But observers trying to imagine what a decent right might look like after Trump should look elsewhere — to thinkers and writers who basically accept the populist turn, and whose goal is to supply coherence and intellectual ballast, to purge populism of its bigotries and inject good policy instead.
For an account of policy people working toward this goal, read Sam Tanenhaus in the latest Time magazine, talking to conservatives on Capitol Hill who are trying to forge a Trumpism-after-Trump that genuinely serves working-class families instead of just starting racially charged feuds.
For a bigger-picture defense of the nationalist ideal, read the Israeli academic Yoram Hazony’s “The Virtue of Nationalism,” an eccentric, fascinating, debatable account of nationalism’s ethical and practical superiority to the other major form of mass political organization, empire — which Hazony identifies with the global ambitions of the post-Cold War elite as well as the imperial orders of the past.
I don’t know if any of these efforts can pull the post-Trump right away from anti-intellectualism and chauvinism. But their project is the one that matters to what conservatism is right now, not what it might have been had John McCain been elected president, or had the Iraq War been something other than a misbegotten mess, or had the 2000-era opening to China gone the way free traders hoped.
And for anyone whose commitment to conservatism is defined by those now-lost possibilities, the logical turn to make goes left.