The terms “liberal” and “conservative” have long seemed amorphous. When I was growing up, I was taught that they had something to do with whether you were more cautious about, or more open to change.
But if “conservative” means anything in American politics, other than agreeing with whatever Donald Trump says it means at the moment, then Donald Trump is no “conservative.” He’s actually a radical believer in the cult of himself and whatever is financially, politically or egotistically beneficial to him in a given moment.
I can’t really suggest that is what conservatism ever was or is now, except to his cult.
Andrew Sullivan, the Anglo-American pundit, is an expert on the term and considers himself a conservative (one of his many books is titled “The Conservative Soul,” and he disagrees with American liberals about a great many things. For example, he refers to “the snake of ‘wokeness,’ and its attempt to deconstruct our Enlightenment inheritance.” Like an old-fashioned American conservative, he often worries about liberals overreaching and sacrificing important values in their haste for change.
Although I have never considered myself a conservative, I have esteem for Sullivan’s eloquence, based on my years of reading his pioneering blog “The Dish.” So I rise to pass along a little bit of how Sullivan sees Trump and Trumpism, who and which he believes represent an “immediate threat to BOTH capitalism and democracy,” which must be defeated and banished from the scene, after which Sullivan suggests he will return to a life’s habit of annoying liberals.
In a piece from The Weekly Dish, headlined “The Metastasizing Cancer of Trump,” Sullivan writes: Trump “has delegitimized capitalism by his cronyism, corruption, and indifference to dangerously high levels of inequality. He has tainted conservatism indelibly as riddled with racism, xenophobia, paranoia, misogyny, and derangement. Every hoary stereotype leveled against the right for decades has been given credence by the GOP’s support for this monster of a human being. … Removing [Trump/Trumpism] will not be enough. But not removing it is democratic death.”
He specifies: “[Trump] has turned the Department of Justice into a politicized machine dedicated to attacking his political opponents, delegitimizing the most essential rampart of any democratic system: the rule of law. …”
And: “He has perverted US foreign policy for his own domestic political objectives, and been impeached for it. He has tried and largely succeeded in rendering his own administration immune to Congressional oversight and legal scrutiny, by reckless brinksmanship in the courts, and contempt for separation of powers. He has grotesquely done all he can to enrich himself, his kleptocratic family and his talent-free cronies at the public’s expense.”
A few specific indictments:
The tribal polarization of this country is deeper and more dangerous than at any time since the 1860s — and yet Trump continues to exacerbate and exploit it. … The contempt [Trump] has allegedly expressed for the war-dead, the appropriation of sacred national sites for partisan purposes, the open lawlessness, the sheer laziness … these are core abdications of basic presidential responsibility.
There’s much more in the piece. He ends with a back-handed endorsement of Trump’s opponent as, at least, not deranged:
Biden is not perfect. He’s too old. But he understands our democratic system; he loves this country and has a grasp of the Constitution. He’s trusted by African-American voters who gave him the nomination, and has not alienated white voters in the middle who loathed Hillary Clinton. He is not deranged; he is not lacking in basic human empathy; and he does not treat all his opponents as enemies.