Historian and author explains "American Conservatism and Populism in the Age of Trump"

Oct 17, 2018

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The midterm elections are in less than three weeks. As the political divide widens, one author and political historian visited Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies explaining American Conservatism and Populism in the Age of Trump.

“What’s going on with conservatism today? There’s a sense of great turbulence and dispute and so forth.”

George Nash is a historian of American conservatism and author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in American since 1945. 

To understand it Nash explains conservatism has never spoken with a single voice, it’s been a coalition of five components; the libertarians/free-marketeers, the traditionalist conservatives focused on institutions and moral values, the Cold Warriors containing communism, neoconservatives and the Religious Right or Social Conservatives. But it was the Tea Party frustration that Nash says, “created the tinder for the next phase which was the advent of (President Donald) Trump.”

“Because it was Tea Party disillusionment with the Republican establishment that created an opening for Trump to come in and say, as he said in his acceptance address, he says 'things need fixing and I’m the only one that can fix it.' That's a close paraphrase of what he said. So, he came in as Mr. Fix It going to fix. I'm the guy who knows. I'm the guy  who sympathizes with those feeling left behind.”

Nash explains Trumpism as a hybrid of both conservative and leftwing populism attacking three establishments simultaneously; the Republican establishment, conservative intellectuals and Obama/Hilary Clinton establishment.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.