Jeff Jacoby on conservatives in the Republican Party:
Trump is no conservative and never has been. The classic Reaganite principles of limited government, free markets, peace through strength, robust internationalism, American exceptionalism, and traditional social values have little resonance for the president-elect.
Yet while Republicans never really marched in lockstep to a conservative drummer, most of them came to see the GOP as the natural home for Reaganite values and the most reliable defender of conservative governance. That will change under Trump. He is the new head of the Republican Party, and his influence will be felt throughout the ranks. Many on the right were dismayed by the stream of conservatives, both in and out of government, who set aside their philosophical objections and embraced Trump during the campaign. Now, as he prepares to move into the White House, that stream will become a torrent.
And for conservative Republicans who decline to cut their conscience to fit this year’s fashions? They won’t be in the wilderness, exactly, but political life for them is about to become more uncomfortable.
The pull of partisan loyalty has always been hard for elected officials to resist. It has grown exponentially harder in our hyperpolarized environment — and the ascent of a new president with a vengeance reflex will make it harder still. Republican conservatives will need all the backbone they can muster when the leader of their party pushes them to support his anticonservative nostrums.
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