The discontents of modern conservativism
Let's put this all out: modern American conservatism is neither modern, nor American, nor conservative. George H.W. Bush would be primaried back to Kennebunkport. Ronald Reagan would be shown the back door. Richard Nixon—Richard Nixon!—would be called a cuckservative for establishing the EPA.
What passes for the conservative movement is nothing but an old-fashioned, European-style fascist political moment. It is a movement based on racial animus. It is a movement based on blood and soil. It is a movement based on cultural chauvinism.
And it is not new. This neo-fascism was always dormant among the right. When conservatives call liberals "fascists" for whatever malefaction we commit, it is nothing but projection. The John Birch Society was nothing but Nazism dressed up with an Orange County sheen. William F. Buckley, Jr., was no great intellect of high-minded conservatism, but as much of a gutter-dweller and anyone who wears a MAGA hat. "Conservative intellectualism" served merely to justify the horrible and unjustifiable.
But even that veneer of intellectualism (remember, the Nazi Party was staffed by numerous men who possessed doctorates) has gone by the wayside. It was too pansy, too effeminate. It spoke in language which good, honest Americans couldn't understand. It took too many words to lay out plain facts.
No Republican Brahmin works for Donald Trump. No Republican Brahmin wants anything to do with him. The reason Trump hires awful people is because only awful people will work for him. Anyone with an ounce of self-respect has steered clear of the kakistocracy.
What people like Jennifer Rubin and Steve Schmidt have realized is that the ideology they served no longer exists. In fact, it never existed. They were peddling for a world view which had no factual basis. They wrote screeds and worked for politicians who didn't believe any of the conservative gobbledygook they sold to the lumpen menschen. They're realizing how wedded to racist tropes and anti-liberal (liberal in the broadest sense of the term) ideology it is. It was clear to anyone from the outside viewing in how quickly the Republican Party was running towards fascism. It's harder for someone on the inside to see the danger. It took a shock to the system like Trump to shake them out of their stupor. And you hear less and less talk about saving the party, or reforming conservatism. As it exists now, it is nothing but an ideological danger to the republic.
So what now?
It's not hyperbole to say we're in a perilous situation. The forces opposing Trump and his followers grow strong by the day. They may make a clean sweeping out of the Congress this November. And then what happens? You will possibly have a Democratic House and Senate (Senate less likely, but still possible) facing off against Trump. He will be cornered, wounded, facing attacks from the legislature and Robert Mueller's inquiry. Democrats aren't running on impeaching Trump, but there's no doubt that at the least there will be investigations getting into all of his business dealings and Russian collusion. The regime will be checked in a way which will enrage Trump. The most remarkable thing is the loyalty he engenders among the mouthbreathers, the ones who see their white privilege about to be taken away, who voted for him not out of economic pain, but cultural pain. Will they take to the streets? Will you have lone wolf or coordinated attacks?
What happens when a political party is discredited? What happens to its followers? While I'm not sanguine that the GOP has no future, it does seem as if we're at a point of rupture. Nothing is sure from here on out.
However, we are fortunate in one thing: Our opponents are not that smart. By eschewing the intellectual component of conservatism, they have nothing but animus upon which to build a movement. They are all id, all roiling aggrievement, with no directing intelligence. Such a movement can score short-term victories, but has no longer term future, as it has no underpinning to keep it going. Eventually, vitriol wears itself out.
These are not masters of the universe. They have cast off any intellectual underpinning to their ideology. They believe that pure hatred will propel them. And humans, on the whole, don't respond well to hatred. Even those who should be fodder for conservative messaging may find the constant drumbeat of fear tiring. Only the truly lost will keep responding to it.
Our road ahead of us is hard, but it is not bleak. It is, if nothing else, necessary. We are at the beginning of a Second Reconstruction. And this time it will neither be cut short, nor confined to the usual places.
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