It’s time to say “goodbye” to conservatism.
To state the obvious, there is something going on out there on the Right which is a little different.
You see it clearly at the grass-roots level. It shows up brightly in the resistance to the latest round of COVID stupidity — mask mandates for school kids, vaccination discrimination in the workplace, and so on. But you’re even seeing it at the higher levels here and there.
What you’re seeing is that Bush Republicanism, to use one of the terms to describe it, is dead. It might still be twitching, mind you; the abject stupidity of the “bipartisan” infrastructure bill passing with 19 weak GOP Senators signing on demonstrates that it’s still showing spasmodic activity. But it’s off life support, and the prognosis ain’t good.
Something else has taken its place.
You can largely thank Donald Trump for that. Trump was hardly the only one who saw that the post-Reagan GOP mindset, driven as it was by think tanks and other organizations which had long since proven out Eric Hoffer’s famous maxim that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket,” had outlived its utility. But Trump understood how to inject life back into the party. For all his faults, Trump reoriented the Right into something else, and now that something is larger than Trump.
I’ve said this before: Trump was never a conservative. He showed more fealty to center-right ideology than any of his national political predecessors, at least since Reagan, but that didn’t make him a conservative. Trump is much more accurately described as a radical centrist. He saw a number of things that both parties were hideously wrong about and he campaigned, and won, on those.
The border was an obvious one. Republican border policy had been made in slavish obeisance to the corporate donor class, which valued cheap labor above all, while Democrats favored open borders because they see millions of slavish Democrat voters on the horizon. Trump came along and broke that wheel, demanding that the border be enforced. And he was right.
He was right on China. He was right on trade policy. He was right on minority outreach. He was right on the endless wars. He was right on the culture. Trump was right in opposing all kinds of issues the “conservative” smart set had put forth as orthodoxy for years as the party declined — and as the country declined.
I’ve also said Trump is less the “messiah” his enemies (and some of his friends) want to cast him as so much as he’s a John the Baptist figure. Trump is the guy who sets the table but perhaps doesn’t serve the meal. That isn’t an indictment of Trump so much as it’s an indictment of where we are as a country.
Where we are isn’t good. Where we are can’t be fixed by one man. It has to be fixed by all of us, and it’s going to take a while. We’ll be at this a lot longer than Trump will be around.
And conservatives, if that label is going to fit a broad swath of people within the Republican Party who have presided over loss after loss since 1992, can’t fix it. We’ve seen that.
When you’ve gone from surrendering on gay marriage to failing to summon up convincing arguments for obvious things like “boys shouldn’t play on girls’ sports teams” or that the least racist nation on planet Earth was founded to promote slavery, you aren’t really conserving much of anything anymore, are you?
When you went from failing to reform government programs like Social Security and Medicare, when it was patently obvious they would eventually bankrupt the government, to signing off on a trillion-dollar bacchanal of “infrastructure” spending only a quarter of which can reasonably fit in that definition, you’re not a fiscal conservative.
When you progressed from creating a security state capable of spying on everyone in the world with marginal accountability to having little to say when that security state gets politicized and nearly effects a coup d’etat on a duly-elected American president, we can’t really say you’re conserving our liberty.
So what are you conserving? And why shouldn’t we snicker when we call you a conservative?
Particularly when it’s clear very few of these politicians who talk a good game during election season bother to deliver when the chips are down. That goes for your local school board which accedes to mandated masks for your kindergartner, your state legislature which won’t ban the corruption of Zuckerbucks blowing up your state’s election integrity, or your governor who’s too worried that Woke Corporate America or the NCAA might punish your state if he or she takes a stand on a trans invasion of the girls’ track teams to do what’s right.
Conservatism is taking on the stench of a dead movement. The racket has ratcheted downward into the muck.
We need something else. We need something new.
America is an idea more than a nation. Our founding principles are what makes us great. They made our people great. Talk to any legal immigrant and they’ll re-orient you along those lines because they know what it’s like in Venezuela, Vietnam, or South Africa. But there is nothing genetic about Americans which makes us better than anybody else.
If we lose those founding principles, we become just another declining, flaccid, pathetic Western country whose best days are past, and whose leaders are busy auctioning themselves off to the ChiComs.
The conservatives haven’t conserved our founding principles. They’ve lost on the culture, the economy, civil liberties, limited government, ethics, the rule of law. Defeat after defeat, and now, while the country is by no means gone as it would surely have been were it not for the incompetence and insanity of the Left, there isn’t as much remaining of those principles as we need there to be.
We don’t need conservation. You don’t conserve the forest after the forest fire. What we need is revival.
Ben Domenech of The Federalist and Fox News had an interesting set of broadcasts as he hosted Fox News Primetime last week. Domenech brought up a long-forgotten footnote in American history, that of the “wide-awakes.” Those folks were a vast fraternity of militant reformers who sprung up across the country in the late 1850s as a reaction to a corrupt and leaderless America. They held marches, they started baseball leagues, they ran voter registration drives, and they provided event security for Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign. The wide-awakes rushed into the Union Army when the Civil War broke out. They saved the union and helped build America into the gleaming powerhouse it became in the late 19th and 20th century.
Domenech suggested America needs a fresh batch of “wide-awakes.” He’s not wrong. America needs new energy. It needs revival.
We think of religion when we think of revival. And yes, we need that. Particularly given that this is and has always been a religious nation, but the problem is that political and cultural power now marinates in a decadent, godless, factless religion of climate change, critical race theory, gender as a social construct, and cancel culture. Reclaiming society for the Judeo-Christian faith which created it, rather than this nouveau pagan heresy which is destroying it, is simply a matter of will. It isn’t a matter of merit.
But it’s more than just a religious revival we need. It’s a societal revival. We need to learn to love one another again. To persuade each other rather than to scream. To refound our communities and the civil society we’ve lost. To cultivate the values which made us great rather than indoctrinate each other into endless, pointless, destructive critiques of them.
It isn’t enough to embrace the Benedict Option. It isn’t enough to retreat to the periphery and congratulate yourself for keeping lit the flame of civilization in the hills and hollows of the hinterlands. Staying on defense won’t win the game. We need revivalists who will fight tooth and nail for the country, who will talk big and act bigger. Who will outsmart, outfight, and outplay the tyrants and grifters of the Left and who will inspire the “conservatives” to follow.
To follow, I say. Because they cannot lead. They’ve proven that.
Revivalists don’t make deals with the Left — or if they do, they insist that it’s the Left who puts a pound of their own flesh on the table. No more “win-win” negotiations with “win-lose” counterparts. You walk away from that and then you begin to apply the same kinds of pressure on them that they’ve been applying on those Bush Republicans through the years.
Revivalists don’t push for school choice. Revivalists push for every dime of taxpayer cash spent on education to be controlled by the parents of school kids. Revivalists have no use for scared entry-level politicians on school boards who won’t stand up to teachers’ unions; they want the market to disrupt, destroy, and remake the entire idea of public education. Revivalists are the most pro-teacher folks around; they want to turn that profession into something like that of lawyers or engineers. Lawyers and engineers don’t need unions, by the way.
Revivalists insist on taking the fight to China. Not militarily; this war has been going on for a long time, and its theaters are cultural, economic, and digital. The Left is with the Chinese. Conservatives can’t figure out what their position is. Revivalists remember Reagan: “We win, they lose.”
Revivalists want that border under control. Revivalists have no problem with immigration, though immigration policy has to be made on behalf of American interests, not those of the immigrants. Revivalists refuse to obey much of anything Joe Biden or the Democrats demand of us until that border is brought back under the rule of law. Revivalists will consent to be governed, but never ruled.
Revivalists don’t give a damn about politicians’ problems. Revivalists insist that officeholders be public servants, not members of some privileged elite. For that matter, revivalists couldn’t give a damn about the elite at all; the elite are the people who engineered this mess in the first place.
Revivalists know that America is covered in ripoffs, from higher education to Big Tech to Fannie Mae to pop culture. Revivalists don’t just reject the corruption of the grifters; they insist on reopening America to competitors, to entrepreneurs, to disruptors and dreamers. If the forest fire is to come for our traditions, let it burn away all of the other side’s corrupt incumbents as well.
Revivalists love America. Revivalists aren’t bothered by the fact this country isn’t perfect. No country is. To the critical theory crowd, revivalists demand first that they offer something better rather than constant bitching and grifting. And then revivalists argue that grifting and bitching are not sufficient résumé items for leadership. What has Ibram X. Kendi ever done to help the black community?
Revivalists revere our historical figures. Revivalists demand more statues, not fewer. Revivalists want to learn from the rich history of our country and all of Western civilization, and even other civilizations. Revivalists will buy a Jeep Cherokee to pay tribute to the heritage of the Cherokee. Revivalists think the Cleveland Guardians is a soulless, lifeless team name undeserving of respect. And revivalists see in Megan Rapinoe everything the Left, with the tacit acquiescence of the conservatives, has done to this country.
Revivalists are bookmarking Rumble and Bitchute in response to Rand Paul being banned from YouTube for rightly pointing out that masks don’t work. Revivalists remember when Google’s motto was “Don’t be evil” and laugh at how pathetic a joke that has become.
Revivalists know there are only two genders. Revivalists also know that the people insisting otherwise demand an end to the discussion because their arguments are bullshit.
And revivalists know that America isn’t dead. America won’t die until the fight for the principles that made us is over. And revivalists will never, ever give up that fight. Revivalists will raise the stakes as high as necessary to keep it going, until it’s the other side who quits.
Be a revivalist. Let’s roll. We have a lot of work to do.