Trump became the Frankenstein’s monster of Reformicon candidates, taking on the group’s respectable positions—such as skepticism about the economic benefits of immigration—and rendering them into an indefensible state. Frum, the author of “Why Romney Lost,” told me, “I feel like I’m living within a nightmare version of my hopes for conservative reform, with everything from immigration restriction to more infrastructure investment horribly twisted and distorted.”
This presents a dilemma for any conservative hoping to salvage Reformicon ideas from Trumpism. The candidate has been the opposite of Midas—every policy that Trump has touched has turned to dust. The next economic populist to come along in the Republican Party with Trump-like views—whether on immigration, trade, taxes, entitlements, or criminal justice—will be regarded with deep skepticism.
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