In the aftermath of President Trump’s 2016 victory, many of his supporters wanted to construct an ideological worldview that would, they hoped, not only supplant traditional conservatism but redefine American politics.
As an intellectual project, it was pretty much a bust. For instance, Julius Krein started a journal, American Affairs, with the goal of providing an intellectual framework for Trumpism. As I noted at the launch, coming up with a coherent and consistent ideological program for a president who, as a point of pride, eschews ideological coherence and consistency is an impossible balancing act. Either you defend the ideas or you defend the man. You can’t really do both, because Trumpism was never an ideological phenomenon but a psychological one. No wonder that six months later, Krein, to his credit, withdrew his support of Trump and said he regretted voting for him.
Other outlets tried the same thing and ended up simply becoming cheerleaders and “Trumpsplainers” that start with the conclusion Trump is right and then work backward to prove it.
Now, in the wake of Trump’s defeat, the project to create Trumpism-without-Trump has been reborn as electoral analysis. Trump supporters claim that he bequeathed to the right and the country the makings of a new, multiethnic workers party.