Trump vs. Conservative Intellectuals

Trump vs. Conservative Intellectuals
AP Photo/Lance Iversen

Do intellectuals have a place in politics? Do conservative intellectuals? The latter question has a fresh urgency. Donald Trump has risen to become the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee over the strenuous objections of just about every rightist who’s ever lifted a pen. The intellectuals even had a farcicalbid to elevate one of their own to power, proposing that a National Reviewstaff writer run for the highest office in the land. Trump has prevailed while defying nearly every point of orthodox GOP thought: he’s pushed against free trade, against a pacific solution to illegal immigration, against the American alliance system, against entitlement reform, for eminent domain and for thepossibility of tax increases. He talks up plans to make the Department of Veterans Affairs great again when most conservatives single it out as a microcosm of why big government and the medical industry don’t mix. Trump has also, at various points, espoused positions that seemed to favor abortion,universal healthcare, and the minimum wage. More broadly, his campaign has resisted the standard, quasi-technocratic methods of campaigning that center on data and careful, systematic message control.

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