It’s been pointed out frequently that Donald Trump is no kind of conservative, that he is a New Yorker comfortable in that culture, a social liberal, a show biz guy, has many Jewish friends and associates, has an Orthodox Jewish convert daughter married to an Orthodox Jew, and so forth. This reflects a misunderstanding about what Trump represents, and where he comes from.
The political culture of greater New York City is most definitely progressive, but has an element I have described as authoritarian liberalism. Liberal and progressive ideas and policies are great, but will run into the problem that things must get done and things must run. If it doesn’t work out in Detroit, so be it; nobody cares about Detroit and cars can and will be built elsewhere. The same thing happened many other places.
New York is different. Nostalgia for the decrepit, sleazy Manhattan of the 70’s that you sometimes see aside, New York must function as the de facto capital of finance and culture. Giuliani was the first manifestation of this; people had had it with morons like John Lindsay and hard core progressives like David Dinkins. Giuliani was a Republican, but a liberal New York Republican. He made a name cleaning up the Mafia, an unfortunate artifact of earlier times. Michael Bloomberg kept up pretty much the same policies in a more low-key manner.
People can live with all kinds of liberal policies but they cannot live without basic security. Liberals in most places never had to deal with this. Conservatives in the sticks passed law and order laws in the state legislature, and put crime more under control. New York City is not run by the people upstate, so this didn’t happen the same way there. The only way to get law and order in NYC was to have it locally imposed.
Trump is not a conservative, as we mean it, but an authoritarian liberal. Such a person can only come from New York City, so liberals elsewhere will hate him and conservatives elsewhere will be confused by him.
In the old days, a person like this would have just been a conservative Democrat. But those days are long gone.
Giuliani was put in place by a populace that saw things gone frighteningly out of control, and tacitly accepted by a power structure that saw things could use some cleaning up, although they didn’t want to come out and admit it.
Trump is the same phenomenon on a national level. People are generally comfortable with liberal policies, but not comfortable with disorder. The nation at large is a lot like NYC in the 70’s- affluent but disorganized, with feckless, incompetent leaders and basic order unraveling.
I don’t think, despite what you read, that the establishment is all that opposed to Trump. They would rather have him than some Republican yahoo from the sticks. They probably realize immigration is out of control and damaging the social fabric, and the Obama years of college professor governance have been poor. NYC went from Giuliani to the much more restrained Bloomberg, back to the full progressive DiBlasio. I think liberals think they could live with Trump.
America is a progressive country. Politics ranges from raging leftism to sane centrism. LBJ was followed by Nixon, Carter by Reagan. Obama was not as liberal as either, and didn’t push progressive causes too hard. Likely enough we are in for more managerial liberalism, but eventually we will need a break. It might or might not be with Trump.