At the risk of shameless Dispatch cross-promotion, I thoroughly enjoyed Jonah’s “Hump Day Epistle” yesterday. It explored—as only Jonah can—the difference between conservatism and partisanship. I’d urge you to read the entire thing, as he weighs into the battle over whether you can be “conservative” and vote for Joe Biden—or conservative and vote for Donald Trump. Here’s Jonah:
I do think you can be a conservative and still want to vote for Biden. I wouldn’t vote for him, but I know people who are pro-life, in favor of limited government, and all the other things we usually associate with conservatism who will eagerly vote for Biden if he’s the Democratic nominee. Is that the wrong thing to do? Let’s say it is. That doesn’t transform them into liberals. It just means they’re wrong.
And you can be a conservative and still be wrong. Likewise, you can also be a conservative and not be a good or loyal Republican.
He’s making a key point. Once conservatives understand that “conservative” and “Republican” are not synonyms, our electoral and political choices get very hard. For example, applying definitions of conservatism that prevailed before the 2016 GOP primary, there will not be a conservative on a major-party ballot in 2020.