Lost in the turmoil of the present revolutionary moment is the fact that one side of the political class remains trapped in a strange time warp. Look through the publications of mainstream conservatives and it is as if they stopped publishing new material somewhere in the last decade. They acknowledge that Trump won the White House, but they refuse to see it as anything but a one-off anomaly. There was no reason for it, other than a bug in the code or a one-in-a-million event.
For a while after Trump took office, they carried on with the anti-Trump stuff, but the money from the usual suspects ran out, so they dropped it. The Israel First wing of Conservative Inc. has setup shop at The Dispatch and The Bulwark, sites that cater to an audience that is similarly lost in time. Both sites look like recycled versions of the Weekly Standard circa 1996 or maybe The New Republic in 1986. What’s left of the old conservative coalition looks like a museum exhibit.
A good example is this post from Kevin Williamson. It feels like forever ago when he was considered an edgy writer for the new breed of conservatives. Read his copy and that feeling is obvious. For the last four years immigration has been one of the main topics of conversation in politics. What it is doing to a state like Texas has been a popular example. Yet, in a post about how Texas is becoming California, in terms of its politics, he does not mention immigration once.
How is it possible to be so obtuse? Granted, Williamson is not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but even the dumbest pundit should notice what people are saying. Of course, Williamson is a good example of another modern phenomenon. Whenever one of these guys gets mugged by the mob, instead of being radicalized by it, they go the other way, desperately trying to prove their prior blasphemy was an anomaly. He’s now a 1985 libertarian, ignoring most of what is happening in the world.
That’s fine, but National Review chooses to publish him anyway. They don’t have to make a trauma victim their lead writer. On the other hand, what else is there? The entirety of Conservative Inc. is in the same panic room as Williamson. At this moment, National Review’s front page has a story about electric cars, a story drooling over an Indian immigrant running for Senate in Tennessee, a story about robot wives and, well, you get the point. Teen Vogue is more serious.
It is not just con-men and grifters from the Conservative Industrial Complex that are trapped in a time warp. This was on Breitbart over the weekend. James Pinkerton used to be a guy who would speak forthrightly about the warmongers in the conservative sphere or the impact of globalization on regular Americans. He’s a libertarian, for the most part, but a rare one, in that he was prone to fits of realism. That post looks like something he wrote in the 1980’s.
Stop and consider where we are at this moment. On the one hand, we have a ruling class that is rotten to the core. They have corrupted every aspect of civil and cultural life in America. They now send gangs out into the streets to attack people and take over sections of cities. Pinkerton’s argument is the GOP must become the defenders of those corrupt institutions, as if this is forty years ago and the Left was making its final assault on the infrastructure of the country.
It is as if the entirely of conservatism has responded to the present turmoil by hopping in their DeLorean and going back to the 1980’s. Instead of reevaluating those old positions in light of new reality, they have reconstructed a new reality that is just ignorance of the present reality. The effects of wholesale immigration, globalization, the rise of the Cult-Marx Left and the populist awakening are all ignored. Instead they are retreating into their Burkean panic room to wait out the danger.
Part of it, no doubt, is fear. To talk candidly about what is happening these days is to risk your job and career. Most of the people in Conservative Inc. are there for the money and lifestyle it provides. They like the social aspects and the easy living. If being a Maoist provided the same lifestyle, most would happily quote from Mao. These are highly remunerated house slaves. The monied interests that underwrite these publications are not looking for candor.
Still, there are people who talk candidly about the current year. Kevin Williamson could at least mention immigration once in a story about how Texas is being turned into California by the flood of immigrants and migrants fleeing the invasion. Even if he can’t bring himself to admit the truth, he could at least acknowledge that people have been talking about it for close to a decade now. Pinkerton could acknowledge that the GOP is just the political arm of global enterprise.
What makes this retrenchment even more strange is the people they used to rip-off are heading the other way. You see it in little ways. For example, the old MAGA types are abandoning Twitter and Facebook for Parler. Many have recently taken the plunge to join Gab, after hearing Andrew Torba on Glenn Beck. Trump’s support is lagging because his voters wanted him to be more of what Conservative Inc. warned about, rather than less of it. They want the Trump the Left promised.
For the boys and girls now huddling in Camp 1985, the world has become a dangerous place, so they are hiding out in the past, hoping it all goes away. Every once in a while they will mutter “Orange Man Bad”, but otherwise, they are sitting out the storm, updating their old posts about the need for Burkean conservatism and how race relations were never better. Conservatism has become a cargo cult. They think if they pretend hard enough, it will be 1985 again.
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