Five Trump-era ideas that should end with his presidency

Since his election, it has become an article of conventional wisdom that Donald Trump’s presidency was not an aberration or a brief historical detour but heralded the beginning of a political realignment. Some on the right decry the “dead consensus” of yesteryear and call for a new conservatism, one less scrupulous about its traditional adherence to American constitutionalism, taking no prisoners in new culture wars, and upending the decade-long consensus in U.S. foreign policy in favor of a nationalist outlook. On the left, meanwhile, woke-ism and its young radical voices have mounted a challenge to liberal orthodoxies.

Yet if one sees Trump’s presidency with all its idiosyncrasies as a contingent result of fewer than 80,000 votes in just three states, and not as an authentic expression of the will of the people—remember, he received nearly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton—then the idea that nothing will ever be the same again finds itself on less firm ground. More importantly, political and ideological shifts are not result of vast, impersonal historical forces. Rather, such shifts are products of human agency, intellectual leadership, and political entrepreneurship. The question of how lasting a footprint Trump and Trumpism will leave is up to the people who make up the Republican party and the conservative movement.

If Trump is soundly defeated on November 3, the GOP will have an opportunity similar to that provided to the U.K.’s Labour Party after its crushing defeat in the general election last year. Jeremy Corbyn’s radicalism did not disappear under Keir Starmer’s leadership—but it has been firmly relegated to the party’s fringes. Similarly, if Trump is repudiated by the voting public, those who care about the long-term viability of conservatism should seize the months that follow to reject some of the ideas and tendencies that have characterized Trumpism. They should be buried alongside Trump’s presidency, alongside his unhinged political style, alongside his penchant for conspiracies and racism. Here are five of them.

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