In a special issue titled "Against Trump,"
the 65-year-old magazine founded by William F. Buckley railed against Trump's "unmoored" and "opportunistic" populism. The editors published a scathing editorial on the GOP front-runner, while 22 conservative thinkers weighed in on why they think Trump poses a threat to American conservatism.
National Review's outspoken opposition to Trump has already yielded tangible results: Late Thursday night, the Republican National Committee disinvited the magazine from participating in the February 25 GOP debate.
But whether the united front curbs Trump's popularity among the conservative base, or merely reinforces it, remains to be seen.
Here are highlights from National Review's editorial and excerpts from 10 of the participants in the latest issue:
Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.
Trump's potential primary victory would provide Hillary Clinton with the easiest imaginable path to the White House. But it's far worse than that. If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government. This is a crisis for conservatism.
L. Brent Bozell:
The GOP base is clearly disgusted and looking for new leadership. Enter Donald Trump, not just with policy prescriptions that challenge the cynical GOP leadership but with an attitude of disdain for that leadership -- precisely in line with the sentiment of the base. Many conservatives are relishing this, but ah, the rub. Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all.
Trump has made a career out of egotism, while conservatism implies a certain modesty about government. The two cannot mix.
Like the angels in heaven who rejoice for every new believer, we should rejoice for Donald Trump's conversion to conservatism. But we should not put a new conservative in charge of conservatism or the country, so that he does not become puffed up with conceit and fall into condemnation.
Isn't Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn't the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?
Worst of all, Trump's brawling, blustery, mean-spirited public persona serves to associate conservatives with all the negative stereotypes that liberals have for decades attached to their opponents on the right.
Edwin Meese III:
At a time when the nation is suffering under one of the most divisive and incompetent presidents in history, our people need positive, unifying leadership, not negative, destructive political rhetoric.
America cannot afford to elect a man who is not rooted in conservatism. And Donald Trump, a political con man who sympathizes with hit man Vladimir Putin and "Republicans" such as Charlie Crist, manifestly is not.
Trump is an unbalanced force. He is the politicized American id. Should his election results match his polls, he would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime.
We are entering an era when people alive at this moment may live to see a day when American cities are left in radioactive ruins. We need all the wisdom, courage, and dedication in the next president... to save us and our children from such a catastrophe. A shoot-from-the-hip, bombastic showoff is the last thing we need or can afford.