Pollak: Trump, not ‘Never Trump,’ is the True Burkean Conservative

Trump and Mount Rushmore (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty)
Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty

The mainstream media is once again paying undue attention to the “Never Trump” faction of Republicans, the few who swore they would not vote for Donald Trump in 2016, even though doing so would mean electing Hillary Clinton and bringing about an irreversible entrenchment of left-wing power.

Many of them changed their minds after Trump won, and especially after seeing him govern as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan (or Calvin Coolidge).

Yet the media are doing their best to revive the remainder. “The once-mocked ‘Never Trump’ movement becomes a sudden campaign force,” the Washington Post proclaimed on Saturday.

There is no doubt that this group is well-funded, and producing slick Internet ads, but there is no evidence that they are having any sort of impact.

And their pretense at “conservatism” is exposed by the fact that they are running ads against Republicans in crucial Senate races as well.

The main objection of the Never Trumpers remains the president’s style — not the substance of his governance, which has been more faithful to the conservative cause than any of them has been.

A true conservative, they say, would not indulge in coarse repartee with his critics on Twitter; would not waste time attacking NFL anthem-kneelers or standing up for Army bases named for Confederates; and certainly would not commute the prison sentences of political friends.

On the latter point, there can be no doubt that Roger Stone was denied a fair trial. Not only were the charges he faced the result of a partisan investigation into “Russia collusion,” but he was also targeted by an excessive pre-dawn raid — with CNN cameras in tow. And the forewoman of that jury was a former Democrat congressional candidate who hated Trump — a fact that went unmentioned in many media accounts, including that of the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.

As to Trump’s style, there is no doubt that he is unconventional, and at times even objectionable. Virtually every Trump supporter I have interviewed on the campaign trail since 2016 has been able to recite things he has said, or tweeted, that they wish he had not.

Yet they support him nonetheless, and at this point it remains an open question whether it is even possible to defend the fragile things Trump was elected to protect without using some of the tactics he has employed.

Trump is a disruptive president, but in the service of the Burkean conservatism that Never Trumpers once purported to uphold.

In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke criticized France for toppling its history and its symbols: “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors,” he wrote. Some of what those ancestors had done, he acknowledged, was “bad,” but the memory of that history was a guide to the future.

Instead, he said,

you chose to act as if you had never molded into civil society and had everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. … Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. You would not have chosen to consider the French as a people of yesterday, as a nation of low-for servile wretches until the emancipating year of 1789.

Trump’s stand for history — the good, the bad, and the ugly — is the contemporary incarnation of Burke’s wisdom.

The Black Lives Matter movement rejects all that has gone before — including the Founding, and the Civil War, and the very principle of free speech. If Democrats — who support this process of historical destruction — win in 2020, they will continue to hack away at the country’s foundations — and its freedoms.

Only Donald Trump stands in their way.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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