Conservatism has not conserved anything. This claim may appear ridiculous to those plagued by unwavering faith in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. After all, is it not conservatism that is holding the line against the left’s tyrannical agenda?
To those in the know, however, the charge that conservatism has conserved nothing is so self-evident that it has become something of a cliché, a veritable mantra recited with such frequency that it’s more likely to evoke eye rolls than enlightenment. Nevertheless, clichés often convey deep, fundamental truths, and few clichés on the right ring truer than this one.
The history of conservatism is one of toothless opposition to whatever form of anti-civilizational insanity the left happens to be promoting at a particular point in time. Established figures on the right, be they politicians or pundits, are wont to publicly denounce the left, only to later capitulate to, or adopt outright, the other side’s positions.
Those on the right who refuse to capitulate are defamed, unpersoned, and blackballed by the combined forces of the establishment—“conservatives” included—thus further hampering the instances when conservatism truly does propose some opposition to the left. The message is clear: Get with the times or face the consequences.
The practice of the right ceding cultural, political, and moral ground to its ostensible political adversaries has come to be known as the leftward shift. It is not unusual for parties identified with the right to move leftward to accommodate a changed political climate, but today’s political conservative operatives have carried this practice to new heights.
Historical examples of the leftward shift in action abound. Few, however, are as illustrative of the extent to which conservatives have been willing to adopt positions they once opposed, such as gay marriage and so-called LGBT rights in general.
Opposition to gay marriage was, until very recently, a defining facet of American conservatism. In 2004, George W. Bush publicly supported an amendment that would limit marriage to people of the opposite sex. This decision was made in response to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who, two weeks prior, began granting marriage licenses to homosexual couples. “The union of a man and a woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith,” Bush said at the time.
Much has changed since then. Twenty-three percent of voters who identified as or leaned Republican supported gay marriage in 2001, according to Pew Research. By 2019—not even two decades later—that percentage had nearly doubled to 44 percent. While the trajectory has been upward in recent years, it did noticeably spike in 2017 at 47 percent, which followed Trump’s first year in office. At a campaign stop in Colorado, candidate Trump unfurled a rainbow-colored flag that read “LGBT for Trump.” The Trump campaign’s store featured similarly colored merchandise. Trump himself said in 2016 that he was “fine” with gay marriage. And the MAGA world lavishly praised itself for Trump’s appointment of Richard Grenell, America’s first openly gay cabinet member.
Conservatives aren’t the only ones who recently flipped on their opposition to gay marriage. In 2008, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama explicitly stated his aversion to the practice. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” Obama said in a November 2008 MTV interview. “I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Obama only reversed his position on gay marriage during his 2012 reelection campaign. It would be unthinkable these days for a Democratic presidential candidate to voice such a conservative position on gay marriage—or anything, really—and win.
Did this change in opinion signify a sincere change of heart for Barack Obama? Or was he merely shifting his stance on gay marriage for political reasons? As with any politician, it’s often hard to differentiate between realpolitik and personal convictions. Regardless, the fact remains that in 2008, the Democratic presidential nominee was able to win the election while opposing gay marriage—yet now, in 2021, a substantial portion of Republicans support gay marriage and LGBT culture. Sometimes, they even level accusations of homophobia against Democrats, believing themselves to be the true defenders of gay rights.
To be fair, opinions on the right differ on how to approach gay marriage now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag. While I’m far from supportive of gay marriage, I’m nonetheless sympathetic to arguments that the right has more pressing concerns: mass immigration, institutionalized antiwhite animus, and tech censorship, to name a few. However, there’s a difference between carefully choosing your battles and adopting the positions of your political adversaries; conservatism, sadly, is guilty of the latter.
Gay marriage isn’t the only LGBT issue on which the right has ceded ground—transgenderism, too, is now gaining acceptance in the conservative movement. In 2018, National Review published an article titled “Time for a Compromise on Transgenderism.” The article’s author argues that America has, overall, become more “mature” on gay rights, and that it’s time for our country to reach a similar level of enlightenment on transgenderism. Clearly, conservatives are already rationalizing their eventual acceptance of transgender ideology and all of the legal implications thereof.
The recent promotion of Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner’s bid for California governor by elements within conservatism further reveals the acceptance of transgenderism on the right. Jenner, in an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight in April 2017, stated that his loyalties do not lie with Donald Trump or the Republican Party, but with the LGBT community.
Over the course of Trump’s presidency—and despite being granted a White House visit in 2018—Jenner repeatedly chastised him for failing to deliver on LGBT issues, saying that Trump “has been, for all LGBT issues, the worst president we have ever had.” Jenner also refused to vote for Trump in the 2020 election. Nevertheless, Jenner recently ran as a Republican and has the support of many within conservatism, including former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, GOP operative Caroline Wren, and various Fox News hosts.
Some on the right may believe that any Republican would be preferable to Gavin Newsom—even Caitlyn Jenner. California is undoubtedly in bad shape, but by supporting a transgender candidate, the right has ceded ground to the left yet again. The transgender agenda isn’t merely about encouraging people to refer to transgender individuals by their preferred pronouns— it’s about ensuring that mentally ill men are allowed to use the same bathrooms and changing rooms as young girls. Such an outcome would be horrific and, if enacted through federal legislation, difficult to reverse.
above: Caitlyn Jenner in 2017 (photo by David Fitzgerald/Web Summit via Sportsfile/Wikimedia Commons)
Some conservatives, such as Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk, have voiced their opposition to Caitlyn Jenner. Embracing a transgender candidate is still fairly taboo on the right, but for how long? The slippery slope is real, and given the nature of the leftward shift, we can safely predict that whatever opposition to transgenderism currently exists on the right will wane over time unless something drastic changes.
Another example of the leftward shift—one arguably more damning—is conservatism’s adoption of the left’s diversity agenda. In March of this year, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), one of the largest Republican super PACs, published a document outlining its strategy for the 2022 midterm elections. Was that strategy to focus more on issues that matter to the base? Not quite. Instead, the CLF had a brilliant idea: promote more women and minorities! The document reads:
In 2020, all 15 of the seats Republicans flipped were won by a woman, a minority, or a veteran. They were candidates of character, heroism, and achievement. That’s not by accident. [House GOP Leader Kevin] McCarthy made it a priority from the outset to find strong candidates with compelling life stories that reflect their districts.
To be clear, there’s a world of difference between endorsing the best candidate, regardless of race or gender, and emphasizing a candidate’s diversity status. The former is sensible, whereas the latter is evidence of the leftward shift in action. It must be remembered that it was the left—not the right—that introduced a moral hierarchy in which white people occupy a lower standing than nonwhite people. Despite the obvious leftist origins of this antiwhite framework, many in the GOP appear to have adopted it. Amusingly, conservatives continue to decry the left’s emphasis on identity politics while shamelessly playing the same game.
Furthermore, a favorite conservative pastime is arguing that Democrats are the real racists. This is actually true, for institutional racism exists, is directed exclusively at white people, and is supported wholeheartedly by the Democratic Party. Yet this isn’t what most conservative pundits are getting at. Instead, their claim is that the Democratic Party is racist against minorities, particularly black people. Despite such pandering, Trump only did slightly better with Hispanics in 2020 compared to 2016, and received roughly the same portion of the black vote in both elections.
The left has a monopoly on its buzzwords and positions, meaning that voters who feel strongly about largely nonexistent racism toward minorities will never join the GOP in droves. Were the nonwhite voters whom Trump gained in 2020 motivated by anti-racism? Doubtful. If the GOP wants to win over a greater share of minority voters, it should focus more on addressing real issues and improving the lives of all Americans.
By adopting such a myopic stance on this most contentious of issues, conservatives, knowingly or unknowingly, also adopt the left’s moral framework, which states that racism toward minorities is a pressing issue in America. Again, it was the left, not the right, that was responsible for popularizing the myth that nonwhite Americans face widespread racism.
For a political movement that purports to oppose leftism, conservatism is curiously prone to adopting leftist positions. All of this raises the question: Why cede ground? In other words, why is conservatism increasingly resembling that which it is believed to oppose?
The answer is complicated. As noted above in the example of Obama’s gay marriage switch, the leftward shift doesn’t exclusively affect the right. The culture overall is moving leftward. Virtually every powerful institution in America—academia, corporations, finance, the mainstream media, the judiciary, the administrative state, intelligence agencies, and more—supports this trajectory. And although the exact source of the leftward shift is hard to pinpoint, to broadly ascribe it to our ruling class would be accurate. Simply put: leftism emanates from the halls of power because it benefits those in charge. And while politics is downstream from culture, it is also true that culture is downstream from power.
As to why conservatives cede ground to the left, the reasons vary. Cowardice is the most obvious. Up against an array of powerful, hostile institutions, conservatives often feel that holding the line on a particular cultural or political battle is futile. As a result, they tend to resort to ill-advised strategies. Easily the worst of these is the adoption of the other side’s moral framework, positions, and language in an attempt to beat the left at its own game. Conservatives fancy themselves mighty clever when they ape their adversaries, but the joke is ultimately on them.
There is a more insidious dynamic at play as well. Many conservative pundits and most GOP operatives serve the establishment, not the people, so their failure to hold the line isn’t a failure at all from their perspective—it’s the system working as intended. The establishment right in America is best understood as controlled opposition. The inner party (Democratic) openly drives the country further leftward, whereas the outer party (Republican) exists to provide false assurance to its constituents that it’s doing its best to conserve what’s left of historic America.
What little pushback the outer part offers, of course, is nothing more than political theater designed to coax justifiably outraged Americans into complacency. Barring a few exceptions, the Republican Party and establishment conservatism have no intention of reversing American decline, but rather serve the function of ensuring that no meaningful opposition to globalism can blossom on the right. Although the Trump phenomenon proved that this controlled opposition status quo can indeed be interrupted, whether this current wave of populism will succeed in the long run remains to be seen.
The leftward shift is indeed a real phenomenon—one responsible for unraveling the social technology that made America great in the first place—and conservatism has undeniably proven itself incapable of stemming the tide of leftism. As such, one is forced to conclude that this process will continue for the foreseeable future. Make no mistake: Until our institutions are reclaimed, we haven’t won.
In light of such a somber assessment, it’s worth asking what, if anything, is left to conserve? Statues of American heroes are toppled in the streets by regime-sanctioned mobs; our nation’s great history is being rewritten by those who hate it; antiwhite racism and discrimination are a matter of state policy; a demographic majority-minority is just around the corner; the promotion of LGBT propopanda to children is mainstream; and those who dare to speak out against the madness face unpersoning, deplatforming, and unemployment.
The brutal, unignorable reality of the situation is that there isn’t much left to conserve. It’s foolish to believe that merely halting the leftward shift now, after decades of damage, will prove sufficient to save America. This process must be stopped—not slowed, not begrudgingly accepted, but stopped altogether. After all, there’s only so much ground we can cede—and we’ve almost reached that point.
Therefore, instead of conserving, the right must focus on reclaiming. So long as American power centers are controlled by the globalist regime, the leftward shift will continue, and our country will continue to drift further and further into tyranny, chaos, and, ultimately, oblivion. It’s thus up to us, American patriots and men of the West, to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
above: Former U.S. President George W. Bush receives a hug from U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama as they attend the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sept. 24, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (ZACH GIBSON/AFP via Getty Images)