Conservatism is dead. And among the dwindling number of conservative adherents, some are wondering who killed it. The answer is quite simple: conservatives killed conservatism.
The fading voices of the conservative movement remain in fits over Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination for the presidential election. They accuse the people who voted for him of destroying conservatism; of being sellouts.
Yet that is untrue. After all there was nothing for voters to destroy or sell out. Conservative leaders killed conservatism long ago by transforming what it means. Here are two representative examples that show this.
The Power Line blog isn’t a household name but it’s a significant website for conservative junkies. John Hinderaker regularly contributes to it. He wrote a post in 2012 on the Miss USA pageant. Here is part of what he had to say.
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The closest thing to a controversy in the Miss USA competition was Miss Culpo’s endorsement of the Miss Universe organization’s decision to allow transgendered women to compete. . . .
Note four things: First, Culpo was endorsing a decision that had already been made by Miss Universe, hardly a radical act. Second, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the policy. Beauty pageants are not going to be overrun with transgendered contestants, let alone winners. Third, Culpo was taking a subtle dig at the fact that the major pageants, including Miss Universe, have no ban on surgical enhancement. There are already “so many surgeries” among pageant contestants, what is one more? Fourth–and this is the important one–note her rationale: “I believe it’s a free country.” Would a liberal ever say that? No! I am convinced that Miss Culpo is a closet conservative, and will root for her enthusiastically in December.
Keep that in mind as we go to the second example, which comes courtesy of Bethany Mandel writing at Acculturated in May of this year. Here is part of what she had to say in, “Melania Trump’s Insulting Advice to America’s Wives.”
In an old interview recently unearthed by BuzzFeed, Donald Trump explained his approach to marriage. “There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife and you know there’s a lot of husbands that listen to that,” Trump said, when asked if he’d ever changed a diaper for one of his five children. Not the Donald. He leaves domestic duties to others. Melania confirmed this in a more recent interview with Parenting magazine: “He didn’t change diapers and I am completely fine with that. . . we know our roles.”
Her role, evidently, is never to bother Donald with domestic responsibilities or, heaven forbid, nag him. Melania recently told GQ magazine she was neither “needy” or [sic] “nagging,” and then repeated this self-assessment to The New Yorker: “I’m not a nagging wife.”
Trump’s history of misogyny is long and well-documented. Many people wonder how it’s possible that a woman, let alone three women, have decided to hitch their fates to a man like Trump. The answer becomes clear in Melania’s interviews: like her husband, Melania is used to outsourcing a lot of the daily drudgery of life; and she doesn’t think that highly of her fellow women who don’t have the same privilege.
Just who is Bethany Mandel? She’s a senior contributor at the Federalist, another major conservative website.
Hinderaker’s and Mandel’s beliefs aren’t rare; they’re widely accepted within conservatism. And when the conservative movement embraces the belief that men are women, and that it’s misogynistic to think that actual men and actual women having distinctive roles in life, it’s easy to see why many people have rethought their adherence to conservatism.
Add onto this the fact that conservative leaders and organizations have embraced other ideas that used to be the antithesis of conservatism (big government, nation building, runaway spending, hatred of God, hatred of Middle America, overthrowing America with aliens and refugees, and so forth) and the only rational conclusion is that conservatives killed conservatism.
Conservatives killing conservatism is also a reason why, while I disagree with Trump on a lot, I’m having an increasingly difficult time faulting him for his progressive positions. After all, when conservatives bash Trump and his family for having at least some traditional family roles, and when they bash him for momentarily vocalizing a strikingly pro-life position, why would I expect him to move away from his progressive social beliefs?
So when you next hear the remaining few conservatives whiningly ask who killed conservatism, be sure to tell them that they did.
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