Last night, in a post about Tom Cotton, I suggested that the Senator might be one who, along with President Trump himself, helps “shape Trumpism into a functional, more traditionally conservative but still nationalistic approach to governing.” David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation discusses the kind of synthesis I had in mind.
Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of Trumpist populism, in its current form at least, is that it can at times be thin on proposed policy solutions. This, however, could readily be remedied, especially if reform-minded conservatives were to set aside their objections to Trump and reground their policy agenda to align it more closely with Trumpism.
While Trumpism cannot readily be reconciled with anti-statist libertarianism, it could more easily absorb reform-conservatism. The conservatives would benefit from the overarching vision, the populists from having a more fleshed out policy agenda that would serve the well-being of Americans and protect national sovereignty.
I don’t expect reform conservatives as a class to set aside their objections to Trump and align their policy agenda more closely with Trumpism — not unless and until Trump carries the day in the manner of Ronald Reagan.
However, Tom Cotton is a reform-minded conservative who, as far as I know, never had dogmatic objections to Trump and whose policy agenda is already fairly closely aligned with Trumpism in important, but not all, respects. That is why, to answer Jeffrey Toobin’s question, Tom Cotton may well be the future of Trumpism, at least in a best case scenario.
By the way, the Azerrad article referenced above is part of an excellent three-part series for The American Spectator on the ideological clashes in America today. Part I, which deals with ideological clashes on the left, is here. Part II, which deals with such clashes with the Republican Party, is here.
I recommend all three parts.