Why Are Conservatives In Despair?

Why Are Conservatives In Despair? By David Brooks.

When asked in late January if politics is more about “enacting good public policy” or “ensuring the survival of the country as we know it,” 51 percent of Trump Republicans said survival; only 19 percent said policy.

The level of Republican pessimism is off the charts. A February Economist-YouGov poll asked Americans which statement is closest to their view: “It’s a big, beautiful world, mostly full of good people, and we must find a way to embrace each other and not allow ourselves to become isolated” or “Our lives are threatened by terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants, and our priority should be to protect ourselves.”

Over 75 percent of Biden voters chose “a big, beautiful world.” Two-thirds of Trump voters chose “our lives are threatened.”

Rod Dreher:

We are living in a country whose elites are teaching us to see each other primarily on the basis of race, and to hate each other for it. Look at what political scientist Zach Goldberg has found:

Replacing color blindness with color-conscious tribalism.

The elite leadership class is jamming this neoracist ideology down everybody’s throat at every turn. …

Arendt warns that the twentieth-century totalitarian experience shows how a determined and skillful minority can come to rule over an indifferent and disengaged majority. In our time, most people regard the politically correct insanity of campus radicals as not worthy of attention. They mock them as “snowflakes” and “social justice warriors.”

This is a serious mistake. In radicalizing the broader class of elites, social justice warriors (SJWs) are playing a similar historic role to the Bolsheviks in prerevolutionary Russia. SJW ranks are full of middle-class, secular, educated young people wracked by guilt and anxiety over their own privilege, alienated from their own traditions, and desperate to identify with something, or someone, to give them a sense of wholeness and purpose.

For them, the ideology of social justice — as defined not by church teaching but by critical theorists in the academy — functions as a pseudo-religion. Far from being confined to campuses and dry intellectual journals, SJW ideals are transforming elite institutions and networks of power and influence.

The social justice cultists of our day are pale imitations of Lenin and his fiery disciples. Aside from the ruthless antifa faction, they restrict their violence to words and bullying within bourgeois institutional contexts. They prefer to push around college administrators, professors, and white-collar professionals. Unlike the Bolsheviks, who were hardened revolutionaries, SJWs get their way not by shedding blood but by shedding tears.

Yet there are clear parallels — parallels that those who once lived under communism identify.

Like the early Bolsheviks, they are radically alienated from society. They too believe that justice depends on group identity, and that achieving justice means taking power away from the exploiters and handing it to the exploited.

In the late 1800s, Marx and co. reckoned that communism would first become established in the United States, because it was the most advanced capitalist country. In communist theory, capitalism withers away to give way to communism. Communist theorists always thought it was tragic and perverse that communism first became established in Russia, the most backward of European countries.

This is happening to us right now! And these radicals, in power in institutions and corporate suites, are advancing their illiberal revolution, within the formally liberal rules of our society.

Amazon is deciding not to publish certain kinds of books — which is its right, but which is also illiberal. Publishers are withdrawing books based on certain unproven accusations against writers. …

If you are waiting to see op-eds seriously opposing BLM, or transgender ideology, or anything else beloved of our ruling class, in our top newspapers, or if you are hoping for fair coverage of these issues from our major media, you are on serious drugs.

I hear all the time from college students telling me about how afraid they are to say what’s on their mind in their classes, for fear of being failed by their professors, or attacked by a mob of students. This has been going on for years; I have the receipts in my email in-box. Do you ever read about this in our mainstream media? Rarely, if ever. They only see what they want to see. This is all happening in an America that is formally liberal and democratic, but there’s nothing liberal and democratic about any of it. …

And now we get to gender ideology. I won’t recap here the many cases to which I’ve drawn attention of American children being catechized in these malicious lies in schools. Yesterday I met a young Hungarian scholar, and talked to him briefly about the “Uncle Jay Should Move To Budapest” post, and how gender ideologues in schools are teaching American and Canadian kids to reject what their parents say, and to regard their parents as backward fools. His eyes widened, and he said, “I did my PhD thesis on how the first thing totalitarian regimes do to start gaining control is to insert themselves into the family, and began to separate children psychologically from parents.” …

And now we learn that the US Postal Service has been monitoring social media posts of ordinary Americans, looking to root out “extremists.” Where are the Republicans on this? Too busy fighting opponents of the Iran deal to scrutinize a purge of domestic political opponents of the Left? Did you see that a Norfolk, Va., police officer was fired for the perfectly legal act of donating $25 to the defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse? Madness. …

Talk to the left-liberals Bari Weiss, Bret Weinstein, and Heather Heying about “conversation and compromise of politics.” It scarcely exists. We are being demonized and driven out of our jobs and livelihoods, having our children propagandized by ideologues trying to separate them from their families and even their understanding of themselves as male or female, and being told that we are guilty of racist bigotry simply for believing in rewards for achievement — things that were common in America until the day before yesterday. …

Part of my own despair is that at this point on the Right, we have the ever-useless Republican Party, and impotent and often crackpot rage of the fire-in-the-belly Trumpers, who give their minds over to dipshit conspiracies like QAnon, while their enemies, having marched through the institutions, are now marching outward, conquering everything. …

In conversation with a politically aware Hungarian yesterday, I explained to him why I thought the totalitarianism coming into being in the US now is “soft” — because it presents itself in therapeutic terms, and because it is being carried out under cover of “liberal democracy.” He looked at me, cocked his brow, and said, “But you know, it won’t stay soft for long.” …

We cannot afford to sit back and wait for a savior figure. One of the most important lessons the Right should have learned from the Trump administration is that performative anti-wokeness is useless. You have to know how to use power to get things done.

Wake up and do something, before you won’t be able to.

hat-tip Stephen Neil