Jonah, I think you’re onto something really important with your observation about the difference between conservatism and populism. I’d love to see you write more about it.
If you haven’t already done so, get a copy of John Lukacs’ latest, “Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred,” which is devoted more or less to this subject. Like you, he is concerned about the GOP turning into a populist party, at the expense of conservatism proper. I quote a bit from the Lukacs book in my “Crunchy
It may be that in the future the true divisions will be not between Right and Left but between two kinds of Right; between people on the Right whose binding belief is their contempt for Leftists, who hate liberals more than they love liberty, and others who love liberty more than they fear liberals; between nationalists and patriots; between those who believe that America’s destiny is to rule the world and others who do not believe that; between those who trust technology and machines and others who trust tradition and old human decencies; between those who support ‘development’ and others who wish to protect the conservation of land — in sum, between those who do not question Progress and others who do.