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.”