The anti-Trump conservatives—as opposed to the anti-Trump Republicans, of which there are perhaps two—have made for a fascinating story in this era. And so we thought this was a good time to check in with a few of them and sound them out on Donald Trump, Trumpism, conservatism, and the Republican Party.
The four with whom we chose to converse all represent slightly different slots on the spectrum: David Frum is anti-Trump and was indeed a critic of the GOP long before Trump came along but still calls himself a conservative. Peter Wehner, like Frum, a Bush Administration veteran, is an evangelical Christian, also firmly anti-Trump and particularly critical of the Republican Party. Liz Mair, a political consultant, is anti-Trump but still a staunch conservative-libertarian Republican. Meanwhile, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin seems to have come closest to giving up on the whole enterprise. Democracy board member E.J. Dionne Jr. and I sat down with the four of them in late April to ask about Trump, but also about whether they’ve reconsidered their views on other matters like preemptive war. A fascinating conversation.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the journalistic phenomenon of liberal contrarianism—the 1990s fashion of liberal pundits and critics coming with counterintuitive takes along the lines of “actually, overturning Roe would be good for feminism.” Well, thankfully, it’s just about dead—liberals have finally learned, contra Will Rogers, to take their own side in an argument. Michael Bérubé, one of the great cultural critics of the last 20 years, reads the phenomenon its rites in a wickedly smart essay.
In late February, we posted a report from Pennsylvania by our board member Theda Skocpol of Harvard and Lara Putnam of the University of Pittsburgh on Resistance activity in the Keystone State. In mere days, it became one of our most talked-about pieces ever. No one has burrowed into how the movement is working the way Theda and Lara have. We publish it here, with some updates, for the benefit of our print readers. And finally, Robert Atkinson, another longtime friend of the journal, makes an important and novel case for a much higher minimum wage: not only in the name of fairness, but because it will spur greater economic growth.
Elsewhere, we welcome Jeffrey Isaac to our pages, with his reply to Sean Wilentz’s essay on liberalism and progressivism in the last issue. And we feature excellent book reviews by Nancy Tomes, Rachel Cohen, and Charles P. Pierce. Finally, our Recounting this issue is by Robert Gordon, a veteran of the Department of Education, on how a new and revitalized Civilian Conservation Corps could produce jobs, but even more importantly, citizens.