The Fatal Complacency of Conservatives
Kevin de León won the endorsement of California Democrats over longtime incumbent Dianne Feinstein in yet another sign that America’s demographic transformation is now winnowing the top ranks of the Democrat party. Together with the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over an old-guard white incumbent in a recent New York primary, this shows the Left is building power within the party structure. The assumption among many conservatives is that the Democrats’ extremism will drive away voters. It could have the opposite effect.
The last few weeks have seen the party increase its lead in the generic ballot for the mid-terms just as President Trump’s approval ratings have leveled off. In other words, Republicans could be facing the worst possible situation: Democrats could meet them on the battleground of immigration and win anyway. Even if Republicans hold the Senate (which seems likely), a Democrat House could tie up Trump in innumerable investigations and hearings and make him a lame duck.
Everyone assumed—or should have—that a Trump victory would goad the grassroots Left into a frenzy of activity. The rise of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the open partisanship of legacy media, and the escalation of antifa tactics against even “normal” Republicans such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders are no surprise. Some of this is needed. Social conservatives, civic nationalists, and other tribes of the Right need to get it through their heads that we are all in the same boat. The Left will not let any of us to make a separate peace. The non-white takeover of the Democrat Party is also inevitable—and necessary if whites are ever to develop a racial consciousness.
Many expected Trump’s victory in 2016 to have a dramatic impact on the conservative movement, strengthening nationalists within the GOP. George Hawley notes that this did not happen: “Steve Bannon’s attempt to promote primary challengers to mainstream Republicans ended after the Roy Moore fiasco, and no one since has picked up that banner. . . . There are no significant organized interests insisting Trump and congressional Republicans follow through on an ‘America First’ agenda.”
As one racially aware Trump supporter and recent college graduate who moved to D.C. shortly after the inauguration put it:
I expected that after Trump’s victory, there would be all these new institutions and networks developing to push the America First agenda. Even if Trump lost the election, I expected we would have these new organizations and opportunities. But he won! And yet we have nothing. Among established conservative movement institutions, the atmosphere has, if anything, become even more hostile to us. Meanwhile, the only people who ended up with jobs are the people who opposed Trump the entire campaign, and who have been trying to sabotage him ever since.
It is true that most Republicans support Trump (at least publicly) and are taking stronger positions on immigration than they would have before. Yet, very little of Trump’s unique program has become law. His main achievement is a tax reform that any Republican president, Jeb included, would have supported.
The main problem is that Trump governs as an edgy Republican, whereas he campaigned as almost a third-party figure. Candidate Trump opposed entitlement cuts, promised massive infrastructure projects, and was deliberately vague on health care. In one of his older books, he even supported universal medical care. While no one seriously expected President Trump to stop American support for Israel, there was hope for détente with Putin’s Russia, a reduction in foreign intervention, and an accommodation with Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government.
The path to President Trump’s 2016 victory was a guide to building a new Republican majority. There was potential for real growth if the Rust Belt could be consolidated and Republicans could crack New England states such as Maine or New Hampshire. Yet this required breaking with Republican orthodoxy on several issues. As surprised researchers found after the election, voters backed Mr. Trump because he actually talked more about the issues than Hillary did—and immigration was just one of his issues.
Unfortunately, on day one, President Trump put his brand on the Republican establishment’s agenda, a decision Steve Bannon called the administration’s “original sin.” The decision immediately to invest political capital in Paul Ryan’s hopeless healthcare bill almost crippled the administration legislatively right at the beginning. America is still funding the Syrian opposition, and Mr. Trump occasionally brags he is even tougher on Russia than Obama was. None of this has won him any relief from the media.
President Trump did achieve a tax cut. Yet a plurality of those in a recent poll disapproved of the Republican tax cuts. Polling also suggests support for the tax law will actually make voters less likely to support House candidates in Republican districts. As the 2012 election showed, there is no longer a majority for fiscally conservative, pro-growth conservatism. Perhaps there never was. The Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan agenda is a loser, regardless of who is on the ticket. It will be an uphill battle for President Trump to win the Rust Belt states he captured in 2016, and Republican Senate candidates are trailing in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Despite good instincts, Mr. Bannon is not free from blame. Promoting a “travel ban” was a waste of political capital if it ended up subverting its original intent as a “Muslim ban.” If the White House had decided that was not possible, it should have thrown everything behind The Wall right from the start, along with a push for mandatory E-Verify and a tax on remittances to Mexico so that Mexicans really did “pay for it.” None of that happened.
If Mr. Trump was going to be a truly transformative president, we would have gleaned it in the first few days of his administration. Just as Pat Buchanan concluded of Richard Nixon in Nixon’s White House Wars, Mr. Trump squandered much of his authority in meaningless fights. Instead of locking down white working-class voters (and probably even some blacks and Hispanics) with infrastructure, President Trump tried to appease the very Republican hacks whom he had just conquered but who still despised him.
At the same time, the dissident movement that put so much effort into helping put President Trump in the White House is under unprecedented attack. Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, Patreon, Google, and even Amazon are all engaging in ideological censorship. The social media environment that enthusiastically promoted Mr. Trump is now under tight control. There have been Congressional hearings on tech company censorship and discussion of the use of antitrust laws to control bias, but there has been no meaningful action. And nationalists are largely frozen out of the conservative media.
If you are not even a race realist—just a politically active Trump supporter or civic nationalist—chances are your life has become harder since Mr. Trump took power.
White advocates get this, but most Republicans don’t seem to care. Their complacency is reminiscent of the optimism Democrats felt in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. They assume the good economy and polling on individual issues mean the Republicans “should” win in the mid-term elections. In reality, the energy and determination are on the Left, and progressive turnout is likely to be sky-high. More importantly, the “extreme” agenda democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kevin de Léon are pushing is popular, especially on issues like health care. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good policy, but it does mean that it’s naive to assume Democrats are going to destroy themselves, especially when Republicans are not offering appealing alternatives.
Since the George McGovern campaign, the Republican Party has been on the defensive. It relies on leftists to unmase themselves as extremists and so make Republicans look reasonable by comparison. Many Americans don’t necessarily like the ideas of upper-class tax cuts or entitlement cuts. Yet a white working-class voter will pull the lever for a Reagan or Bush rather than give control to flag-burning, open-borders anti-Americans. However, in the long run, leftist control of the institutions ensures that what is considered “mainstream” moves only in one direction.
Today, “abolish ICE” is considered extreme. Yet gay marriage was considered extreme less than two decades ago. Interracial marriage was unthinkable and offensive only a few decades before that. Bill Maher complains that the Left controls only the culture, while the Right controls the state. Yet the Right does not use its state power to do anything to recapture the culture. Taxpayer money continues to flow to far-left activists in government-funded non-profits, public universities, left-leaning bureaucracies and broadcasters such as PBS. All the Right does is give its wealthy enemies tax cuts so they have more money for funding the opposition.
However, we should not blame only the always-hapless establishment conservatives. Many of us were euphoric over the magical year 2016, which saw both Brexit and Trump’s victory. We thought a new era was upon us. Some of us even believed our own memes: that Donald Trump was the God-Emperor who cannot be “stumped.” As a result, while the Left has been building institutions, two years into Trump’s term, we have less infrastructure than we did before he was elected. Of course, we face more obstacles than anyone else. But it doesn’t change what we need to do.
If we don’t do it, no one else will. There is a popular conservative fantasy that someday ordinary Americans will have “enough,” rise in righteous rebellion, and set everything right. This is wishful thinking. Anglos seem to be only as rebellious as official institutions “allow” them to be. Even the great revolutions and secessionist movements in British-derived political history (the English Civil War, the American Revolution, Confederate Independence) were all funneled through official or quasi-official legislatures. The idea that Americans will one day magically “wake up” when some imaginary line is crossed is almost as fanciful as the other classic conservative fantasy: the “system collapse,” in which the current political order collapses, to be replaced by bands of Bible- and Constitution-toting patriots who descend from the hills. Both these myths require nothing of us; just sit back and await the coming revolution.
No revolution is coming. The entrenched order isn’t going anywhere, at least not without hard work. White Americans need a sufficiently large movement to “hide” in, to feel that they are not really breaking from the larger crowd but are joining an existing movement. The promise of the Trump campaign was that such a movement could be created and used to push European-Americans to effective cultural and political action and white racial consciousness. Two years into the President’s term, this has not happened. In many ways, Mr. Trump’s supporters—and not just us—have much less freedom of action than before he was elected. There has been no attempt to build a nationalist “deep state” or introduce structural changes that could make even civic nationalism credible in the medium term. This also means Trump himself is very vulnerable. His new Conservatism Inc. courtiers have no loyalty to him. If and when the Mueller investigation unearths something damaging, is there any doubt that the “conservative movement” will drop him like a brick?
Indeed, one suspects “movement conservatives” may long for political defeat so that they can return to the “good old days” of being the armchair generals of the political system, the polite losers who lend the system an air of legitimacy. It’s not really that surprising that every great rightist victory in this country has come in the teeth of Conservatism Inc. opposition—they don’t want to win.
Perhaps it was too much to hope that President Trump would herald a true ideological shift. Perhaps it was too much to expect the GOP finally to break from its captivity to corporate donors, and entertain new ideas about how to tackle issues that affect average Americans, such as automation, medicine, college loan debt, and the power of technology companies to shape public opinion. And perhaps it is too much to expect conservative “consultants” who have failed so spectacularly at understanding their own voters, let alone wider political trends, to understand that Democrat candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are harbingers of doom, not a signal of impending victory.
White advocates should not deceive themselves. Every single day that goes by without President Trump taking concrete steps to halt demographic displacement is a defeat. Every day, we lose. The fact that we are losing in slower motion does not mean, despite the President’s campaign boasts, that we are actually “winning.” There is a time limit. Demographically, this country draws nearer the tipping point every day. A few progressive policy changes—making Election Day a holiday, mandatory voting, eliminating voter ID laws, restoring felons’ voter rights, and one more amnesty—could push it over the edge.
President Trump has been a massive disappointment in the short term, despite the good things he has done. Some may disagree and claim that he may yet turn the table on his enemies, and that there will be a surprise “Red Wave” in November. His political instincts are good, and the things that have hurt him the most are the fault of the Republicans in Congress and his staff, not anything he has done. His biggest failing was to trust the people around him too much. I continue to admire the man, despite his many flaws and failings.
All the same, whether he is a success or failure, President Trump has done us a great service by unmasking the system for what it is. He has forced journalists to drop whatever pretense they once had of being neutral, exposed “movement conservatives” for the shills they are, and shown the American government to be at odd with American interests. More people than ever before see—and feel—the iron fist within the velvet glove of liberal “democracy.” We must seize this brief opportunity to build the institutions we need in order to survive what will essentially be life under occupation.
Conservatives are complacent. We cannot be. We must fight like an army with its back to a river. Our time is short. Our situation is desperate. No can will save us but ourselves.