Opinion | For Conservatives to Have Any Hope, Trump Has to Lose – By Peter Wehner – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; Photograph by Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

” “You’re a traitor to the cause.”

In one form or another, that’s the charge most often made against so-called Never Trumpers, a group of which I consider myself an early and unofficial co-founder. The well-being of both the Republican Party and conservatism, according to this line of thinking, requires supporting Donald Trump. To be against him is to be an apostate.

Now it is certainly true that in the short run, and possibly in the long run, too, many of us no longer consider the Republican Party our political home. But for me, at least, a conservative approach to politics continues to lie at the core of my political being — and it is for that very reason that I believe even more strongly now, after what we have seen during Trump’s first term, that any true conservative should be appalled by the prospect of a second.

Put another way, to be anti-Trump is not to be anti-conservative; and to be pro-Trump is not to be pro-conservative.

That doesn’t mean that Mr. Trump doesn’t have any conservative policy successes he can claim. He does, though even here Mr. Trump’s record is not nearly as strong as his Republican defenders claim it is. From a conservative perspective, he’s gotten some things right and many things wrong.

The president is reshaping the judiciary in a conservative direction through his court appointments, but he has also given up on core conservative beliefs in limited government and responsible entitlement reform. He’s shredded federalism and embraced protectionism, both of which cut against conservative principles. It was also on Mr. Trump’s watch that, even before the pandemic hit, the United States set record annual deficits and exceeded $22 trillion in debt. (If Joe Biden becomes president, prepare for Republicans to rediscover a rhetorical commitment to fiscal discipline.)”

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