Eight months ago, Donald Trump announced he was running for president. Like any national tragedy, I remember where I was and what I was doing on that day in June. After the initial laughter wore off, I looked forward to September, when I predicted he would drop out. But then Trump became the front-runner and the main focus of the media — a frightening concept.
My message to Republicans: Donald Trump is no conservative. He is not far right. Ted Cruz is far right. Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He wants to win, regardless of whether the policies he promotes are conservative or liberal. Trump was “very pro-choice” before becoming pro-life, believed in universal health care before denouncing Obamacare and even donated at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Conservatism is based on a set of timeless ideas. Donald Trump is based on hairspray, tan skin and money.
Progressives believe if the right people are in power, the government can accomplish wonders. Conservatives believe no person, no matter how moral or intelligent, is capable of handling unchecked power. And so conservatism promotes the ideals of limited government that have made this country exceptional.
Now examine Trump’s campaign. He, Donald J. Trump, will make America great again. When asked how he will accomplish this, Trump talks about himself: his management skills and deal-making skills. He barely mentions specific policies. Trump prefers to mock the current “weak” leaders and promote himself as a “winner.” This is not conservatism. This is progressivism. This is a recipe for failure.
Conservatives disagree on policy. We disagree quite frequently, actually. That’s part of what makes conservatism great. But what conservatives all agree on is that we must hold dear the principles that this country was founded on. Conservatives value their commitment to the Constitution. Donald Trump values himself.
Conservatism is making a resurgence whether it’s apparent in mainstream culture or not. Millennials are entrepreneurs. They want the government off their backs. There is an opportunity here to bring a generation of young people to the Republican Party. Trump poses a larger threat to this resurgence than Bernie Sanders could ever dream of. True conservatives must defeat Trump and unite around a candidate who offers an optimistic vision. The future of the Republican Party and the future of our country depend on it.