Conservatism Is Dead

Conservatism Is Dead
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The most significant aspect of President Trump's legacy will not be the border wall, which is never going to be built, or the Affordable Care Act, which will never be repealed, or NAFTA, the terms of our involvement in which he will not meaningfully alter, or even his combative personality, which is only the flipside of Barack Obama's nauseating kindergarten teacher routine. It is the end of what used to be called conservatism, which he precipitated, though he did not quite set it in motion.

What do I mean by "conservatism"? It has never been a rigorous concept. In Britain the word has long been synonymous with the Tories, now a moderate neoliberal party but once the defender of the interests of country squires, retired colonels, and Jane Austen vicars. Its most distinct characteristic, in the 18th century as today, has been an unabashed philistinism. (In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the head of MI6 blames "golfers and conservatives" for the rise of an incompetent colleague.)

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