Trump is a typical conservative. That says a lot about the conservative tradition.

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
February 1, 2018

Corey Robin is the author of “The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump.” The New Yorker described the first edition of this book as “the book that predicted Trump.” The newly issued second edition looks to put President Trump in the context of the conservative movement and explain him. I interviewed Robin about the book.

HF: Many people, including “Never Trumpers,” claim that Donald Trump is an aberration from more “respectable” Burkean conservatism. Why do you largely disagree with that assessment?

CR: If you look at respectable conservatism since the French Revolution, you’ll find many of the elements that we see in Trumpism: an embrace of violence and an apocalyptic rhetoric of friends and enemies; hostility to existing institutions, conventions, customs, traditions, established elites and the law; and populist appeals to the force of the multitude and the mass.

When I began writing about the right nearly two decades ago, I believed the standard story that Never Trumpers tell about Trump: Conservatism once was a respectable discipline of the governing classes; now it is the property of ideologues and fanatics, the crazy and the cruel. Only back then, the ideologues and fanatics were neoconservatives bent on invading Iraq and declaring an American Empire.

Read the full piece at The Washington Post