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Will conservative movement survive Trump?

The multiple and very serious investigations into President Trump’s potential criminal activity appear to be coming to a head. This will mark a critical point in American history and for the future of the conservative movement.

It is expected that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a lifelong conservative Republican, will soon issue the final report in his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, which could result in additional indictments. The investigation centers around the Russian government efforts to manipulate, disinform and divide Americans on various social media platforms to swing the election to Trump over Hillary Clinton. To aid in these efforts, Russian hackers broke into computer systems at the Democratic National Committee and hacked into email accounts of Clinton campaign officials. Clinton is despised by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for her actions and words as secretary of state during the Obama administration. Putin blames Clinton for instigating unrest and rebellion in the Baltic areas against Putin’s reign. Furthermore, Clinton has long favored tough and crippling sanctions against Putin’s regime for his expansionist and undemocratic tendencies.

Thus far Mueller has indicted and or earned guilty pleas and verdicts from 34 individuals and three companies, with the latest being long-time Trump political adviser Roger Stone. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will likely spend the rest of his life in prison as a result of the probe. What remains to be seen is if Mueller will be able to tie Trump himself into conspiring with Russian officials in the effort and what promises were made in return. The Unites States has never seen the likes of anything like this before. Russia is perhaps America’s most significant adversary and Putin, a former KGB agent, has long vowed revenge for his country’s loss in the Cold War.

The Mueller investigation is far from the end of Trump’s legal issues. The Southern District of New York has essentially already proven Trump is guilty of making illegal campaign expenditures to keep multiple women he had extramarital affairs with from speaking publicly during the campaign. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards’s political career ended as a result of a similar scandal several years ago. It has been widely reported that the Southern District is investigating Trump and his businesses for additional and even more serious criminal activities.

The New York attorney general’s office is investigating Trump’s charity for wrongdoing and has already convinced a judge to shut down the Trump Foundation due to a “pattern of illegality.”

Trump’s inaugural committee is now under federal investigation in a possible “pay to play” scandal which additionally involves millions of dollars currently unaccounted for.

In the meantime, the Washington Post reports that as President, Trump has lied to the American people some 8,158 times as of late January. Former Presidents Nixon and Clinton told one big lie each, which sparked national crises resulting in a resignation and impeachment.

Neither Clinton nor Nixon had propaganda machines like Trump enjoys. They didn’t have a Fox News Network dedicating itself to misinformation, spin and outright lying. Although neither had particularly good relations with the mainstream media, Nixon nor Clinton would ever have dreamed of dictating to Americans which news organizations to watch or to attempt to discredit American journalism itself. Neither sunk to the levels that Trump has by vilifying and delegitimizing American law enforcement agencies like the FBI. As a result, Trump remains very popular with the base of voters who elected him. Rural, older, white voters without college degrees overwhelmingly support Trump. Since they obey Trump’s instructions on news media choices, most have very little knowledge or understanding of the serious legal issues facing him, his circle of advisors and family members. Others less generous would simply say they don’t care. With the American public at large, Trump is historically unpopular.

As the investigations do in fact come to head, it is exceedingly important to the future of this nation, that leaders of the intellectual wing of the conservative movement speak out strongly and bravely against Trump. Trump isn’t a conservative. He represents the bottom on the barrel of American conservativism. He doesn’t believe in smaller government. He doesn’t believe in less federal spending, he is in no way a social or religious conservative. While his slogan may be “America First,” he has proven again and again he has no real interest in this country and our citizenry. He kowtows to bigots and flames our nation’s divides for his own political benefit. He is for Trump and only Trump. He is a con-man. He is a pathological liar. And he is very likely a criminal.

This country needs a center-right movement filled with new ideas and fresh solutions. This country does not need propaganda, lies, fake national emergencies and stunning ignorance.

No conservative should feel any obligation to him, because he claims to be one of you. No conservative should feel an obligation to him because he highjacked the party to which you belong. There’s a reason neither President Bush supported him even against Clinton. There’s a reason Barry Goldwater’s widow and son didn’t support him, even against Clinton. There is good reason lifelong conservatives like George Will, Bill Kristol, Joe Scarborough, David Brooks, and even Erik Erikson are now relegated to the political wilderness rather than support Trump. Sadly, an overwhelming number of conservative leaders still publicly express support for Trump, despite the fact he’s a poser and fraud to their movement.

Donald Trump is destined for the trash heap of history. Will the conservative movement go down with him? We will soon find out.

Lachlan McIntosh is a political consultant based in Charleston. He consults for Democratic and independent candidates throughout the United States. He is a former executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party and aid to Governor Jim Hodges.

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