For years, Republicans have effectively outsourced their thought leadership to the loudmouths at the end of the bar. But perhaps the most extreme example of that trend has been the issue of guns, where the party has ceded control to a gun lobby that has built its brand on absolutism.
For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.
Conservatives spent an awful long time ignoring things: the birthers, the bigots, the xenophobes, the alternative-reality media. We had assumed that they were postcards from the fringe.
For decades, conservatives have struggled with containing crackpottery, most notably William F. Buckley's famous excommunication of the John Birch Society in the 1960s.
During dull moments at school, I admit, I not only drew soldiers shooting one another but also tanks, bombers, fighters, and even the occasional space ship with planet-destroying powers.
In 2010, conservatives won big majorities in the Wisconsin State Legislature, and I openly supported many of their reforms, including changes to collective bargaining and expansions of school choice.
We would naturally prefer not to reckon with the worst of what people do or say on the margins, but we have to. Especially if it seems possible to trace a line from vicious rhetoric on a computer screen to violent action.
In many ways, anti-anti-Trumpism mirrors Donald Trump himself because, at its core there are no fixed values, no respect for constitutional government or ideas of personal character - only a free-floating nihilism cloaked in insult, mockery, and bombast.
To finally reform higher education, we should start by asking fundamental questions, such as, Why does it take four years to get a degree?
Victimism can be seen as a generalized cultural impulse to deny personal responsibility and to obsess on the grievances of the insatiable self.
There was a time when the Republican Party could discuss possible reforms to our gun laws: Ronald Reagan himself endorsed the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban that passed in 1994.
If a university announced that henceforth, it would be offering a three-year bachelor's degree, in one stroke it would cut the cost of a college education and provide a distinctive way of competing for students - as well as put the institution on the cutting edge of reform.
As our politics have become more polarized, the essential loyalties shift from ideas to parties to tribes to individuals. Nothing else ultimately matters.
Denouncing Nazis is the easiest thing in the world: All it requires is a modicum of historical perspective and a working moral compass.
Despite the evidence that we already have too many students in higher education, the hot new idea among the political class is to double down by pushing for 'free college tuition.' The problem with the 'free college' idea is, however, not merely financial. It also reinforces the myth that college is appropriate or even possible for all students.
Since the election, President Trump has shown a persistent penchant for conspiracy-minded suggestions about his political opponents and elements of his own government.
Conservatism should be a reality-based philosophy, and the movement will be better off if it recognizes that facts really do matter.
The dumbing down of elementary and secondary education has made its way to the collegiate level; too many unprepared students are admitted despite their inability to do college-level work.
Ronald Reagan believed in America as the shining city on the hill - Morning in America. But Donald Trump has a much different vision of American greatness, of nationalism - a much darker view, I think, of the world.
I'm a conservative who likes small government and lower taxes.