Soon after liberal progressive Barack Obama was elected, conservative Americans became concerned about the direction that he and the liberal Congress were taking the United States. The TEA Party was born, and conservatives, such as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Trey Gowdy, were elected to Congress. First, Republicans took back the House of Representatives. A few years later, Republicans took back the Senate. In 2016 Republicans took back the White House.
Donald Trump did not campaign on being a “conservative” even though he said many things that brought the support of conservatives. On January 16, 2016, Trump said, “The United States of America is a land of laws, and Americans value the rule of law above all. Why, then, has our Congress allowed the president and the executive branch to take on near-dictatorial power? … What is needed in Washington is a president who will rein in the executive branch and work with Congress to make sure the legislative branch does its job.”
Comments like these, as well as his promises to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and to deport illegal immigrants, helped Trump to win the White House. Even though he never claimed to be a conservative, Americans gave him the opportunity to “Make America Great Again.” If the President and members of Congress do not bring America back from the brink of destruction, Americans will discard them and find someone who will do the job.
Larry P. Arnn, the twelfth president of Hillsdale College, addresses some of the questions concerning conservatives, conservatism, and American conservatism in his remarks titled “A More American Conservatism” given in Washington, D.C. on December 2, 2016.
What is conservatism? It is a derivative term: it refers to something outside itself. We cannot conserve the present or the future, and the past being full of contradiction, we cannot conserve it entire. In the past one finds heroism and villainy; justice and injustice; freedom and slavery. Things in the past are like things in the present: they must be judged. Conservative people know this if they have any sense.
What then makes them conservative? It is the additional knowledge that things that have had a good reputation for a long time are more trustworthy than new things. This is especially true of original things. The very term principle refers to something that comes first; to change the principle of a thing is to change it into something else. Without the principle, the thing is lost.
If American conservatism means anything, then, it means the things found at the beginning of America, when it became a nation. The classics teach us that forming political bonds is natural to people, written in their nature, stemming from the divine gift they have of speech and reason. This means in turn that the Declaration of Independence, where the final causes of our nation are stated, and the Constitution of the United States, where the form of government is established, are the original things. These documents were written by people who were friends and who understood the documents to pursue the same ends. Taken together they are the longest surviving things of their kind, and under their domain our country spread across a continent and became the strongest nation on earth, the bastion of freedom. These documents do not appeal to all conservatives, but I argue that they should, both for their age and for their worthiness.
President Trump appears to be trying to “Make America Great Again” by overturning many of the liberal progressive Executive Orders signed by Barack Obama. He has tried to temporarily close our nation to refugees in order to get control of the situation. He has unleashed the military and is letting the professionals use their training and experience to keep America safe. He is deporting illegal immigrants and trying to get a wall built on the southern U.S. border. He is hindered on every side by liberal/progressive Democrats and Republicans-in-name-only (RINOs). He is taking his message directly to the people of America by his tweets and through the press briefings by Sean Spicer.
Conservative principles will “Make America Great Again” if Congress and the people will allow them to be tried. America is a land of laws. Our Constitution was written for a moral people. It has guided and protected Americans for more than 200 years and will continue to guide and protect us forever IF we will abide by its precepts.