The burden of rationalizing President Donald Trump’s erratic behavior is one the Republican Party carries, but not one constitutional conservatives should be eager to share.
As a young conservative in the era of Trump, Twitter and all things social media, I have been repeatedly pressured to join the ranks of my peers who abide by the “love Trump or hate America” logic.
Since November, conservatives who opposed the president during the election have been urged to jump aboard the Trump train. Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated conservative radio talk show host, went so far as to say conservatives must “report for duty.”
“(Conservatives) can accept an imperfect reality and acknowledge that we are in a civil war, and that Trump, with all his flaws, is our general,” he said in a column for National Review.
It’s a reflection of the shallow times we live in — affiliation with a political party means more than the principles underlying them. But conservatism is defined by more than blind and unrelenting loyalty to a party or politician. It is rooted in the tradition of defending and promoting timeless values that lead to the fullness of humanity.
I support Trump insofar as his policies coincide with the principles I believe in, like equality, limited government, free enterprise, and an original interpretation of the Constitution. As the future of the conservative movement, young conservatives like myself must not abandon even one of these for the sake of propping up a party or politician or we will lose them all.
I celebrated Trump’s decision to appoint Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice, along with the rest of the conservative movement. And I will continue to support many of his policies, like immigration and health care reform. But conservatives are also concerned with how these reforms are accomplished, and the president continues to bypass the constitutional way.
His use of executive orders is continuing at an unprecedented pace, which should alarm conservatives. Regardless of whether the orders coincide with conservative thinking, the despotic nature of repeated unilateral action is indefensible.
Faith in the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation should cause conservatives to be wary of throwing unquestioning support to any politician who supports this abuse of power, even the president.
Conservatives can learn from the Democrats’ failure — blind loyalty to a political party has not brought them success. The Democratic Party is imploding; it doesn’t hold a branch of government, and it is plagued by an unprecedented amount of corruption.
We need to remain loyal to the principles the framework of our nation is built on, not a political party or individual politician. The urgent political and cultural task at hand is to persuade the public of the importance of constitutional values while modeling them with honor and integrity.
Unfortunately, because of Trump’s inappropriate behavior and reckless political strategies, conservatives cannot do this and unapologetically defend the president. As a young conservative, I have not only the right, but the duty to speak out against any party or politician who threatens the democratic principles I support.
There is a longer, more important cultural fight at stake, and remaining loyal to the principles that made this country great is the only thing that will help make it great again.
If partisanship is the only thing the GOP has to offer young conservatives, they will lose us. We want a foundation of principles on which we can build our futures. Our values are timeless; Trump’s presidency is temporary.
Kaylee McGhee is a rising junior at Hillsdale College and an editorial intern this summer at The Detroit News.