As a lifelong Republican and a former Fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, I have always preferred voting for the Republican and conservative candidate.
Preferably, the candidate is both Republican and conservative, although that is not always the case.
For only the second time in my life, I did not vote for the Republican presidential nominee: I found him neither Republican nor conservative. I know there are different strands of conservatism: classical, neo-cons, libertarians, religious and economic conservatives. I found Donald Trump to be none of the above.
Trump did appeal to conservatives by supporting regulatory reform, lower taxes, unleashing the private sector and rolling back the administrative state. At the same time, Trump supported existing entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, which he called untouchable, and backed new entitlements like a paid family leave program.
Until the election of Trump, Republicans venerated Ronald Reagan and his brand of conservatism. This included support for free trade, a centerpiece of conservative economic policy. Trump has denounced free trade by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership which conservatives uniformly backed. Trump also plans to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which Republicans helped to pass.
Another litmus test for modern conservatism was for America to play a major role in world affairs. Reagan addressed the first Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting in 1974 and argued that America “cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so.”
Reagan cited Pope Pius XII’s remarks after World War II that “Into the hands of America, God has placed the destinies of mankind.” Under Trump, American First has become the guiding philosophy.
Republicans and conservatives have generally opposed entitlements and big government. Trump has made Social Security and Medicare untouchable, even though most conservatives believe these programs are not sustainable given the demographic changes in American society.
Trump has called