“In the wake of Donald Trump’s ascent to dominance in the GOP, conservative leaders blame Republicans for the calamity. But they shouldn’t,” argues Craig Biddle. The should look to their own intellectual failure.
Donald Trump represents the end of the road for American conservatism as an intellectual movement. But you already know this. If indeed there was ever anything intellectual about the movement at all.
He is what happens when you shun any intellectual defence of the positions you claim to support: of individual rights, of freedom, above all of capitalism. The tragedy is that if conservative standardbearers had only recognised it, an across-the-board philosophical defence virtually across-the-board was virtually handed to them on a plate.
But it wasn’t wanted, because it wasn’t faith-based.
Such is the intellectual shallowness of the conservative movement.
Not just not wanted, it was viciously attacked. Not just ignored, these rotten conservatives elected to systematically lie about the philosophy and its fountainhead. Having evaded and avoided it, they repaired instead to their threadbare mysticism and their anti-intellectual faith-based arguments for their Frankenstein form of crony-capitalism. And look what they have now delivered: a Jekyll-and-Hyde candidate.
Donald Trump is now the standard-bearer for the Republican Party because when conservative leaders—who, by their chosen profession, had a responsibility to identify, convey, and apply a viable philosophy to support rights, freedom, and capitalism—were handed a philosophy that clearly could do so, they ignored or maligned it. And they did so for decades.
Republican presidential candidate Trump is a product of conservative leaders’ evasions. He’s their Frankenstein. He’s their fault.
Have other factors contributed to the rise of Trump. Yes, many other factors have. But conservatives’ evasions are the fundamental cause. If conservative leaders had embraced rather than ignored or misrepresented Ayn Rand’s ideas, conservative efforts to defend freedom, capitalism, and the American ideal would have been anchored in an irrefutable moral and philosophical foundation; thus, America would now be—or would at least be headed in the direction of—the rights-protecting republic it is supposed to be. In such a context, a vulgar opportunist such as Trump couldn’t garner political support from any sizable portion of the population. Instead, he’d be using ‘the best words’ to complain about the difficulty of ‘cutting deals’ without the coercive power of eminent domain.
So the point here is not that no other factors have contributed to the political ascent of Trump. Rather, the point is that the fundamental cause of his ascent is the evasions of conservative leaders…
There is no quick fix.
READ: How Conservatives Begat Trump, and What to Do About It – Craig Biddle, OBJECTIVE STANDARD