The National Review, an independent conservative magazine with a robust online presence, is facing the same problem conservatives and the establishment Republican party is facing: the insurgent presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. In January, the magazine published a highly-publicized special issue of the magazine, in which more than twenty prominent conservative leaders, thinkers and pundits lay out their personal grievances against Trump’s candidacy. Some of these conservatives included Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz, Weekly Standard editor-in-chief William Kristol, and former Fox News host Glenn Beck.
In an editorial featured in the issue, the editors of the magazine wrote their strongly-worded case against Trump. “He is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries,” they wrote. “Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” The editorial notes some of Trump’s positions that have changed, such as his views on abortion, gun control, health care and taxes. It then goes more in-depth, explaining the editors’ belief his current rhetoric on policies is contradictory at best and nonsensical at worst, on topics ranging from illegal immigration to the fight against ISIS. “Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself,” the editorial concludes.
In the time since the publishing of the editorial January 21st, Trump has won three out of the first four states to vote and it is likely he will win many more tonight. Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, has been aggressively anti-Trump on twitter. Yesterday, Lowry told Howard Kurtz on Fox News that he was unsure if the magazine would support Trump in the general election.
Other conservative independent outlets are facing a similar question. Bill Kristol, the editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard, another prominent conservative magazine, has said he could never support Donald Trump, even if he were to win the nomination. With Donald Trump looking like he will be the Republican party’s nominee, independent conservative outlets will be forced to decide whether or not to support him in the general election.