[…] Now that Trump is the President-elect, plenty of prominent conservatives are hoping that he will govern as a reliably conservative Republican. Decius, the faceless blogger, is hoping instead that Trump’s Presidency will mark the dawn of a new kind of conservative movement. He is one of a handful of pro-Trump intellectuals who have been laboring to establish an ideological foundation for the political tendency sometimes known as Trumpism. Politicians, as a rule, do not trouble themselves overmuch with the opinions of intellectuals, and Trump is unusually untroubled by debates about political philosophy. But these intellectuals—a group that includes anonymous bloggers and prominent academics—maintain that he does have a distinctive world view. In their argument, his unpredictable remarks and seemingly disparate proposals conceal a relatively coherent theory of governance, rooted in conservative political thought, which could provide an antidote to a Republican Party grown rigid and ineffective.
Charles Kesler, a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna and the editor of the Claremont Review of Books, calls Trump’s election “a liberating moment for conservatism,” an overdue repudiation of conservative élites and orthodoxy. The irony is that the modern conservative movement cohered, in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, as a rebellion against a Republican establishment that it considered out of touch. Now, according to a small but possibly prescient band of pro-Trump intellectuals, it is happening again. They suspect that Trump, despite his self-evident indiscipline, may prove to be a popular and consequential President, defying his critics—many of them conservative. They think that Trumpism exists, and that it could endure as something more substantive than a political slur.