The New Right Has Told Us Who They Are. Why Don't Americans Believe Them?
The people are the problem. Always.
1. They. Are. Dangerous.
When we talk about the New Right and its interest in authoritarianism, I worry that people abstract it to mean “policy views that we do not like” or “norms that we find vulgar.”
That’s not what it’s about.
In January of 2021, the New Right—at the behest of the sitting American president, Republican members of Congress, and various elected local Republicans—attempted a coup. They sought to “overturn”—President Trump’s word—the lawful results of a free and fair election.
This was not a random, spontaneous decision. In this Vanity Fair piece, J.D. Vance explains how the New Right views constitutional government:
“So there’s this guy Curtis Yarvin, who has written about some of these things,” [J.D.] Vance said. [Jack] Murphy chortled knowingly. “So one [option] is to basically accept that this entire thing is going to fall in on itself,” Vance went on. “And so the task of conservatives right now is to preserve as much as can be preserved,” waiting for the “inevitable collapse” of the current order.
He said he thought this was pessimistic. “I tend to think that we should seize the institutions of the left,” he said. “And turn them against the left. We need like a de-Baathification program, a de-woke-ification program.”
“I think Trump is going to run again in 2024,” he said. “I think that what Trump should do, if I was giving him one piece of advice: Fire every single midlevel bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people.”
“And when the courts stop you,” he went on, “stand before the country, and say—” he quoted Andrew Jackson, giving a challenge to the entire constitutional order—“the chief justice has made his ruling. Now let him enforce it.” . . .
“We are in a late republican period,” Vance said later, evoking the common New Right view of America as Rome awaiting its Caesar. “If we’re going to push back against it, we’re going to have to get pretty wild, and pretty far out there, and go in directions that a lot of conservatives right now are uncomfortable with.”
“Indeed,” Murphy said. “Among some of my circle, the phrase ‘extra-constitutional’ has come up quite a bit.”
This is what they want for America. They want a coup. They are not hiding it. It’s out in the open.
And yet, look at the polls. Voters are ready to push these people into power because . . . why, exactly?
Because voters don’t care about “democracy”? Because voters only care about kitchen-table issues that affect their real lives? This is what everyone keeps saying. Maybe it’s true.
I remain unconvinced. Take the real kitchen-table issue of crime. The Democratic Senate passed a measure introduced by MAGA-loving Tommy Tuberville that refused to bail out local governments who did, in fact, “defund the police.” Joe Biden wants to add $32 billion to funding police. But some people on Twitter keep tweeting that they want to “defund the police.” So “crime” is an electoral liability for Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Republican issue of the day is using the power of government to attack Disney. Disney is a giant corporation that creates thousands of jobs. And Republicans want to punish it economically. Which presumably will result in some lesser number of jobs and fewer paychecks around various kitchen tables.
And yet, somehow, “threatening Disney” is an electoral winner for Republicans, even though it is an anti-business, anti-growth position that places an abstract culture war idea above issues that affect people’s pocketbooks and real lives.
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Is this Joe Biden’s fault? Is it the fault of Democratic politicians? Would the political balance of power be different today if elected Democrats pursued more moderate policies? If so, what agenda items should they have pursued and how would the political environment be different right now?
Or is the problem somewhat more intractable—some combination of the environment, the weighted system of representation, and/or . . . the people?
Discuss in the comments. You can probably guess where I come down.
I’ll just say this: What does it mean for democracy when random tweets by progressives are more of an electoral liability at the national level than the expressed, nakedly-authoritarian preferences of a Senate candidate who has been endorsed by the once (and possibly future) president of the United States?
Tonight Tim, Sarah, and JVL are doing a special Next Level Live show. It’s at 8:00 p.m.
You can find the link to the Zoom here.
Come and hang out with us! It will be very special! I may do Cletus von Ivermectin!
2. Venn Diagrams
Pursuant to our conversation about conservative hypocrisy yesterday, a question: What is the overlap between people who cheered Will Smith hitting Chris Rock and people who want Elon Musk to return unfettered “free speech” to Twitter?
I don’t think this would be a circle. But the overlap has got to be pretty significant.
3. The Face of Money
The Pudding is always great and this piece of data visualization is something I never would have guessed: What is the most common profession of people featured on currency?
When the Pudding asked this question three answers sprang to mind. And all three of them were wrong. Here’s the list, but I’ve redacted the #1 answer. Click through to see it revealed.
That’s it for today. See you tonight at 8:00 p.m for TNL Live.
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Can we suggest that many voters are simply not up to the challenge. So poorly educated, hard working folks really don't have much experience with the discussion like those here. Add to that the 40-50% who get much of their news from FOX et all.
Then on the left, we have folks too devoted to their issue - for example, environmentalists who are angry at Biden over oil leases of federal land - they don't care about the political pressure to appear to do something about gas prices and they also don't care that courts force Biden's hand.
So we are left with relatively few for whom the new right is terrifying.
Clearly we lack a strong culture of democracy and it is overwhelmed by more dominant sub-cultures in the US, especially the market-driven Me culture.