Politics & Policy

Power Is Not the Point, Truth Is — Defining Conservatism after Trump

Flag at a Trump rally in Milford, N.H. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
We must re-create an America that values creativity and procreativity.

So Paul Ryan, John McCain, and others have now endorsed Trump. The GOP is unifying around a brilliant, talented nationalist who hurls insults, dances openly with racism, and changes his promises at the drop of a hat.

Gary Johnson and William Weld of the Libertarian party are occupying the conventional moderate-Republican niche (pro-business, pro-gay marriage, and pro-choice). Polling suggests that the Libertarian ticket draws from Hillary a bit more than from Trump.

I do not know if David French will run and, if so, what the delay in announcing is about. The slim hope that a hero will emerge to define an alternative vision for the conservative movement is fading day by day. But while there is hope, there is a duty to define what this conservative movement is about.

What would an independent or third-party conservative campaign be about? I have a suggestion: Make America good again.

Good for people who work hard for a living. Good for families trying to raise decent kids. Good for entrepreneurs who create new goods, products, and services. Good for investors who do actual investing rather than currency manipulation or deals with Washington.

RELATED: How Should Conservatives Respond to the Age of Trump?

The most important challenge is to define for the American people what has gone wrong with our economy, not just for the last eight years but for the last 20. According to this graph, released by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the average real median household income in the U.S. in 1997 was $53,443. In 2014, it was $53,657: almost 20 years without a pay raise.

In an Economist/YouGov poll conducted May 20–23, 51 percent of U.S. citizens said that it was either “impossible” (8 percent) or “very hard” for a middle-class person to get rich in America. Americans were also almost twice as likely to say that their personal financial situation had deteriorated in the last year rather than to say that it had improved (30 percent to 18 percent).

#share#The second-most important challenge is to oppose the Left’s redefinition of the good of sex and family life as the conceptual equivalent of racism. America cannot be good if it’s ashamed of the good.

The third-most important thing is to oppose racism, a form of tribalism that denies that each of us is a child of God with intrinsic value, worthy of respect. Racism has become for the Left a weapon hurled against white people. So be it. Let them stew in the ugliness of tribalism they are creating. Let us find a place to stand that is outside the circles of either Trump or Clinton.

RELATED: What Now, Conservatives?

I became a conservative in 1976 when I was 16 years old, and not to be part of some kind of winning political coalition. Reagan’s sweep of the White House and the Senate was unimaginable to me then. Power was not the point, truth was the point.

#related#I am most known as a social conservative, because I began to focus on the importance of marriage, including the importance of good fathers and husbands, the thing Ayn Rand cannot quite make sense of in Galt’s Gulch. But in truth, I’ve held these values in tandem: creativity and procreativity. The value of daring, risk, and invention, which both men and women do but men disproportionately. And the value of procreativity — the idea that loving each individual, unique baby (something both men and women do but women disproportionately) is what makes human life worth living.

How do we re-create an America that is good, that values creativity and procreativity?

Putting our faith in a corrupt Democrat or a corrupting Republican is not going to do it.

More important than victory in 2016 is defining a movement we can believe is good and will do good.

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