Can You Be a Conservative and Also a Trump Voter?

-By Warner Todd Huston

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece saying you can’t be a conscientious conservative and refuse to vote for Donald Trump if he faces Hillary Clinton in a general election. But can you also be such a conservative and vote for Trump in a primary?

Before I go on, here, I have to note that I am not a Trump supporter. Even though I wrote you have to vote Trump if the choice is between him and Hilary in a general election contest, I’d rather see any general election for Trump avoided from the start.

So, the straight answer to the question posited in the headline above is “no.” No you can’t be a committed conservative and vote for Trump in a primary. If you are voting Trump you are one of three types of voter and none of the three can be a committed conservative.

Three Types of Trump Supporters

The single biggest vote Trump has won is that of the one issue voter and that one issue is immigration. Trump has been loudly outspoken about putting an end to illegal immigration. There is nothing wrong with this position and it definitely is a conservative point. But it cannot be the only issue and those voting solely on the immigration question to the detriment of all other issues may lean conservative but aren’t committed conservatives.

You simply can’t be a committed conservative and vote on one issue only regardless of what that one issue is. Conservatism is a thinking man’s creed and one-issue voters are not thinkers. They are emotionally driven. Conservatism isn’t emotionally driven.

The next vote block Trump has won is that of the “they are all the same” center right voter. These are voters who have decided there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. These voters reside in the “a pox on all their houses” class. In many ways these people are right and certainly their disgust with politics as usual is also part of the conservative movement. These voters are extremely angry at Washington D.C. (and for damn good reason, too). But, if that is your only issue, you cannot be a committed conservative.

The GOP has failed conservatism and those who ran for office pretending to be conservative but got to Washington and revealed themselves to be center left, big government, high spending yahoos have led us all to this point. Democrats never waver from their commitment to the far left. But Republicans all too often roar like conservatives back home in their districts but vote like Democrats once safely in Washington.

Lastly, those voting Trump are “fix it” voters. These Trump voters are no different than Obama voters because they are falling for bull crap rhetoric and assume voting for Trump will put a man in the White House who will fix everything they think is wrong with the country. These voters are exactly like Obama voters because they are impervious to truth and facts.

Notice that all three of these positions dispense with careful thought about the election and the candidates and what they stand for. Blind voting — which is what all Trump voters are doing — is not a conservative position. It just isn’t.

Voting on a single issue, voting without facts, and voting merely taking a candidate’s late campaign trail claims at face value is what liberals do, not conservatives.

So, what IS Trump, anyway

As to Trump’s rhetoric, he has no history whatever of being even a nominal Republican. Sure he’s been a registered Republican, but he also been a registered Democrat and a registered independent. He’s given money to Republicans in the past, too, but his money to GOP politics is far, far eclipsed by the money he’s given to liberals including the Bill and Hilary Clinton Foundation.

He was anti-Second Amendment before he was for it, pro-abortion before he was against it, a detractor of private property rights, Trump was pro-single payer healthcare before he was against it, and has been a pusher of big government.

Worse, Trump has proven he doesn’t know how our American system works (at the recent debate, for instance, he claimed that judges “sign bills”), and he just this week took a stand against the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump has careened from one rally to the next making pronouncements and promises of the things he “going to do” when in office. But it is clear he hasn’t any idea what a president even does nor is he cognizant of what we all should want a president to do in office.

“But, people change, don’t they?” many say. They point to Ronald Reagan as proof noting he was a long-time Democrat before he became the king of Republicans. They remind us all that Reagan once said he was no longer a Democrat not because he left the party but because the party left him. So, why can’t Donald have changed like Ronald, they ask?

Of course there is nothing saying Trump cannot change and nothing saying he must be permanently wedded to his 60 some years of regular old liberal positions. But he only made his purported switch to “common sense conservatism” when he decided he wanted to run for president as a Republican. Unlike Reagan who had decades and decades of speeches, writing and actions proving he had become an intellectually honest, movement conservative, Trump has no such history. In fact, he seems to have “become” a conservative the same second he filed to run for president.

The fact of the matter is, Trump has been on every side of every issue. He’s still flip flopping even up to the last few years — and in some cases months. So to believe a word he says about anything is simply foolish.

Anyone who believes a word of Trump’s claims to being a conservative are employing Obama voter-like reasoning. Everyone who voted for Obama believed his lies that he was going to stop the Washington in-fighting and bring a centrist, feels good attitude to D.C. But Obama had a 30-year history of hardcore, left-wing Alinsky radicalism behind him and anyone who believed he would be anything other than the most extremely leftist man ever to sit in the White House was making their assumption based solely on feelings, not fact. Center right Trump voters are exactly like this.

No, I am not saying Trump is an extremist, left-winger like Obama. What I’m saying is that his entire life time until these last few months/years before this 2016 primary shows that he has been a common, every-day, liberal. Sure he isn’t a doctrinaire leftist, but to say he is a conservative is ridiculous.

It isn’t a conservative position to blindly take Trump’s late claims at face value and simply take it on faith he is now “one of us.”

Without a doubt Trump voters are 2016’s Obama voters. They are impervious to truth and facts and refuse to dedicate any thinking at all to their choice.

So, in the end, Trump is not the conservative choice this primary season. Sure he is a better choice than Hillary. But Trump is not better than any of the other GOP candidates including all the ones who have already dropped out.

You may think you are a conservative, but if you are voting Trump you need to re-examine your reasons. You need to think about what conservatism IS and apply it to Trump. If you do, you can’t help to realize that Trump and conservatism are not compatible. And if that doesn’t matter to you, then stop calling yourself a conservative. Because you aren’t one.

Lastly, I need to address the latest argument against “conservatives.” To paper over their love of Donald Trump, many are saying that because so many Republicans ran for office claiming to be conservative but did not push conservative policies once they got elected, well that somehow proves that conservatism has failed. This is a bullshit argument.

Firstly, there are many conservatives who ran as conservatives and stayed conservative once in office, chief of whom is Teas Senator Ted Cruz. But we can also look to Ronald Reagan who was the most committed conservative president in U.S. history and who led one of the most successful and far reaching presidencies we have ever had.

Reagan built a movement on his conservative principles. But just because others who followed didn’t fulfill the tenets of conservatism does not mean conservatism is a failure. In fact, if you doubt conservatism merely because there have been failed politicians who claimed the mantle but didn’t pay off then you are not a committed conservative. You are a non-committal, wanting-what-works pragmatist, NOT a conservative.

A true conservative doesn’t abandon the ideals because others have failed to live up to them.

Again, stop calling yourself a conservative if you are one of those who claim conservatism is a failure.

And on that issue, I noted Reagan built a movement. By comparison Trump is neither building a movement nor creating an ideology. Trump is Trump and once Trump is gone so is anything Trump brings to the table. There won’t be people 40 years from now following Trumpism like people today claim to want to follow Reaganism.

It’s just that simple.

“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Follow Warner Todd Huston on:

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing news, opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that wrote articles on U.S. history for several American history magazines. Huston is a featured writer for Andrew Breitbart’s Breitbart News, and he appears on such sites as,,, and many, many others. Huston has also appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, and many local TV shows as well as numerous talk radio shows throughout the country.

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