It has occurred to me in the four days since the first Republican presidential debate that many on the Right have legitimate anger, although misdirected at times, but a somewhat retarded understanding of the tenets of conservatism. I think their hearts may be in the proper place, even if their intellects are not. This would explain the Donald Trump phenomenon and the almost surreal anti-Republican congressional leadership sentiment that has escalated to toxic levels in the last couple of years.
The most fascinating aspect of the rise of Donald Trump as a legitimate presidential contender in the esteem of many of his supporters is their dichotomy of criticism for the other candidates. In one Feld swoop they question the conservatism of all the other candidates on one issue or another, or in some cases criticizing them for changing their position on a single issue, while completely ignoring the complete 180 degree turn that Mr. Trump has taken on all the issues. They seem so much more forgiving of this recent Democrat-turned-Republican than lifelong conservatives who may have taken a conservatively unpopular decision on an issue or two.
And then there is the criticism of the Fox News moderators at the debate. Some on the Right have complained that they "picked" on Trump (especially him and his thin-skinned supporters), while others have said they focused too many questions on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. I think the focus on these two social issues are a direct result of both issues sucking up so much of the public debate oxygen. The former as a result of the release of undercover videos, and the latter in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision on the issue.
My opinion has always been that there is no separation between the so-called "social issues" and the fiscal ones. And in the past when many of my conservative brothers and sisters have said we should focus on monetary policy and move the social issues, like abortion, to the back burner of public debate in order to win elections, I have maintained that it has been our inability to connect the inextricable link between the social and fiscal issues which has been our downfall in winning more support.
My fear is that some on the Right have come to conservatism out of anger over the current administration, instead of the deeply held belief that conservatism is a moral and social imperative, whether one is talking about an individual or a nation. The tenets of conservatism are constructed of the study of natural law, the Judeo-Christian values of the Bible, and the founding documents of this great nation. They are unemotional, reasoned, and devoid of artifice and acrimony. As conservatives we should always measure our words and actions against the most successful conservative of the last 50 years, Ronald Regan. Against that measure I think many of our leaders in politics and media have come up woefully short.