I like the slogan on Donald Trump's hats: "Make America Great Again."
The sentiment strikes a chord with most conservatives, who fear that our nation is in the midst of a great decline. A recent article in Fortune magazine highlighted several reasons to worry, noting that some say we're "overstretched militarily, ill-prepared technologically, at-risk financially, or lacking dynamism in the face of influential, new competitors."
So when a legendary billionaire comes along promising to reverse all of that, people take notice. Everyone from Alabama's Senator Jeff Sessions to the New England Patriot's Tom Brady have been seen sporting Trump's hat.
But while conservatives should certainly support the message, we shouldn't support the man.
Before conservative readers dismiss this opinion as just another attack from the Republican Party establishment, know this: I'm one of you – a movement conservative who thinks the party's bosses have wheeled and dealed our nation to the precipice. I regularly write about how the establishment is embarrassingly weak, often at odds with true conservatism, and sometimes even traitorous to the party's own platform.
I'm no late-comer, either. When I was 20-years old I briefly left college to work on Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign in 1996 (even then the establishment dismissed his warnings about illegal immigration and ridiculed his proposal for a border fence).
To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, I was tea party when tea party wasn't cool, and I've been in the movement ever since. So you won't see any Bush, Christi, or Kasich bumper stickers on my car. But you won't see any Trump stickers, either.
It's not that I find Trump's proposals or even much of his rhetoric unsound or distasteful. We need that wall, and I'm tired of playing nice with liberals.
What I have a problem with is Trump's liberal record – an extreme liberal record that should disqualify him from being the conservative party's nominee for president.
For instance, one of the most egregious violations of liberty in recent years was the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The justices ruled that eminent domain could be used to seize private property not just for public uses like building roads or bridges, but to sell to developers in hopes of gathering higher taxes from whatever they build. Want to keep the farm in your family? Sorry, they said, the county can seize the land and sell it to a Ford dealership.
So what did Trump think about that decision?
"I happen to agree with it 100 percent," Trump said on Fox News after the ruling in 2005. "If you have a person living in an area that's not even necessarily a good area, and government ... wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work ... now, I know it might not be their choice, but move the person to a better place and yet create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good."
So much for private property (by the way, New London seized the homes, but the development was never built).
Then there was that time Trump said he was "very pro-choice" during an appearance on "Meet the Press" in 1999. He also wrote that he supported an assault weapons ban in his book, "The America We Deserve." Members of the National Rifle Association, and those who pay attention to this issue, know that such a ban would actually grab most rifles used for hunting and home defense since the definition is so vague.
Trump also told Larry King that he was "very liberal when it comes to health care" and that he even believed in "universal healthcare."
Trump was even a registered Democrat as recently as 2009, and let's not even count how much money he has donated to Democrats, or shall we say, contributed to campaigns to defeat conservatives.
Sorry, Trumpsters. You cannot square those words and deeds with conservatism. And while we should always welcome converts, we shouldn't trust them to be our leaders until they've proven themselves beyond a campaign.
Meanwhile, we can make America great again, but we'll have to do it without Donald Trump.