Trump the end of conservatism, professor tells St. Vincent College audience
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump “represents the end of the conservative movement as we know it,” the death knell of a political movement that goes as far back as Barry Goldwater's ill-fated 1964 presidential run, a George Washington University professor said at St. Vincent College Tuesday.
If Trump were to win on Nov. 8, which Samuel Goldman — an assistant professor of political science at George Washington — virtually guaranteed will not happen, it will mean replacing the conservative movement with something much more similar to European nationalism.
But Goldman told more than 110 people who gathered to hear his speech on the “Lessons of Trump and the Future of Conservatism,” that there may be very little immediate change for the conservative movement after a Trump defeat.
There could a movement similar to Great Britain's exit from the European Union, which would focus on white Americans, but that won't succeed, Goldman said.
“Many white people don't want to be in the white people's party,” Goldman said.
What Goldman said he hopes to result from the election, but is not that optimistic will occur, is a reconfiguration of conservatism in less dogmatic terms.
“I think people aren't buying the standard package (conservatism) anymore,” Goldman said. Whether a restructured conservatism “could be sold to voters is unknown,” he added.
Trump's success has shown that the GOP's conservative base is smaller and less conservative than many had thought, Goldman said.
What would likely bring heartache to the GOP faithful is Goldman's observation that Hillary Clinton not only will win this year, but “Hillary will be a strong candidate for re-election.”
The GOP finds itself in this position because Trump appealed to the Republican electorate in ways that traditional conservatives like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were unable to do. Trump captured the nomination by beating a field of 16 candidates that Goldman referred to as an “uninspired assortment of hacks and buffoons” who were not so special, and especially not the heirs to President Ronald Reagan's brand of conservatism.
Trump won despite being “demagogic, crass and offensive,” Goldman said.
While a Trump victory would spark “a battle over what conservatism means,” a Trump loss would keep Republicans doing what they have been doing since Obama was elected in 2008 – “going back to opposition mode and allowing them to avoid a conflict in conservatism,” John Hanley, an associate professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, said in an interview Tuesday.
Trump's anti-Obama and anti-Clinton approach has been very effective in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio but has hurt the party in more diverse states such as Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina, Hanley said. That can have a long-term negative effect on the party, he noted.
Goldman observed that on his drive from the Pittsburgh International Airport to St. Vincent College near Latrobe, “I saw more Trump signs than I have seen in the last two years.”
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or email@example.com.