Though I’ve been on vacation, I was able to catch the first Republican Presidential debate online, as well as a ridiculous live focus group, led by a man whom the gods hated so much that they cursed him, not only with ugliness, but with eternally ill-fitting menswear.
I don’t think I watched a single Republican debate debate in 2011-12; I watched this one simply for Trump. Sadly, the rules dictated that other candidates had to speak, too, and I was reminded why I can’t stand these things.
It’s expected that people like me are exhausted, to the point of nausea, with the endless repetitions of GOP idealism: The American Dream . . . uniting, not dividing this country . . . bashing “Washington insiders” (who aren’t them) . . . and the bullshit badassery of Republicans confronting “radical Islam.” The latter was particularly titillating to the crowd, as it allowed them to indulge in a government-sanctioned racism, which lies just on the edge of the forbidden. Some might think that such talk leads, eventually, to a deeper understanding of identity; for the past 15 years, it has led solely to pointless wars (pointless for us, at least).
Anyway, shouldn’t all of this not just annoy me but annoy the middle-of-the-road Republican voters as well? Apparently not. Apparently, we’ll have to wait another 20 years, when Baby Boomers have left the scene, to experience some kind of rhetorical change on the American Right. Or perhaps it will never change. Perhaps long into America’s transition into a country of mass slums, abandoned strip malls, and walled luxury communities, some new scion of Prescott Bush will talk about his 4-percent GDP-growth projections and eagerness to attract all Americans through the power of conservative values.
Trump parroted some of this meaningless claptrap, of course, but he generally answered questions with honesty, such as in his legendary “Rosie O’Donnell” exchange.
As Jack Donovan pointed out on one of our last podcasts, we misunderstand human nature—or female nature, rather—when we imagine that most women will be attracted to the violent fantasies of lesbian extremists or the silliness of Pussy Riot, FEMEN, and SJWs. In the end, women don’t like danger, and women want to look pretty. The feminism that has triumphed is that which is compatible with both female nature and postmodern capitalism. “Feminists” like Megyn Kelly will adhere to their traditional motherly and nanny roles of policing language and manners in order to ensure “fairness,” which includes treating all women as precious and special creatures, who should never suffer insults. They thus, ironically, reintroduce traditional gender norms into the post-patriarchal workplace.
And one last note on the debate. Rand Paul effectively disappeared on stage, with the exception of his exchange with Chris Christie over data collection and surveillance, in which he seemed like an impassioned, if off-the-shelf, libertarian-conservative. Paul’s attacks on Trump were incoherent and off-target. Worse, he just seemed like an average conservative doofus. All Republicans like to talk about their love of capitalism and individual rights during the primaries, so Paul’s candidacy keeps raising a question—What’s the point? Contrast this with Ron Paul’s 2008 performances. Whatever you might think of him and libertarianism, Paul differentiated himself from the rest of the field, which was then still caught up in Bush-era neoconservatism.
Now it is Trump who is the different one. He was the most “antiwar” Republican candidate, and the only person who seems to viscerally (if not quite intellectually) grasp the reality of European-American displacement.
Is this the end of the Ron Paul movement, which began in 2007 as a heady, though quite genuine, antiwar alternative to the staus quo? Could we have seen this coming? Let’s put aside the “playing the game” critique, which so many have leveled against Rand Paul and his followers, who made their peace with the Republican establishment and conservative movement. Could we have seen this coming in the shear number of sub-mediocrities who were promoted by the “liberty movement” (some of whom were recently indicted for alleged campaign malfeasance)? Could we have seen this coming due to the nature of libertarianism itself? Libertarianism is, after all, a form of liberalism, in other words, a purified version of the system’s own ideology.
In the end, millions of dollars were raised on behalf of the Paul family, and millions of man-hours invested in a movement that has become barely distinguishable from standard Republicanism. So again—what was the point?