Traditionalism, Trump, & Fusionism

In “Traditionalism, Trump, And The Future Of Fusionism”, Thomas Hydrick attributes the rise of Trump to the decline of fusionism:

[T]he Trump phenomenon can also be explained in part by the decline of fusionism, causing a split within the conservative mind itself. Historians of the right have mostly described a familiar history of conservatism in America: the conservative movement was formed in the mid 20th century by an amalgamation of traditionalists, classical liberals, and military hawks in opposition to the existential threat of international communism. For much of the 20th century, fusionism seemed impossibly successful, culminating in the election of President Reagan. Signs of division occasionally emerged, like Pat Buchanan’s populist revolt in the 1990s, but the consensus remained fairly strong.

In contrast to previous disputes, Trump’s candidacy has uniquely exposed the fault lines within the movement. Although most classical liberals and hawks seem fairly lockstep in their opposition to Trump, a surprising number of traditionalists have been sympathetic to his cause. In recent months, several prominent paleoconservatives have voiced their support for Donald Trump or some of his policies. Trump’s support among traditionalist Christians remains surprisingly high.

Hydrick then writes a quite unconvincing rebuttal to Trumpism:

Despite the best of intentions, this traditionalist support for Trump is misguided and stands to do real harm to conservatism in the 21st century. While Trump’s positions on immigration and trade are understandably appealing to paleoconservatives, the man and his beliefs are incompatible with any definition of traditionalism properly understood…

To the extent that Trump believes in an enduring moral order, his worldview seems to more closely approximate the laws of the jungle than traditional Christianity. As Russell Moore has brilliantly observed, to follow Trump “would mean that we’ve decided to join the other side of the culture war, that image and celebrity and money and power and social Darwinist ‘winning’ trump the conservation of moral principles and a just society.” Trump’s worldview is a pagan one and is at war with the enduring truths handed down from one generation to the next. This worldview clearly manifests itself in historic and recent policy positions supporting abortion, war crimes, and hostility to immigrants.

While a more Romanesque paganism sits well with many on the Alt-Right, myself included, Hydrick’s worries are unfounded.

A commenter to the piece, Robert Peters, writes a most interesting reply:

I have in my circle of acquaintances, friends and mentors men who are to a man “traditionalists,” although I cede that the term is itself elusive. Almost to a man, these men support Mr. Trump. They understand that he is not one of them, not some shade of conservative; but, he is no ideologue. He is less likely to get us into a nuclear war with Russia; he is less likely to involve us in nation building and in regime change which lead to an almost endless cycle of wars; he is more likely than others to at least slow down weaponized immigration; and he is likely to take measures in the area of trade to preserve what is left of the middle class, at least put the brakes on the decline. The traditionalists with whom I run understand that the Constitution has been dead for 150 years and that the separation of powers has all but ceased to exist. Therefore, to the Constitution Mr. Trump can do no damage, particularly since the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are simply two heads of the same monster made up of stock jobbers, bankers, bureaucrats, corporatists with just the right mix of left and right wing ideologues to give them “moral” cover.

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