There is a tremendous shift in national politics that has little to do with changing demographics. The Left has now become the mouthpiece for urban, liberal elites while the Right is increasingly becoming the voice of the working class. One can only hope that this is a lasting shift since the great realignment has consequences for conservatism in America. Unfortunately, there are forces and voices within conservatism who are all-too-willing to throw a monkey wrench into it.
While President Trump led a national reawakening to “make America great again,” there are a host of conservative groups, people, and pundits hell-bent to restore the pre-2016 status quo. Instead of realizing that the whole idea behind MAGA was challenging that status quo, in many respects they have co-opted the techniques of Trump’s unique brand of populism to perpetuate their place at the table. The true adherents have begun to question and distance themselves from the old brand of charlatan because they realize that their brand of conservatism really hasn’t conserved all that much.
Instead, they are like an old man in a rocking chair trying to reposition the rabbit ears on his television while insisting the snow on the TV isn’t that bad. Why was Trump elected in 2016? Real people began to reject the excesses of the Left. Why did Trump win the nomination of the GOP? Real people started to realize that the old guard conservatives were either too weak, or negligent, in stopping the excesses. In some sense- especially the younger generations- fiscal conservatism has not improved their lives all that much, if polls are to believed, and social liberalism has made them strangers in their own land.
While aping the antics of Trump’s populism in some cases, the old guard has failed to advance a coherent message against the Left other than “It isn’t socialism.” Some have read the tea leaves and gauged the political temperature and have jumped about the Trump train while running to the locomotive with a monkey wrench in hand and a bucket of water to throw in the coal burner. Mainly, they do so because it provides a career opportunity and little else since they had no intention of “making America great again.”
It is why these old guard conservatives are often more hostile to their fellow travelers than they are to the Left. They have formed a largely stealth-like contract with the Left to maintain that status quo. They would rather keep free markets regulated than preserve and strengthen morality. It is why they denounce fellow conservatives as bigots and racists rather than engage many who have honest concerns. They then turn around and style themselves brave defenders of free speech and “mavericks” within conservatism. In effect, they share more in common with the Left than they do true conservatives.
The ironies are in plain sight. They will talk to Leftists who support late term abortion while simultaneously smear a conservative about concerns over open borders. Some have even come to accept abortion on demand because, well… it’s the status quo. Their desire for respectability and playing by the rules dictated by the Left has nothing to do with conserving a Nation.
We have seen the recent polls about younger people and their embrace of Communism and socialism. To them, socialism is less a threat than their current concerns. There is no real threat of a coming nuclear apocalypse at the hands of the Communist bear. Instead, while the Left played with the rabbit ears and old guard conservatives helped them, health care, education and homeownership have grown increasingly cost-prohibitive. Millions of good-paying jobs have left the country and others are held by visa holders and outsourced labor. Then there is the cultural attack by the Left which a story unto itself.
What are Americans more concerned about on a daily basis? Is it mass immigration, economic opportunity, and cultural shifts? Or is it a fear of socialism? The simple fact is that socialism has become more palatable since traditional conservatives neglected or refused to take these other concerns more seriously.
The old conservatives, when one looks at it, is actually libertarian- socially liberal and fiscally conservative. But the great shift exemplified by the election of Trump in 2016 reveals the American electorate as the opposite.
As Matthew Boose at American Greatness posited, do you think the Left is losing any sleep now that Ocasio-Cortez’ plot to end meat consumption and air travel is no longer a secret? Does anyone believe that Adam Schiff, Nadler and Pelosi really care that deposing a President through a sham of an impeachment causes them sleepless nights? It tells the Left that conservatives, pre-Trump, really were not all that serious about conserving anything from the start. That fact- more than the fear of socialism or how Millennials feel about it- should be more concerning to true conservatives.
What exactly were these conservatives attempting to “conserve” other than an invitation to CNN or a writing assignment for the Washington Post or a lucrative pay day from a think tank? It make some wonder.