Are we tired of winning yet?

This is the question Donald Trump kept telling us we’d be asking ourselves if he succeeded in taking the White House—and I have to confess the answer is an emphatic “No!”

Join me on a journey through the past, when the editors of Chronicles and the friends and followers of Murray Rothbard were convened at one of the first sessions of the John Randolph Club, that exclusive society where liberty is honored before all and equality finds its place among the minor virtues.

Back then, you’ll recall, the whiff of revolution was in the air, both at home and abroad.  The Soviet empire was disintegrating faster than anyone could keep track of: The mighty colossus that conservatives had feared, warning of its will and power to destroy us, was no more.  The inner sanctum of the Leninist heresy, the Soviet Union itself, was collapsing before our eyes—not with a bang, but with a whimper!

The world was taken aback; nobody had come close to predicting this.  As the Soviets were collapsing, the neoconservatives were declaring it was all a trap—yes, a desperate deception designed to lure us into complacency and then strike while the iron was hot.  According to them, the Soviets were successfully hiding a huge weapons arsenal that could wipe us out in a first strike.  Reagan wasn’t buying it, and the neocons were swept aside, along with their bogus objections.  One can only imagine the funereal atmosphere at the Kristol residence as Bill and his still-living father, along with a passel of relatives, followers, and drifters (around chiefly for the pizza) absorbed the End of the Dream—the dream, that is, of perpetual war.

Within the ranks of our nascent movement, spirits couldn’t have been higher.  Rothbard’s keynote speech, “A Strategy for the Right,” hailed the death of Bolshevism as a mighty blow delivered on behalf of liberty—but now, he warned, we were in for the Menshevik version of collectivism, which emerged, soon enough, from the dead carcass of its Bolshevik twin.  And we saw it grow and bloom in Europe and here in the United States, the once-tired and discarded wreck of the Social Democracy.  The bright pink banner of “democratic socialism” is being unfurled as if it were anything other than the old corporate-sponsored cronyism seasoned with some multicultural spices.

This was not yet our moment, but we knew it was coming.  It was a question only of when—of luck, of the right concatenation of circumstance.

Through two Middle Eastern wars that took a horrific toll on the nation, through a crash and a bailout of the undeserving, our rulers barreled ahead without a worry in the world.  All the while, a shrinking proportion of the population was grabbing an ever-expanding share of the wealth, and the cultural gap between the bicoastal elites and the Great American Middle grew cavernous.  To top it off, we saw the beginning of an unprecedented government-sponsored campaign to flood the country with immigrants, which nobody ever voted for.  Unheeding of criticism, determined to hold on to power, our rulers were in a hurry.  On the way to Davos-World, they couldn’t trample over the rights and concerns of Middle Americans fast enough.

For our part, we had only to propagate the ideas: It was as if the seeds took root before they hit the ground.  Immigration control, abandoning the idiocy of “world leadership,” the restoration of national sovereignty, demolishing archaic Cold War structures that cost billions to maintain (and serve only to enrich the worst people in the country), going after the administrative state, always the principal antagonist of “the little guy”—beneath the drumbeat of leftist cant and political correctness, paleoconservatives stubbornly played their cultural and ideological counterpoint.  Our narcissistic political class, oblivious to all but the image of their own rapidly developing virtue, ignored the rest of the country.

They had all the troops: the heavy artillery of the media, the think tanks, the universities, the corrupt political machines that have wrapped themselves around Chicago and New York like giant vampire squid.  They had both political parties, and they had the Donor Class, the class that puts the oligarchy in “democracy.”

And what did we have?  A middle-aged little Jewish guy in a not-quite-filled ballroom telling us someday soon the backlash would come, both the neocons and the liberals would be swept aside by a Middle American Revolution, and the right-wing populist movement would be the vehicle by which liberty would triumph.

As it turned out, that’s all we needed.

“The Old Right is back,” Rothbard declared.  And in that he was right: The neocon slogan of “invade the world, invite the world,” was replaced by “America First” in record time.  He was also right that Middle American rebels would overthrow the bicoastal elite and take power.

Interestingly, Rothbard had a fascination with charismatic leaders, such as Joe McCarthy, who were able to overcome the media and the liberal establishment and speak directly to the masses.  Rothbard explained that he abhorred McCarthy’s ends, but admired his means.  By taking on the army, the president, the congress, and the media, the senator succeeded for a time in discrediting the Establishment in the public eye.

It isn’t hard to imagine that Rothbard, in speculating over the advantages of demagogy, conjured up the image of a man very much like Trump.  Yes, Murray Rothbard and we paleos were the first Trumpists, and so now let us take a moment to savor our victory.

Are you tired of winning yet?     


[Image via Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump) [CC BY-SA 2.0]]