Lib Blogger Jonathan Chait: Trump Has a Lot in Common With ‘Paranoid,’ ‘Anti-Intellectual’ Conservative Activists

December 20th, 2016 5:57 PM

Donald Trump is a visceral and emotional conservative, not a philosophical conservative, but that’s good enough for government work, suggests New York blogger Jonathan Chait. The main aim of Chait’s Thursday post was to slap down the argument from some righty pundits that candidate Trump was, as Chait paraphrased it, “a non-ideological figure, or even a progressive…who chose the Republican Party for no particular reason, and who shares none of its salient characteristics.”

On the other hand, wrote Chait, liberals, who “tended to see [Trump’s] rise as an extension of preexisting trends on the right,” have been proven correct: “Trump endured minimal defections among his base, has filled his administration mostly with standard-issue conservative Republicans, and has worked closely with Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders to pass a domestic agenda not dramatically different from the one any other Republican would have signed.”

Chait indicated that in general, conservatives’ distaste for the president-elect is found among journalists and intellectuals, while “activists” have worldviews similar to Trump’s (bolding added):

Anti-Trump conservatism has not disappeared, of course, and [National Review’s] Charles Cooke is upset I implied that…he has abandoned criticism of Trump. Understandably so; he hasn’t. Still, it is clear that orthodox conservatism and Trumpism appear able to co-exist far more amicably than anti-Trump conservatives allowed. It’s important to determine what errors conservatives made in assuming otherwise. Professional, social, and partisan comfort play a role. It is also true that paranoid, authoritarian, and anti-intellectual politics have been hallmarks of conservative-movement activists for decades, making Trump’s rise almost a natural outgrowth of the movement’s complete takeover of the GOP.