In what appears like a coordinated hit, FOX News aggressively targeted Trump during the first Republican presidential debate. And with staggering speed, the Narrative swiftly shifted from Trump holding his own and even being identified as the winner in online polls (and Taiwanese cartoons) to the Beltway Right declaring a disastrous night for the Trump campaign and conservative organizations moving to freeze out The Donald.
The catalyst, of course, was Strong Professional Woman and GQ eye candy Megyn Kelly trotting out the curdled Democratic talking point of a “War on Women.” Trump skillfully reframed and launched a broadside against political correctness and conservative hate target Rosie O’Donnell. After the debate, Trump counterattacked Kelly and the White Knights of the Beltway Right leapt to Kelly’s defense, notably lumpy cuck cliché Eric Erickson. It’s worth noting even leftists seemed indifferent to the attack on O’Donnell. As the former progressive champion is already reduced to the status of a punchline in a Deadpool trailer, neckbeards had to be content with avenging Kelly’s outraged honor.
Trump’s continued attack against Kelly was probably a mistake in political terms, having already cost him his key advisor Roger Stone and shifting the national discussion away from immigration into a soap opera about internal dissent within Trump’s campaign. Yet on a deeper level, this might be the best thing Trump could have done. He is at his best when dismantling the efforts at shaming and signaling by his political opponents on both Left and Right, rather than when he’s trying to describe a political platform during the confines of a 10-person debate.
When Trump was forced into that position, it did not go well. Trump’s comeback against Kelly aside, he showed his utter lack of preparation. Having launched his campaign on the accusation that the Mexican government is exporting its underclass to the United States, it seemed he didn’t even bother to look up the easily available evidence that this is true. His answer on healthcare actually showed awareness of the deeper issues involved, but was delivered in such a rambling fashion that the only phrase that stood out was his odd claim that single-payer healthcare would have worked in the past, but not now. (One couldn’t help but wonder if he meant that such a system would work well, as it once did in Scandinavia, in a country still overwhelmingly White.) And when asked about his evident shifting positions on various issues, including abortion, Trump gave his one politician-style answer, referring vaguely to his “evolution” and making a context-free reference to Ronald Reagan.
Yet none of this really matters. It’s not as if other candidates offering up polished platitudes had anything more substantial to offer. After all, Jeb Bush spent the debate denying he ever supported Common Core and admitting he would pass amnesty, but would simply call it something different. And Trump isn’t being attacked on anything real. Instead, he’s being attacked because of the very things that make him so popular—his indifference to the Beltway Right’s opinion, his naked hostility to the press, and that self-confidence and assurance that borders on megalomania. The result may very well make him stronger.
The Beltway Right’s critiques of Trump are weak objections offered up by weak men. Take Eric Erickson’s prissy fretting about Trump’s attack on Kelly being a “bridge too far” and pompously lecturing about common decency. This from a guy who called a justice of the Supreme Court a “goat fucking child molester,” as the Trump campaign delightedly reminded reporters. And all it has done is embolden those making charges of “racism” against Erickson himself and calling for RedState to purge its comment section of racism, homophobia, and whatever other invented sins leftists have created.
Similarly, Jonah Goldberg and Kevin Williamson moaned about Trump’s “rudeness” and his being “ungallant.” Goldberg even lazily signaled about “mouth-breathing anti-Semites and white nationalists.” In both the policies they support and the rhetorical tropes they deploy, the Beltway Right apparatchiks are just leftists a couple years behind the times. (You should at least be up to “shitlord” by now, Jonah.)
The heart of their objection is that Trump is emboldening people who should not be allowed to participate in the national conversation. As Kevin Williamson puts it:
It is true that the our inability to control our borders is an existential threat to these United States and that the crisis of illegal immigration is felt most intensely in downscale communities that do not register on Washington’s radar or Wall Street’s. But Trump’s buffoonery makes it less likely rather than more likely that something substantive will be done on the question. It is the case that the cult of political correctness is very much alive, that it is used to stifle criticism of powerful people and institutions and to render certain thoughts unspeakable. But if your solution to political correctness is to abandon manners and standards of conduct wholesale, then you are simply muddying the waters, making it less likely that we can respond intelligently to the little autocrats when they pipe up.
Yet if the inability to control our borders is an “existential” threat, meaning one that actively endangers the continued existence of the nation, why is the Beltway Right so blasé? After all, contra his complaints about “Trump’s buffoonery,” the only reason people are even talking about immigration is because Trump made it an issue, as The Donald himself pointed out during the debate. Williamson himself has characterized himself in the past as a “squish” on this apparently “existential” challenge. Trump has proven Peter Brimelow correct when he stated at the American Renaissance conference that all it would take is “one speech” to move immigration to the forefront of political consciousness.
More importantly, the Beltway Right, and National Review specifically, has gone out of its way to drive those who wanted to do something “substantive” on immigration out of the movement. Peter Brimelow, who used to write NR cover stories about the danger mass immigration posed to both the GOP and the nation, was famously purged over the issue, and John O’Sullivan demoted. National Review continuously crusades against political leaders like Pat Buchanan who actually would have done something about the immigration disaster and whose politics are far more moderate than many of the magazine’s own past editorials.
Even today, when former National Review contributor Ann Coulter penned the bestselling Adios America, a tightly reasoned case against the catastrophe American leaders have invited, the magazine’s sole acknowledgement was a bizarre non-review. Author Jay Nordlinger acted almost as if he didn’t know who Coulter was, ignoring her own past with the magazine and her termination, which led to her coining the #cuckservative prequel to describe the NR editors, “girlyboys.” Coulter was fired largely because of her comment in her post 9/11 column about converting Muslims to Christianity; as Eric Erickson showed with his initial reaction to #cuckservatism, references to Christianity are only permitted in the Beltway Right when it’s time to explain to the proles why they aren’t allowed to fight back against the people who hate them.
Goldberg makes the ritualistic invocations of Reagan in his attempted takedown of Trump, but as Nordlinger casually admits in his article, mass immigration has made Reagan’s career impossible. Even as President Obama executes an astonishingly overt and expansive program of demographic transformation more permanent and devastating than any military occupation, NR and the conservative movement remain utterly silent, focusing their attention on fedora tipping for m’lady and joining forces with noted American patriot Chuck Schumer to kvetch about Iran.
More importantly, it is supremely dishonest to pretend that the deliberately intellectually stunted Beltway Right is even open to serious discussion on important issues. The contemporary American conservative movement can’t even indulge the nostalgic conservatism of a Russell Kirk (who, we should remember, endorsed Pat Buchanan). Instead, conservatism today is a tired series of clichés about “American exceptionalism,” continuously redefined “values,” which are nonetheless defended as eternal, and faux patriotism towards the oxymoron of a “proposition nation.”
Serious scholars within the conservative movement were systematically driven out if they exceeded these narrow boundaries. M.E. Bradford, whose failed nomination to the National Endowment for the Humanities is widely regarded as the first battle of the civil war between the “paleoconservatives” and “neoconservatives,” expressed an authentic conservative position when he wrote:
To apply the rhetoric of the common good to the last thirty years of civil rights revolution is to ask whether the changes produced by Court and Congress in the official situation of the American Negro have been worth the danger to us all which went with these transformations of the United States Constitution: the risk of converting a nomocratic, customary, procedural government into a power able to attempt whatever it thinks fit; into a teleocratic instrument, ready and able to do whatever it defines as good. It is to ask whether the tradition of restricted Federal authority produced and natured by two hundred years of American history must give way because other grievances or misfortunes of one segment of our population are more important than limitations on the scope and outreach of the law which honor the liberty of all free men – or at least attempted to do so before the fundamental law was reconstructed by judicial ingenuity into something new and strange.”
In contrast, Matt Lewis tells us:
I fear that more people on both ends of the political spectrum are embracing what should be fringe views in America. I can’t police the left, but my hope in writing this is to sound the alarm on the right. And message is simple: Be optimistic about America. Embrace our pluralistic society. And don’t let these vile goddamn racists pollute our message. They are not our friends, they are not on our team, and conservative leaders must roundly condemn them.
Apologizing in advance for my Eric Erickson-like language, but this pedo-faced simpleton has less insight into American politics than a flyover country CR chair snorting coke in a bathroom at CPAC.
And since Conservatism Inc. successfully drove out the Bradfords and replaced them with noodle-armed pushovers who think Charles Krauthammer is heavy reading, it’s no surprise the emerging Identitarian movement has no patience even for the ideological premises of paleoconservatism.
None of this was necessary. But this is the future they chose. By refusing to take action on what is becoming a civilizational crisis, and even banning serious discussion about it within the sanctioned American Right, conservatives not only invited the physical dispossession of their demographic base but their ideological dispossession by a new force that is alone capable of resisting the Death of the West.
Donald Trump, of course, is not a part of that movement. He may not even be the most hardline Republican candidate running for President on immigration. Yet he is a herald of what comes next because, even if his campaign ends tomorrow, he has shown the White base of the Republican Party is as impatient with Conservatism Inc. as they are with the “liberal media.”
They are not White Nationalists or even racially conscious, but they know the leaders of the American conservative movement gave away their country so liberals wouldn’t call them mean names. The frenzied attacks on Trump are a desperate attempt to break his threat to the Beltway Right’s control. Unfortunately for Conservatism Inc., its contempt of Donald Trump is being interpreted (accurately) as contempt towards its own voters. And unless those voters are given the choice of supporting someone who they think will actually resist their dispossession, they are going to stay home and once again, the Republicans are going to lose.
Donald Trump does not have the support of a majority of Republican voters. But he has the power, and perhaps the willingness, to destroy Republican chances in the next election cycle if he can maintain his level of popular support. As we know, the power to destroy a thing is the power to control it. Today, Trump has that power over the American Right. And perhaps in a far shorter time than many expect, so will we.