Over the approaching months, many thousands of words are going to be written about Donald Trump’s presidency and also the way forward for the political party. With the leaders abandoned him on the eve of two successive general elections, he used the GOP to win the White House with little or no help from the institutional party, and that they were happy to permit him to appoint 234 judges to the federal bench and sign one account within the first year of his administration. As swiftly as he entered them on the fateful day of the escalator, Trump will disappear from the political considerations of Republican elected officials.
As tacitly made its peace with the New Deal when the oldest living Americans were children, the movement and its institutions have not been synonymous with the political party despite what some have argued. What the movement offered the party instead was a sort of geological survey: a map of the sedimentary layers in American political life, and therefore the potential riches waiting to be unearthed by skillful miners of right-wing popular opinion.
Like many observers, including an infinite number of the president’s loudest detractors, i think that Trump brought the conservative movement to an end. But what its destruction means are a few things very different from the prophecies of permanent Democratic supermajorities issuing forth from the previous president’s critics. Trump’s greatest achievement was recognizing that within the 2012 presidential election, the old movement vein had been exhausted which a way richer one was awaiting exploration, which is one that speaks much more than his actual record in office to his business acumen.
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What Trump recognized was that there are voluminous Americans who don’t oppose or perhaps care about abortion or twosome, much less biological research or any of the opposite causes that had animated traditional social conservatives.
Unlike the literal clear acrylic bar stools, the Barstool conservative movement won’t have institutions in any recognizable sense, in no way think tanks or highbrow magazines, but it’ll be larger, more geographically disparate, younger, and doubtless more male. It’ll also, I suspect, be more racially diverse, very similar to the portion of the electorate that gave Trump 74 million votes in 2020.
What remains of the old conservative movement, where will Barstool conservatism leave? within the case of free-market dogmatists, I feel there’s almost zero daylight between them. Meanwhile, a tiny low number of earnest social conservatives are disgusted. The new order of things is what I think that a majority of them will gladly make their peace with.
This is partly because while Barstool conservatives might regard, say, homeschooling families of 10 as freaks, they are doing not regard them with loathing, much less consider their very existence a threat to the American way of life as they are aware of it. Social conservatives themselves have largely accepted that, with the possible exception of abortion, the good battles are lost permanently. Even with nine votes on the Supreme Court, Oberfegell will never be overturned. Instead, the simplest that may be hoped for may be reasonable recusancy, a limited accommodation for some hundred thousand families who hold close traditions that within the decades to return will appear as bizarre as those of the Pennsylvania Dutch.