Conservatism

George Will's Uphill Battle Against Trump's GOP and the Democratic Socialist Left

A defense of the conservative sensibility in an era of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

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Three years ago this month, George Will, America's foremost conservative newspaper columnist, officially quit the Republican Party over its acquiescance to Donald Trump. "This is not my party," he said then. It's even less so now.

Yet the erudite author and television commentator is not ready to give up on conservatism just yet. In his career-punctuating new book The Conservative Sensibility, Will makes the forceful argument that the natural rights-based classical liberalism of James Madison is the antidote to authoritarianism found on both the Trumpian right and progressive left.

In an interview with Reason's Matt Welch, Will talks about the importance of rehabilitating America's withered constitutional architecture, ponders what the punditry class got wrong in 2016, and reminisces about what it was like for a conservative columnist to criticize an erratic Republican president way back in 1973.

Edited by Ian Keyser. Intro by Todd Krainin. Camera by Jim Epstein.

Photo Credits:

Ralf Hirschberger/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

Jacques Witt/SIPA/Newscom

GEORGE BRIDGES/KRT/Newscom

'Running Waters' by Jason Shaw is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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  1. George Will is a tool.

    1. Doesn’t suck Trump cock enough, am I right?

      1. Tedious faggot. Everything is about cock with you, isn’t it?

        1. Everything is about whatever I say it’s about.

      2. You like Georgia Will?

        See anything that Tony likes raises huge red flags.

        Tony loves sucking Hillary’s dick, so you know his opinions are flawed.

        1. I think he’s a buffoon.

          That he’s smarter than modern conservative thought-leaders like Trump and Hannity is no compliment.

          1. I think he’s a buffoon.

            You have that in common with him.

    2. “George Will is a tool.”

      He’s a good writer who’s worth reading. He might even be able to surprise you from time to time. I can see why he’s held in such contempt.

      1. I would rather have a good writer that surprises me NONE of the times.

        A nice consistent Libertarian-ish writer.

        If some political wonk is “surprising me” then they are good a few times and bad sometimes.

        1. I would rather have a good writer that surprises me NONE of the times.

          Well, that explains a lot.

      2. He’s a good writer who’s worth reading. He might even be able to surprise you from time to time. I can see why he’s held in such contempt.

        He’s a public intellectual, i.e., he makes his livelihood from manipulating you into thinking that he’s clever and worthwhile reading. Occasionally he succeeds.

    3. I cannot stand this jack-arse! Will is a phony & hypocrite, & for all his big words, he ain’t that smart!…The fact that Will continues to promote certain longtime GOPers shows he does not have a clue about true conservatism! He has continually been for America’s IMMORAL & ILLEGAL wars & has always castigated Ron & Rand Paul for their Non-Intervention foreign policies, while mis-labeling them Isolationist!

      Also, Will is like many on the Right that are also filled with TDS as those on the Left, for he never writes a column praising Trump for the several good conservative/libertarian things he has done, nor have I seen Will take to task Obummy’s FBI, CIA, NSA, DOJ & FISA Court for the high crimes they committed in trying to get Da Witch elected & then trying to foment a coup of a duly elected prez! Sheesh, it is one of the worst abuses of power in this nartion’s history!…I did not vote for Trump, but you gotta give him some credit, but Will is never willing to do that!

      In 2020, I will write-in Rand Paul like I did in 2016 & give Will the finger while doing it!

      1. Although it’s certainly your right to do so, please don’t waste your vote. If Trump’s vision comes closest to what you believe is best (between Trump and whichever Dem is nominated) please vote for Trump. I voted for someone whose message I liked most (Ross Perot) in 1992 and, because so many of us did, we got Bill Clinton. Not that I particularly liked Bush I, but at least if he had been re-elected, we wouldn’t have had the Clinton Crime Family in charge. I vowed to never make that mistake again.

    4. He is a tool that doesnt even realize it.

      He is just another conservative that thinks principles that he rarely upholds are a defense to authoritarianism.

      Yet he and other conservatives now known as RINOs capitulate to leftist tactics as soon as the going gets tough.

      When your principles are used against you to undermine your principles, you do not have principles, you have an ego. And you are not worth listening to.

      1. You nailed it regarding RINO’s, TLBD.

    5. Iraq needed a Douglass MacArthur.

  2. Is this a replacement for the AM links, or is someone just lazy?

    “WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and investigations into Russia election meddling”
    https://twnews.us/us-news/the-latest-panel-subpoenas-ex-trump-aides-flynn-gates

    They should be interviewing the hags’ aides if they really want to know about dealing with the Russkies,
    The don’t. They’re just acting out as TDS victims.

    1. “Is this a replacement for the AM links, or is someone just lazy?”

      AM Links???

      Britches killed all The Linques long ago …

  3. I liked it better when Welch was making fun of George Will’s “Thanksgiving Death Porn”.

    “This Thanksgiving, while reading the crappy Reno Gazette-Journal on a lonesome stretch of Highway 395, I gave renewed thanks that I do not, and hopefully never will, live in George Will’s world.”

    —-Matt Welch, Reason, “Thanksgiving Death Porn”, 2004

    https://reason.com/2004/11/29/thanksgiving-death-porn/

    1. It is always remarkable to note the newfound respect and gravitas Reason is willing to give any politician or pundit who is willing to yell “ORANGE MAN BAD!!” at the top of their lungs.

      1. I especially love the tingle down their legs they get for the Neocons.

        But it’s inevitable.

        Globalists to the Left.
        Nationalists to the Right.

        1. “Globalists to the Left.
          Nationalists to the Right.”

          Und hier bin ich mit dir in ReasonWelt gefangen.

          1. Doesn’t roll off with quite the same rhythm.

  4. Good for him. It’s commendable when people put #CountryOverParty.

    Of course, the Republican Party was imperfect before Drumpf came along. President George W. Bush arguably made some tactical errors, for instance. But none of the early 2000s GOP’s mistakes can even compare to the unforgivable decision to sell out to Russia and embrace white nationalism. That’s the type of thing that should inspire anyone with a conscience to quit the party.

    1. Over the course of my life I’ve noticed that people always hate the current republican president with an unhinged passion, but 20-30 years later the same guy is considered fairly decent, compared to the current maniac. And yet, according to folks like Kirkland, the country is moving inexorably more progressive. It’s a strange phenomenon.
      What’s that saying about fascism always falling on America but usually lands in Europe…

      1. Seems like the phenomenon you’re describing is the death spiral of the Republican party as an entity of principles or ideas. It may be small comfort that they can only win by cheating and exploiting ancient, stupid antidemocratic rules.

        1. “…exploiting ancient, stupid antidemocratic rules.”

          That of course would be the electoral college. I do not live in or by NY and CA standards, and do not want to, thank you very much. May if forever be your stumbling block.

        2. It’s about time we get a death spiral of principles. Everything is too divorced from reality and I’m tired of ivory tower intelligentsia dictating how things should be while not bearing any of the consequences of their shitty ideas. Bonus points when they intentionally fuck people over for the sake of consistency and “principles.” If your principles fuck people over, get new ones.

          A few national Republicans and local Democrats are waking up to reality and doing something about it. Good on them. The rest of the political machine can go die in a ditch.

          1. Wait, who in the political establishment is acting based on principles?

            1. Most politicians are principled, they’re just extremely shitty principles.

              1. Is “how can I get reelected?” a principle?

        3. they can only win by cheating and exploiting ancient, stupid antidemocratic rules.

          What’s your take on the Democrats’ use of super-delegates to override the will of primary voters and nominate HRC?

          1. Since that is a hypothetical counterfactual history and not something that actually happened, I’m sure I don’t know.

            1. Just what parts of Reality are not “hypothetical counterfactual history and not something that actually happened”, Tony?

              Asking for a friend … AKA: Donk presidential contender.

            2. that is a hypothetical counterfactual history and not something that actually happened

              That’s . . . that’s just . . . I just can’t even.

              1. She got 4 million more votes than Bernie. That’s more votes than she beat Trump by. Are you saying the fair thing would have been for superdelegates to pick the wild-haired socialist guy over the will of the primary electorate?

                1. Nah, we’re saying the fair thing would have been to not have super delegates. And maybe not feed her the debat questions in advance, either.

                  1. Woulda coulda shoulda. Maybe the Bernie people shouldn’t have stolen campaign data from the Clinton campaign.

                    I can’t even get away from butthurt Bernie bros on a libertarian board?

        4. Yeah Tony, they’re finally joining the democrats in not standing for anything but their own power.

        5. Yes. Much better to have mob rule, of a democracy.
          You can always be the leader of true governance, by being a leader and amending the constitution to eliminate all traces of republicanism, and federalism. A man of your vision will have no problem getting 35 states to follow your lead.

        6. It may be small comfort that they can only win by cheating and exploiting ancient, stupid antidemocratic rules.

          Tony is all in for tyranny of the majority! Like in Nazi Germany!

      2. Works the same way as global warming.

        Every year is the hottest ever by lowering temperatures of previous years.

    2. You say Trump sold out the US to Russia and embraced white nationalism. No, he didn’t. He’s been harder on Russia (recent reports have Putin saying U.S.-Russia relations are getting ‘worse and worse’ ) than Obama or Bush, and has denounced white nationalism.

      But you can join in with the lying MSM and attack with the sin of bearing false witness. We’ve got freedom of speech.

      1. Lol at a Trump talking-points spewer responding to a Trump-loving parody handle.

        1. Tony, you’re a progtard talking points spewer. Can you appreciate the irony of your statement? Probably not, since you’re stupid.

          I do give you credit for not using sock puppets though.

      2. “We’ve got freedom of speech.”

        For the time being, anyways …

    3. Good for him. It’s commendable when people put #CountryOverParty.

      I can’t help but notice how often you put hashtags in your posts, OBL.

      Everyone says you’re a parody account–but I really didn’t believe it until it was revealed that hashtags are nazi recognition symbols–two superimposed ‘H’s for the standard nazi greeting “H**l H****r”.

      So, do you do it so your buddies at Stormfront can tell that you’re not serious?

  5. George Will’s conservatism is attitude-based. It’s a pose, based on his feelings (and based on how he gets his paychecks).

    Who wants to be like George Will though? When you have so little to offer, why are people going to take your side?

    Why are you guys even talking about it? (Oh yeah, because Trump derangement syndrome.)

    1. I am not the biggest fan of George Will, but he is no tribalist. In fact, he is so anti tribe because he thinks he always has the correct answer. So he has called out the GOP plenty of times, and of course calls out the left. His major flaw is that he often fails to consider people who don’t have the same background as himself. He often mistakes personal views for principles and thus his record is full of cases where he makes personal appeals that don’t make sense for a big country.

      Nevertheless, I’ll take a guy who sometimes lets his personal views lead him intellectually stray than the tribalists who dominate political discourse today. Supposed free-traders who are suddenly sympathetic to tariffs and border restrictions- merely because the chief of their tribe has deemed those to be good things- are far more tiresome than Will ever will be.

      1. So you like him because he is predictable and because he will neither lead nor follow a popular movement, so he will never be a threat to anyone.

        I’ll take a leader over a spectator like George Will. Solving problems is better than watching and commenting on them.

        I’ll take someone who sides with America over someone who only ever sides with himself.

        1. Then you must hate Trump, a president so unpatriotic it’s literally unbelievable.

          1. Your comments make 9-year-olds feel bad. They remember saying similar things when they were 7 or 8, but now they’re embarrassed at how childish it was.

            1. I agree that even a 7-year-old can see Trump as a mentally ill charlatan who nevertheless was able to dupe people like you. Many a toddler must live in horror at how painfully and dangerously fucking retarded 30% of the country is.

          2. Tony, you are a progtard. You are a traitor and intrinsically incapable of patriotism. It is not for trash like you to criticize the patriotism of your betters. Which is almost everyone.

            Now go drink your Drano.

            1. Odds are we’re going to be hearing that word a lot over the next 10 years or however long Biden lives.

              1. Lots of posts from Tony. Not a single factual assertion that can be debated. Usually a leftists starts out with talking points they don’t understand, and devolves into name calling. Tony just starts and stays with the ad hominem attacks, and name calling

        2. I’ll take more spectators, myself. Government “solutions” to problems usually come with even more problems. Strong political leadership is how we got into this situation in the first place.

      2. Trump is implementing tariffs because other countries have tariffs on our products, and has stated many times, he’d like for everyone to have no tariffs. Trump supports free trade. As a free trader, I agree people in the US would be better off without tariffs on imports, but I also believe the US would be even better off, when foreign countries remove their tariffs on US goods. In other words, Trump is fighting crony capitalism in foreign nations, which will actually help make those countries better, than it helps the US, but the US will also be better.

        1. +10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

          1. Are your pluses denominated in Venezuelan Bolivars? Seems to be a lot of inflation lately.

        2. Trump supports free trade.

          No he doesn’t. He support mercantilistic trade. Where the US uses its leverage to push everyone else around.

        3. This is the real reason trump is hated.

          Note how only the obviously corrupt and their sycophants hate him so vehemently.

    2. “Muh Bow Tie” Conservatism

      They are just a different brand of SJWs. All moral self righteousness, all the time.

    3. It is the ego of those who think they are elite. George Will fancies himself a Duke of some sorts. He is just another has-been court jester.

      Keep dancing for your authoritarian betters, Georgie. I’m sure they are enjoying it.

    4. “Muh Bow Tie” Conservatism

  6. George Will is an uphill battle.

    >>>”This is not my party,” he said

    Oh, it totes is. This time GOP Electeds and their Authors got overrun by the Voters.

    1. It’s the slobs versus the snobs. Can’t you see Trump as Al Czervik in Caddyshack? Hillary as Judge Smails? Maybe Will could be Doctor Beeper.

      1. lol +1 and i never slice.

      2. Can’t you see Trump as Al Czervik in Caddyshack?

        Funny that you should say – in the wake of the election I was trying to tell all the weeping and wailing Democrats I know that Trump is really much more Rodney Dangerfield than Hitler. They weren’t having it.

  7. George Will has over his many years made a consistent case for conservativism. While I have disagreed with him, I have always respected his arguments. The fact that he left the Republican Party should be enough to see that the Party is no longer conservative. It is no longer a party of principles, but is now a tribal entity following its leader, President Trump.

    1. Trump supporters are the party of self government.

      Nationalist Populism: government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

      Globalism: government of the international ruling class, by the international ruling class, and for the international ruling class.

    2. I love when lefty losers try to define their opponents principles. UVa even did a study showing liberals were the most likely to get wrong their opponents beliefs.

  8. In the land of Trumptards, the one-eyed conservatard is king.

    1. Fuck off you subnormal progtard.

      1. I’d say eat my cunt, but I’m not sure we share enough DNA for you to be interested.

        1. Tony
          June.15.2019 at 12:45 am
          “I’d say eat my cunt, but I’m not sure we share enough DNA for you to be interested.”

          You don’t share enough intelligence with humanity that anything you say is found interesting.
          Fuck off, scumbag.

  9. We had a Conservative POTUS in ’73?? I thought we had the biggest Big Government POTUS since Roosevelt

    1. nevermind, misread that last sentence

    2. Who cares? It was 50 years ago

  10. “Will makes the forceful argument that the natural rights-based classical liberalism of James Madison is the antidote to authoritarianism found on both the Trumpian right and progressive left.”

    I think Welch needs to explain what authoritarian moves Trump has actually made. Sure he’s made a lot of threats, but that’s empty rhetoric. It reminds me of Will’s column entitled “The shabbiest U.S. president ever is an inexpressibly sad specimen” which lacks a single example of Trump’s actions that are shabby or sad, but like the MSM, is full of insults and attacks they seem to expect us to believe.

    I’ve seen no actions on Trump’s part, that restricts US citizens freedoms. For that Reason should be celebrating considering the reductions in individual freedoms that have occurred with the other presidents we’ve had in the last 50 years. Say Obama’s IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, less freedom in health care, TSA fondling at the airports, and politicians who get to stay in office while committing perjury like Clinton.

  11. Will is a hypocrite and a cuck. When Democrats call us inhuman, bigots, Nazis, fascists, and everything else under the sun for decades, crickets. When Trump calls Biden an idiot, all of a sudden Will starts harping on about principled conservatism.

    Why is Reason on such a TDS bent lately? Seems worse lately than earlier in the year.

    1. Much the same as Amash – they’ve looked at their internal data and know their previous course is a dead end.

    2. Reason is all in on TDS because, as explicitly stated by Nick, they are all in on Open Borders. It is their *core value*.

      In the 21st century, libertarians are going to have make common cause with the globalists of all parties, with the people whose core value is the right of individuals to move freely around the planet.

      1. Almost sounds like “workers of the world, unite!” Libertarian collectivism. I hope they realize a world without borders still has a border. The border becomes geographic boundaries, the money/knowledge necessary to reside somewhere, and the clout with global government to do what you want.

        Open borders is code for globalism.

        1. Good point.

          The whole point of globalism is so that we have no where to run from those who would rule us, and we have little say in the decisions they make.

          There was a time when libertarians said the smaller and more local a government the better. Reason has been trying to turn that on its head and rebrand libertarianism. The libertarian readers here see through it and understand the dangers and are rightly pissed at this magazine for undermining the ideology at every turn.

      2. It’s a peculiar insanity of Reason Libertarians that they support a policy course — importation of a vast population of people with no interest in Libertarianism — that will make implementation of Libertarian policies impossible.

        1. “Consequences be damned! Muh deontological commitments!”

  12. GEORGE FUCKING WILL AND the Reason editors?

    Damn…this erection might NEVER go down with that kind of raw energy and excitement in one single podcast. Holy fucking hell, excitement level just went all the way up to 12!

    Hey, are you going to tie baseball and the Ramones to the current political climate, Nick? I’d listen, but damn, I can only handle a rager like this so far without further endangering my health.

  13. George Will, America’s foremost conservative newspaper columnist

    He hasn’t deserved that title for a very, very long time.

  14. George thinks he’s so conservative by using terms like “classical liberalism” and “limited government,” but then he goes on quoting Abraham Lincoln and elaborating on the virtues of Alexander Hamilton. Sorry, anyone who follows in the line of these two does not actually believe in the principles of liberalism. A truly limited government would not tolerate a federally operated national bank (Hamilton’s doing) with the capability of printing worthless money unbacked by gold or anything else (first done under Abraham Lincoln to fund a pointless, unconstitutional, and utterly devastating war).

    Anyone interested in the gory details of Alexander Hamilton’s unfortunate influence on America’s founding, and of the true character of a man who is so often held in such high esteem, check out “How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America” by Brion McClanahan. The forward is by Ron Paul.

    https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1621576353/reasonfoundation-20/

  15. Good old Reason, I depend on you to know the way. I just do the opposite of whatever you’re advocating.

  16. I am making a good salary online from home.I­’­v­e m­a­d­e $­97,­999 s­o f­o­r last 5 months w­or­k­i­n­g on­l­i­n­e a­n­d I­’­m a f­u­l­l t­i­m­e s­t­u­d­e­n­t­. I­’­m u­s­i­n­g a­n on­l­i­n­e b­u­s­i­n­e­s­s o­p­p­o­r­t­u­n­i­t­y I h­e­a­r­d a­b­o­u­t a­n­d I­’­v­e m­a­d­e s­u­c­h g­r­e­a­t m­o­n­e­y­.I am genuinely thankful to and my administrator, I­t­’s’ r­e­a­l­l­y u­s­e­r f­r­i­e­n­d­l­y a­n­d I­’­m j­u­s­t s­o h­a­p­p­y t­h­a­t I f­o­u­n­d o­u­t a­b­o­u­t i­t , …… payhd.com

  17. Summary: “conservative intellectual windbag says ‘get off my lawn'”.

  18. I am making a good salary online from home.I­’­v­e m­a­d­e $­97,­999 s­o f­o­r last 5 months w­or­k­i­n­g on­l­i­n­e a­n­d I­’­m a f­u­l­l t­i­m­e s­t­u­d­e­n­t­. I­’­m u­s­i­n­g a­n on­l­i­n­e b­u­s­i­n­e­s­s o­p­p­o­r­t­u­n­i­t­y I h­e­a­r­d a­b­o­u­t a­n­d I­’­v­e m­a­d­e s­u­c­h g­r­e­a­t m­o­n­e­y­.I am genuinely thankful to and my administrator, I­t­’s’ r­e­a­l­l­y u­s­e­r f­r­i­e­n­d­l­y a­n­d I­’­m j­u­s­t s­o h­a­p­p­y t­h­a­t I f­o­u­n­d o­u­t a­b­o­u­t i­t , …… http://www.Employment10.com

  19. Didn’t listen, but know enough about him to make a guess… You’re a professional loser. Trump is dicey on lots of shit, but at least he has a spine and is trying to win, and EVEN WITH all his mistakes and squishy principles, he’s probably got as much or more “conservative” stuff accomplished as anybody has in many decades.

    We need people who are willing to fight to win, not professional losers. And a lot of his populist sentiments and anti globalist sentiments are winning ideas. Not all, but many. These establishment hacks are the worst. I hate old school cuckservative professional losers like him even worse than lefties, as they never put up a proper fight to save America, while claiming they were going to before every election… Then cucked in office.

    Fuck him and everybody like him.

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