If they squint hard enough, they can see hope in the form of an ambitious piece of legislation like a big tax cut. Then there is the fact that Hillary Clinton will not be president. And Mike Pence, the faithfully conservative vice president-elect, is there to keep watch.
Those conservatives who insisted that electing Donald J. Trump president would be a grievous mistake — a group that included governors, senators, radio hosts, prominent columnists and some of the most savvy political operators in the country — are now saying they see an upside to four years of a Trump White House.
But even as they find small reassurances, those who counted themselves part of the Trump opposition are wondering what their place will be for the next four years in a Republican Party they can hardly recognize. And they have begun to ponder what it all means for a conservative movement they thought they understood better.
Their place should be in the wilderness for a good long time, so they can think about what they’ve done. The rival candidates who welshed on their pledge to support the nominee. The harebrained “Cheklist Conservatives,” mostly lads still under the age of 50, who stamped their tiny feet right up to Election Day. Those who kept shooting at Trump and hitting his supporters in the back as they fought to keep Hillary Clinton and the entire corrupt Democratic establishment out of the White House. There’s a word for them, and it isn’t pretty. (I except my friend Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, who acted on his conservative principles by trying to find an alternative candidate.)
What is so disorienting for many conservatives is that the Trump victory was the culmination of the unruly populist upwelling in American politics, first manifested in the Tea Party movement, that traditional Republicans thought they could eventually absorb. Instead, those forces have overtaken them one by one — first claiming their House majority leader, Eric Cantor; then their speaker, John A. Boehner; and then an entire field of presidential candidates.
Now it may claim their party. Some on Mr. Trump’s team are already boasting how they plan to break with decades of conservative orthodoxy on government spending and pursue a huge infrastructure spending package that sounds more Roosevelt than Reagan.
“The conservatives are going to go crazy,” Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s senior counselor and chief strategist, gleefully told The Hollywood Reporterin an interview published Friday. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything — shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up,” said Mr. Bannon, who has aimed almost as much fire at what he regards as establishment Republicans as he has at Democrats. “It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution.”
Bannon is correct. America cannot simply become a Leftist’s dream-state of Ivy League jurists, information-tech corporations, attorneys, and baristas. We are a government of laws, but should never be a nation of lawyers. On the contrary, a land in which the citizens see actual benefit from their tax dollars will be a happy land; and if Trump does nothing more than rebuild our infrastructure and end the race/class/sex divisions the cultural-Marxist Democrats foment so ardently and skillfully — while waging unrelenting, terminal war on radical Islam — he will be a great president.
But first the #neverTrumpumpkins need to shut up and sit down, especially the sore loser churls who continue to snipe.
Steve Deace, a conservative radio host in Iowa and prominent “Never Trump” figure, pointed to the tens of thousands of voters in Wisconsin and Michigan — states Mr. Trump barely won — who voted in other races but did not cast a vote for president, evidently because they could not bring themselves to vote for him.
“That’s not lightning in a bottle,” he said, making the point that Mr. Trump repelled so many voters that he almost lost. “That’s like you showed up for work and they said this is your last paycheck and you and your wife go to Las Vegas, put it all on black and it pays off.”
Keep telling yourself that, pal. The rest of us have work to do.