by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Many in the GOP believe they are entering a metamorphic period in the modern histories of both Republicanism and conservatism, one in which their intertwined loyalties and ideologies and dogmas could be scrambled and realigned. Conservatives in particular tend to believe this is a good thing, and rejoice in the reality that Trump, while not philosophically allied with them in some areas, nonetheless represents the culmination of their years-long assault on the establishment.
This explains why, eight days after Trump’s victory, the Conservative Action Project — an umbrella group for prominent activists — held a celebratory gathering at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner, Va. Attendees included some hardline conservatives who remained opposed to Trump throughout the election season; they were surprised to hear Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint talk about the party’s finally being unified, and stunned at the glowing remarks about Trump from Ed Meese, Ronald Reagan’s former attorney general and an icon in the conservative movement.
It also explains why, over the next three days, a sister organization — the Council for National Policy — met at the same location and focused not on the risks Trump poses to conservatism, but on the opportunities at hand. There were panels featuring economists Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore, both of whom are expected to work in Trump’s administration; Meese and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins; and Tom DeLay, who starred in a discussion entitled “Make Congress Great Again.” Nary a negative nor cautionary remark was made about Trump the entire weekend, attendees say.
And finally, it explains why most Freedom Caucus members refused to criticize Trump during the GOP primary, and why they enthusiastically backed him during the general: He didn’t run on the same promises of ideological purity that they did, but he spread the same message of disrupting the status quo in D.C.