Jonah Goldberg at The Dispatch is on about The Donald as is his wont. The headline is:
Does The Word “Conservative” Mean Anything Anymore?
Below it is:
Positions Aren’t Conservative Just Because The Republican President Holds Them.
You should read the rest of this before you read all of Jonah’s so you can evaluate what we have to say. The second one isn’t a questions but we would say yes to both. Conservatism has great meaning because so many people what to be one. We don’t, however, think The Donald is a conservative and so his positions don’t determine conservatism. We voted for him once and we will vote for him again but he is not, as we see it, a conservative. The Donald holds some conservative positions but, as we see it, conservatism is largely about process and that is why The Donald is not a conservative. We would prefer a more conservative option but one is not on offer.
What Jonah needs to recognize is that, unlike liberal, progressive, or libertarian, conservative is a great political brand. People (lots of them but obviously not everyone) want to support and vote for conservatives. Thus, there is a great battle to be anointed as a “true” conservative. The Donald and his supporters want him to have the advantage of the conservative brand. We agree with Jonah that he should not have the conservative brand but the nature and details of conservatism, and every other political designation change over time. Some folks might find our “heresy” of supporting a modest carbon tax sufficient to be excommunicated as a conservative. We think economic freedom, political freedom, and due process should be high on the list for somebody to be considered a conservative. The Donald supports economic and political freedom some of the time but he is a results guy rather than a process guy.
Sidebar: Of course the details get tricky. When is the carbon tax no longer modest? What should we do about Venezuela? How can we support economic an political freedom there and elsewhere? End Sidebar.
Exactly what conservatism means beyond the great brand is a political and philosophical debate. We need to continue the debate. We need to recognize that few political candidates will be full conservatives. If you are going to wait for a true conservative to support you won’t vote very often.