Who cares? Our grand kids, vacationing at the Kentucky or Nevada sea shores won't need to breathe that much, will they?
Donald Trump gave us Trumpism at its best on Tuesday night. And that was useful because it gave us a view of the political movement he represents, without the clownish behavior.
The first thing we learned was that Trumpism is an utter repudiation of modern conservatism. For the last 40 years, the Republican Party has been a coalition of three tendencies. On Tuesday, Trump rejected or ignored all of them.
There used to be Republican foreign policy hawks, people who believed that it was in America’s interest to serve as a global policeman, actively preserving a democratic world order. Trump explicitly repudiated this worldview, drawing instead a sharp distinction between what’s good for America and what’s good for the rest of the world.
There used to be social conservatives, who believed that the moral fabric of the country had been weakened by secularism and the breakdown of the family. On Tuesday, Trump acted as if this group didn’t exist. He didn’t mention a single social issue — abortion, religious liberty, marriage, anything.
Finally, there used to be fiscal hawks who worried about the national debt. Trump demolished these people, too, vowing a long list of spending programs and preservation of entitlement programs.
The Republicans who applauded Trump on Tuesday were applauding their own repudiation. They did it because partisanship is stronger than philosophy, but also because Reagan conservatism no longer applies to current reality. ….
The old Reagan conservatism was economic individualism restrained by social and religious traditionalism. Conservatives could embrace the creative destruction in the free market because they believed that the communal order could be held together by traditional morals and the collective attachments of family, church and local organizations.
But in the 1990s conservatism devolved from a flexible balance to a crude anti-government philosophy, the Leave Us Alone coalition. Republicans talked as if Americans’ problem was they were burdened by too many restraints and the solution was to get government off their backs.
That may have been true of the businessmen who make up the G.O.P. donor class, but regular voters felt adrift and uprooted, untethered and exposed. Regular Republicans didn’t want more freedom and more risk in their lives. They wanted more protection and security. They wanted a father-figure government that would protect them from [terrorism and] the disruptions of technological change and globalization.
Donald Trump came along and offered them exactly that kind of strong government….
Trump would use big government to crack down on enemies foreign and domestic. He’d use government to create millions of jobs for infrastructure projects. He’d use government to force or bribe corporations to locate plants here — the guarded order of national corporatism over the wide-open riskiness of free-market capitalism.
Brooks may be missing the main coalition that has spring up to replace the fiscal and social conservatives & hawks: the Me-Firsters whose main concerns are 1) keeping what they have and 2) getting more. This coalition wants government to help them increase their assets and to prevent others from getting any of them. They consider anything else the government might do as mere gravy.
On the plus side, if we do move to national corporatism, at least we will know that China thinks as we do.