The celebration of Meloni's victory on the American Right is striking. It's one thing for American conservatives in the past to have excused (too readily, to be sure) authoritarianism abroad. It's another to flat-out proclaim admiration for it and to embrace it as a model for us.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) September 27, 2022
Now as 80 years ago, the effectual truth of 'America First' is European-style, Fascist-adjacent-if-not-fascist-itself, Authoritarianism First. https://t.co/21VpUWUI5Q— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) September 27, 2022
“The failure of the intellectual leaders of conservatism in one editorial. The once magisterial voice of the conservative worldview looked at the race for governor in Arizona and airily overlooked reality.”— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) September 28, 2022
Devastating from @monacharen on @WSJopinion.https://t.co/fAxk60oE8E
Kari Lake said she can relate to Giorgia Meloni and believes “if you’re not being called” a “fascist” and a “racist” then “you’re probably not representing the people of your country.” pic.twitter.com/9BSexgzZ95— PatriotTakes ?? (@patriottakes) September 27, 2022
I recently wrote something similar.
Year One of the Trump era was exhilarating.
In the 2016 election, I backed Trump because I saw him as a bulldozer. If nothing else, I saw him as a useful instrument for steamrolling the True Cons faction.
“BTW, that’s why I supported Trump during the election. If a bulldozer plows over these people in Washington, why is that a bad thing? I don’t have to romanticize the bulldozer to think it is doing a good job.”
I repeatedly compared Trump to a bulldozer.
“BG: Donald Trump’s platform happens to coincide with our interests on a number of key issues: political correctness, immigration, trade, campaign finance. He is a bulldozer who is destroying our traditional enemy on the Right. Is he one of us? There isn’t a single prominent figure in the alt-right who believes Trump is alt-right or a “racist.” He doesn’t have to be to advance our cause. …”
Trump will be gone one day and his main legacy will be getting rid of the True Cons faction who had dominated and constipated the Right since the George W. Bush era.
“I predict that is going to be the wave of the future … Trump-like national populists running for office against “true conservatives” all over the South. There are far too many working class Whites in the Republican Party now for it to remain a suburban party. There will be more Paul Nehlens running in 2018 in much more favorable districts. Can you wrap your mind around Governor Roy Moore? President-Elect Donald Trump is a reflection of the underlying changes in the demographic composition of the Republican Party. Watch for it to rip across the states now. That’s one reason why I haven’t soured on politics. I always saw Trump as a bulldozer who would clear the path for more interesting figures to emerge. …”
This has more or less come to pass.
As frustrating as Trump was as president, he really has succeeded in discrediting and diminishing the True Cons who can be found huddling together for warmth these days at The Dispatch. Those people have continued to lose power in Congress and at the state level. Virtually no one on the Right now agrees with Allahpundit that Liz Cheney is one of the most honorable people in American politics. Trump has devoted the last two years of his post-presidency to finishing them off for good.
Now that Trump has gotten rid of the True Con gatekeepers and has largely succeeded in purging them from Congress and conservative institutions, we are at a point now where mainstream conservatives can look at someone like Viktor Orbán as a role model and cheer on the victory of the Sweden Democrats and Giorgia Meloni in Italy. The Great Replacement and Christian nationalism have gone mainstream. Conservatives have spent the last seven years forgetting their former ideology.
In 2022, mainstream conservatives are rapidly shedding their former views and embracing generic nationalist politics while nationalists who were marginalized for decades remain blind to how much our politics has changed over the past seven years and particularly over the last three years.
“Could there soon be an American counterpart to Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, a right-wing populist who in 2018 declared, “We must demonstrate that there is an alternative to liberal democracy: It is called Christian democracy. And we must show that the liberal elite can be replaced with a Christian democratic elite”?
Liberal democracy, Orban continued, “is liberal, while Christian democracy is, by definition, not liberal: it is, if you like, illiberal. And we can specifically say this in connection with a few important issues — say, three great issues. Liberal democracy is in favor of multiculturalism, while Christian democracy gives priority to Christian culture; this is an illiberal concept. Liberal democracy is pro-immigration, while Christian democracy is anti-immigration; this is again a genuinely illiberal concept. And liberal democracy sides with adaptable family models, while Christian democracy rests on the foundations of the Christian family model; once more, this is an illiberal concept.”
“Yes to natural families, no to the L.G.B.T. lobby. Yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology. Yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death. No to the violence of Islam, yes to safer borders. No to mass immigration, yes to work for our people. …”
Thomas Edsall asks Arlie Hochschild for her view of rising illiberalism on the American Right.
In our view, liberals and progressives are defined by their shared commitment to globalism, cosmopolitanism, modernism and antiracism. They are anti-White, anti-Western, anti-Southern, anti-Christian, anti-male, anti-traditional, anti-republican and anti-federalist. They really do control all culture-forming institutions like the news and entertainment media, the universities and social media platforms which are ruthlessly policed and censored in order to impose a leftwing orthodoxy on the public. They have also leveraged institutions like the DOJ and FBI to criminalize their political opposition.
“I asked her about the prospects of illiberalism in this country and she replied by email: “We should keep a close eye on the sense of grievance stored up almost as a springboard within the word ‘stolen.’ ” The background to this, Hochschild argued, “is that blue-collar, rural/small town — especially white and male — have since the l970s been the “losers” of globalization, and the two parties now represent two economies. To this demographic, economic loss is compounded with a loss of fallback sources of honor — gender, sexuality, race — for white heterosexual males these, too, seem under attack. This is the “deep story” of “Stop the Steal,” and they see reality through that story.”
The story does not end there. Hochschild continued:
The right believes that it is the left, not the right, that is moving toward fascism. Inside the right wing mind today freedom is threatened “by the left.” Political correctness a form of “thought control.” The left controls the media. The F.B.I. is scanning Facebook to hunt down patriots in Washington. So, ironically, they see themselves as brave upholders of freedom, democracy, civil liberties. They aren’t saying we want strong totalitarian control so we get to impose our values on others. They see themselves as the victims of this control and Trump as their liberator from that control …”
Could it happen here?
It is already happening here.
Tucker Carlson has loudly promoted Viktor Orbán and Giorgia Meloni as role models and has negatively compared the GOP to them. Both Orbán and Meloni have been invited to speak at CPAC which was held in Budapest this year. Orbán spoke at CPAC in Texas after condemning race mixing.
In the old days, the True Cons used to do the thinking for the Right. National Review once had the power to excommunicate people like Sam Francis and Pat Buchanan from the synagogue of mainstream conservatism. Bill Kristol was a powerful and influential figure in Republican politics in 2012. Since the demise of the True Cons, the views of Francis and Buchanan are now more far more influential on the Republican electorate. Tucker Carlson tells Republican voters what to think about the issues. He tells them if you are not being loudly accused of “racism” and “fascism,” you are doing something wrong. He also defies and mocks and diminishes Jonathan Greenblatt and the ADL.
Donald Trump was a major disappointment in office. There were various reasons for this. A huge reason for this was because of 1.) the personnel who were hired to work for Trump in the White House who repeatedly got their way on major issues like the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria and 2.) the strength of the True Cons in Congress and institutional conservatism and really everywhere outside the presidential office. Trump’s revolution fizzled in this first two years in office as he pursued conventional conservative priorities like repealing Obamacare and tax cuts. Trump worked with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to find common ground and produce “wins.” He spent his political capital on their agenda.
Four years later, the political landscape looks very different. The Republican Congress that Trump had to deal with between 2017 and 2019 which saw him as an aberration is gone. Paul Ryan is gone and nearly everyone who shared his mindset is gone. There is zero chance that Republican politics will return to the pre-Trump status quo. “Trumpism” has also put down roots in the GOP which weren’t there in his first two years. Even though Donald Trump himself is no longer in office, he has become the model for aspiring politicians just as “Reaganism” was the model from the 1980s through 2016. The Paul Ryan tax cuts look more like the last hurrah of Reaganism than True Conservatism enduring into the 2020s.
The upshot of this post is that conservative liberalism is rapidly fading. It was still going strong in the first two years of the Trump era. It has rapidly withered under Joe Biden though. It won’t have a pulse after the 2022 midterms. The American system is highly resistant to radical change for a variety of reasons. Radical change plays out over the course of decades across multiple election cycles. White evangelical Protestants are rapidly changing and moving on from the Christian Zionism of the Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson era to reactionary populism, Christian nationalism and White identity politics.
Donald Trump didn’t do much but disrupt the status quo in his first two years in office. Over the long term though, a different picture is starting to emerge. He got rid of the True Cons faction which dominated the GOP from Reagan through Mitt Romney and their eclipse is starting to register as radical ideas are now pouring into the conservative mainstream and becoming conventional in our politics.