Conservatism No Longer a 'Dignified, Useful Persuasion' Because of Trump: Pulitzer-Winning Commentator George Will

Conservative icon George Will said that President Donald Trump had altered the Republican Party's historic identity to such an extent that conservatism is no longer a "dignified, useful persuasion."

Speaking on CNN's New Day Thursday morning, the Pulitzer-winning political commentator bemoaned the party's unquestioning support of the president.

"The Republican Party has always had factions," noted Will. "Unfortunately, the Republcian Party has no faction today. It is entirely Mr. Trump's Party."

New Day Co-anchor John Berman asked Will, "Do you think the Republican Party any longer stands for all the values you write about in this book?" referring to Will's newest text, The Conservative Sensibility.

"Certainly not, or I might not have written the book. This book is to say this is what conservatism has been. It's a dignified, useful persuasion, and it can be again," Will replied.

Will, a frequent Trump critic, also said that the 45th president has caused more more lasting damage to the country than President Richard Nixon did while in office.

"Nixon's burglaries and other abuses of power were surreptitious. They were secret and went exposed. They were tidied up and we moved on," he said. "What Mr. Trump is doing that is damaging to the country is public and constant. It is a bell he's ringing that can't be un-rung. He is putting into our civic discourse a level of conversation and of name-calling and of abuse that will now seem perfectly normal in the future. Try to imagine any president, prior to this one, referring overseas to an opponent as he did to Mr. Biden, as quoting a dictator of North Korea, actually misquoting him, saying that Mr. Biden is a 'low-IQ idiot.'"

Trump Poland
President Donald Trump participates in a Polish-American reception in the East Room at the White House on June 12. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Trump's demeanor, candid criticism of opponents and name-calling has been the source of constant, and at times contentious, debate during his presidency.

Representatives from both parties have expressed concern about a lack of civility characterizing American politics and what role the commander-in-chief has had in cultivating angry partisanship.

A PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist poll taken after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October and the attempted mail bombings of multiple media outlets and politicians' offices, found that 74 percent of Americans thought the overall tone of U.S. politics had deteriorated since Trump took office. Forty-five percent said they were "very concerned" the negative tone and lack of civility in Washington would lead to violence or acts of terror.

Democrats, including California Representative Maxine Waters, have responded to Republican calls for civility by pointing to the antagonistic tone promoted by Trump. Last year, amid outrage over family separations caused by Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, Waters drew rebuke from Republicans after she called for protesters to "push back" against members of the Trump administration figures.

"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere," she said.

When Republicans responded with outrage and called for civility in politics, Waters called out Trump.

"Let me just say that I think every reasonable person has concluded that the President of the United States of America has advocated violence," she said. "If you want to talk about civility, you start with the President of the United States, and you implore him not to continue to promote violence, not to continue to promote divisiveness."

Hillary Clinton also scoffed at concerns about civility as Democrats more vociferously criticized the president. "Give me a break! What is more uncivil and cruel than taking children away? It should be met with resolve and strength. And if some of that comes across as a little uncivil, well, children's lives are at stake; their futures are at stake. That is that ridiculous concept of bothsideism," she told The Guardian.