So I'm in a position of being surprised at myself for resonating as I do with what he has to say in a column today about Trump's impact on conservatism.
And, granted, there's a valid case to be made along the lines of, "Well, Pete, it's a little rich that you are just now so concerned about the health of the movement."
But he is correct about this:
This is something I've given a great deal of thought to lately. In addition to the three pillars that constitute conservatism's principles, it is - or has been, anyway - the ideology that venerates decorum. It has assumed that serious people are going to comport themselves with dignity, and that they are going to respect themselves enough to strive for clarity and consistency in their words and actions.I understand that the pull of partisanship is strong. But such justifications ultimately underscore the moral and intellectual decay that has spread as a result of Trump and Trumpism. Many people on the right, in choosing to support Trump over Hillary Clinton, began to accommodate themselves to their decision. They began the process of normalizing Trump, and normalization is now giving way to loyalty. They are now following his lead. What they once found unacceptable is increasingly tolerable. Donald Trump is now steering this ship, so why not relax and come along for the wild ride?A redefinition of the Republican Party and conservatism, then, is well underway. That was clear from CPAC, where Trump and Bannon were dominant and even celebrated figures. (Arguing that Trump’s effort to refashion conservatism is a worrisome thing doesn’t mean that he won’t make good selections and do good things from time to time. Both can happen at once; and he knows the latter will help him achieve the former.)Events, including the new administration's own ratio of competence to incompetence, will ultimately determine how successful Trump and his aides, including Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, are in realizing their ambitions. In the meantime, some of us will continue to resist their efforts to transform conservatism into an ethno-nationalist, blood-and-soil movement, one animated by grievances and a Nietzschean ethic. And those on the right who are making their accommodation with Trump might reflect for a moment on the words of Edmund Burke, who wrote that certain means, once tolerated, are soon preferred.
And the glossing-over of Trump's extremely problematic traits - and those of his core supporters (the all-caps crowd) - has been the most disturbing aspect of the Trump phenomenon for me.
And per Burke, I don't see how we put the genie back in the bottle. That is why this is still post-America and it is still late in the day.