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Commonsense “Trump’s” Conservatism

Posted on Friday, January 19, 2024
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by Matt Kane
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34 Comments
President Donald J. Trump listens to participants deliver remarks during the National Dialog on Safely Reopening America's Schools event Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

There is some truth to the claim that President Trump is not the most “conservative” candidate running for president, but he doesn’t have to be.

Republicans who prefer a non-Trump nominee, particularly former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and current candidate Ron DeSantis have recently attempted to shed light on what they deem a lack of conservatism in Trump in an attempt to hurt his standing with primary voters. However, history shows us Republican voters have never cared much about how conservative Trump is or isn’t.

Trump has always shied away from the staunch conservative label. When campaigning in 2016, he coined the phrase “Commonsense Conservative,” creating a healthy distance from many of the ineffective members of the conservative movement while signaling he did hold many of the right-leaning viewpoints necessary to secure the Republican base. While he has been a registered Republican often throughout his life, his voter registration has varied over the years from Republican to Democrat, to Independent, and even a stint as a member of the Reform party. Despite his lack of lifetime Republican party loyalty, he went on to receive the most votes for any Republican nominee ever in 2016 before adding 12 million more votes to that total in 2020, which broke the record for votes by a sitting president. And now, he appears more popular than ever within the party as polls show him with a historic lead for a non-incumbent.

If being a staunch conservative was the most important thing to voters, America would have looked a lot different over the past 15 years. John McCain would have prevented the Obama presidency, but after 8 years under the “conservative” George W. Bush administration that resulted in a recession and multiple wars, a sense of national conservative fatigue delivered us the Obama presidency instead. Even after the initial shine of Barack Obama quickly wore off by the 2012 election, Paul Ryan’s proud conservatism was not enough to propel the Romney-Ryan ticket over the finish line to make Obama a one-term president.

Americans typically don’t like when one party rules for too long. But even when that same fatigue that opened a path for Democrats in 2008 was presenting itself for Republicans in 2016, none of the well-known conservative candidates in the race such as Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz (or any of the other 14 non-Trump candidates) were able to seize the opportunity. Instead, the “non-conservative” became the people’s champion.

Even today, as the country yearns for drastic change, labeling oneself as a conservative doesn’t seem to be enough to win significant support. Mike Pence and his vow to return America to “old-school conservative values” never even made it to the starting gate. Ron DeSantis has openly named conservatives George H.W. Bush and Paul Ryan as people he admires, so he continues to sink lower in the polls as the primary rapidly approaches. And Nikki Haley, who has surpassed DeSantis as the number two in numerous polls, is not cutting into Trump’s national polling lead in any significant way, likely due to her stances on Israel and Ukraine that echo that of the Bush years.

Trump has always played by his own set of rules, which prevents him from being tied down to ideological boundaries. His time as president was no different, as he differed from previous conservative administrations in two key ways: War and trade. America’s economy and its presence on the world stage desperately need revamping. This is why what he describes as his commonsense approach to governing, whether it is viewed as “conservative” or not, is more appealing at this current moment than rigid conservatism.

The case could be made that Trump’s non-conservative open-mindedness is what makes his message resonate more than traditional conservatives. Republican voters are weary of returning to the type of conservatism from the second Bush administration, which ushered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide. After four years under Trump’s “peace through strength” approach to foreign affairs, it is easy to see why voters reject candidates who appear open to returning to pre-Trump republicanism.

In addition to world conflict, America’s finances are top of mind for voters. One of the more favorably viewed conservative presidents, Ronald Reagan, was a “free-trader.” As America continues to see endless amounts of money sent all over the globe while our government neglects our pressing issues at home, anything viewed as free is not a popular stance to take during a time of financial crisis. This makes Trump’s trailblazing “fair-trade” philosophy for a Republican a lot more favorable amongst voters.

Trump-appointed justices ended Roe v. Wade. He cut taxes, strengthened the military, and reigned over a booming economy. To voters, actions speak louder than words. Detractors’ attempts to negatively frame Trump’s official conservatism report card are irrelevant. As Americans are eager to rid themselves of the chaos of Biden-era policies, Trump’s presidential resume will undoubtedly be more influential than his level of conservatism, whatever that even means.

Matt Kane earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stony Brook University. His work has been posted by President Trump, RealClearPolitics, and American Thinker. X/Twitter: @MattKaneUSA Truth Social @MattKane

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Diana Erbio
Diana Erbio
1 month ago

Exactly! Common Sense & Fair Trade are winners!

Martin Plecki
Martin Plecki
1 month ago

Really good article with a lot of interesting viewpoints. Like, G H W Bush precipitating an Obama win….I don’t agree with that completely. But a lot of the content is about why many of us, including me, want to have Trump as President again. For me, Pres Trump has his faults, but he is a citizen candidate, just like the founders. He has the strength of character to withstand the terrible things Leftists have thrown at him and his family. He has proven he is a capable, qualified, innovative and effective President. It would be great if more folks on the right side of the aisle became more vocal supporters and defenders of President Trump, so citizens can get relief from the ridiculous narrative and agenda of the Leftists.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Some musings as I wait for ‘Poll of the Week’…

Republicans who prefer a non-Trump nominee, particularly former Speaker of the House Paul Ry@n and current candidate Ron De$antis have recently attempted to shed light on what they deem a lack of conservatism in Trump in an attempt to hurt his standing with primary voters. However, history shows us Republican voters have never cared much about how conservative Trump is or isn’t.

The only reason these seltzer bottles get any ‘press’ (and that’s being charitable) is because the ‘press’ practices the same thing that a lot of members of mainline ‘churches’ do…’Cafeteria’…they’re ‘newsworthy’ if they billow out what they believe…otherwise, they’re ‘extremists’…

Even after the initial shine of Barack Obama quickly wore off by the 2012 election

Dog shlt has a ‘shine’?

Paul Ryan’s proud conservatism was not enough to propel the Romney-Ryan ticket over the finish line to make Obama a one-term president.

Vice-President candidates really never make that big of difference on a ticket – the late Lloyd Bentsen, Jr. was the stronger partner of the Michael Dukakis disaster, but he couldn’t help the ticket – personally, I believe it was because he was too old for the voters’ taste, older vice-presidents on a ticket generally don’t work (the only time in ‘recent history’ that I can recall is Kennedy/Johnson, but that was more for political reasons than solidarity), voters want to feel ‘secure’ in that if the president dies that the person next in line isn’t going to need oxygen after giving the oath…

Mike Pence wasn’t the reason that people voted for Donald J. Trump…

Personally, I maintain that Vice-President ‘Debates’ are a colossal waste of media production time. It’s only used as cannon-fodder for the ‘press’ to marginalize the candidate they want to crucify.

Greg Snyder
Greg Snyder
1 month ago

I am not sure what parameters the author uses to define a conservative but in my book Paul Ryan is on about the same level as Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney none of whom I would consider the least bit conservative by my definition. Trump is not a fiscal conservative for sure but he views things through the business lens of investing for the return. His tax cuts allowed the working class to keep more of their own money while his foreign policy was rebuilding the American industrial base. If Paul Ryan would have cooperated with President Trump rather than blocking his every move we would have been in a lot better condition when Covid hit. I’ll take Trump conservatism over Ryan’s version any day.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

And yet the GOP had little problem selling McCain and Romney as “conservative”… I gave up on labels when everyone running called themselves “TEA party” but disappointed like Paul Ryan. Trump (I hope) will get things done… sans labels.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 month ago

Excellent article.

S. DOGOOD
S. DOGOOD
1 month ago

Commonsense Conservatism is a mystery to those officials both within and outside of the beltway. Yet is resonates strongly among conservatives nationwide. Is the system so broken/corrupted that those seeking/in office cannot see the needs and desires of those they represent?

Kim
Kim
1 month ago

“Conservative”, “Constitutional”, “Progressive”, “Liberal”–those are political terms. What President Trump did that rarely comes off as authentic when tried by others is his ability to personally connect with us common folks—with everyone, in fact. You feel it in his rallies, in town hall meetings, and when he answers questions from reporters and passersby. He sincerely cares about what groceries and medical care cost us, how much a tank of fuel costs, and how much of our income we must surrender to the IRS. He wants each of us to prosper, to realize our individual versions of the American dream.

To the Progressives and even some Republicans who won’t vote for him because of Roe v. Wade, consider the fact that it didn’t belong in the Constitution in the first place. It’s now up to the states to decide how they will handle the abortion issue. That’s more moral than letting a full-term baby die on the table due to a botched abortion. Contrary to the narrative from the Left, repealing it did not stop all abortions from being performed. But Republicans will continue to lose elections if they adamantly stick to no-abortions-ever. I know some women who voted against all Republicans on that one issue alone.

Who would have thought America could call out the Chinese–thanks to Trump–for stealing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American technology every year for a long, long time? With much lower taxes across the board, it made sense for companies to move back home. I’d love to see pharmaceuticals made here in the U.S.A. My pharmacy once substituted a different brand of prescription medication I take every day (for thyroid function). The new batch was made in China…and my throat burned for weeks after having taken only a few pills. Most of our meds are made in China.

However you want to label Trump, I don’t care. He made a difference in our lives and the economy was reinvigorated after a dismal Obama/biden Recession. Next time around, he will secure the border and make some changes that he only flirted with earlier. Now that he knows how the other side works–which is against the common folk in favor of the elites–he will be more incentivized to get the job done…for us.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 month ago

Common sense and common decency would put the country on the road to recovery

Lisa Skinner
Lisa Skinner
1 month ago

TRUMP/MAGA

uncleferd
uncleferd
1 month ago

Donald Trump won in 2016 because he was a tried and proven manager in a country that had just experienced 8 years of abysmal mismanagement and outright thievery at the hands of Barack Obama and his congressional accomplices.
Unfortunately, an even bigger robbery took place during the 2020 elections, which allowed no chain of ballot custody, and, consequently, allowed a non-legitimate ballot count.
Of course, morons in bearskins and other absurd regalia who forced their way into the Capital Building were not the disciplined, legal response that was needed to counter what was evidently an even bigger Democrat-led crime than the illegal Democrat surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign.
And GOD said, “LET THERE BE IDIOTS”… and laughed.

Elizabeth Cheever
Elizabeth Cheever
1 month ago

Great article.

Smike
Smike
30 days ago

Most of us want to think of Trump as this levelheaded, brilliant, minded statesman who can solve issues quickly and efficiently. And there are times he’s just that guy. But that guy has another side that we have all seen too often. And we’re seeing it more often now with Joe Biden also. Both believe the law of the land does not apply to them. Both have crossed the line and are a threat to democracy. We need someone who can Make America Great Again, not because of him, but because of us.

Pearlie Balistreri
29 days ago

Tu última publicación fue genial. ¡Gracias por compartir tu conocimiento de manera tan clara y efectiva!

It would be nice
It would be nice
1 month ago

I want to thank president trump for stopping all the immigrants with his wall. Or at least until they found out what a ladder was lol

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