Wineke: Trump’s legacy is demise of conservatism

Wineke: Trump’s legacy is demise of conservatism
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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee, Wisconsin, on Oct. 24, 2018.

When the history of the Trump presidency is one day written, I suspect the president’s most unfortunate legacy will be the demise of the conservative voice in American politics.

The Democratic Party shed its most conservative element years ago. I can’t think of a single party leader who would be considered right of center on a national stage.

That’s fine. The country needs a liberal voice to remind it that our society remains one with unmet needs and with minority voices that need to be heard. Democrat heroes are liberals.

But the country needs a conservative alternative, too, and it doesn’t currently have one.

You might recall the conservative voice. It called for balanced budgets and for family values. It was the voice that, when Democrats urged better relations with Russia, pointed out that Russia is and always has been an autocratic society that crushes democratic impulses.

Republicans, at their best, represented those values. To be honest, there are a few who still do. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, patrician that he is, has conservative values. Senator John McCain had conservative values.

Trump does not have conservative values. Trump’s most sincerely held value is winning, winning at any cost, winning today’s contest at the expense of losing tomorrow’s contest.

If there is any voice in the Republican Party — leaving aside Romney’s for the moment — opposing the president’s values, that voice is remaining silent.

So Trump champions the positions of Russian President Putin. Does any elected Republican denounce him? So the President says he and North Korean President Kim Jong-Il “fell in love.” Does anyone raise an eyebrow?

Congress sends the president a spending package that gives him all the money he requested for a wall between the United States and Mexico and the president responds by shutting down the government for a month because it doesn’t give him extra funds. Then he declares a national emergency and appropriates the money himself.

Does any “conservative” say “no?” Actually, a handful did but not in numbers that might suggest the Republican Party has a spine.

And this week the president goes on a Twitter tirade demeaning the service of the late Senator John McCain who, among other things, was the party’s candidate for President in 2008.

Does even McCain’s buddy, Lindsay Graham rise up and say, finally, that’s enough? Nope. The best Graham could do was to mutter some pablum about McCain being a good man.

And why should they? As the president says often, McCain lost the election. We only care about winners.

That’s one philosophy. It’s just not a conservative philosophy.

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