The Spectator

Letters | 19 May 2016

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Republican party schisms

Sir: Jacob Heilbrunn astutely analyses the predicament Donald Trump creates for America’s neoconservatives (‘Lumped with Trump’, 14 May). But the ideological schisms within the Republican party are even more profound than he indicates. In fact, Trump not only divides the populist right from movement conservatives — and neoconservatives — based in Washington, DC, he also divides neoconservatives against themselves. William Kristol, the neoconservative kingpin in Washington, has lately found himself under intense attack by David Horowitz, a California-based ex-radical-turned-rightist in the classic neoconservative mould. Horowitz has excoriated Kristol for dividing Republicans and effectively helping Hillary Clinton. Trump, Horowitz argues, is not only obviously better than Clinton on domestic policy but is also apt to be a better friend to Israel, in part because Trump talks about renegotiating Obama’s deal with Iran, while Clinton supports the deal as it exists.

Pro-Trump neoconservatives, like pro-Trump conservatives of other schools, do not have nearly the media presence that anti-Trump conservatives do. Yet Horowitz is far from alone: an anonymous group of writers in California, who evidently have ‘Straussian’ neoconservative leanings, have recently started an intellectual Trumpist website called the Journal of American Greatness.

DC-based movement conservatism commands the loyalty of far fewer voters than anyone had suspected. The mirage of a powerful and unified conservative movement was but an illusion fostered by a dozen journalists in the nation’s capital intoxicated by their fame within the pages of their publications. But nobody in the country at large listens to them — not even the neoconservatives in places like California. So who needs Bill Kristol?
Daniel McCarthy
Editor of the American Conservative Alexandria, Virginia

What Trump represents

Sir: I don’t think the Trump phenomenon would have traction in any other country (Leading article, 7 May). His success is bound up with an innate American worship of financial fortune — a worship that is deeply in the culture.

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