It's become abundantly clear that the Republican establishment, including the supposedly conservative media outlets like National Review, are no longer the Keepers of the Faith of 'conservative orthodoxy' (a redundant term to be sure). Perhaps they never really were.
Everyone, including his most ardent supporters, has the understanding that Donald Trump is not a pure conservative, there's . We get that. But there's more to it than that. Firstly, conservatives wanted a fighter, after watching John McCain and Mitt Romney buckle like a belt in the face of a liberal media onslaught, anything less would be the equivalent of surrender. In the GOP primaries, candidate after candidate dropped when they could not stand up to Donald Trump effectively. Eloquence is wasted if it is not effective. The reason Trump won was twofold in that regard. He would not whither under attack but fight back robustly, and even more importantly, it was and is perceived that he would not roll over and allow the country to slowly sink into a socialist mire. It's the broader picture of the GOP that they have been bullied into submission not just in elections but in issue after issue. They no longer stand up for principle.
It was time someone stood up, and the Republican establishment had become too worried about their own circumstance as the loyal opposition to bother to fight for their beliefs. If they ever did believe in core conservative principles, for most of them it seems, those days are long since gone. Ergo, Trump.
Trump is not a straight line Republican or conservative. But the Venn diagram of his common beliefs with those of
Republicans conservatives contained enough overlap that the street brawler skills he brought to the table offered more than enough to compensate for his lack of pure conservative credibility on every issue. Trump is an imperfect vessel. But the GOP establishment is seen as a completely broken vessel from Paul Ryan to even, increasingly, Fox News.
Which brings us to the other reason that the flight from Republicanism has occurred among the conservative voter base. The GOP establishment ran away from it first, in principle. So why stick with them? And with the ascendancy in the GOP of Trump's brand of populist, nationalist demi-conservatism, even he is disposable as far as many conservatives are likely concerned. If he does a good job on conservative values, he'll get re-elected by his supporters (should he even win in the first place). The blind support of the GOP establishment meanwhile is done. Over. They brought it upon themselves. Indeed, they accelerated its happening by openly abandoning any pretense of conservatism in many quarters by acts of open hostility towards their current standard bearer.
The GOP and conservative media establishment are only better than the Democrats in their destruction of an outsider candidate for having not been caught rigging the system, or having the guts to try to do so at the convention floor. They openly despise Trump and in some quarters even openly support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. That is anathema to conservatism or classic liberalism. They have proven to not be the Keepers of the Faith.
That title clearly belongs to grassroots conservatives. Where the country goes from here is not clear, but the flame of classic liberalism (i.e. modern conservatism) is flickering and in danger of dying out - at least in the form of the Republican brand and party. That now, is no great loss. What is important is the ideas. A new standard bearer is required. Donald Trump is serviceable in that regard, for now. But he is not the Keeper of the Faith, despite being willing to fight for it.
So long as the ideas of Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Hayek, Tocqueville, Jefferson and the like, are alive somewhere, the flame shall not die out. Americans, and others around the world (myself included), belief in the those principles and while they may wane, they will not die, and they will be renewed eventually, because they are right. Whether the vessel for that continues to be America is a different question. Leave it with us Republican establishment, we've got this.