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The end of classical liberalism in the GOP

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 7:43
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This article was first run on May 14, 2016. It is worth a second look.


Trump’s nomination signals the death of American conservatism or classical liberalism as one of the two main forces in American public policy. He ran away with the nomination despite being exposed as a nonconservative who is hostile to private property rights, free trade and orthodox constitutionalism.

Trump discovered something important. He discovered that much of the Republican voter base does not share the policy preferences of those as professed on this site. He proved that it is possible to win the GOP nomination without being saddled with unpopular policy preferences like free markets and free minds.

He proved that much of the Republican base wants much of the same things that the Democrat base wants: Big government programs, governmental restrictions on trade, protection from entitlement cuts, isolationist limits on America’s commitment to military alliances and greater recognition of social changes such as those regarding homosexual and transgender people.

Future GOP candidates will understand this. They will follow this model. Those who believe in the classical liberal principles we have long espoused here no longer have a seat at the table. We have been shown the door.

This is why we have such a difficult time with each other. On this forum, Joe and I talk past each other because we want different things from government. Joe wants control of the borders, law and order and America to be first in all things. I want individual liberty and freedom of association with anyone in the world under my terms. Those are largely incompatible visions. Joe’s side has won.

Trump will still lose in November. He has found a way to tap into the non-conservatives in the Republican Party but his nastiness toward women, his crypto-racism and his generally crude and boorish demeanor will very likely cost him the election.

The next Republican candidate to adopt and refine his big government approach but will not make the tactical mistakes he has.

The bottom line is that the Republican Party has evolved. It became the party of small government in 1980 under Ronald Reagan. The classical liberal roots of Reagan’s presidency have been in decline since. Under Trump, whether he wins or loses, it is dead.


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