Victor Davis Hanson on Trump Foreign Policy

Below is a fascinating lecture by Victor Davis Hanson giving some context to the Trump Administration’s foreign policy. Its thoughtfulness is only exceeded by its brilliance. Listen as Hanson patiently walks through the past century of American foreign policy and global politics in his lead-up to the giving context to the Trump Administration’s radical approach.

 

Conservatism (Heritage Foundation) vs Libertarianism (Cato Institute) 2018 Debate

By Daniel Hong

Annual Debate held by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute where the political philosophies of Conservatism and Libertarianism are debated by young men and women who will one day maybe hold important positions of power either publicly in government or within their respective communities in a more private capacity.

 

Edmund Burke vs Thomas Paine on July 4th

By Daniel Hong

Happy 4th to all my fellow Americans, and happy 242nd birthday America!! In 1776 the birth of a Nation has brought about blessings, prosperity and happiness to a great many people not just Americans. For that in the year 2018, I find much to celebrate. However, even though there are still many things to be thankful for I cannot help but honestly admit that there are parts of me that wallows in what America is becoming. There are many issues to discuss but one thing that has been a focus has been the polarization of this country. Recent events reflect that as Sarah Huckabee Sanders can tell you. Antifa vs the Alt Right and even the President himself who many blame to be the cause (wrongly), reflect the harsh divisions and differences that this One Nation under God should be better than. Now let me be clear this is nothing new, after all we had a civil war, 1968 is a year many baby boomers would like to forget and these are only a few examples. I take personal responsibility for not being as graceful towards my fellow citizens as I should be. I encourage every American to do the same and reflect on our bitter divisions and see how we the people can form a better union as the U.S. Constitution still states after all these years.

With that said I believe going back in our history and reading through documents like our beloved U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is very important, as these documents are vital parts of our Nation’s birth and continuance. However, instead of me explaining the Revolutionary War and how things came to be, watch this speech from the political analyst and the founding editor of the National Affairs, Yuval Levin. His presentation is based off of his book The Great Debate, one of the most unique books that I have ever read. He speaks of the Declaration of Independence being itself a polarizing document, with the main paradox being the radical idea of overthrowing the government to the conserving of the English tradition. What Mr. Levin helped me with was the idea that the other side (the progressives) despite our disagreements and disputes are as much of an American as myself. It is the perfect debate for today’s age and I highly recommend on this beautiful day to take an hour of your day to watch this (and read the book whenever you get a chance).

The Great Debate Burke vs Paine

 

Party Crashers

By: George Coyoy

Picture yourself throwing a party. You want to throw a great party because bad parties always end up looking like an episode of ‘King of the Hill’ – a bunch of guys standing around drinking beer, spitting and talking about carburetors. Having been around the block once or twice before you’re also experienced enough to know that you don’t want to throw a complete barn burner, so an open house party is off the table. Open house parties are the prog rock of parties – they’re an incoherent mess. They only lead to broken property, sketchy weirdos, and inexplicable stains everywhere. Better to let the high school kids deal with all that, so the plan is to invite your inner circle and allow them to bring guests. The only caveat is that permission for each guest must be granted before the invitation is extended. You’re pretty liberal about whose invitation you approve, as this policy is more about keeping out certain periphery troublemakers you know will ruin the party. You know the type – the trashy guys who start fights, those who are rude, or those who are just plain weird and won’t fit in well. You know who they are and you don’t want them to ruin your party, so you implement this vetting strategy. Your guests all comply with your wishes – though with some mild protest – and run potential guests by you before extending any invitations. You approve of almost all of the requests made and continue planning.

The night of the party comes and all seems to be going well. You’re on fire as a host – people are laughing at your jokes, everyone seems to be thoroughly entertained, and the general energy of the party is positive. At some point, however, party crashers come and change the entire dynamic of the night. Those trashy guys you didn’t want showing up come in and inject themselves into the party as if they were invited guests. Even worse, some didn’t bring any beer or liquor. By the time you’ve noticed them it looks like they have been there for a while and have settled into the party. To be sure, some of these party crashers are fine, in fact, a majority of them are. One even brought two 18-packs of Modelo. You know all of these people and, generally, you would have no problem inviting some of them as one-offs to the party. The problem with inviting them to the party was always that they would bring with them a small crowd that is capable of doing big damage, a small crowd that is now a big part of your party. As you ponder your next move you realize that you will either have to confront them now and ask them to leave or allow them to stay, risking that they behave poorly, as you expect they will, or that other crashers now have an excuse to come to your party.

The politics of asking the party crashers to leave quickly dawns on you. Some of your guests actually like them and mildly protested your decision not to invite them from the beginning. Asking the crashers to leave would single them out and punish the entire group, despite the fact that some of the people in that group are decent and would have been invited had they not been so close with the more volatile crashers. Other guests are clearly annoyed by them and could decide to leave the party early should this continue, leaving you with a bunch of people you don’t like at your own party. It is obvious that your decision will prove divisive no matter what you do, meaning this situation now requires more analysis than you hoped it would – after all, you just want to party! As host, however, decisions must be made meaning consequences must be weighed.

In Hippie Utopia this would be an open house party and all would come in peace, having the night of their lives while indulging their deepest inhibitions without consequence. Unfortunately, Hippie Utopia doesn’t exist and thus whatever you decide will have consequences. Asking the crashers to leave could escalate into confrontation or worse, and would certainly upset some of your guests. Ignoring the problem tacitly declares the party to be an open house party, giving any and all who want to invite other people a legitimate argument moving forward. “They weren’t invited but they came anyway,” the argument would go. “So why can’t we invite who we want to invite?” After all, all of the guests were told that anyone they invited had to be pre-approved. Allowing the crashers to stay is signaling to all in attendance that this is no longer an invite-only event. Once that word gets out it’s likely a cascade of uninvited guests will show up and this party will descend into the chaotic mess you wanted to avoid. It is easy to see how different partygoers will take different sides, only further complicating the matter and making the decision all the more difficult over time. Despite this fact you realize that the rhetoric is rapidly escalating, meaning it is better to make a decision now than allow the decision to become more controversial later. For whatever reason, however, you go against your better judgment and do nothing.

Let us now assume that the small group of party crashers you knew were potentially problematic actually become problematic. They’re being rude and overly aggressive as you thought they would. They’re instigating stupid arguments and threatening fights. They’re disrespecting all of the rules of the house, such as going into rooms that are off limits and raiding the refrigerator. One guy is smoking cigarettes inside. Allowing them to break the initial rule of coming in uninvited emboldened them to do whatever they want and you now have to deal with it. You finally make your decision. You make what is, in your mind, a reasonable bargain and say that the group of troublemakers must leave, but the uninvited guests who are being respectable and pleasant can stay. Especially the guy who brought the Modelos. You’ve made your decision and with a show of strength you successfully kick the jerks out.

This proves to be controversial amongst some of your guests. “Don’t you know that they have nowhere to go?” they claim. “It wasn’t their fault they were acting that way, it’s yours for upsetting them in the first place by not inviting them!” When you point out that only the troublemakers were kicked out and not those who crashed but did not cause any trouble, the Party Crasher Activists double down. “You’re separating them from their friends and dividing people! That’s so messed up!” The idea that these party crashers wouldn’t have been separated had they 1) not come in the first place and 2) not behaved like total jerks once here doesn’t click with these few guests, for whatever reason. Most guests agree with your decision to throw out the party crasher jerks and would probably agree with kicking out those who crashed but are being decent. They, however, stay silent as they would rather not be berated by the obnoxious, sanctimonious Party Crasher Activists. The few who take issue with your decision are being dramatic, staining the party with their incessant screeching and whining. You do your best to ignore it and, eventually, you and your other sane guests are able to separate from the drama and enjoy yourselves again. Even better, you’re able to do so drinking Modelo.

Shortly thereafter the jerks come back. They re-enter the party, now with loud defenders applauding their decision to boldly enter the party from which they were just expelled. “They have a right to be here!” claim the Party Crasher Activists. “Excluding people like this is wrong! Why should you have the right to decide who gets to party and who doesn’t?” Sovereignty over who can and cannot enter your own property is apparently a foreign concept to the Party Crasher Activists. As such, the situation has escalated to the point where your party is ruined. It is pure madness. “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?!” one guy screams. Bless his stupid little heart. This sentiment is, of course, pure pablum but it doesn’t matter. Empty vessels love pablum and, as such, he is rewarded with applauds and praise. The Party Crasher Activists don’t understand why we can’t all just get along, never realizing that everyone was getting along just fine before the party crashers crashed your party. The guests who agree with you look at you and you just shrug. There is nothing left to do but end the party. The inmates are now running the asylum.

So your party failed. Miserably. The only positive is that you have some Modelos left. The party was still a failure though. You had a plan as to who you would let in and who you would keep out but, like flies and mosquitos, those you wanted to keep out found a way in. Not only did they crash your party but the volatile few ruined everything for everyone, just as you thought they would. Moreover, despite the majority of party crashers being decent party guests, the decent majority was ultimately irrelevant. The effect of the volatile few proved to be too much to overcome; they had driven too much of a wedge between the entire party to keep a decent party sustainable. They ignored the invite-only status of your party, they ignored the rules of the house after ignoring your party’s invite-only status, and then they came in and ruined everyone’s experience. The crashers were all-around disrespectful from the beginning and, thanks to your inaction and the inexplicable support they garnered from some of your guests, continued to disrespect you, your house, and your guests. So, again, the decent majority was completely irrelevant. All things considered my question to you is this: how would you have handled this situation?

If this is my party? I don’t hesitate in telling them to leave. Not asking. Not hinting. Telling. As soon as I see them they’re all gone. Except Modelo guy, of course. If the situation escalates, it escalates. If my guests are upset, then they’re upset. If they’re truly upset then they’re also are free to leave. A line must be drawn, however, and if one is to draw a line it should be the line that communicates that one will not be disrespected and that breaking one’s rules has consequences. Every single party crasher disrespected me by crashing my party. Every single crasher was essentially flipping the invite-only status of my party the bird by entering my party. The presence of each and every single party crasher was a massive, aggressively flipped bird pointed directly at me for every second they spent at my party. I don’t know about you, but I don’t take disrespect well.

Perhaps what I can ultimately take away from the experience is that I can afford to be a little more lax in my party invitation policies moving forward. Perhaps they were a bit too rigid and unfairly kept people who were good party guests out of the party. Especially Modelo guy. All of this is debatable. But my rules are my rules and this was my damn party. Those who knowingly broke my rules disrespected me, my guests, and the very concept of rules in itself, so why should I feel bad about kicking a guest who was never invited to my party out of my invite-only party? I shouldn’t.

And that’s how I view illegal immigration.

Kneeling for Naught

By George Coyoy

The NFL has been at the center of a political controversy over the past two years, with a national debate raging on over the phenomenon of professional football players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. This debate reached a fever pitch in the 2017 season, resulting in large swaths of fans tuning the NFL out altogether. Ratings and ticket sales plummeted, which put the NFL in a compromising position. This was bad business and NFL executives knew it, so the league decided to change its policy regarding the national anthem. What was once a hands-off approach to player conduct during the national anthem became one that is more regulated, but still gives players options. Players can now choose to stay in the locker room during the anthem or come out and stand while the anthem is played. Players can even choose to demonstrate during the national anthem, though now they will be fined for doing so. This, to me, is reasonable. Others engaged in the debate seem more caught up in useless conversations about how things should be, and as a result are missing what the situation actually is. Let’s take a step back and understand the situation for what it is.

Naturally, this policy has only thrown fuel on the fire. Liberals are crying because they weep for every missed opportunity to demonstrate how much America sucks. Conservatives are characteristically split, with some cheering the decision, others chastising those who are cheering the decision, and others with their own thoughts ranging from indifference to inanity. With everyone eager to play partisan football, many are missing the broader point – how one feels about this policy is absolutely irrelevant in the face of the devastating public backlash the NFL experienced in 2017. A failure to respond would have been a death wish for the league, especially with the NBA’s skyrocketing popularity and Vince McMahon’s next attempt at professional football lurking in the shadows. The NFL should be commended for coming up with a solid compromise that neither compels player participation during the anthem nor accepts disrespect of its fans. Perhaps the best criticism of this policy is that it came a year too late.

Why the Policy Makes Sense

Make no mistake about it – this was purely a business move. As it turns out the NFL is a product and, as such, the most important people to the NFL are not its players but its fans. Yes, fans – the people who bestow relevancy upon the league by supporting it with their wallets and eyes. The anthem protests rightly struck a nerve with fans who were sick of watching grown men protesting a country that made them millionaires for playing a children’s game. What made this protest particularly insulting was doing so during the national anthem, a tradition which is supposed to be a moment of unity for Americans. Yes, part of that which unifies us is the right to protest, but choosing to protest during the national anthem is classless, tasteless, and, from a pragmatic point of view, only hurts the cause for which one is protesting. That millions of fans were disgusted with this display and thus stopped supporting the NFL is neither surprising nor besides the point. It is the entire point, and one’s opinions on their feelings of disgust or on the legitimacy in their feeling so is entirely irrelevant.

That hasn’t stopped the moralizing, the preening, the self-righteous takes from getting hurled from sea to shining sea. Narcissistic commentators have proven more interested in trying to sound clever and morally upstanding than presenting the situation in its proper perspective. Commentary has become catharsis rather than truth seeking. The opinions from the overtly left-wing world of sports journalism have been categorically critical, with many criticizing this policy as un-American and the more constitutionally illiterate commentators proclaiming that this is a violation of the players’ first amendment rights. In reality, this is a very fair, pragmatic policy that is neither passive nor heavy handed.

Let us consider the policy. Players can choose to remain in the locker room during the national anthem if they do not wish to participate. If a player decides to participate, he can still protest during the anthem, though now he does so under threat of penalty. How this is “un-American” is unclear, as it gives the individual the freedom to choose if and how he will participate in the national anthem. Freedom of the individual is the ultimate American value. Freedom of the individual also means the individual’s actions have consequences and one consequence of protesting the national anthem is a fine, which is perfectly fine from a business point of view. Over the past two seasons, some players decided to protest during the national anthem. In response, fans decided to have a protest of their own in the form of tuning out of the league altogether. This led to a significant drop in ratings and ticket sales, largely due to the player protests during the anthem. For the league to sit on its hands and acquiesce the players and ignore the fans would have been business suicide. Compelled participation in the anthem would have likewise been a nightmare scenario for the league’s relationship with the player union. Thus, the league landed on this extremely reasonable policy. The NFL got something right for once, and all parties involved should be reasonably happy with the result. Yet players and media seem to be upset with the policy, particularly with the fines.

Taking issue with the fines is peculiar, considering that the kneeling protests are such a loser with the NFL’s fan base. The kneeling has a provably negative effect on the league’s bottom line. Profits are hurt as a direct result of kneeling during the national anthem, making them an act that ultimately affects all of the players, coaches, and everyone affiliated with the league. Businesses that see a sharp loss of revenue have not been known to shrug their shoulders and ignore the actions that have led to said loss of revenue, particularly when the cause of the loss is known. In punishing the kneelers, the NFL is addressing the source of its loss in ratings and revenue. It is punishing those whose actions are known to hurt the league’s profits, and thus a proper response. A mother doesn’t allow a child who is ruining her possessions to continue to do so, she instead shows the child that such actions will be met with punishment in order to deter the unwanted behavior. Likewise, as a business, you don’t allow an employee to take action that demonstrably upsets your customers to the point where they no longer want to purchase your product. This is the exact opposite of salesmanship.

Something tells me that that point will not stop the illogic of the left-wing ideologues constituting sports journalism, nor will it stop the know-it-all know-nothings of the rest of the left-wing news media from moralizing over an issue involving a league they never much cared for anyway. They will continue to moralize and politicize while never realizing that their opinions are entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is the collective opinion of millions of fans who saw these incoherent protests and said “enough”.

Why the Protests are Ineffective

That brings us to the issue of the kneeling itself. Many argue that this is in itself an act of patriotism, that protesting the anthem in the name of injustice is as American as eating apple pie in a muscle car. Allow me to suggest that protesting the anthem is the exact opposite of patriotism and is only detrimental to whatever it is one is protesting. The anthem isn’t supposed to be about abstract symbolizations of individual political stances, the anthem is about celebrating that which unifies all Americans. There are other avenues of protest and choosing this particular one to do so is akin to being that guy who protests saying grace before a family dinner because of whatever beef he has with the supposed moral failures of Christendom. It’s inane, obtuse, and about as useful as having your mouth on your elbow. It’s simply a jerk move. Rather than using that which unifies our country to further divide it, perhaps choosing a more useful avenue – one where the message can be more precisely (and thus effectively) articulated rather than abstractly symbolized – would help further the conversation. That, however, is the main problem – the kneelers are poor communicators. They protest at an absurd time in an absurd way – by protesting a celebration of our most deeply held, universally shared values in an abstract fashion.

And therein lies the biggest communicative problem for the kneelers – their protest is centered around an abstract symbol. Not a catch phrase, not signs with their message concisely articulated, not effective chanting, but an abstract symbol – kneeling. As such, their protest is open to multiple interpretations, rendering whatever their message actually is irrelevant. What one person thinks is “protesting injustice”, another person thinks is a sign of disrespect. Trying to tell the person who sees the kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of disrespect that they’re “wrong” doesn’t help change his mind. It’s like telling someone who is convinced that “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie that it isn’t, in fact, a Christmas movie. In short, using an abstract symbol as their method of protest won’t win anybody over who isn’t already on the side of the kneelers.

Even worse for the kneelers, when the conversation moves from the kneeling itself to what the kneeling represents, the answers are lacking in substance and consistency. Granted, nobody ever confused football players for attorneys, but if your protest doesn’t have an articulate, singular message, it won’t wind up being a very effective protest. Ask one player what the protest is about and it’s “police brutality”. Ask another and it’s “racial injustice”. Ask yet another and it’s “inequality”. The reasons goes on and on and on, making this a protest without a singular message. A protest lacking articulate messengers and a singularly articulated message will find itself in a losing position, particularly when its primary method of communication is an abstract demonstration that can easily be interpreted as disrespectful of a deeply respected and honored tradition that unifies a country. It is simply a foolish course of action.

Moreover, protesting during the anthem is reductive, an act which boils America down to one single grievance. Rather than treating the anthem as a unifying moment in which we collectively appreciate America for all that it is – its creed, its occasional failure to live up to that creed, its beauty and ugliness – protesting during the national anthem over one issue reduces the country to that one issue, as if nothing beyond that issue exists or is important. Again we see the problem with the chosen avenue of protest. It is obtuse and awkward, one which forces people to choose between a positive, unifying tradition and an incoherent, imprecise protest. For most gracious Americans, this is an easy choice to make.

To be sure, protesting police brutality and/or racial injustice is a cause worthy of the effort required. Not once have I come across anyone questioning the right to protest in the name of this or any other cause. What is being questioned is the timing of the protests, which is foolish. Perhaps re-examining the chosen avenue of protest would help further the cause of the kneelers, because as of now they are kneeling for naught.

The Big Lie, pt. 1

By George Coyoy

For as long as I can remember I was force fed the notion that Republicans are racists-sexists-bigots-homophobic-Islamophobic-right-wing Christian fundamentalists who hate the poor and believe the earth is flat. I was told Republicans are science denying, unsophisticated mouth breathers who think that rock ’n’ roll and the hippity-hop are the devil’s music and that women who use birth control are harlots. They also believe those harlots shouldn’t even be out of the kitchen to begin with, so if you’re a woman reading this get back in there! To be a Republican or, even worse, a conservative Republican, was the social kiss of death. It was unimaginable that any reasonably intelligent and moral person would fit such a description. Or, at least, that’s what the culture surrounding me claimed. You can imagine my surprise when I finally did my own research into politics and found that all of this was pure, raw, uncut nonsense.

I’m a millennial who grew up a half hour outside of New York City, liberal HQ. As such I was highly influenced by MTV, Comedy Central, and other bastions of left-wing intellectual thought. Though I was never particularly interested in politics, looking back I was a default liberal like most others who grew up the way I did. This is to say that what I gathered from school, entertainment, and media in general was that the liberals were the good guys and the conservatives were the bad guys. Republicans were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom. Conservatives were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom while smacking me in the face with a bible. In short, I found myself viewing the political landscape through a Manichaean lens despite not knowing a single thing about politics.

Eventually I made the decision that I was going to get informed. Politics had infused everything surrounding me and I had the sense that there were lies being thrown at me from every direction. The outright lies surrounding the tragic Trayvon Martin case, among others over the preceding years, had sent me into a fury and made me determined that I would learn about politics. I decided that I would learn “both sides” as best I could, that I would hear them out without cynicism and with an open mind, eager to learn so that I could come as close to knowing the truth as humanly possible.

I began, I learned, and I was shocked to find out that all of my previously held assumptions were based on lies. No, Republicans weren’t racists who hate the poor and don’t believe in global warming. Not even close. The positions held by the conservatives I listened to were extremely nuanced and, surprisingly, strongly supported by history, evidence, and reason. But why would so many people lie about these arguments? Did they simply not understand the nuance in the arguments or were they purposely misrepresenting them in order to gain a political edge? I didn’t understand why this was the case, or why it should be the case and so many people seemed to simply not care. For whatever reason, I thought others would be genuinely interested in fair, honest debate about complex issues in a civil manner. In short, I didn’t understand politics.

As this grand narrative began to unravel, so did many other little ones. No, the world isn’t going to be overcome by a flood in five years if we don’t all start driving electric cars by yesterday. No, the war on drugs isn’t a racist conspiracy cooked up by white politicians for the purpose of oppressing young black men. No, the gender pay gap isn’t due to some evil white heterosexual Christian men seeking to dominate women. My first exposure to the conservative counter-arguments left me in a state of shock. Why had I never heard these positions before? Why have these arguments always been misrepresented? And how in the world is Thomas Sowell not a household name? This was all very confusing to me, but onward I marched.

The more I understood, the more cynical I became about politics. I’m not a cynical person in general, and I generally can’t stand those who are, but there are few areas as full of willfully obtuse or ignorant people as the world of politics. Given the unique ability of politics to enflame the soul, it only follows that opportunists ready to fan those flames rise to the top. Perhaps they’re carried there by all the smoke they’ve created.

Hence the forthcoming “Big Lie” series. Given my experience in seeing these big lies dismantled, I look forward to dismantling them for all of you. This will not be a series where I act as a special pleader for the Republican party or conservatives. This will be a space where I debunk some of the popular myths told about right-leaning people in general, be they Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, etc., for the purpose of bringing more clarity to your mind and the public conversation. To be sure, the pathetic inability of most Republicans and conservatives to effectively communicate their positions is partly to blame for The Big Lie. I won’t pull my punches here – the “right” generally sucks at this, whether it be writing, story telling, or speaking with anything resembling charisma. This is largely due to both cowardice and a glaring lack of talent, but that’s a conversation for another day. This is simply an attempt to communicate these ideas in a more effective manner, hopefully persuading many in the process and having clear disagreements with those who still buy into The Big Lie.

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

By Daniel Hong

politics

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.