Can We Save Conservatism from Itself?
Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, December 27, 2019
This article is adapted from remarks delivered to a gathering of young nationalists.
Recently, National Review’s Rich Lowry put out what he called “A Defining Statement of Modern Conservatism,” complete with a giant picture of Ronald Reagan. The idea that Ronald Reagan should be what’s inspiring today’s generation of conservatism is so out of touch that it’s hard to believe he’s being serious.
Mr. Lowry never mentions immigration. Or demographics. Or race. Or identity. Instead, he worries about deficit spending under Elizabeth Warren.
Mr. Lowry does say that Republicans need to start worrying about the effect of “toxic individualism” and the breakdown of the culture. He also says Reagan’s libertarianism, exemplified in his famous “A Time for Choosing” speech, (or simply “The Speech” for conservative movement vets), didn’t face the same cultural problems we have today.
Mr. Lowry suggests we need to rebuild some cultural institutions, such as families and churches. How are we supposed to do that? We have nothing to build on. What can we build when we can’t even mention who we are as a people, what makes us unique, what shapes our identity and purpose?
It’s not as though church leaders are much help either — I see Pope Francis is warning about homophobia and the rise of Hitler again.
This leads me to my main question. Can you save an institution that doesn’t want to be saved? In our case, can you save the conservative movement?
— american nationalist (@NationalistTV) November 15, 2019
Let’s indulge Mr. Lowry for a moment and think of Ronald Reagan. He was the Republican governor of California, something that seems incredible today. He was a conservative insurgent champion, the Establishment’s bane. In many ways, Establishment Republicans thought he was a Trumpian figure, an extremist.
During the 1976 GOP primary, you had something like 2016. Ronald Reagan challenged incumbent Gerald Ford from the right. The challenge was so serious that there was a disputed convention. Someone proposed a Ford-Reagan unity ticket and the President answered: “Absolutely not! I want nothing to do with the son of a bitch.” The Ford campaign beat Reagan on the convention floor using ruthless and unethical tactics. The man who managed all this was a young Republican political operative named Paul Manafort.
Of course, Ford went on to lose to Jimmy Carter, but four year later, in 1980, Reagan beat the incumbent. He beat the Establishment, too. If you go back and look at what liberals said about President Reagan, it sounds a lot like what they say about President Trump. Congressman William Clay of Missouri, a black man, said that Ronald Reagan was “trying to replace the Bill of Rights with fascist precepts lifted verbatim from Mein Kampf.”
His son Lacy Clay is a Democratic congressman today. He’s called President Trump the “racist-in-chief” and a “racist,” and has said racism is “deep in his DNA,” that he has always “embraced division” and that he needs to “stoke the fires of hate to bring out his vote.”
Nothing new under the sun.
There are some differences. Ronald Reagan was the candidate of a self-aware conservative movement that had been organizing since the Barry Goldwater campaign. Though he was challenging the GOP Establishment, he had a coherent group behind him.
His main goal was to win the Cold War — and he won. But he lost America. When he signed the 1986 amnesty for illegal immigrants, he ensured that the Golden State would be a Third World society within two generations. He failed to see the consequences of his policies.
Rich Lowry cites Ronald Reagan’s admiration for Winston Churchill. Churchill’s main purpose in life was to preserve the British Empire. In his postwar term as prime minister, he declared he had “not become the King’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.” Yet that’s what happened. Churchill may have single-handedly prevented British defeat in World War II, but he destroyed what he valued most. These two great political leaders, Reagan and Churchill, ultimately were failures.
Let’s compare Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan. Many people pinned their hopes on the New Yorker. He encouraged this; he said if he was elected, he would “make possible every dream you’ve ever dreamed.”
I just wanted a wall and no more illegals, but we didn’t get that.
Think of the parallels. The Left was terrified of Ronald Reagan and what they thought he represented. He was the populist right-winger of his time. The man who was basically his envoy to the conservative movement was the great Pat Buchanan, White House communications director from 1985 to 1987. He was — to cite a common fantasy now that we have about certain people in the Trump Administration — “our guy” within the citadel of power.
Reagan had true believers. If Reagan was doing things the base didn’t like, he must have been sabotaged from within. After all, the Establishment figure George H.W. Bush was vice president. “Let Reagan be Reagan” was a famous slogan. Yet Reagan didn’t fulfill the hopes of his supporters.
Pat Buchanan knew that. He ran for president because he thought the greatest vacuum in American politics was to the right of Ronald Reagan. He wanted to recapture the conservative movement. He had deep ties not just with movement conservatives, but to the GOP Establishment and the national press because of his time with Richard Nixon.
However, the conservative movement, directed by William F. Buckley, associated him with anti-Semitism. National Review practically ejected him from the movement. George H.W. Bush lost in 1992, but the GOP prevented Pat Buchanan’s “America First” nationalism from taking over the party. That’s probably what party leaders thought was more important.
Many rightists think their movements never “lose;” they’re “betrayed.” Just because it’s a truism doesn’t mean it’s not real. Pat Buchanan was stabbed in the back by people who should have been his allies.
Many say President Trump has been betrayed. He’s got bad advisers, he hired the wrong people, his daughter and his son-in-law are screwing everything up. Charlie Kirk and TPUSA are co-opting the youth movement and getting money from conservative donors. The Never Trumpers sabotaged him from day one and prevented “his” people from getting in the Administration. We’re like Russian peasants, moaning, “Oh, if only the Tsar knew!”
We’re kidding ourselves. The conservative movement won’t be reformed from within and neither will the Trump Administration. They are what they are.
Is the solution to create a new nationalist party? It’s been tried before. In 2000, Pat Buchanan ran a third-party campaign but it didn’t get anywhere. At the time, Donald Trump heaped abuse on him, saying he was “intolerant” of blacks and homosexuals and that he was “in love with Adolf Hitler.” Amazingly, President Trump later called Mr. Buchanan out of the blue and apologized for what he said. This may be the only thing he’s ever apologized for.
Pat Buchanan had far more credentials, institutional support, reputation, and money than anyone we could come up with. It didn’t work. We look with envy at our European colleagues who can build nationalist political parties, but we can’t do that.
I propose two objectives. The first is to offer a nationalist critique of conservatism, not to save it from itself, but to discredit it. If “the movement” changes and joins our ranks, well and good. If not, we must relentlessly critique it.
Conservatives are vulnerable because they are not serving the interests of their constituents. We know from the 2016 campaign that national populist ideas are more prevalent among ordinary Republicans — and many white Democrats — than the staid program of Conservatism Inc.
We won’t be co-opted by Conservatism Inc.; just because the Left hates something, doesn’t mean it’s good.
There are some good people in “the movement.” However, the movement itself is largely a grift. Turning Points USA, the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, and other “conservative movement” groups are far more terrified of Identitarianism now than they were just three years ago. They live in fear of journalists and they need to keep the money flowing. Joe Sobran said it best years ago: “It was all a game, or a way of making a living.”
The goal is to get a cushy job or get to a point where you can switch sides and attack your former colleagues. CNN’s Oliver Darcy comes to mind.
Conservatism Inc. probably can’t be reformed, and it has formidable defenses against takeover from within. How we respond requires some counter-intuitive thinking.
From an intellectual perspective, we should be hammering Donald Trump, and I have, but the world is governed by symbols, not ideas. Donald Trump’s key political fault is that he thinks “MAGA” is about him, whereas he was merely the vehicle. Nationalists should argue that the Trump Revolution, the Spirit of 2016, was betrayed. Nationalists wanted the workers’ party he promised, the immigration law enforcement he ran on, and a foreign policy of non-intervention. We should be at these events, using President Trump’s own quotes, and exposing and heightening the contradictions within the Conservative movement.
We were there from the beginning, and it is not betrayal to demand he keep his promises. If he doesn’t, a new champion will emerge. We must constantly be taking the message to normal conservative voters that they have been betrayed. They don’t share the unpopular ideas of the Beltway Right. We aren’t out of step with them; Conservatism Inc. is and 2016 proved it. We have our rallying cry: America First!
Should we vote for President Trump? I won’t tell anyone what to do. Frankly, my position now is we must see how the campaign develops.
We must always keep in mind that we aren’t trying to save Conservatism Inc. If we can develop a true National Conservatism (not the fraudulent version being peddled now), that’s great. Conservatism Inc. is already panicking and knows it is vulnerable. I’d prefer we have a movement that simply calls itself nationalist and jettison “conservative” baggage altogether.
This leads to a second objective. Even if President Trump cuts immigration, which seems doubtful at this point, whites will be a minority within most of our lifetimes.
What does “America” mean in that case? What is “nationalism”? What happens when Texas, Florida, and Georgia flip? That will happen. Ultimately, even if we “took over” the conservative movement right now, it’s essentially too late.
Thus, everything we are doing now, including engaging and exposing Conservatism Inc., is ultimately about building the networks and institutions that can support white people when we are a minority. We must understand that we’re moving towards a “post-nationalist” situation. We can build local communities and groups that support each other and survive. We can build businesses and cooperatives. Eventually, we need to concentrate geographically.
We must build on the peripheries. It may mean economic sacrifice. For those of you who intend to remain permanently anonymous, I urge you to tithe to this movement. We have accomplished so much with so little; if we all gave ten percent of our incomes each month, I have no doubt we would win.
We should rally to the symbols of the historic American nation: the Betsy Ross flag, the Founding Fathers, the symbols of nationalism. We attack from within the center of power and if someone is fired or purged, we have a place for him in the periphery. That’s the strategy.
I’d like to end on a personal note. I urge you to learn from those, like me, who charged the guns early on and made stupid mistakes. Don’t ever say a word you wouldn’t stand by publicly. Don’t marginalize yourself unnecessarily. Learn.
I recall one European nationalist who was “exposed” for his involvement with some extreme group. He explained it by saying that such groups were all that existed for whites who didn’t hate themselves. That’s not the case now. Don’t internalize the idea that you’re some bizarre weirdo opposed to “normies.”
We’re the normal people in an appallingly abnormal era. It’s tempting to become embittered. I have sometimes been guilty of that failing.
Yet the life of our nation, civilization, and people is at stake. You know what that is? An opportunity for heroism. This means endurance. It means faith, total faith in victory. More than anything, it means loyalty.
We’re already in a situation in which any hint of white identity is smeared as racism, Nazism, or terrorism. I’ve seen people — good people — back out of this movement to protect their families, and I don’t fault them.
We’ve also seen people who attack former friends. Some of these cases have been shocking.
Betrayal happens. It happens in ordinary, non-political life too. Even if you have trusted friends, don’t talk about politics by email, don’t reveal anything on social media, don’t make it easy for our opponents.
If you decide you will fight for these ideas openly, understand the price from the beginning. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Conduct yourself with honor and with modesty. Those who talk big are often the first to crack, beg, and betray.
Ultimately, this is all about the way you define yourself. Identity isn’t just a word. It’s the motor force of history. We have only a very brief time here. Most of us waste it. Many people feel disconnected, purposeless, lost. Even those in power seem that way. Thanks to Twitter, we know the journalists, celebrities, and politicians who benefit from this system appear to be the most unhappy people of all.
The best, the most loyal, the most extraordinary people I know I’ve met through my involvement in white advocacy. There have been moments of fear, doubt, cynicism, even despair. Yet my friends have always kept me going. When you go home tonight, I don’t want you to blow this off. I want you to go to your room, shut the door, and think where you fit in the Western saga.
You may organize openly, or quietly. Perhaps you believe mainstream politics is the path. Perhaps you want to start a family and make money, in which I case I urge you to tithe to this movement and support those who are fighting for you.
Some of you may be afraid. That’s understandable. Yet fear is necessary for bravery. Look around at what our country has become! You can see the costs of fear and inaction. Together, we are strong.
Death comes for all of us. When you look back, it’s not just that you want to say your life meant something. You want something that lives beyond you. Not just children, but our people, our nation, our civilization.
We are called to be the greatest generation of the West, or the last. I can advise you, I can support you, but I can’t choose your path for you. Only you can do that. But I swear to every single one of you, that if you walk this road, I’ll be with you all to the end.