pay your mortgage yet?

  16. Jeebus, figure it out, Reason.

    Nobody is voting for or supporting Trump because of his policy positions.

    All of his support is based on either (a) celebrity status or (b) a cheerful willingness to piss on all the right people.

    1. Clicked too soon:

      If Trump were running for the Dem nom, I don’t think anything would change. Certainly not what he says or how he acts, and probably not his support or poll numbers.

      1. If he were a Clinton plant or deliberately trying to sabotage his own campaign so he can go do something else, I don’t think he’d be acting any differently either.

  17. Sometimes we jsut have to roll with it.

  18. While I agree that zero-tolerance policies are a problem, I disagree that this is anything beyond prejudice. The school was not invoking a zero-tolerance policy.

    They have clocks on their walls, on the scoreboards at all sporting events, students and teachers wear watches, all smartphones have the time of day on them, and they all have apps with alarm clock/stopwatch/countdown functionality.

    There is no clock-related policy at work here, just prejudice.

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