It was the Republican establishment that gave us three originalists on the Supreme Court and the better people who passed through the Trump national security team, many of whom were later fired by the president. The Trump presidency gave us new rhetoric but no new public policy ideas to flesh out the instincts, except on trade.
Trump did change the debate on trade. Everyone is a managed trader now. When we are out of the storm, and the after-storm, of COVID-19, expect everyone from Mike Pence to Elizabeth Warren to be for managed trade.
Ironically, GOP dogma on trade is now what, for generations, was the position of the labor movement and Roosevelt liberals in the Democratic Party.
In many ways, Trump blew it. His movement met its moment, but he wore us out before it could take hold.
A Marshall Plan for small-town America, for example, cannot happen any time soon. For we have already spent the money we don’t have on COVID-19 bailouts, tax cuts and the border wall.
It is impossible to see how more national debt — we are at $27 trillion-plus — is sustainable.
But the other part of Trumpism that will surely remain predates him and was merely co-opted by him — the conservative pushback in the cultural wars.
As the left continues to press its attacks on free thought and speech, its hostility to traditional values and life choices, its hostility to capitalism, organized religion, history, tradition, the police and the family, more and more Americans are likely to be repulsed.
Cultural conservatism is ever renewed by the coarseness of our culture and the bullying of the political left.
Trump was the unlikely tribune of cultural conservatism. (He absurdly stood in front of a D.C. church holding up a Bible after a military guard paved his way — never thinking to go into the church and pray.) But that does not mean a better champion will not come along.
A loud “no” to statism and the dominant culture resonates with a great many Americans — roughly 71 million Americans.
If the alternatives are cultural conservatism, or libertarian populism with respect for law, or the smug, controlling PC fascism of the left, many Americans will pick the closest approximation to one of the first two. And that means Republicans and/or Trumpist Republicans. Not feeling the benefits of the supercilious and censorious Twitter mob, many voters will opt for being left alone — with their “guns or religion,” and their many other un-woke thoughts.
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