The other day Ben Shapiro analyzed why the GOP has failed to make headway in any of its core issues. He states that the only thing that national populists or in his words “Trumpists” and conservatives have in common is a mutual disdain for the left. This divide is why the GOP establishment has had difficulty accomplishing anything as anything they propose would be disliked by one part of the base or the other.
Shapiro then goes on to blame this on Trump as Trump is not an ideological conservative. On the one hand Shapiro hails trump for his selections on the judiciary. Every pick has so far has been a staunch conservative. On the other hand he condemns the more recent tax reform efforts as not conservative. He brings out a recording of Rush telling his listeners that the tax reform effort is Trump’s “nationalist populist” instincts coming to the fore.
The answer to the Republican quandry actually lies in Shapiros analysis. Republicans who identify as conservatives have to realize they are not alone in the party anymore. Republicans who identify as nationalist populists exist in the party as well. Republicans similar to Ben Shapiro have committed to opposing Trump when he does not do conservative things and praising him when he does conservative ones. This is the wrong approach. If conservatives get everything they want then nationalist populists get nothing that they want. At that point what incentive do we have to vote for Republican candidates?
I understand the need for ideological purity which drives Shapiro and others like him to reject things that are not strictly conservative. When working with a coalition that just guarantees that you get nothing done. Like I just mentioned what incentive does your coalition partners have to work with you if you offer them nothing in return.
At this point I can already hear “principled conservatives” screaming that I am asking them to compromise their principles. To them I answer no. You should have principles and you should stick by them. What I am asking you to do is to figure out which of these issues are the most important for your conservative principles to be applied to and fight for them. Then identify the issues that are not as important to you and be willing to apply solutions that are more in line with nationalist populist ideology.
Let us take a look at the judiciary for one thing. Both sides would have a set of justices that they would like appointed. Yet only conservative justices have been appointed so far. Why? For nationalist populists we do not see the issue as one of primary importance. The justices that conservatives want to appoint would suit as fine as long as they can be relied on for immigration. In this issue we have been able to get results because we have been willing to capitulate to “principled conservatives”
This will not always be the case. There are issues that we cannot compromise on as well. For instance we believe that our government should help our companies compete against foreign competition. Just as the Chinese government helps Chinese companies or the German government helps German ones. In immigration we believe jobs should be available first for American citizens, of whatever color, before they are available to illegal immigrants. We also believe that a bigger supply of labor relative to demand means depressed wages for everyone involved.
As can be seen with the judiciary nationalist populists are willing to compromise with conservatives on issues they find to be of vital importance. We are willing to cede even more to keep the coalition strong as we find value in it. We just hope that “principled conservatives” can meet us halfway so both groups can get things of value out of the Trump administration.