BY: David French
First, it is absolutely vital that conservatives stay firm in their opposition to Trump. For at least a generation, the Left has been arguing that American conservatism is shot through with racism, sexism, and xenophobia. And now millions of Americans will face the difficult task of rebutting charges of hateful bigotry while supporting a man who gives aid and comfort to avowed racists, incites violence, and can’t even consistently disavow the Klan. Trump is the destroyer of conservatism, and he will taint all who take his side.
Next, donors, activists, and volunteers must go all-in to preserve the Republican majority in the House (the Senate as well, but that’s a tall order). Hundreds of millions of donor dollars are sitting on the sideline, along with tens of thousands of demoralized volunteers. If the House falls, we’ll potentially see cap-and-trade, card check, expansive new gun-control regulations, and amnesty. Moreover, if the House falls, don’t assume it can be retaken with ease. A GOP that nominates Trump and potentially loses its congressional majorities risks wandering in the wilderness for years — assuming it even survives as a viable political party.
Third, conservatives should double-down on their commitment to state-level political action. Multiple red-state legislatures are now stocked with constitutional conservatives who are ready and willing to implement conservative ideas in state governance. Conservatives still have an opportunity to enact policies that will preserve liberty and liberate the free market for millions of Americans — all while presenting sharp contrasts with blue states that are choking on public-employee pensions and suppressing economic activity with high taxes and burdensome regulations.
Fourth, reject the cult of celebrity in favor of building enduring, meaningful conservative cultural institutions. If the current election cycle has revealed anything, it’s demonstrated that large chunks of the celebrity Right — you know, the people who spent most of the last ten years or so calling out “RINOs” and proclaiming themselves the true arbiters of American conservatism — have proven that they’re little more than populist audience-whores, following where the lowest common denominator leads.
Thoughtful conservative institutions, by contrast, contain multiple checks against extremism and demagoguery. They’re invested in the long game, not in capturing and extending that elusive 15 minutes of fame. A college like Hillsdale will play a vital role in rebuilding American conservatism, and — yes — so will magazines like National Review. I can think of any number of conservative institutions that are patiently making that “long march” through American culture. It’s time to march beside them.