“In March the religious journal First Things published a short manifesto, signed by a group of notable conservative writers and academics, titled “Against the Dead Consensus.” The consensus that the manifesto came to bury belonged to conservatism as it existed between the time of William F. Buckley Jr. and the rise of Donald Trump: An ideology that packaged limited government, free markets, a hawkish foreign policy and cultural conservatism together, and that assumed that business interests and religious conservatives and ambitious American-empire builders belonged naturally to the same coalition.
This consensus was never as stable as retrospective political storytelling might suggest; even successful Republican politicians inevitably left many of its factions sorely disappointed, while conservative intellectuals and activists feuded viciously with one another and constantly discerned crises and crackups for their movement. But the crisis revealed or created (depending on your perspective) by our own age of populism seems more severe, the stresses on the different factions more serious, and it is just possible that the longstanding conservative fusion might be as dead as the First Things signatories argued. …”
The only points that I have in common with mainstream conservatism are social conservatism and authoritarianism. Otherwise, I reject the lolbertarian economics and the neocon foreign policy. When George W. Bush was president, the first led to the Crash of 2008 and the second to the Iraq War. I think lots of young people made up their minds about conservatism in those years.
Ask anyone on the Populist Right what they think of fusionism and you will get more or less the same answer. They supported Trump in 2016 out of the sense that immigration was spiraling out of control and because he promised to restore order and social cohesion. He also drew attention to how globalization and the opioid epidemic have devastated the White working class. Basically, they agree with conservatives on social issues, but disagree with them on economics and foreign policy.
Now, we are in a situation where millions of people on the Populist Right voted for Blompf only to get his tax cuts, banking deregulation, the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and criminal justice reform. While a huge deal has been made about Trump’s success putting Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we’re finally about to see whether conservatives have the guts to strike down Roe vs. Wade or whether they have been scamming the evangelicals for a generation.
“Still, you can see three broad demands at work in their arguments. First, they want social conservatives to exercise more explicit power within the conservative coalition.
This may sound like a strange idea, since, after all, it is social conservatism’s growing political weakness, its cultural retreat, that led the religious right to throw in with a cruel sybarite like Trump. But there’s a plausible argument that even with its broader influence reduced, religious conservatism should still wield more power than it does in Republican politics — that it outsources too much policy thinking to other factions, that it goes along with legislation written for business interests so long as the promised judicial appointments are dangled at the end, and that it generally acts like a junior partner even though it delivers far more votes.”
Social conservatism is the only reason why all these Southerners and Midwesterners are voting for the Republican Party. They’re not voting for it because of the neocon foreign policy or lolbertarian economics. Instead, they are voting for it largely in spite of those things.