One of my many concerns about Trump is that he makes it difficult, because he is so dramatic and so crass, to defend the occasional insights he presents. One of them was his formulation of “a country is a country,” which sounds silly and tautological but actually I think has more significant meaning.
What Trump is suggesting — or at least what his words suggest, because I wouldn’t venture to speculate about what he actually meant — is that the fundamental features of a country include defensible borders and a priority for its citizens, for members of that political community over people who are not members. The next version of conservatism or whatever it’s going to be called has to find a way of making that case.
Another element of conservatism to come will be a more sophisticated version of the critique of “political correctness.”
This is another issue on which Trump has been loud and crass but seems to be in touch with a truth or at least experience that many people have. What Trump and others seem to mean by political correctness is an extremely dramatic and rapidly changing set of discursive and social laws that, virtually overnight, people are expected to understand, to which they are expected to adhere. And which, in special settings like universities, is subject to bureaucratic enforcement.
This is not the greatest problem that America or the world faces, but it is a problem because it’s a profoundly alienating experience for a lot of people.
Last, and in some ways most important, I think, because this is not just a policy question but one that is under the authority of the president: I think that conservatism needs to move toward a more what I would call realistic form of foreign policy.
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