Founded by William F. Buckley, National Review defined the modern conservative movement. And even after Buckley’s passing the magazine remains the conscience of conservative politics. Perhaps because of that role the magazine is devoting an entire issue to exposing as a liberal the biggest threat to the conservative movement in decades, Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.
The issue features a blistering editorial that labels Trump as a “philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” The piece reminds the reader of Trump’s history of liberalism and “Since declaring his candidacy he has taken a more conservative line, yet there are great gaping holes in it.”
Even on his signature issue, the NR editorial reminds us, Trump is a new convert, “A few short years ago, he was criticizing Mitt Romney for having the temerity to propose “self-deportation,” or the entirely reasonable policy of reducing the illegal population through attrition while enforcing the nation’s laws. Now, Trump is a hawk’s hawk.”
On foreign policy, the Editors point out, Trump is dangerously weak (when he’s not totally confusing:
Sometimes he wants to let Russia fight ISIS, and at others he wants to “bomb the sh**” out of it. He is fixated on stealing Iraq’s oil and casually suggested a few weeks ago a war crime — killing terrorists’ families — as a tactic in the war on terror. For someone who wants to project strength, he has an astonishing weakness for flattery, falling for Vladimir Putin after a few coquettish bats of the eyelashes from the Russian thug. All in all, Trump knows approximately as much about national security as he does about the nuclear triad — which is to say, almost nothing.
And domestically, The Donald, has displayed little interest in reducing the deficit or the size of government. “He appears to believe that the administrative state merely needs a new master, rather than a new dispensation that cuts it down to size and curtails its power”
The editorial continues with Trump’s history, his lack of civility, and what a Trump nomination would do to the conservative movement. It ends with this warning:
Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.
Editor Rich Lowry says “This issue of National Review will bring together voices from across the right to warn against the siren song of Donald Trump. These contributors have many differences of opinion among themselves, but all agree that Trump is not a conservative, he is a mistake for the Republican Party, and he is the wrong man to pick up the pieces after the wreckage of the Obama years.”
Participants in the symposium (which can be read online) include economist Thomas Sowell, Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III, TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck, former US Attorneys General Edwin Meese III and Michael B. Mukasey, syndicated radio hosts Dana Loesch and Michael Medved, syndicated columnists Cal Thomas and Mona Charen, The Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, First Things editor R. R. Reno, Commentary editor John Podhoretz, National Affairs editor Yuval Levin, novelist Mark Helprin, National Review contributing editor Andrew C. McCarthy, The Resurgent founder Erick Erickson, Club for Growth president David M. McIntosh, author and presidential scholar Steven F. Hayward, The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz, Townhall.com editor Katie Pavlich, and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Highlights of the symposium include:
- David McIntosh: “These are not the ideas of a small-government conservative who understands markets. They are, instead, the ramblings of a liberal wannabe strongman who will use and abuse the power of the federal government to impose his ideas on the country.”
- William Kristol: “Isn’t Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn’t the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?”
- Glenn Beck: “Sure, Trump’s potential primary victory would provide Hillary Clinton with the easiest imaginable path to the White House. But it’s far worse than that. If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government. This is a crisis for conservatism.”
- L. Brent Bozell III: “The GOP base is clearly disgusted and looking for new leadership. Enter Donald Trump, not just with policy prescriptions that challenge the cynical GOP leadership but with an attitude of disdain for that leadership—precisely in line with the sentiment of the base. Many conservatives are relishing this, but ah, the rub. Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all.”
- Dana Loesch: “Just a few years ago, I and many others were receiving threats for promoting conservative policies and conservative principles—neither of which Donald Trump seems to care about. Yet he’s leading.”
- Russell Moore: “Trump can win only in the sort of celebrity-focused mobocracy that Neil Postman warned us about years ago, in which sound moral judgments are displaced by a narcissistic pursuit of power combined with promises of ‘winning’ for the masses.”
- Katie Pavlich: “In short, do our principles still matter? A vote for Trump indicates the answer is ‘no.’”
In 2012 the Republican Party had a golden opportunity to oust a horrible president. But, they nominated Mitt Romney a very good man who is not a conservative and lost the election. In 2016 the GOP is dangerously close to nominating another non-conservative in another very winnable election. Congratulations to National Review for putting their collective necks on the line to tell the truth.
No doubt there will be some who will harshly criticize National Review for this editorial barrage intent on steering conservatives away from Donald Trump. But they are being true to their mission as the conscience of the conservative movement. I strongly urge you read this entire issue.