Despite the leftist takeover of most American institutions, America is still saveable—if the right is willing to fight fire with fire.
It’s pretty easy to be optimistic about America’s prospects if you believe the tales that the conservative movement tells its donors. Or the Trump mythology. Or the Reagan hagiography.
More generally than not, though, those who know what time it is—that is, who realize just how much ground has been gained by the left in the past century and how corrupt the regime has become—tend to despair. As the kids say, they’ve been “blackpilled.” And it’s easy to see why.
What was once justly known as the land of the free and the home of the brave has devolved into an oligarchic, feminizing regime that is hostile to most of the defining elements of traditional American identity. The institutional high ground is controlled by a ruling class that is either sincerely woke and anti-American or that lacks the courage to stand up to the fanatics.
At best, our elites are just greedy—or neoliberal, to use the quaint contemporary term—and thus indifferent to America. At worst, they are woke believers hellbent on further accelerating Third World immigration, turning your kids transgender, and eradicating all dissent. What they almost never are, is unabashedly committed to constitutionalism, any kind of recognizably orthodox Christianity, liberty (on issues not related to drugs or sexuality), manliness, or any other of the features that once defined this republic. The best that can be said on their behalf is that they generally support economic growth and scientific innovation, although both are undermined by the woke erosion of standards and environmentalist neo-Luddism.
If you love America, you can still find a handful of dissident institutions that align with your beliefs (I am lucky enough to work at one)—but both the elite and mainstream institutions loudly signal that they despise your beliefs and your heritage. And they are becoming more and more brazen in wielding their power to punish dissenters and bestow special privileges upon allies.
The rule of law, the foundational pillar of American republicanism, is increasingly giving way to a two-tiered system of justice. The law (along with the media, of course) mostly turns a blind eye to the machinations of the Clintons and the Bidens, to Epstein’s pedophile network, to the millions of illegal immigrants flooding our southern border, to the homeless encampments overtaking our cities, to BLM and Antifa rioters, and to the petty and not-so-petty black criminals whom Soros-funded district attorneys refrain from prosecuting because of “antiracism.” While these allies of the regime do not operate with complete impunity, parts of the law simply do not apply to them.
The law, by contrast, comes down extra hard (and the media obsessively reports) on political dissidents who “trespassed” the Capitol on Jan. 6, citizens who defied the draconian COVID policies of the regime (unless they were protesting racial injustice), and, of course, the leading Republican contender for the presidency, his inner circle, and those who supported him in unapproved ways. Douglass Mackey was recently convicted of conspiring to deprive others of their right to vote because he tweeted unapproved memes. He faces up to 10 years in prison. The average prison sentence of the 70 BLM and Antifa rioters who have so far been found guilty is 27 months. In New York, two former lawyers, Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, were sentenced to a little over a year for setting fire to an empty police car with a Molotov cocktail.
In 1994, Chronicles columnist Sam Francis coined the term “anarcho-tyranny” in the pages of this magazine to describe the now-prevalent double standard, but subsequent events have shown that his definition needs to be expanded. The tyranny—that is, the draconian enforcement of laws—applies not just to “the innocent and the law-abiding” ordinary citizen, but also to the political enemies of the regime. And the anarchy, or the nonenforcement of laws, extends beyond “serious criminals” to politically well-connected individuals and disorderly groups whose causes are blessed by the regime.
America is also governed by an all-encompassing civil rights regime that essentially mandates that those who have the privilege of belonging to a so-called oppressed identity group (blacks and women, first and foremost, followed by Hispanics and members of the so-called LGBTQ community) be admitted, hired, and promoted ahead of those who do not (straight white males, above all), regardless of qualifications or competence. America is most definitely systemically racist—just not in the way that we are told.
Contrary to the alarmist shrieks of certain anonymous Twitter accounts, the regime, however, is not completely corrupt. The Supreme Court, for example, just ruled against the use of racial preferences in college admissions. Yes, the ruling could have gone further and explicitly overturned the affirmative action rationale established in cases such as Bakke (1978) and Grutter (2003). Of course, the universities will do their best to avoid complying with the ruling (in fact, they have already signaled their intention to do so). But it is a victory, and it could be put to good use by savvy conservatives and Republicans.
Alas, we on the right are still largely led by mediocrities. There are numerous exceptions, of course—too many to list, in fact—but on the whole the fabled conservative political movement, to say nothing of the Republican Party, is not an inspiring sight.
It’s not just that they have been almost completely routed by the left for decades, but they do not even comprehend the magnitude of their defeat. They continue to speak of a Reagan revolution, a Republican revolution, and a more general conservative revolution. In truth, none of these purported revolutions was, in any way, revolutionary. The left actually did transform America, through second-wave feminism, the sexual revolution, and civil rights and immigration legislation. Tax cuts, originalism, the Reagan presidency, and the religious right did not.
Republicans can win elections at the state and federal level. But they’ve demonstrated, time and time again, a failure to enact any transformational reforms once they are in power. Some of their policies, like school choice and occupational licensing reform, have undeniably improved the quality of life for Americans, but they have not reversed the country’s decline, dealt any devastating blows to the institutional centers of power of the left, or significantly scaled back the reach of the State.
For all his flaws, Trump did reveal the intellectual bankruptcy of the right and the extent to which it was disconnected from the priorities of its base. Many got the message and adjusted accordingly. But it is rather discouraging to see how little has changed on the right, both within the major institutions of conservatism as well as within the Republican Party establishment, eight years after Trump came down the escalator.
The country, meanwhile, continues its steady decline. The public square is a cesspool of unspeakable vulgarity that even the occasional excellent TV show cannot redeem. Our fertility is at an all-time low, and 40 percent of all children are born out of wedlock. We are, by far, the largest consumers and producers of pornography, as well as the most obese Western nation. We have, in other words, lost control over the two strongest appetites in man: food and sex. If civilization means anything, it is the ability to control our animal urges.
Close to a century into the alleged conservative crusade against big government, the state at all levels continues to spend like a drunken sailor. Within five years, interest payments will exceed defense spending. And let’s be honest, no one really believes that Congress is willing, much less capable, of overhauling the country’s finances or even shuttering a single federal department, agency, or program.
There are still many bright spots, of course. America remains a formidably wealthy country and it is home to many of the most innovative companies in the world. No other country delivers consumer goods more efficiently. We continue to attract the most talented and ambitious people in the world (a mixed blessing, to be sure, but they would not be coming here if the country were a hellhole). And while our airports, hospitals, and schools are not as good as they once were, things for the most part still work.
How much longer this will be the case is, of course, the very question before us. America today is run by Boomers and Gen Xers who, for all their unseriousness and effeminacy, are paragons of Homeric virtue compared to millennials and Gen Zers. I tremble for my country when I reflect that the most coddled, the most mentally unstable, the most historically ignorant, the most effeminate, and the most woke generations will soon be at the helm.
In sum, things are bad and they’re probably going to get worse. We’re surrounded, the generals are compromised, and there is no cavalry coming to the rescue. And yet, despair and capitulation are unwarranted, if only because there is still a large base of patriotic and defiant citizens.
While that base is no longer as large, spirited, and healthy as it once was, it still represents a vast constituency. Donald Trump was demonized daily for five years by the press and almost every prominent American, and he still managed to get 74 million votes in 2020. Large segments of the population still tenaciously cling not just to their guns and their religion, but also to their country, their borders, and their way of life. The explosive success of an ordinary song with populist themes like Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” shows just how much appetite there is for people who defy the regime.
For all of the enormous inroads that the left has made in reshaping the popular consciousness, it has still not fully conquered the public’s mind. Affirmative action has been around for more than 50 years and it remains very unpopular. Despite a relentless propaganda campaign and the backing of the medical establishment, the trans agenda continues to generate considerable backlash. According to a respected federal survey, high-school boys are today twice as likely to identify as conservative than as liberal. In stand-up clubs across the country, comedians are mocking the absurd pieties of the left.
We are also living in a golden age of dissent. In no society in human history has it been easier for citizens to access dissident information and to communicate with another. Yes, the internet was freer 10 years ago. Yes, some dissidents still get booted from Twitter, even after the Musk takeover. But, on the whole, Americans can readily criticize and mock the regime (although they must be careful in talking about any protected identity groups). And if they don’t just trust what Google spits up, they can pretty much find whatever they want online.
America is also the only Western nation that has not criminalized so-called “hate speech.” While the term evokes Holocaust denials and vicious racial slurs, it is instead used across the West to prosecute and silence those who quite reasonably criticize immigration or Islam’s treatment of women, for example. In America, a unanimous Supreme Court affirmed, only a few years ago, that purported hate speech is protected speech.
The regime does, admittedly, become more censorious with each passing year. And the existence of a growing body of malcontents will not matter unless they can be mobilized and radicalized, in the best sense of the term, under the right leadership. That, of course, is the perennial problem on the right.
At least since the 1960s, the demand for defiant conservatives has continually outstripped the supply, and yet one can still count on the fingers of two hands the number of national figures on the right who unabashedly defend their country’s interests and are capable of governing.
If there is a path forward for the right—and therefore, for the country—it lies in figuring out how to produce smart leaders, at both the national and state levels, who can successfully advance an unabashedly right-wing agenda. This is by no means a simple task but here are some suggestions on what must be done for this to happen.
Obviously, the right needs to completely change its approach to politics. “Don’t tread on me” is not enough. As the writer and BlazeTV host Auron MacIntyre has correctly observed: “The side that wants to win will always beat the side that just wants to be left alone.” We need a right that wants to take control of institutions to advance its programs; in other words, that has the will to impose its agenda on the left. School choice, for example, is not enough. We need to take control of school boards and dictate curricula.
We need, in short, to relearn to think politically. As Christopher Rufo, author of America’s Cultural Revolution, recently explained regarding the all-important issue of schooling: “We should repoliticize the universities and understand that education is at heart a political question.” We should broaden his analysis. Almost all issues are, either at heart or because of the left, political questions. And all the major institutions are already politicized. We need a right that will play by the same rules as the left and use political power to reward and honor allies and to defund and humiliate enemies—without, however, violating the law as it does.
The problem, of course, is that all the pressure today comes from the left and the establishment. Any semi-capable Republican elected official who tries to govern in the way I suggest will inevitably have the media hammer his character, the bureaucracy try to subvert his agenda, and left-wing activist groups challenge his policies in the courts. This has been true for decades, and, yet, the right has still not figured out how to neutralize the media, the bureaucracy, and left-wing lawfare. Breaking this logjam would not solve all our problems, but it would be one of the prerequisites to reversing the direction of our politics.
It is also imperative that the right invest considerable resources in trying to remasculinize men—young boys in particular. Red states should create all-boys schools, revamp their curriculum to emphasize the manly pursuit of excellence (more Plutarch, less Maya Angelou), promote physical fitness, get all junk food out of cafeterias, teach manual skills, and cultivate spiritedness by requiring boys to participate in martial arts and combat sports (team sports are overrated). This too is not a panacea, but I can think of no other issue that would have greater positive spillover effects since all the things that must be done to save our country require manly courage (as well as prudence and cunning).
We should also remember that the regime is nowhere near as strong as it appears. Many members of the ruling class are weak, dumb, and incompetent, and they grow more incompetent with each passing year as they double down on diversity at the expense of meritocracy. Their main propaganda arm, the media, is more despised today than probably ever in the past. The overreaction to COVID and the medical establishment’s uncritical embrace of transgenderism have done irreparable harm to the reputation of expertise.
The left has also overplayed its hand on both race and sex and considerably weakened its moral standing. Progressives used to defend nice churchgoing blacks against Klansmen and friendly gays against bigoted Christians. Today they’re defending criminals and the mutilation of children. The legitimization of pedophiles, or minor-attracted persons as they now are called, is already underway.
There are opportunities to be seized. And although the odds are not in our favor, so what? America was, after all, founded by a ragtag bunch of colonials who went to war with the most powerful army in the world. Ultimately, nothing could be more un-American than to give up on America.