Even in the age of Donald Trump, diversity appears in conservatism

In this issue, we see some divergent views within conservatism under Eschatology and Economists. The existence of these views is interesting, and it’s worth looking to see what they are, but it’s important not to imagine this as some sort of awakening.

The point of my dissertation was that conservatism is a diverse phenomenon with multiple tendencies and occasionally radically divergent views.[1] Neither of the views featured here are authoritarian populist—the tendency of the larger part of Donald Trump’s base. The post-Evangelical (a term whose appropriateness probably, and with some legitimacy, will be disputed) critique of Donald Trump is not in any way new but represents one side of a split between those who are so appalled by Trump’s behavior and those who are desperate and see no alternative,[2] and here shows signs of broadening its focus into questions of Eschatology—“End Times” theology—which is a dagger in the heart of evangelical support for Israel—and even thereby draws in some Trump supporters. This image of social conservatism as itself non-monolithic is intriguing, to say the least. If it lasts beyond Trump’s presidency, it could portend substantial changes within the model of conservatism as I developed it.[3]

The conservative critique of economics (Economists) as politicized, probably—only probably—the most ideological of the social sciences might find roots in traditionalist conservatism at least as far back as John C. Calhoun, who (here rather ironically) was simultaneously a strident advocate for slavery.[4]

What will matter here is if these views start to gain traction more broadly. As of now, there is no sign that they will.


Josiah Hesse, “In US evangelical capital, a new progressiveness and differing views on Israel,” Guardian, May 19, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/19/evangelicals-israel-usa-end-times


Tunku Varadarajan, “A Conservative Economics of Dignity,” Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-conservative-economics-of-dignity-1526679960

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  2. [2]David Goldstein, “Evangelicals have qualms with Trump, but see nowhere else to turn,” McClatchy, June 10, 2016, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article82901192.html?rh=1; Bethania Palma Markus, “Christian leader: Trump reveals that progressives were right about evangelicals all along,” Raw Story, March 1, 2016, http://www.rawstory.com/2016/03/christian-leader-trump-reveals-that-progressives-were-right-about-evangelicals-all-along/ Russell Moore, “Why this election makes me hate the word ‘evangelical,’” Washington Post, February 29, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/02/29/russell-moore-why-this-election-makes-me-hate-the-word-evangelical/; Napp Nazworth, “Conservative Evangelical Author Matt Lewis on Trump, Evangelicals and Stupid Republicans (Interview),” Christian Post, January 26, 2016, http://www.christianpost.com/news/conservative-evangelical-author-matt-lewis-donald-trump-evangelicals-stupid-republicans-155688/; Ray Nothstine, “Who Are the Evangelicals Supporting Donald Trump?” Christian Post, August 30, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/who-are-the-evangelicals-supporting-donald-trump-143997/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot, 7th ed. (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2001)

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