The party of Reagan is over.
Now it’s official: The Trump takeover of the GOP is complete. Here are my four immediate takeaways from the first post–Reagan Republican convention.
2. Peter Thiel was right to say he’s a proud gay man but wrong to say that the culture wars over transgender bathrooms don’t matter. We aren’t launching or prosecuting this culture war, the Obama administration has, by redefining the iconic 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title IX, and every other federal law banning sex discrimination, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. This redefinition is a lawless attack on the rights of parents and communities and demonstrates a profound lack of concern for the rights of women.
“I’m totally for it,” Trump Jr. says of gay marriage. “One of my best friends growing up was gay. . . . It’s never been an issue for me. . . . I think there was a time in my life, probably in college, that I wished every guy was gay, because it just meant more women for me! ‘I don’t know why you guys have a problem with this thing! I think it’d be great! I wish everyone was gay!’ . . . That’s always the way I thought about it. . . . I have no issue with it. If I have to suffer through marriage, why shouldn’t they?”
He goes on to express his views on abortion, which diverge from those of the average conservative: “Honestly, for me, abortion, I don’t get it. I don’t even understand how it’s a political issue. I don’t understand how there is one issue for voters for that. I don’t understand how you can tell someone what they can or can’t do. And I’m sort of the same way with [gay marriage]. . . . I can’t buy into the abortion argument. I wish the Republicans would drop it as part of their platform.”
It’s no secret that his father, Donald Trump, Sr., has different views on these issues. Don Jr. explains, “In terms of my father’s political views . . . in the grand scheme of things, there’s probably other things he’d be concerned about first, given the state of the world and our economy, etc., etc. . . . I think part of it, and perhaps the shame of being a conservative, is you almost have to have those kind of stances to win any kind of primary. And then you have to basically sell out and become a moderate in the middle, just like you have to do if you’re on the liberal side of the political spectrum.”
Don Jr. also expressed his discontent with GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum: “The guy’s a freakin’ joke. . . . Some of the stuff that he says, I can’t believe it. When they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s so progressive for the Republicans,’ I’m like, ‘Progressive for 1742.’”
This is significant because Junior is the only one of the Trump kids who was a registered Republican before their dad ran for president. Even the conservative Trump kids are social liberals. They are, by all accounts, not only his most influential advisers but almost his only advisers.
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4. Trump is going to throw social issues under the bus. Indeed, he already has. I saw not even a single reference to life or religious liberty or local control of schools from any speaker at the podium. Instead, he has offered to take away any threat that the IRS will go after the tax-exempt status of preachers who speak on candidates. The fact that he felt the need to come up with this issue is further confirmation that he has no plans to fight against the Left’s regulatory structure redefining traditional views on sex and marriage as the legal equivalent of racist bigotry. I bang my head against a wall trying to get social conservatives to see the significance of Trump’s clearly telegraphed refusal to engage in any issue the Democrats decide is “anti-gay.” “Hillary will do even worse stuff,” they tell me. But Hillary cannot create a situation in which both parties tell the courts they accept Obama’s interpretation that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or Title IX, bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Only Trump can do that. I predict that with Chris Christie as his attorney general he will do that. His Supreme Court picks will be better than Hillary’s, no doubt. But my guess is he is going to skew libertarian and pro-business in his “conservative” nominees. It would not be hard to find conservative justices who are social liberals. What’s hard, really hard, so hard that Reagan failed even though he tried, is to pick strong constitutionalists who will stand against the tide of elite opinion in defense of our constitutional rights.Here is the new Party of Trump that we saw in this convention: liberal in expanding entitlements, pro-business in terms of tax and regulations, non-interventionist in foreign policy, socially center-left (with the possible, but only possible, exception of abortion). I suspect one reason the GOP political class was so ready to go with Trump is they understand he is their vehicle for getting the GOP out of social issues. If he wins, they will reap the whirlwind. If he loses, they will still have achieved their blueprint on social issues. And of course, win or lose, they still make money.
— Maggie Gallagher is the author of four books on marriage and a longtime contributor to National Review.