On Monday, writing for The New York Times, conservative evangelical GOP adviser Peter Wehner warned that President Donald Trump has to lose — for the sake of the conservative moment's own long-term survival.
"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," wrote Wehner, who advised the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
"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," wrote Wehner. "The president’s conservative defenders point out that he has reduced unnecessary regulations on businesses, but they overlook the fact that he has proudly embraced crony capitalism and aggressively used the federal government to tilt the playing field and pick economic winners and losers ... [and] Mr. Trump has promoted the conservative anti-abortion cause; [but] he has also epically mismanaged a pandemic that has claimed more than 175,000 American lives."
"Under Mr. Trump, then, the Republican Party is only incidentally conservative," wrote Wehner. "At its core it is now ethnonationalist and populist, meaning that in its anti-establishment fervor it incites rather than refines public passions; it is increasingly antagonistic toward free markets, inward-looking and reactionary, hostile to diversity, pessimistic rather than optimistic, encased in cultural grievances, more interested in looking backward than forward."
Moreover, Wehner pointed out, conservatives who once touted "family values" are defending a president who paid hush money to an adult film star; conservatives who once called themselves the "party of ideas" are attacking science and intellectualism; and conservatives who claimed to represent "law and order" are "aggressively defend[ing] a president who is lawless."
"The detoxification of the Republican Party and the conservative cause therefore begins with the de-Trumpification of the Republican Party and the conservative cause," concluded Wehner. "It is in the best interest of the country and conservatism to rid itself of the Trump presidency. Only then can the healing and rebuilding begin."
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