Republicans should embrace Cultural Conservatism over Trumpism in the 2018 midterm elections

By Daniel Hong


To some astute observers of the culture and political atmosphere in 2018 the distinction between “Trumpism” and “Conservatism” can come off as strikingly odd. As many Conservative pundits and politicians seem very supportive of Trump and his policies seem to trend in that direction as well. Many of those who were in the “Never Trump” camp may understand what I mean, to some extent. However, I must disappoint you if you are coming from that group as my fundamental point is not so much against Trump as it is against the GOP as we know it in 2018.

Without downplaying some real political achievements by the Trump Administration that has satisfied the Conservative base, I believe anyone who takes a moment to think about it will have no problem with my assertion that Trump is no Conservative. Frankly that does not bother me and it should not bother the base as well. Especially, in 2018 where President Trump is deemed by the mainstream media and many critics as incompetent, believe it or not the case can be made that the Democratic Party has been exponentially worse. That assessment does not come from a partisan tribal mentality on my part but as someone who thinks that the President and the GOP has handed them a golden opportunity on a silver platter. Yet, somehow they have managed to keep the midterms within range for the Republicans. Through their constant bickering over the Russian Collusion narrative, appealing to the worst of their base, and their open embrace of socialism to name a few is probably the reason why they are not leading in double digits. It’s not to say that they have not had some real accomplishments as well, the election of Ralph Northam over Ed Gillespie in Virginia, the upset over Roy Moore by Doug Jones in Alabama, and finally Conor Lamb’s recent victory in Pennsylvania highlight the Democrats success. However, it must be noted that these candidates won in spite of their party going hard left, especially Mr. Lamb’s narrow victory. The problem is while the Democrats have been veering left the GOP and President Trump have become yesterday’s Democrats, which brings me to my fundamental point. This may surprise some readers but my point that I’m driving home is not necessarily that the President is not Conservative but that the Republican Party is not and has never been the party of Conservatism.

It is understandable why in the minds of many Americans ever since the Reagan era the Republican Party was seen as Conservative. Many Republicans have followed in his footsteps of and have championed limited government, Free Market, and Moral Virtues. The problem is in 2018 with all three chambers in their possession they have not exemplified these ideals. The “Never Trump” camp is wrong in pointing the accusations mainly at Trump, who I believe should be given credit for being honest about his political positions. The guy never ran or claimed to run as a Conservative candidate. The problem lies with Republicans who claim to be Conservative yet their political records give no evidence of that. Do not misunderstand my accusation there are legitimate members of congress who are valiantly fighting for the Conservative cause but the overwhelming majority have been shown to be glorified hypocrites. To make matters worse the new group of Republicans that are making 2018 bids are competing with one another to be the next Trumpian candidate.

The question that can then be posed is what exactly is Trumpism? The problem is there really is no answer. Populism is definitely a tenet as well as a brash personality but other than that due to the volatile nature of Trump himself as a person it is really hard to know what else is concretely a part of his philosophy. Which is why it makes no sense for Republicans to follow him in that unknown path. The primaries that are currently going on have exposed the flaws of this plan as many of these candidates are trying to embrace something they cannot understand. Now it’s fine to endorse the president but there is no need to become like him. In fact, even in that department these new crop of Republicans fall woefully short, as evidenced in the Pennsylvania special election the argument can be made (at least on the campaign trail) that Conor Lamb a Democrat was more Trumpian than the GOP candidate Rick Saccone. Conor Lamb whether he is genuine or not was also an anomaly from the Democratic Party that is also experiencing a tension from the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing. Lamb represented the old centrist philosophy of the Democrats the one that Hillary Clinton was supposed to run on in 2016 as she obviously veered hard left like many of the Democrats (Of all the ridiculous complaints of her loss the recent one claiming that she was too “capitalist” for the Democrats actually has some credence). In an ironic way Trump not only beat Clinton at the ballot box but also in her own game because aside from his brash rhetoric and populist appeal just the policy positions that he ran on is much more moderate and centrist than the average traditional Republican. However, there was one exception to Trumps overall 2016 general election victory, he became more Conservative on the social and cultural issues and unlike the Democrats who find more political success when running on a centrist platform especially on social issues, the Republicans actually find more success running on a more Conservative platform.

To sum it up, the Democrats find more success when running on a centrist platform, and the Republicans on a more Conservative one. This also translates into a more cohesive unit in Washington as a centrist Democrat and a traditional Conservative Republican actually can find points of agreement than the other way around. While I personally do not like the whole Left and Right paradigm in politics for this particular argument it’s helpful. While Right is not necessarily synonymous with Conservative just as Left is not with Liberal, it is generally true that most Conservatives are on the Right and liberals are on the Left and the politics right now is moving to the Left while the country seems to want to move more to the Right. Again in the recent election Trump moved considerably more Conservative on social and cultural issues than he did in the primaries. Also while Rick Saccone lost, the belief right now is that he should have lost by 5 or 6 points but only lost by a narrow margin because he started campaigning on the social issues as the special election drew closer. On the contrary, both Mitt Romney and John McCain lost their run for the presidency and were known to be moderates. During the Ronald Reagan era his success was on an undeniably Conservative agenda, with some moderate Democrats as his allies in a congress dominated by Democrats. George W. Bush despite his less than stellar record on the economy and a controversial foreign policy was an undeniably socially conservative president. Many have attributed this to the Religious Right or the Moral Majority but as an Evangelical myself that explanation would be great if it were true. The problem is that this one coalition cannot win elections, the explanation I have to offer is that cultural conservatism has a particular appeal with Americans in general whether they are religious or not.

The appeal that a socially conservative agenda brings is not so much a political one but a moral/cultural one. For instance I do not believe most Americans are necessarily caught up with the issues of gay marriage that they would want Obergefell v Hodges overturned, but the arguments for a stable family and the values enriched in them do capture their attention. Americans may not be as caught up on overturning Roe v Wade and adding a Human Life Amendment into the Constitution but the arguments for cherishing children and the corrosive effects of the sexual revolution makes an overall pro-life culture appealing. Finally the recent issue of the national anthem may have been a tipping point, as the level of patriotism in every American might be different but the overall disrespect shown by the NFL players and the cowardly acceptance by the Democrats is too much for Americans to bear and in turn makes a conservative’s patriotism more and more appealing to them.

Therefore, a Conservative agenda does not necessarily mean that people who vote for that agenda are all fully on board but they find it a better option than an agenda that goes in the opposite direction. A strong nostalgic appeal may also be a factor in the appeal of Cultural Conservatism as many people believe whether they are Republican or Democrat (or Independent) that they are losing their culture and their way of life in this present period. The Presidents popular slogan “Make America Great Again” may have had that appeal not necessarily to regain the economic or military power of the past but the American way of life that people were accustomed to and so much of Conservatism looks back on those traditions and timeless principles that it can grab the public’s imagination of rebuilding the culture from the ashes. Thus, my plea to Republicans this midterm cycle is that in a year where many are predicting them to lose their majority and where history has shown past patterns where the majority party often faces losses in these situations to stop trying to be like Trump and to study the tenets and principles of Conservatism and embrace it. Ideas have power and the right ideas can turn the tide in a nation and Conservatism is about ideas and principles.

The Yellow Plague, Chapter 1

By George Coyoy


You may have noticed that we’re living in a time of hyper-polarization. You may have noticed that your conversations with friends and family members seem a bit more hostile, more bitter, more frantic. And you may have noticed that everywhere you turn you’re bombarded with alarmist rhetoric. What you’ve noticed has been noticed by many. What you’ve noticed are the symptoms of the plague infecting our culture at large, and it’s time we let those spreading the disease that we won’t just passively take notice.

This is a moment of mass hysteria. From print to prime time, panicked headlines and ledes have become the norm in the partisan storm that is the 24-hour news cycle. Editorializing and alarmism are the defining characteristics of today’s journalism, whereas plain-spoken facts are becoming rarer by the day. The Superhero movie-fication of our national conversation – where every debate is had on adversarial, all-or-nothing terms – is in full swing, complete with bad actors, abusive directors and lethargic audiences all too eager for mindless consumption. In short, a plague of yellow journalism has infected American culture and the results have been socially devastating.

Yellow journalism is nothing new. Media outlets have abused their unique position of power from their inception and have no incentive to stop. Such business practices have proven to be highly, highly profitable, making the sensationalization of news somewhat understandable. What is new is the simultaneous rise of the 24-hour news cycle and technology which allows breaking news to be consumed in multiple mediums from a device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Media has thus become inescapable. The amount of media consumed by the average person has increased and with that increased consumption comes increased business opportunities, which implicitly means an increase in the spread of salacious, frenetic news consumed by an increased number of people. With this in mind it’s no wonder polarization has, yes, increased. Given everything considered the more shocking state affairs would be if it had not.

The understandable chasing of profits, however, does not absolve legacy media of any responsibility. Those behind the dissemination of information – the journalists, editors, and even entire outlets – are the infectious agents spreading this plague. To suggest otherwise is to assert that the default position of the media is to be purposely misleading, partisan actors. It is to assert that common people with bills, families, and innumerable other worries should watch the media like hawks, dedicating a considerable chunk of their time to fact checking the news and going to primary sources to get their information. Such a task takes the kind of time that most people simply do not have. Such a task is also what the legacy media purports to do professionally. The legacy media has taken as its job the distillation of all of the day’s information into what is most relevant and the presentation of it in an honest way. This is not to say news outlets must be perfectly objective and down the middle. It isn’t clear if that is even possible. As such, partisan leanings are acceptable so long as the outlet is honest about those leanings. This is why claims of neutrality from obviously partisan outlets such as CNN are such an insult to our collective intelligence and a slap in the face. Such outlets are premised on a lie – some would say they sit on a throne of lies. It also means that the outlet is either dumb enough to think the public is dumb enough to buy their lie, or that they’re so lacking in self-awareness that they don’t realize what they are doing. Having watched CNN over the past few years, it is easy to see the cause being a lot of both.

In this regard the legacy media has not only failed, it has largely behaved in a morally bankrupt, corrupt manner. Lying, distorting, concealing, misleading, cheating; editorializing and falsely moralizing… but enough about CNN. Enough complaining and enough analyzing the paralyzing, sickening effects of the legacy media on the culture at large. I’ve gotten enough off of my chest, plus those effects are widely understood, even if only implicitly. And yes, I realize the irony of accusing the legacy media of being responsible for a cultural “plague” while simultaneously chastising them for their alarmism. But such is life – sometimes ironic, often paradoxical, and always complicated.

The broader, more relevant point here is that our legacy media is decidedly not holding up their end of the bargain and it is having a disastrous effect on American culture. To put it plainly: I am absolutely asserting a strong cause and effect relationship between the irresponsible way in which our media reports the news and the way our conversations have become so toxic. The good news is that we common folk are not powerless. As such it is up to us as engaged citizens to hold their feet to the fire. It is up to us to aggressively call the legacy media out when we catch them spreading their lies and smears, to stigmatize lying journalists and unethical reporters. It is up to us to hold them accountable with our eyes and dollars – to change the channel and turn to alternative sources as often as we can. Look, I get it – the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. are virtually unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we have to use them as our primary sources, or that we can’t criticize them when necessary while using them as sources. What it means is that we have to consciously support alternative outlets, with our eyes and our wallets, so that we can build them up and help introduce more competition into the media marketplace. Think of new media outlets as experimental, disease-fighting drugs that can help us cure this plague. The alternative is passively sitting by while we watch our republic rot away from within.


By Daniel Hong


I welcome you to our website. My colleague (George Coyoy) and I are grateful for this opportunity to engage our culture and society with this blog. We are a couple of Americans who care deeply about our nation and the tumultuous times we live in. Our desire is to simply be a part of the improvement instead of just passively watching the continuous decay and degeneration. Who we are and what we believe can be seen more in our about us section. In this column I would like to briefly introduce myself and explain my worldview. I also give you the utmost gratitude in choosing to spend some of your precious time on our website. I hope to be able to serve you to the best of my ability.

I am first and foremost a Christian who believes in the Bible as the very Word of God and its central message the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the very foundation of what I believe, what I do and in which I center my identity on. The gospel message that is so fundamental to my life states that God is the Supreme Being who created this world and humanity to reflect his image and glory. Humanity fell into sin which as a consequence brought the wrath of God as a holy and righteous judge. Catastrophe and brokenness in the world are also a result of this fallen nature. However, the good news of great joy is that Jesus Christ the Son of God, in his deity and humanity died on the cross for the sins of the world taking upon himself the just punishment of God. Through, repentance and faith in that savior anyone no matter who they are can receive the gift of salvation. Repentance also leads to restoration and reformation. It starts with the individual then to society and the world. Therefore, my mission of utmost importance is to fulfill the great commission from the Lord himself to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20) sharing this very same gospel message, but also to do good works along with that central mission for I am his workmanship (Eph. 2:10). This very message is why during these times I can hold on to hope. Hope one day that I will be reunited with my Lord and Savior in heaven, and hope in this world not for a utopia but a better future.

This message is not all there is to Christianity (a column for another day) but it is the very starting point and the foundation. As a Christian I started to realize that I held on to principles from the Bible that guided my life. I also realized it was instrumental in building many great societies in the West throughout history (Note to the critics: yes there are many controversies that have come about as well that should not be ignored but again it will be an article for another day). I soon began to realize that I was labeled a Conservative. I was at first dismayed and confused as to why. The term Conservative as I understood it at the time was solely a political one. One that is equated with one of the two major parties in America, the Republican party. After much research and study throughout my life in the archives of past Republicans like former president Ronald Reagan, former Senator Barry Goldwater, and popular political and cultural commentator William F. Buckley I began to understand what Conservatism stood for. Events such as the rise of the Christian Right under Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also shed more light. However, it is not until I read the book The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk that gave me a profound understanding of Conservatism. In it I discovered a figure whom many call the father and the first Conservative Edmund Burke.

A book review is in order someday but the main point that Kirk drove home with Burke as an example is that Conservatism was not an ideology or systematic set of ideas like religion but a way of life a habit of mind in which time tested truths, traditions, ideas and principles were upheld and incorporated into personal lives and the broader society. Therefore, the importance of Conservatism was not so much liberty (both on the individual and societal level) but an order and discipline that made liberty possible in the first place. It really took the enlightenment principles that I grew up with in the public schools in this country and turned it upside down.

As I took all of that in, I realized why my Christian faith was so compatible with Conservatism because so much of the origin seeking and upholding nature of it is what a Christian does. The Bible has withstood the test of time, a Christian seeks to conserve that. It also clarified to me that though Conservatism has its importance in politics, it is also a cultural term. In fact it can be argued that it places a deeper importance in culture and community than politics. After all, the goal in starting this website was not to be another website that focuses on political commentary (We have a recommendations page if you are interested in that arena), but to engage in the realm of ideas since ideas have consequences. Consequences in our personal lives, culture, and society at large. Right ideas bring about the right actions and vice versa. Though, the main focus is not on politics it is nonetheless an arena that reflects the many problems in our culture today and it is honestly how I have gained many insights into today’s culture. I believe the disintegration we see today from politics, to entertainment, to media and the overall culture is the reason why some are drawn into and believe that the answer lies in having the right politicians elected and the right policies enacted which is not necessarily wrong but it will never happen unless hearts and minds change within the nation and that is the fundamental change that needs to occur. The challenge is not to strive to engage the culture and change hearts and minds for the right political consequences to occur, as a means to an end. Instead the goal is to seek to change hearts and minds as an end itself, because of a true love and respect for our neighbor. The logic is that the right policies and politicians will arise naturally from a more virtuous nation overall.

That is our goal and the reason my colleague and I decided to start this new endeavor.  I personally hope to always strive for excellence and virtue in my own life lest I fall into hypocrisy and I also hope that it will foster the same in all of you as well. Once again no matter where you come from and whatever your background is I genuinely and humbly welcome you and appreciate any support you give our website.