Trump’s Legal Battle Is Harming Conservatism’s Ability to Define Itself

There has been much talk in recent days about the negative effects that the Trump campaign’s futile (and, at times, downright disgraceful) strategy of never-ending legal battles to contest the recent election. While that talk is mostly correct, an under-discussed side effect is that it risks hampering conservatism going forward.

This is not to say the Republican Party risks being dragged down with Trump’s sinking ship. The GOP did quite well in House and Senate races and in a two-party system, the rumors of one party’s demise are always greatly exaggerated. But conservatism and the GOP are not necessarily the same thing. The GOP may be able to attain power, but what will it do with that power?

By continuing this delaying action, conservatives are putting off the tough, in-house conversations that are needed after a loss. From a conservative perspective, politicians get elected in order to advance the cause, but for too many the cause and Trump have become synonymous.

When Trump got elected, even if a conservative was not thrilled with Trump’s personal behavior, he acknowledged Trump could still be a vessel to get conservative things done. Tax cuts, deregulation, conservative judicial appointments, or just four years of reprieve from lefty Democrats made him a pragmatic means to an end.

For others, however, Trump became someone who could be used as a blunt force instrument against the media, foreign policy establishment, coastal elites, progressive culture war warriors, and others. The “ownage” of these people, not ideas, became the cause. Why does Trump have to act like a jerk, because f*** you, that’s why.

They projected themselves onto Trump, believing him to be a fighter of corrupt, incompetent institutions on behalf of real Americans. If someone said Trump was stupid, that must mean they are an elite who thinks you were stupid for voting for the stupid man, which again warrants an “f*** you”

In the echo chamber of Trump’s Twitter this worked well, but of course, the country’s is populated with people other than Trump’s Twitter fans and so he lost. Now, Trump is doing his best to try to convince his followers that the only reason he lost, is because the election was stolen from him.

Trump is simply down by too much in too many states to have any hope of winning. Yet, for some the fight must continue, or so we are told. It is not clear why, some just may be delusional enough to think that Trump can still win, while others claim that the time has come for the Russian collusion hoaxers to get their comeuppance and having their win’s legitimacy questioned.

In an age where the definition of conservatism is more up for grabs then it was after Mitt Romney lost, this is, needless to say, not a good place for conservatism to be. Too many want to define the fight to define conservatism as one that is not concerned with ideas, but whether you’re sufficiently committed to the current vanity project that includes what went on in Wayne County on Tuesday.

One of the things that was genuinely interesting about the Sohrab Ahmari versus David French battles of last year was that they showed it was possible to take Trump out of the conversation on what it meant to be a conservative. Where those two men become far less interesting and more cartoonish, is when they talk about Trump, who is still just a temporary politician.

The longer conservatives have to focus attention on a sore loser is longer we do not have time to talk other, more important issues. Are the suburbs lost or can we get them back with a non-Trumpy candidate? Is the Republican Party best served by being a populist, multi-racial working-class party or is the GOP still the party of the free market? What is the proper role of government in the culture war? What is a proper conservative foreign policy in 2020's?

All of these questions are open for debate and will have a huge impact on the country, 2024, and beyond, but right now, we are still talking about one man, because his ego demands it. It will not be good for conservatism or the country if 2024 candidates think their biggest conservative credential is saying Republican officials in Georgia somehow robbed the Republican president of re-election.

When some conservatives say Trump’s current legal efforts must be supported because they are tired of gracious losers and want a fighter, it must be asked what exactly they are fighting. Right now, they are fighting math and the problem with fighting math is that math always wins. Trump can fight all he wants, it is still a fight he is going to lose.

Whether you are an Ahmari Conservative or a David French Conservative or something somewhere in-between, a proper conservative believes the cause is more important than the man. Trump delivered some good things for conservatives, but he also lost…badly, it is time for him to go and for conservatives to regroup and move on.




Writing about politics and other interesting things. Contributing Writer to NewsBusters. Member of YAF’s National Journalism Center’s Spring 2019 class.

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Alex Christy

Alex Christy

Writing about politics and other interesting things. Contributing Writer to NewsBusters. Member of YAF’s National Journalism Center’s Spring 2019 class.

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