In his column about conservatives moving toward Trump as devilish deal making, Michael Gerson concludes with thoughts about what conservatism isn’t:
Conservatism is not misogyny. Conservatism is not nativism and protectionism. Conservatism is not religious bigotry and conspiracy theories. Conservatism is not anti-intellectual and anti-science. For the sake of partisanship — for a mess of pottage — some conservatives are surrendering their identity.
He says what conservatism is not but not what it is. Can we assume conservatism respects women, minorities, immigrants, religious freedom, and rationality? Can we assume conservatism embraces scientific research and scholarship?
Some will snort at those questions.
However, what attracted me to conservatism many years ago was that I believed conservatism was more than a list of positions to be defended. I believed conservatives seemed slow to change because they embraced the wisdom of the ages but also recognized the value of science and research and altered their views accordingly.
Mostly, I am thinking of my father who wasn’t especially religious but was a conservative. He had some issues he cared about but disliked the dogmatism of religious conservatives. Even though I am still religious, I have come to see the problem of political goals wrapped up in religious rhetoric.
On the issue of Trump, one distinction which marks conservatism is fidelity to one’s principles. I agree with Gerson, since Donald Trump’s candidacy stands against conservatism, conservatives should look elsewhere.