It is no secret that the GOP has long been divided into several camps, with various economic, religious, and patriotic (or America First) wings. Unfortunately, many Republican leaders have long embraced a universalist agenda that alienates many rank and file GOP voters, who feel economically threatened by globalization, and alarmed by mass Third-World immigration and the resulting erosion of our national culture. The historic rise of Donald Trump in 2016 attempted to address these concerns about cultural identity, economic autonomy, and national sovereignty that have long been ignored by the Republican party.
While economic conservatives want smaller government and greater economic freedom, core conservative beliefs, they believe that prosperity by itself will cure all that ails us. The Lawrence Kudrow ideal is a democratic-capitalist world order in which distinct nations will disappear as a result of economic and demographic integration, with abstract notions of “economic interests” and “human rights” holding us together. In their support for mass immigration and economic globalism, and in their contemptuous dismissal of people who oppose these policies, economic conservatives demonstrate a remarkable lack of concern about the looming loss of national and civilizational identity.
On the other hand, those on the Religious Right uphold the historic spiritual core of Western civilization – Christianity, with its moral order based on marriage, family, and high moral standards. But as with the economic conservatives, religious conservatives view America more as a religious mission than as a historical nation and people. In defining American civilization solely in terms of religious absolutes, they are woefully ill-equipped to battle the forces of multiculturalism and globalism, because, for all their religious fervor, there is no room at the inn for a balanced and sustainable cultural vision.
These two strands of conservatisms have failed to address – indeed they are exacerbating – the real anxieties of ordinary Americans who fear they are losing control over their country tothe transnational forces of globalism and mass immigration. Conservatives who dismiss the legitimate concerns of these Americans as “nativist” reveal themselves as smug and smarmy elites who seemingly go out of their way to alienate themselves from the working and middle classes. They see the rise of Trump as the cause behind the current disarray on the right. They are wrong. Trumpism is a response to it, and an historic wake-up call to a conservatism that has lost its way amid economic and religious abstractions.
America Firsters of all political stripes want to restore federal government’s role in preserving the nation’s political and social stability, chiefly via selective tariffs and border and immigration control. And while many of them share the commitment of the religious conservatives to the traditional family, America Firsters do not reduce the meaning of our culture to religiously abstract platitudes. They value the uniqueness of historic cultures, and believe that nations have a greater responsibility to their own citizens than to everyone else in the world. By fusing the core beliefs of mainstream conservatism with concrete, popular interests that the mainstream conservatives have foolishly rejected, such as REAL border control and tighter welfare restrictions for immigrants, America Firsters can create perhaps for the first time in American history, a conservatism that can hold back the multiculturalists on the Left and sustain America through the coming age of national and global disorder.