“Call this what you will, but it has nothing to do with conservatism.” https://t.co/Eag34FWtKE— Michael Gerson (@MJGerson) February 26, 2021
“They will learn that the Constitution can be shredded in the pursuit of raw power and that populism must be rowdy enough and transgressive enough to break a few windows and kill a few policemen.” https://t.co/Eag34FWtKE— Michael Gerson (@MJGerson) February 25, 2021
“From the attendance of presidential hopefuls such as Cruz and Hawley, they will learn that exclusion and the maximization of White grievance are the future of the GOP, and that encouraging sedition is not a shameful disqualification for the Oval Office.” https://t.co/Eag34FWtKE— Michael Gerson (@MJGerson) February 25, 2021
Have you noticed that the True Cons are just Democrats now?
“Asking Conservative Political Action Conference attendees for their views on conservatism is like asking arsonists to lecture on fire safety. For decades, the fondest hope of the kind of agitators attracted by this annual event has been a Republican president who shares the breadth of their grievance, the depth of their anger and the fervor of their conspiratorial delusions. In Donald Trump, they finally found their man. He will be welcomed this year — as he will be for the rest of his life — as the god-king of Crazy Town. …
Other GOP politicians are given a green light for demonization. White supremacists are confirmed and emboldened in their hatred. Not just the politics of the country but also the character of the country are poisoned. This is one reason that right-wing populists can never be true conservatives. …
From Trump’s deification they will learn that civility is for losers, that compassion is for suckers, that misogyny can be fun, that strength requires brutality and that racism makes for good politics. …
Call this what you will, but it has nothing to do with conservatism.”
Michael Gerson was George W. Bush’s speechwriter. It was Gerson and David Frum who came up with the phrase “Axis of Evil.” After writing that infamous “Unpatriotic Conservatives” article in National Review in 2003 which condemned the critics of the Iraq War, Frum is now at The Atlantic.
Now that I am hitting middle age, it seems like nearly everyone who represented conservatism in my youth has either lost power or gone over to the other side. For those who are interested in George Will’s columns on True Conservatism (he was a heavyweight in the 1970s), you can read him in The Washington Post. David French writes for Time. They are regular guests on CNN and MSNBC now where they have landed gigs as useful idiots who are used by the Left to condemn Republican voters.
The upper middle class preening and virtue signaling remains the same as it was back in the day. The difference is that now all the power is gone and no one takes these people seriously anymore.
It turns out that the secret of Donald Trump’s success is that he is perceived as sticking up for Republican voters. He doesn’t browbeat them or condescend to them. He looks like he is fighting back. The Republican base is just tired of wimps like David French and wants someone who will go for the jugular.
Conservative voters decided that intellectual conservatism was worthless. Donald Trump at least seemed to be listening to their concerns. In contrast, the Bushies were committed to the neoliberal agenda on open borders, globalization, endless wars and cultural and moral degeneration. While you could say that Donald Trump is a demagogue who just capitalized on these resentments and grievances, Trump voters sincerely hold these views and have felt ignored and put upon for decades.
Lately, I have been dropping in on these people for my own amusement to see how they are reacting to becoming even more politically marginalized now that Trump is gone. It is like looking through a window into the past. It is easy for us to forget that these people were once in charge.
Note: My problem with Donald Trump was always that he wasn’t populist and nationalist enough. He didn’t go far enough on policy for my tastes. He was lazy and didn’t have an ideological frame of mind and deferred to his Jewish donors and people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.