David Brooks provides examples of how Trump supporters respond to all efforts to deal with the problems of illegal immigrants by shouting "amnesty". Amnesty must be avoided at all costs because all violations of the law must be punished. He argues that this is a departure from conservative philosophy which has been opposed to statism because reality it more complex than state bureaucrats can imagine. He concludes that Trump's political party has become a party of liberal trolls. His base rallies against every idea that can be connected to liberalism. The Republican Party has lost its moral base in the process.
Brooks is correct. The Republican Party is not a conservative party. Conservatism has been diluted into anti-liberalism. The implication is that the Republican Party was a conservative party before the arrival of Donald Trump. In my view, Trump's takeover of the Republican Party tells a different story. It has not been a conservative party for a long time. It cultivated the base that Trump has exploited since he assumed the presidency. Trump just made a process that has been underway for decades more visible. David Brooks, and many of his friends in the GOP, may be conservatives but they have not been representative of the Republican Party since Richard Nixon adopted his "Southern Strategy". It captured the South but it lost its conservative soul along the way.