By Jerry Salyer
An argument can be made that paleoconservatives saw Trump’s victory coming, as paleoconservatives sometimes describe America’s political trajectory as “anarcho-tyranny”
As the media and political establishment continues to reel from the unexpected outcome of this past Tuesday, it may be worth noting that for at least one generally overlooked group of political commentators the Trump phenomenon did not quite come as a totally unexpected bolt from the blue. I refer to those who are sometimes called “paleoconservatives.”
The tongue-in-cheek term paleoconservative emerged during the Reagan years as a response to neoconservatism, and signifies a general commitment to the principles of the Old Right, as well as a sympathy for (if not outright embrace of) archetypally Catholic principles such as subsidiarity. In particular, paleoconservatism signifies a firm rejection of the neoconservative idea that the US military should be employed as a missionary force for spreading democracy throughout the world. Under the leadership of Catholic classicist Thomas Fleming, then-editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, paleoconservatives have in recent decades severely criticized as imprudent and immoral the Clinton administration’s intervention in Bosnia, the George W. Bush administration’s occupation of Iraq, and the Obama administration’s more recent attempt to create an “Arab Spring.”
Paleoconservatives have also argued for domestic policies much like those Trump has used as the cornerstone of his campaign: A much more restrictive immigration policy, especially with respect to immigrants from Muslim countries, and a protectionist approach to American industry.