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Andrew Dixon | Collegian

America is trying to redefine what con­ser­vatism is going to be, Pro­fessor of Pol­itics and Director of American Studies Kevin Portteus said at the “Con­ser­vatism after Trump” forum spon­sored by Young Amer­icans for Freedom on Feb. 24.

The event on Wednesday fea­tured Portteus and Pro­fessor of History and Dean of Social Sci­ences Paul Moreno, who addressed a group of nearly 20 stu­dents on the future of the con­ser­v­ative party, post Pres­ident Donald Trump. Senior and YAF Pres­ident Sean Collins asked the speakers six ques­tions before opening up the dis­cussion to students.

Portteus said Trump changed the course of America and the political party system in a way he was blind to before.

“I was standing at the Hillsdale County Fair with my 9‑year-old son waiting to ride the scrambler. And I looked around, and it was just a sea of people with MAGA hats on,” Portteus said. “And look, I’ve been here for the 2008 cycle, 2012 cycle. This is a Repub­lican area, so people would be taking their McCain signed back home with him from the fair, but people were taking 30 Trump signs home looking to pass out to all their friends and rel­a­tives. This was late Sep­tember, and that’s when I figured out yeah, he’s actually got a chance. If this is hap­pening in Hillsdale, Michigan, it is hap­pening all over the country.”

Moreno said Trump did some­thing the country has never seen. He was anti-Repub­lican Moreno said, and that is what res­onated. But Moreno added that he fears what political reper­cus­sions there may be from the Trump era.

“Talking about the sort of the perils facing political thinking, about the perils between even intel­lec­tuals within Hillsdale College, can be labeled as abetting domestic ter­rorism,” Moreno said. “I think there’s a real threat, not to cul­tural con­ser­vatism, but reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives and intel­lectual conservatism.”

YAF Vice Pres­ident Carl Miller, a senior, said he was excited to host the two guests, and found the talk very beneficial. 

“I thought it was really insightful,” Miller said. “I thought that it helped provide some direction for where con­ser­vatism is heading, with the Repub­lican party as its elec­toral vehicle, and how we can pursue real, mean­ingful wins against the onslaught of leftist policies.”