I wouldn’t call myself well-informed about politics. But I pay attention when I can. My best guess is that I’m in the top 20% of informed citizens. Yet I don’t know the political definition of conservative.
Neither do you, in all likelihood.
Under the 2D filter of life, conservatives are united by a common ideology that is supported by reason. But under the Master Persuader filter, conservative is a word created for the purpose of identity persuasion. Nothing more. According to my filter, conservative has no logical or coherent reason for existing. While I assume it once had a noble birth, at this point it is just a hodgepodge of ideas that disagree with Democrats. Some of the individual ideas have merit, but they don’t belong together in the same bag for any reason that is obvious to me.
A year ago I could not have said what I just said without being drummed off of the Internet. But Trump has laid bare the ridiculousness of the conservative label. In 2016, the word conservative can be seen as a tool of influence – a shaming tool – used by the party elites to bring people together under their handpicked puppet. Conservative doesn’t have a normal definition that is useful and widely understood. That’s why it works so well for persuasion. If it had a rigid definition, lots of people could find a reason to disagree. But by leaving the definition of conservative in ambiguity, people see nothing with which they can disagree. That is classic persuasion.
Trump uses the same form of strategic ambiguity. It’s a thing.
Some of you will write coherent definitions of conservatism in the comments. I’m sure that definition exists. But if you walk out on the street and ask random Republicans to define what conservative means, they will probably say something about “small government” before voting for whoever is likely to increase its size, such as any of the Republican candidates still in the race.
Donald Trump has tried to game the system by labelling himself a “common sense conservative.” When you add common sense to the front of conservative you can effectively drop the conservative part. Trump correctly treats the word conservative as a throw-away, because it is. It has no independent meaning in people’s minds. Conservative is a word used by con men to maintain their power.
So, Is Marco Rubio correct that Trump is a “con man”? Yes, Rubio is 100% right. Trump is a con man in a party of con people running against another party of con people.
He’s just better at it.
P.S. – What is a progressive? I have no idea what that is either. Same argument applies. It is a word of persuasion, not reason. You can test that by adding “common sense” to the front of it and seeing that progressive instantly becomes the throw-away part.