Donald Trump’s presidency was a failure. It began without the support of a majority of Americans and has ended with yet another rejection by an overwhelming majority of Americans. In nearly every aspect, Trump failed to do an even adequate job of leading the country.
But his failure wasn’t simply an outlier due to his narcissism and buffoonery. Donald Trump failed because conservatism failed.
Trump entered the White House with complete conservative control of Washington. Essentially whatever he desired he could get, aided by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and then-Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump had free reign to stock his cabinet and the federal government with conservative ideologues and activists, free to run wild without oversight or restraint, to do as they wished.
It completely failed.
The free market, limited government presidency of Donald Trump has led to a broken economy, weakened international alliances and standing, and a growing death toll from a pandemic who’s outbreak was mismanaged.
At every instance Trump allowed conservative approaches to dominate, and they simply turned into an unworkable mess.
In the virus relief, instead of enlisting the federal government to provide equipment and manpower and guidance to the states, Trump entrusted his son-in-law Jared Kushner to lead an effort that offloaded the work to private business. Instead of seeking to help people in the states, it prioritized profits and caused desperate governors to work against each other rather than collectively for all of America. Trump also chose to go the way of limited government by refusing to push states to follow coherent guidelines, instead pushing for premature reopenings and opposing cautious governors — all to get the stock market line to head north.
Trump also enacted a tax plan that was a right-wing wishlist come true. Goodies were doled out to the wealthiest Americans and the largest corporations, who predictably hoarded their cash and did not spend their excess — once again showing that “trickle down” economics does not work.
On health care, Republicans under Trump did nothing other than try to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and faced a political backlash because of it.
Trump also embraced the conservative culture war, encouraging police violence against minorities, restricting women’s access to abortion and overtly mangling American immigration policy to exact massive cruelty against Latinos, especially immigrant children.
On the international front, Trump went with a conservative “America alone” approach that has alienated key allies needed to ensure global security and an international approach to climate change. At the same time he coddled dictators like Kim Jong Un and revelled as dictators murdered journalists and others.
The one supposed bright spot for Donald Trump was the pre-virus economy.
But that wasn’t conservatism. That was economic growth inherited from President Barack Obama. Economic growth enabled by the Recovery Act and other center-left policies that Republicans spent eight years decrying as “socialism” and “big government.”
It took a conservative approach, under the Trump-McConnell-Ryan government, to lay the groundwork that eventually collapsed that recovery when the virus hit.
Trump is not an outlier. Just 12 years ago, Barack Obama inherited an American government in chaos again created by conservatism. Under George W. Bush, conservative ideology was allowed to run wild, directing American foreign and domestic policy. What happened was the economy collapsed and hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in the deserts of Iraq.
Conservatism continues to fail. It repeatedly fails. It is an ideology that seeks profit and disunity over everything else. Time and again, when it fails the right inevitably insists it just wasn’t done right, that it needs just a few tweaks and adjustments. But it keeps failing because it doesn’t make any sense. Reality cannot be bended by happy talk and wishful thinking.
Conservatism does not work. Trump just proved it, again.