Krull: Call the Trump crowd anything you want — except conservative

INDIANAPOLIS — At the very least, it’s time to stop calling them conservatives.

The texts and other documentation the investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives into what led to the Jan.6 insurrection has uncovered show President Donald Trump, his aides, his advocates and his apologists are many things.

John Krull, director of
John Krull, director of

Rightwing and authoritarian?





Without question.


That remains to be determined, hence the need to investigate.

But one thing that is clear is that they aren’t conservatives.

A conservative, as the term always has been understood, is committed to a set of values. Conservatives believe in traditions. They defend the institutions and bulwarks of self-government as if they were their own children. They distrust concentrated power, particularly when it is in the hands of a single person, which is why they are so committed to the idea of limited government.

Most of all, they revere the rule of law.

They see a well-established system of laws not just as the best way to preserve liberty, but as an important line of defense against the savagery of anarchy and the tyranny of the mob.

The members of the Trump crowd adhere to none of these principles.

They defy lawful subpoenas. They traduce and disrupt the proceedings of legitimate government. They attempt to overturn legal elections just because they don’t like the result.

And they resort to violence when they don’t get their way.

In fact, the only commitment this crowd of miscreants seems to have is to getting their way and to holding on to power, whatever the cost to the nation and to its people.

That’s what the texts from former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reveal.

Those texts, particularly the ones read aloud by Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, showed that, despite later protestations from Trump and the assorted members of his amen corner that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was either not that big a deal or the work of undercover progressives, the former president’s friends and allies knew who was responsible.

They also knew it was a big deal.

If there was one dominant theme to the panicked messages Trump’s own son, his slavish devotees in the House Republican caucus and his lapdog messengers at Fox News sent to Meadows, it was that they realized that it was their monster that had been let out of its cage.

And they were scared — in fact, terrified right down to their shorts and socks — that it would destroy everything in sight.

Including them.

Perhaps the most devastating revelation was that of the series of texts Donald Trump Jr. sent to Meadows. In them, the younger Trump implored Meadows to get Trump elder to tell the mob to go home before that multitude of thugs did lasting damage to the family’s legacy.

It was uplifting to see that young Trump worried exclusively about what the Jan. 6 mayhem was doing to the family brand, not the nation itself.

(An aside: It also must have been touching for the family-values crowd to see that one of the president’s own children had to run an important message through staff because the son couldn’t count on his father to take the call or listen to him.)

Given that Meadows has all but taken a torch to the Constitution by refusing to testify about even matters that could not possibly by covered by executive privilege, it’s not surprising that the House voted to hold him in criminal contempt of Congress.

In fact, it’s appropriate.

Donald Trump and his minions in the House and the media may fulminate that the investigation is partisan or an invasion of privacy.

But it’s hard to give credence to those complaints when Republicans refused to participate in the investigation even under terms that they proposed and to which they initially agreed, and Meadows willingly supplied the texts to the House probe.

Those are the best smokescreens the former president and his enablers can conjure up, because the one thing they can’t do — under oath, at least — is say that the texts aren’t the truth.

Because they can’t deny that truth, they will lie, they will trim, they will traduce, they will duck and they will cover.

There are a lot of ways to describe such behavior.

But not one of those ways is “conservative.”

John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: John Krull: Find a new term for the Trump crowd