From Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry at National Review, Toward a Conservative Populism

But there is also a key element of conservatism that Trump has either ignored or contradicted. Missing from both his policies and his rhetoric is any interest in freeing markets or reducing the federal government to something closer to its proper constitutional dimensions.

Trump promises not to limit government but to manage it better. He will hire the best, smartest people, who will come up with terrific plans, and the results will be excellent. What’s wrong with our government, on Trump’s telling, is not that it has overextended itself, taking on tasks that it has no business performing and by its very nature cannot perform well. It is that “we are led by very, very stupid people” rather than the “terrific” people who would staff his administration and bring America back to greatness.

None of this, of course, has particularly hurt Trump to this point. His success so far is, in part, a testament to how limited government and free markets are the weak sisters of conservatism. Yes, voters say they want less government — it’s an impulse built into the country — but there just aren’t that many voters highly motivated by those causes. When push comes to shove, voters care more about national strength, jobs, and their own government benefits than the relative abstractions of a smaller state and robust markets.

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