So can all the Branch Trumpidian cultists stop comparing Trump to Ronald Reagan, now?
In a stunning show of cowardice and defeat, Stephen Moore, founder of Club for Growth, has rolled over and abandoned the conservative movement of Reagan for the populist, Big Government party of Trump.
Moore is Trump’s top economic adviser. Many may have been encouraged to hear Moore was holding that role in the Trump camp, but it was likely because they hoped his record of fiscal conservatism would have an influence on the president-elect. Unfortunately, bad company corrupts good character, and the effect was reversed.
Moore surprised some of the Republican lawmakers assembled at their closed-door whip meeting last Tuesday when he told them they should no longer think of themselves as belonging to the conservative party of Ronald Reagan.
They now belong to Trump’s populist working-class party, he said.
A source briefed on the House GOP whip meeting — which Moore attended as a guest of Majority Whip Steve Scalise — said several lawmakers told him they were taken aback by the economist’s comments.
“For God’s sake, it’s Stephen Moore!” the source said, explaining some of the lawmakers’ reactions to Moore’s statement. “He’s the guy who started Club for Growth. He’s Mr. Supply Side economics.”
So Moore is referring to this as a “dose of reality.”
The dose of “reality” is just how feckless some of those who were considered to be conservative stalwarts actually were.
“Just as Reagan converted the GOP into a conservative party, Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party,” Moore said in an interview Wednesday. “In some ways this will be good for conservatives and in other ways possibly frustrating.”
Moore said that his experiences on the road with Trump, stumping for him around the Rust Belt states, seeing the crowds, and Trump’s subsequent victory have convinced him that conservatism is not what the people want. They want populism. They want big spending projects.
He then advised House Republicans that they should pretty much abandon any clinging remnants of Reagan conservatism.
What he actually said is that they should get used to being less “ideologically pure,” in order to help Trump give the voters what they want.
“He wants to spend all this money on infrastructure,” Moore said, referring to Trump’s potentially trillion-dollar infrastructure package.
It’s a massive spending bill that naturally appeals far more to Democrats than Republicans. Moore, who has worked for the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, is not a fan of the stimulus package, but he is prepared to support it.
“I don’t want to spend all that money on infrastructure,” Moore said. “I think it’s mostly a waste of money. But if the voters want it, they should get it.”
“If Trump says build a wall then he should build a wall. If Trump says renegotiate TPP [the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal], he should renegotiate TPP.”
“Elections have consequences,” Moore added, “and I do think Donald Trump has a mandate.”
Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
Moore has a point.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has battled raging Trumpidians, attempting to stress the need to maintain our conservative roots, only to have them say, “This is our party now!”
Maybe Moore has spent too many years in the trenches.
Maybe he was never a true purist, to begin with and it was all an act.
Whatever the case, this is exceedingly depressing for those still holding to the principles of Goldwater, Buckley, and Reagan.
“We can scream and whine all we want but that’s reality.”
Moore is excited about large parts of Trump’s agenda. He helped write Trump’s tax plan and thinks the cuts will accelerate economic growth and create new jobs. He’s also had a hand in Trump’s energy plan and looks forward to slashing regulations hindering American energy production.
But Moore knows the days of Reaganite conservatism are probably over.
“Reagan ran as an ideological conservative. Trump ran as an economic populist,” he said.
“Trump’s victory,” Moore added, “turned it into the Trump party.”
The maddening part is, Trump’s loyalists will continue to call themselves “conservatives,” rather than the neo-liberals they actually are.