Back when HotAir.com (Salem Media) was something other then a #nevertrump only/”facebookers are real” website, I posed the question to the base in a comment: “What is a Conservative?” There never was a uniform answer, nor really was there much consistency in the responses received, other than a vague notion of “personal responsibility”, “smaller government”, and “fiscal prudence”. Some were Reaganites, others were classic libertarians, some “social conservatives”, and some “progressive” conservatives – really, small L liberals.
So when people state Trump is not a “conservative”, it follows that the question becomes “by who’s definition?”
Based on his public statements and interviews, and that of his family that I’ve seen and read over the last year, I would characterize him, in my hierarchy, as a “social conservative”. Many Americans (and more than a few Canadians) are not willing to accept “social conservatism” as being “conservative”. But what is different about Trump in this respect, is something most conservatives cannot be familiar with – the vast difference in being very, very rich, in contrast to being very poor, or at least truly struggling. Trump understands that difference, and while he may have earned most of it, he knows that he is indeed fortunate to have done so.
While not publicized enough, Trump is very conscious of his privilege acquired through money. He is way more of a philanthropist than has been made public. This is one reason why he’s seen as being on the fence politically. He recognizes that occasionally people do really need a hand up, and it may be a hand-out; he is known to reward selflessness handsomely. This is Trump’s “social conservatism”, or,if you will, his “conservative liberalism”.
Trying to pigeonhole Trump into the “conservative” camp, when much of America can’t define what it means to be “conservative” and is very much interested in tearing apart the “conservative” Republican party, tossing it on the ash-heap of history, is overtly hypocritical. He is who he is. He is running under the Republican banner because that’s how the US system works. It’s where he fits for the political purpose he is running. Independents don’t stand a chance.
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With regard to his “freedom of the press” twitter comment, his frustration with a biased press is obvious. Everybody on the right, Trump included, understands the First Amendment of the US Constitution and “freedom of the press”. However, the current press environment can hardly be described as “free”, even without state restriction.
The press is not free, when contrary voices, in part because of editorial/publisher decisions and the scourge of monopoly ownership, are suppressed and marginalized. The press is not free, when access to the airways is controlled by money and government fiat. The press is not free when nepotism in politics and media is the norm rather than the exception. Americans may have a free voice, but they do not have a free press.
Trump’s twitter rant is about the integrity of the press, and as a political newcomer, he can be forgiven for believing that integrity and balance should be the standards from which discussion flows. In Trump’s world, integrity is the building block of his business – without it, there is no business. In politics today, integrity has left the building, and he’s wrestling with what can only be described as a vicious “fight with a pig”.