This entry is a good example of how the right in contemporary American politics projects what it would like to imagine about its candidates on those individuals, creating utter fiction.

Nixon was not a conservative. He well reflected the values of the GOP at the tiem, which places him in the center right/center left. By contemporary standards he'd be regarded as falling in the left for the reasons B. T. Smeller notes. He was also far from admirable, having consciously betrayed the Republic of Vietnam, amongst other things.

Trump, likewise, is neither heroic nor a conservative. He's a populist, with populism falling on the left and the right, depending upon location and era. Conservatives believe in some sort of existential external. Populists worship the supposed wisdom of the masses. Trump believes principally in himself, with the Führerprinzip operating to cause desperate populists to see their values reflected in him, which by his example, he's fairly free of personal values.

There were conservative Republican Presidents of the 20th Century, even heroic ones, with Hoover being a good example. But Nixon and Trump? Not so much.

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This post is all backwards. Libertarian conservatives have been broadly successful in shaping public policy in a more market oriented direction the past 40 years. We are more to the "Right" now than we were in 1972 as far as economic/fiscal policy is concerned. Nixon won reelection in 1972 after governing as a liberal. He won in 1968 by the skin of his teeth only because Humphrey and Wallace split the liberal vote (Wallace was left on economics). Nixon founded the EPA, started affirmative action, and oversaw economic interventionism, continuing the policies started under LBJ. The liberal "Rockefeller" GOP faction that was greatly represented in the Nixon and Ford White Houses became the minority faction of the GOP in 1980 and basically died out in 1994. The reason why the country has not moved in an even more libertarian direction than it has is that center-left economic policies consistently poll well with the public, even among Republicans. The only true believers in hardline libertarian economics are a among the affluent (many of whom are liberals anyway) and small numbers of ideologues. How exactly is the GOP is to win massive electoral victories when the electorate is clearly center-left on both economic and culture war issues? The best it can do is win by very small margins when there is an economic downturn during a Democratic presidency, or hope the Dems run a terrible candidate for no reason.

The country has only moved "Left" in terms of cultural norms--a shift seen in every other developed country that seems to have more to do with the effects of industrialization and urbanization on society and culture than any government policy. Electing GOP politicians--who care more about cutting taxes than leading a religious revival--would do nothing to change this cultural shift. More GOP victories won't lead to more people going to church, living traditional lifestyles, or imparting their religious values to their children. Maybe they can ban under 18 sex change operations or abortions in red states--but this wouldn't matter because people can easily cross state borders.

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1. To me, the key insight of the Postliberal movement is this:

That Laissez Faire Capitalism is based on the same, exact Philosophy of Liberalism that underlies the Sexual Revolution and the "Death of God" cultural secularization and moral relativism.

2. Therefore, much of what has, in Conservative circles, since at least the late 1800s, been called "conservatism" has always really been liberalism.

3. The solution of the Postliberal movement, as I read it, is not the "limited government" mantra or the anti-"administrative state" mantra of mainstream "conservatives" (who are actually liberals).

4. Rather, as I read it, the Postliberal solution is this: Gov't Imposed Limited Liberty in economics, in sexuality, & in religion.

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There is a "neo-Rockefeller Republican" tendency among some GOP journalists and think tankers that propose going somewhat to the left on economics. This started around the time of the Romney campaign when people noticed the white working class voting GOP and the Dems gaining educated whites. Ross Douthat and Reiham Salam, both associated with National Review, wrote a book called "Reformacons" and Oren Cass, a Romney campaign advisor, wrote a similar book. The idea is that is the GOP moderates on the economy and works with the Dems on some mild welfare state expansions or pro-union legislation, as this would materially benefit the GOP voter base. In a sense, this is just an extension of a tendency that always existed in the GOP and just flares up at different points. The ADA under Bush Sr., the Child Tax Credit in the late 90s, Bush Jr. running as a "compassionate conservative" are all examples. Some of the Neo-Rockefellerians are never Trumpers, and others supported Trump because he signaled centrist economic views at points, although he ended up governing as a normal conservative. And although classic Rockefeller Republicans historically were fairly liberal for their times, alot of the neo-Rockefellerians in journalist and academic circles are conservative Roman Catholics (Douthat, Ahamri, Vermuele, Deneen), who are influenced by the Catholic-based Christian Democratic traditions in Europe, which demonstrated that there was no conflict between Catholicism and labor unionism or the welfare state.

As a practical political project, "postliberalism" is just an extension of the more moderate wing of the GOP. A criticism would be this: if unions and the welfare state are awesome actually, wouldn't it be easier to support these policies as Democrats? For a Republican to triangulate on the economy, he needs to do so without losing the support of donors like Charles Koch, media empires like Fox News, and conservative voters. Its easier being a pro-union Democrat. On the other hand, unless you live in the Deep South, good luck trying to be a pro-life Democrat.

I guess there are also "postliberals" who think that an authoritarian state could come to power somehow and impose Catholic values on the population and end modernity. While these people think they exist in a long tradition of Catholic political thought, they really exist in a separate, American tradition of bizarre cranks who think their tiny fringe movement could take power and turn the US into a totalitarian state where everything would be awesome because they are in charge now. See Lyndon LaRouche, Bob Avakian, and William Luther Pearce as examples of this tradition.

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Given all the conflicting interpretations of the term "Postliberal," perhaps the readers of the "American Postliberal" would benefit if the editors would state a definition or manifesto of "Postliberalism." I.e., answer questions such as:

1. Is Postliberalism actually a distinct political philosophy, or it is just a set of tactics, strategies, & attitudes?

2. If Postliberalism is a distinct philosophy, what makes the Postliberal philosophy different from & superior to other philosophies on the right and on the left?

3. What is the endgame of the Postliberal Movement, as the editors see it.

4. Can the U.S. Constitution be a part of the Postliberal future? Or is it irredeemably liberal, in the view of the editors?

5. Who are the authors who best express the Postliberal philosophy, as the editors see it?

6. Does the Postliberal movement oppose expansive economic liberty/libertarianism as much as it opposes the expansive sexual liberty of the Sexual Revolution?

7. Does the Postliberal movement favor restrictions on religious liberty so that the State can protect & promote the morals & social order provided & defined by the one true Christian faith?

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I think one of the characteristics of the old conservatism is that it simply wants to stay in the "good old days," which naturally lends itself to an attitude of "let's try to keep things the same" and not rocking the boat. It's interesting to see how the New Right has become more radical in terms of its activism now that the Left has for all intents and purposes achieved institutional supremacy. Perhaps we'll see more of that self-sacrificial attitude on the Right in the coming years as a result.

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