The Flight 93 Election

Reposted with permission from the Claremont Review of Books.

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon. Conservative intellectuals will insist that there has been no “end of history” and that all human outcomes are still possible. They will even—as Charles Kesler does—admit that America is in “crisis.” But how great is the crisis? Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals? Cruz in 2024!

Not to pick (too much) on Kesler, who is less unwarrantedly optimistic than most conservatives. And who, at least, poses the right question: Trump or Hillary? Though his answer—“even if [Trump] had chosen his policies at random, they would be sounder than Hillary’s”—is unwarrantedly ungenerous. The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning.

But let us back up. One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad. On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic. Illegitimacy. Crime. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Politically correct McCarthyism. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes. A disastrously awful educational system that churns out kids who don’t know anything and, at the primary and secondary levels, can’t (or won’t) discipline disruptive punks, and at the higher levels saddles students with six figure debts for the privilege. And so on and drearily on. Like that portion of the mass where the priest asks for your private intentions, fill in any dismal fact about American decline that you want and I’ll stipulate it.

Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything. And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo. Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental? Do they get to the heart of our problems?

If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.

But it’s quite obvious that conservatives don’t believe any such thing, that they feel no such sense of urgency, of an immediate necessity to change course and avoid the cliff. A recent article by Matthew Continetti may be taken as representative—indeed, almost written for the purpose of illustrating the point. Continetti inquires into the “condition of America” and finds it wanting. What does Continetti propose to do about it? The usual litany of “conservative” “solutions,” with the obligatory references to decentralization, federalization, “civic renewal,” and—of course!—Burke. Which is to say, conservatism’s typical combination of the useless and inapt with the utopian and unrealizable. Decentralization and federalism are all well and good, and as a conservative, I endorse them both without reservation. But how are they going to save, or even meaningfully improve, the America that Continetti describes? What can they do against a tidal wave of dysfunction, immorality, and corruption? “Civic renewal” would do a lot of course, but that’s like saying health will save a cancer patient. A step has been skipped in there somewhere. How are we going to achieve “civic renewal”? Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy.

Continetti trips over a more promising approach when he writes of “stress[ing] the ‘national interest abroad and national solidarity at home’ through foreign-policy retrenchment, ‘support to workers buffeted by globalization,’ and setting ‘tax rates and immigration levels’ to foster social cohesion.” That sounds a lot like Trumpism. But the phrases that Continetti quotes are taken from Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both of whom, like Continetti, are vociferously—one might even say fanatically—anti-Trump. At least they, unlike Kesler, give Trump credit for having identified the right stance on today’s most salient issues. Yet, paradoxically, they won’t vote for Trump whereas Kesler hints that he will. It’s reasonable, then, to read into Kesler’s esoteric endorsement of Trump an implicit acknowledgment that the crisis is, indeed, pretty dire. I expect a Claremont scholar to be wiser than most other conservative intellectuals, and I am relieved not to be disappointed in this instance.

Yet we may also reasonably ask: What explains the Pollyanna-ish declinism of so many others? That is, the stance that Things-Are-Really-Bad—But-Not-So-Bad-that-We-Have-to-Consider-Anything-Really-Different! The obvious answer is that they don’t really believe the first half of that formulation. If so, like Chicken Little, they should stick a sock in it. Pecuniary reasons also suggest themselves, but let us foreswear recourse to this explanation until we have disproved all the others.

Whatever the reason for the contradiction, there can be no doubt that there is a contradiction. To simultaneously hold conservative cultural, economic, and political beliefs—to insist that our liberal-left present reality and future direction is incompatible with human nature and must undermine society—and yet also believe that things can go on more or less the way they are going, ideally but not necessarily with some conservative tinkering here and there, is logically impossible.

Let’s be very blunt here: if you genuinely think things can go on with no fundamental change needed, then you have implicitly admitted that conservatism is wrong. Wrong philosophically, wrong on human nature, wrong on the nature of politics, and wrong in its policy prescriptions. Because, first, few of those prescriptions are in force today. Second, of the ones that are, the left is busy undoing them, often with conservative assistance. And, third, the whole trend of the West is ever-leftward, ever further away from what we all understand as conservatism.

If your answer—Continetti’s, Douthat’s, Salam’s, and so many others’—is for conservatism to keep doing what it’s been doing—another policy journal, another article about welfare reform, another half-day seminar on limited government, another tax credit proposal—even though we’ve been losing ground for at least a century, then you’ve implicitly accepted that your supposed political philosophy doesn’t matter and that civilization will carry on just fine under leftist tenets. Indeed, that leftism is truer than conservatism and superior to it.

They will say, in words reminiscent of dorm-room Marxism—but our proposals have not been tried! Here our ideas sit, waiting to be implemented! To which I reply: eh, not really. Many conservative solutions—above all welfare reform and crime control—have been tried, and proved effective, but have nonetheless failed to stem the tide. Crime, for instance, is down from its mid-’70s and early ’90s peak—but way, way up from the historic American norm that ended when liberals took over criminal justice in the mid-’60s. And it’s rising fast today, in the teeth of ineffectual conservative complaints. And what has this temporary crime (or welfare, for that matter) decline done to stem the greater tide? The tsunami of leftism that still engulfs our every—literal and figurative—shore has receded not a bit but indeed has grown. All your (our) victories are short-lived.

More to the point, what has conservatism achieved lately? In the last 20 years? The answer—which appears to be “nothing”—might seem to lend credence to the plea that “our ideas haven’t been tried.” Except that the same conservatives who generate those ideas are in charge of selling them to the broader public. If their ideas “haven’t been tried,” who is ultimately at fault? The whole enterprise of Conservatism, Inc., reeks of failure. Its sole recent and ongoing success is its own self-preservation. Conservative intellectuals never tire of praising “entrepreneurs” and “creative destruction.” Dare to fail! they exhort businessmen. Let the market decide! Except, um, not with respect to us. Or is their true market not the political arena, but the fundraising circuit?

Only three questions matter. First, how bad are things really? Second, what do we do right now? Third, what should we do for the long term?

Conservatism, Inc.’s, “answer” to the first may, at this point, simply be dismissed. If the conservatives wish to have a serious debate, I for one am game—more than game; eager. The problem of “subjective certainty” can only be overcome by going into the agora. But my attempt to do so—the blog that Kesler mentions—was met largely with incredulity. How can they say that?! How can anyone apparently of our caste (conservative intellectuals) not merely support Trump (however lukewarmly) but offer reasons for doing do?

One of the Journal of American Greatness’s deeper arguments was that only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise. It is therefore puzzling that those most horrified by Trump are the least willing to consider the possibility that the republic is dying. That possibility, apparently, seems to them so preposterous that no refutation is necessary.

As does, presumably, the argument that the stakes in 2016 are—everything. I should here note that I am a good deal gloomier than my (former) JAG colleagues, and that while we frequently used the royal “we” when discussing things on which we all agreed, I here speak only for myself.

How have the last two decades worked out for you, personally? If you’re a member or fellow-traveler of the Davos class, chances are: pretty well. If you’re among the subspecies conservative intellectual or politician, you’ve accepted—perhaps not consciously, but unmistakably—your status on the roster of the Washington Generals of American politics. Your job is to show up and lose, but you are a necessary part of the show and you do get paid. To the extent that you are ever on the winning side of anything, it’s as sophists who help the Davoisie oligarchy rationalize open borders, lower wages, outsourcing, de-industrialization, trade giveaways, and endless, pointless, winless war.

All of Trump’s 16 Republican competitors would have ensured more of the same—as will the election of Hillary Clinton. That would be bad enough. But at least Republicans are merely reactive when it comes to wholesale cultural and political change. Their “opposition” may be in all cases ineffectual and often indistinguishable from support. But they don’t dream up inanities like 32 “genders,” elective bathrooms, single-payer, Iran sycophancy, “Islamophobia,” and Black Lives Matter. They merely help ratify them.

A Hillary presidency will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire Progressive-left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled with a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most “advanced” Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England. We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the Social Justice Warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.

It’s absurd to assume that any of this would stop or slow—would do anything other than massively intensify—in a Hillary administration. It’s even more ridiculous to expect that hitherto useless conservative opposition would suddenly become effective. For two generations at least, the Left has been calling everyone to their right Nazis. This trend has accelerated exponentially in the last few years, helped along by some on the Right who really do seem to merit—and even relish—the label. There is nothing the modern conservative fears more than being called “racist,” so alt-right pocket Nazis are manna from heaven for the Left. But also wholly unnecessary: sauce for the goose. The Left was calling us Nazis long before any pro-Trumpers tweeted Holocaust denial memes. And how does one deal with a Nazi—that is, with an enemy one is convinced intends your destruction? You don’t compromise with him or leave him alone. You crush him.

So what do we have to lose by fighting back? Only our Washington Generals jerseys—and paychecks. But those are going away anyway. Among the many things the “Right” still doesn’t understand is that the Left has concluded that this particular show need no longer go on. They don’t think they need a foil anymore and would rather dispense with the whole bother of staging these phony contests in which each side ostensibly has a shot.

If you haven’t noticed, our side has been losing consistently since 1988. We can win midterms, but we do nothing with them. Call ours Hannibalic victories. After the Carthaginian’s famous slaughter of a Roman army at Cannae, he failed to march on an undefended Rome, prompting his cavalry commander to complain: “you know how to win a victory, but not how to use one.” And, aside from 2004’s lackluster 50.7%, we can’t win the big ones at all.

Because the deck is stacked overwhelmingly against us. I will mention but three ways. First, the opinion-making elements—the universities and the media above all—are wholly corrupt and wholly opposed to everything we want, and increasingly even to our existence. (What else are the wars on “cis-genderism”—formerly known as “nature”—and on the supposed “white privilege” of broke hillbillies really about?) If it hadn’t been abundantly clear for the last 50 years, the campaign of 2015-2016 must surely have made it evident to even the meanest capacities that the intelligentsia—including all the organs through which it broadcasts its propaganda—is overwhelmingly partisan and biased. Against this onslaught, “conservative” media is a nullity, barely a whisper. It cannot be heard above the blaring of what has been aptly called “The Megaphone.”

Second, our Washington Generals self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree. Lenin is supposed to have said that “the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” But with an opposition like ours, why bother? Our “leaders” and “dissenters” bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them. Fearful, beaten dogs have more thymos.

Third and most important, the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle. As does, of course, the U.S. population, which only serves to reinforce the two other causes outlined above. This is the core reason why the Left, the Democrats, and the bipartisan junta (categories distinct but very much overlapping) think they are on the cusp of a permanent victory that will forever obviate the need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties. Because they are.

It’s also why they treat open borders as the “absolute value,” the one “principle” that—when their “principles” collide—they prioritize above all the others. If that fact is insufficiently clear, consider this. Trump is the most liberal Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. He departs from conservative orthodoxy in so many ways that National Review still hasn’t stopped counting. But let’s stick to just the core issues animating his campaign. On trade, globalization, and war, Trump is to the left (conventionally understood) not only of his own party, but of his Democratic opponent. And yet the Left and the junta are at one with the house-broken conservatives in their determination—desperation—not merely to defeat Trump but to destroy him. What gives?

Oh, right—there’s that other issue. The sacredness of mass immigration is the mystic chord that unites America’s ruling and intellectual classes. Their reasons vary somewhat. The Left and the Democrats seek ringers to form a permanent electoral majority. They, or many of them, also believe the academic-intellectual lie that America’s inherently racist and evil nature can be expiated only through ever greater “diversity.” The junta of course craves cheaper and more docile labor. It also seeks to legitimize, and deflect unwanted attention from, its wealth and power by pretending that its open borders stance is a form of noblesse oblige. The Republicans and the “conservatives”? Both of course desperately want absolution from the charge of “racism.” For the latter, this at least makes some sense. No Washington General can take the court—much less cash his check—with that epithet dancing over his head like some Satanic Spirit. But for the former, this priestly grace comes at the direct expense of their worldly interests. Do they honestly believe that the right enterprise zone or charter school policy will arouse 50.01% of our newer voters to finally reveal their “natural conservatism” at the ballot box? It hasn’t happened anywhere yet and shows no signs that it ever will. But that doesn’t stop the Republican refrain: more, more, more! No matter how many elections they lose, how many districts tip forever blue, how rarely (if ever) their immigrant vote cracks 40%, the answer is always the same. Just like Angela Merkel after yet another rape, shooting, bombing, or machete attack. More, more, more!

This is insane. This is the mark of a party, a society, a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die. Trump, alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity.

Yes, Trump is worse than imperfect. So what? We can lament until we choke the lack of a great statesman to address the fundamental issues of our time—or, more importantly, to connect them. Since Pat Buchanan’s three failures, occasionally a candidate arose who saw one piece: Dick Gephardt on trade, Ron Paul on war, Tom Tancredo on immigration. Yet, among recent political figures—great statesmen, dangerous demagogues, and mewling gnats alike—only Trump-the-alleged-buffoon not merely saw all three and their essential connectivity,but was able to win on them. The alleged buffoon is thus more prudent—more practically wise—than all of our wise-and-good who so bitterly oppose him. This should embarrass them. That their failures instead embolden them is only further proof of their foolishness and hubris.

Which they self-laud as “consistency”—adherence to “conservative principle,” defined by the 1980 campaign and the household gods of reigning conservative think-tanks. A higher consistency in the service of the national interest apparently eludes them. When America possessed a vast, empty continent and explosively growing industry, high immigration was arguably good policy. (Arguably: Ben Franklin would disagree.) It hasn’t made sense since World War I. Free trade was unquestionably a great boon to the American worker in the decades after World War II. We long ago passed the point of diminishing returns. The Gulf War of 1991 was a strategic victory for American interests. No conflict since then has been. Conservatives either can’t see this—or, worse, those who can nonetheless treat the only political leader to mount a serious challenge to the status quo (more immigration, more trade, more war) as a unique evil.

Trump’s vulgarity is in fact a godsend to the conservatives. It allows them to hang their public opposition on his obvious shortcomings and to ignore or downplay his far greater strengths, which should be even more obvious but in corrupt times can be deliberately obscured by constant references to his faults. That the Left would make the campaign all about the latter is to be expected. Why would the Right? Some—a few—are no doubt sincere in their belief that the man is simply unfit for high office. David Frum, who has always been an immigration skeptic and is a convert to the less-war position, is sincere when he says that, even though he agrees with much of Trump’s agenda, he cannot stomach Trump. But for most of the other #NeverTrumpers, is it just a coincidence that they also happen to favor Invade the World, Invite the World?

Another question JAG raised without provoking any serious attempt at refutation was whether, in corrupt times, it took a … let’s say … “loudmouth” to rise above the din of The Megaphone. We, or I, speculated: “yes.” Suppose there had arisen some statesman of high character—dignified, articulate, experienced, knowledgeable—the exact opposite of everything the conservatives claim to hate about Trump. Could this hypothetical paragon have won on Trump’s same issues? Would the conservatives have supported him? I would have—even had he been a Democrat.

Back on planet earth, that flight of fancy at least addresses what to do now. The answer to the subsidiary question—will it work?—is much less clear. By “it” I mean Trumpism, broadly defined as secure borders, economic nationalism, and America-first foreign policy. We Americans have chosen, in our foolishness, to disunite the country through stupid immigration, economic, and foreign policies. The level of unity America enjoyed before the bipartisan junta took over can never be restored.

But we can probably do better than we are doing now. First, stop digging. No more importing poverty, crime, and alien cultures. We have made institutions, by leftist design, not merely abysmal at assimilation but abhorrent of the concept. We should try to fix that, but given the Left’s iron grip on every school and cultural center, that’s like trying to bring democracy to Russia. A worthy goal, perhaps, but temper your hopes—and don’t invest time and resources unrealistically.

By contrast, simply building a wall and enforcing immigration law will help enormously, by cutting off the flood of newcomers that perpetuates ethnic separatism and by incentivizing the English language and American norms in the workplace. These policies will have the added benefit of aligning the economic interests of, and (we may hope) fostering solidarity among, the working, lower middle, and middle classes of all races and ethnicities. The same can be said for Trumpian trade policies and anti-globalization instincts. Who cares if productivity numbers tick down, or if our already somnambulant GDP sinks a bit further into its pillow? Nearly all the gains of the last 20 years have accrued to the junta anyway. It would, at this point, be better for the nation to divide up more equitably a slightly smaller pie than to add one extra slice—only to ensure that it and eight of the other nine go first to the government and its rentiers, and the rest to the same four industries and 200 families.

Will this work? Ask a pessimist, get a pessimistic answer. So don’t ask. Ask instead: is it worth trying? Is it better than the alternative? If you can’t say, forthrightly, “yes,” you are either part of the junta, a fool, or a conservative intellectual.

And if it doesn’t work, what then? We’ve established that most “conservative” anti-Trumpites are in the Orwellian sense objectively pro-Hillary. What about the rest of you? If you recognize the threat she poses, but somehow can’t stomach him, have you thought about the longer term? The possibilities would seem to be: Caesarism, secession/crack-up, collapse, or managerial Davoisie liberalism as far as the eye can see … which, since nothing human lasts forever, at some point will give way to one of the other three. Oh, and, I suppose, for those who like to pour a tall one and dream big, a second American Revolution that restores Constitutionalism, limited government, and a 28% top marginal rate.

But for those of you who are sober: can you sketch a more plausible long-term future than the prior four following a Trump defeat? I can’t either.

The election of 2016 is a test—in my view, the final test—of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.

About Publius Decius Mus

Publius Decius Mus, or “Decius,” is the pen name of Michael Anton. He was a senior contributing editor of American Greatness from July 2016 until January 2017. He currently serves as deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the National Security Council.

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185 responses to “The Flight 93 Election”

  1. You would think $19 trillion in debt and 94 million people not working would be close enough to the abyss that it would be obvious. Anyone who can not show up on Nov. 8 to vote for Trump and stop Hillary, most assuredly deserves what will follow. It is the rest of us who will suffer for their sins.

  2. “Ask instead: is it worth trying? Is it better than the alternative? If you can’t say, forthrightly, “yes,” you are either part of the junta, a fool, or a conservative intellectual.”

    Would such forthrightness involve putting one’s name to this piece?

    • I thought the same thing except the focus would have been on vilifying the writer instead of focusing on the point of the article. The author will be revealed sometime soon.

      • Any intellectual worth his salt is more than willing to debate with pen names. Zero chance of ad hominems, total focus on the issues.

  3. Publius is back with a great article! I retract my old comment, American Greatness is alive and kicking!

      • According to the record number of positive comments, kicking the ball through the uprights from midfield!

  4. This is the #nevertrumpers in a nutshell

      • I’m sure the guy who wrote this essay is lovin the fact that you put this racist pablum here. Thanks for doing the left’s work for them. I will give the writer the benefit of the doubt and assume he finds you as repugnant and odious as I do.

  5. As I was reading this I noticed it turned into one of the greatest Operas I’d ever heard.


  6. […] The Flight 93 Election – American Greatness. Reposted with permission from the Claremont Review of Books. 2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances. To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. […]

  7. This all started with the leftists’ takeover of higher education. It was underway when I went to college in the 1970s. Its now churning out waves and waves of leftists into society.

    That is the root cause of our current situation, and any long term solution has to root out and systematically destroy the leftists’ stranglehold on higher education.

    A good start would be to abolish all public financing of higher education.

    • If only the left’s stranglehold were restricted to higher education — they’ve been “programming” elementary school students since the ’80s!

      • K-12 with the final stake in the heart during the college years.

      • Sorry, but I rarely find conservatives who are well read in classical literature. Mostly they were beer and fun majors (business and finance) back in college who needed a degree so their parents could set them up in upper middle management. This is how the wealthy use privilege to raise up their spawn well past their highest level of incompetence. A Jeffersonian economy by contrast would ensure that inherited wealth does not permit the old guard to stifle younger people coming up. Since the 80s there has been a concerted effort for the feckless wealthy to try to cushion their position at the top. Technology has been the great disrupter of that process and now it is disrupting all processes. It is the real source of the anxiety people feel. Not trade nor immigration but that phone buzzing in your pants that has more calculating power than the rockets that once took us to the moon. And as for education – it is greatly unequal at the local level and there are serious quality control issues. These are far more important than your worry about whether the teacher can talk about Noah and other ideological issues that go over kids’ heads anyway.

      • Sorry, but I rarely find ANYONE anymore well read in classical literature, whether on the right or left — that seems to me the fault of the “progressive” education agenda, which disparages the “old white guys” and prefers to replace them with minorities (of some sort) or popular literature, quality being a secondary consideration. Likewise, the progressive agenda, being implemented at least since the ’80s, is responsible for replacing history and government courses with “social studies” — hence the outrage among the Millennials over the electoral college majority being what won Trump the presidency, regardless of the popular vote.

        And you think it’s only since the ’80s that there’s “been a concerted effort for the feckless wealthy to try to cushion their position at the top”? Um, I think that goes back to the beginning of time.

        Finally, neither I nor anyone else on this thread talked about “Noah and other ideological issues that go over kids’ head”, but thanks for the straw man.

      • There is nothing wrong with much of the new literature you disparage. But it should be learned after learning the canon – but a broadened canon. We can only think critically if we have basis from which to start. Conservatives rely too much on the work of Dinesh D’Souza who while making some good points about the nonsense called critical theory seems to think that is affiliated with Democrats. Actually old school lefty liberal arts people I’ve known hate that crap too. I think if conservatives stopped oversimplifying who their enemies are they could break bread with 70 percent of academia who dislike the intellectually flaccid subfields but tolerate these as a steam valve. The economy will force kids and their parents to be practical. I tell young college and grad students that, yes, fine do your area study in Mideast or whatever. But also take advanced statistics and the associated math classes. One of these field concentrations will guarantee you a job and a decent living. Guess which one?

      • Number one, I was not necessarily disparaging the “new literature” — what I am disparaging is jettisoning works of real quality, ones that have stood the test of time and are the foundation of our western civilization, in favor of works that don’t have any of these traits going for them — but are merely written by minorities of one kind or another.

        Two, the canon isn’t being broadened — again, too often, it’s being narrowed and degraded to fit the left’s political agenda. And for the record, I’ve never read one of Mr. D’Souza’s books or seen his movie — my comments spring from my experience as a adjunct college instructor, thank you. I’m sure that never occurred to you, but as an instructor, I discovered that the typical middle-class public school graduate didn’t know what a metaphor was, had never read any Shakespeare or even Dickens. Working with recent college graduates in publishing, I’m finding the same thing. Same goes for government and history.

        So your talk of oversimplifying one’s enemies is amusing — you are doing that very thing. Further, if academia was really bothered by the developments I outlined above, they would be agitating for change — but it ain’t happening.

      • So you find one example on Twitter, and you think it rational to link this to the commenters on this thread, who’ve said ZERO about it? I realize you leftists need to imagine yourself righteous and enlightened, but do try to stick to the point at hand. Hint: If you have to scour Twitter for evidence that someone, somewhere in the world fits the caricature you love to hate, you’re probably on shaky ground. Now go back to Salon or MSNBC, where logic isn’t required.

      • You seem to want to disregard the huge swath of conservative educators (and conservative policy wonks) who wish to insert creationism, branded as “intellectual design,” into curriculum. You also seem to want to ignore the fact that it is TEXAS that is determining which textbooks our children across the nation are getting, and that these books have a distinctively conservative bent on history and literature. You are harping on liberal indoctrination and completely ignoring the actual texts on which many (if not most) students are being instructed.

      • I think the point, Renee, is that a good education means leaving politics and religion as subjects to be studied, but not with particular partisan/fundamentalist values to inculcate into children. This started out with “matt from olympia” above saying the “left” has taken over education and needs to be “rooted out and destroyed”…that’s scary Red Book / Iron Curtain talk. The left isn’t responsible for pushing a fundamentalist religious or partisan conservative agenda, it’s the right-wingers who want history books rewritten to pretend that we treated the Native Americans fairly, and pretend that the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery, and pretend that Noah’s Ark is something more than a legend / myth.

      • The US Bureau of the Census has predicted that in a little over a couple of decades, even without immigration, the USA will be a non-white majority nation – as it was until you fellows got here.

        It’s over and out for you racists. Trump is merely the Dinosaur Room in the museum having a skeleton dance: a last lambada of the WASPs.

        Good bye and good riddance.

      • What the h*ll are you talking about? I strongly doubt you meant to respond to Bob…

      • Yeah the “program” includes such “leftist” things as, “be nice to others,” and “wait your turn,” and “let’s learn the alphabet and how to read, so that one day you can grow up and think for yourself.”

    • Like they just did to ITT? They damned sure should do the same thing to a lot of college campuses.

    • You’re on the right track Matt but it goes much deeper than that. The Progressive movement penetrated higher education and entertainment (Hollywood) over 100 years ago. Higher education to present and flesh out progressive ideas in a positive light, entertainment to drive them home. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense since higher education feeds the cultural and business organs that run our society, particularly journalism and the government bureaucracies. The progressive rot spread into primary education in the 50’s and 60’s and is now into every facet of our society. The left understands this perfectly well which explains why they get so hysterical whenever conservatives get anywhere near a college campus. Higher ed is the mothership which must be defended at all costs since it is key to shaping a society and it’s culture. The answer to the question “how did we get here” is what I just explained. That also means this is the template for what needs to be done to reverse the damage: take back higher education and understand that it will be a very, very long term project. Until this is done the rest of the fighting being done by conservatives will simply be trying to sweep back the ocean.

    • Yeah because education teaches you HOW to think, especially using the historical and scientific methods, and god knows we don’t want any of that.

    • All the loans and grants for education should be replaced with housing and commercial property loans and grants. Get young people homes and businesses – not Marxism. Reverse Obama’s attack on for profit colleges.

  8. I get it– Hillary is an Islamic terrorist. In order to defeat terrorism, we need to support Trump and storm the cockpit. Makes perfect sense.

    • She is far worse than an Islamic terrorist, who can be
      easily identified and destroyed. She is an anti-constitutionalist big
      government leader that will destroy ‘We the people…‘ by a thousand cuts, while
      deceiving many with her lies.

    • You’ve made it clear you don’t get it and never will. Your lame attempt to ridicule an argument stratospherically above your head just beclowns yourself.

  9. One of the best analyses I’ve read about the election and the impending death of conservatism. Totally wrong about the Alt-Right, but right on the mark on just about everything else.

    • I would say THE best piece to date on the disingenuousness and duplicity of our faux conservative intellectuals.

  10. “If you haven’t noticed, our side has been losing consistently since 1988.”

    The alt-right has certainly noticed and they’re already storming the cockpit. These guys need to be your allies and soldiers, not someone cast aside because you find them unpleasant.

    • They’re young and have endless amounts of energy, so yes.

  11. (((Mathew Continetti))).

    Italian last name… but he’s (((Bill Kristolberg’s))) nephew… so fuck it.

    • I’m surprised (((Continetti))) didn’t change his last name because he did have to convert to Jewism to marry Bill’s daughter.

      • I’m fine with supporting Trump; but I’m sorry that the likes of you are on the same side. I guess the feeling is mutual, right?

      • I don’t care what you do because I see you as part of the Fifth Column.

      • I’m glad that you don’t care. I notice also that you know nothing about me, and yet say this. Fortunately, I was raised in the ‘sticks and stones’ generation, so I am reckless of your ‘judgment’ .

      • I was raised in that generation too.

        I guess you missed the part where the Zionist Cartel took over America.

  12. Outstanding. Trenchant. Irreproachable. Correct in the whole and in each part. Such clarity of thought and expression really tries one’s virtue.

    OK, one reproach. The writer would more nearly approximate his avatar were he to reveal his name.

  13. Amen Amen Amen! Damn National Review and Ross Douthat, and especially the Insidious Duo of Jonah Goldberg and Bill Kristol! They and their Fellow Travelers are doing this on purpose. They know the stakes.

    • Don’t forget Rich Lowrie, Kevin Williamson and David French !

    • They are elitists and above the fray. The rest of us are the little people called upon to finance campaigns and vote for the candidate chosen by the anti Trump elites.
      Trump certainly shined the light on the turncoats.

  14. Strong. Love the “Generals” riffing, and the seriousness about the possibility of democracy-failure in America, but for a glimpse of the kinds of arguments this Publius is irresponsibly NOT dealing with, see my various “Conservative Responses to the Trump-Crisis” NRO pieces, especially, “Donald Trump, the Greater Evil,” “Never-Trump Fundamentals,” and “Crying Wolf, Prematurely.” I’ll note here that 1) he won’t name names of the Leftist and Democrat Party leaders who supposedly think (even if they will never say so) that they will soon dispense with freedom for their opponents given victory in 2016. But if we’re going to be serious about that, then we ought to talk about what evidence exists that that could happen. 2) He won’t say what concrete actions and likely policy victories (without the House!) make a mere four years of HRC enough to justify a metaphorical storming of the cabin. The most serious consequences follow if we seriously believe she will definitely make our decline into despotism irreversible, but this Publius simply asserts it as something anyone with a good gut will have to affirm. 3) He doesn’t dare to address the idea that the sheer awfulness of her personality and admin is easily as likely, and probably more likely, to aide GOP chances in 2018 and 2020 as four of the Trumpster. So in sum, everything depends on the key Dems/Lefties (who are left unnamed, unspecified, etc.) being much more effective and worse and conspiratorial, and in a self-aware way, than any available evidence indicates. Even if a critical mass of his kind of Dem exists, these somehow have to win over enough of the Americans that they’ve told all their life how great free speech and open elections are, to largely ditch those.

    This Publius dons the mantle of seriousness in the face of the Republic’s perhaps-impending fall, but I’m not yet convinced that it isn’t actually the dramatist’s gown.

    • You perfectly illustrate the smug indifference in the face of ongoing catastrophe which is the central shortcoming of Conservatism Inc.

      He won’t say what concrete actions and likely policy victories (without
      the House!) make a mere four years of HRC enough to justify a
      metaphorical storming of the cabin.

      A mere four years, on top of the past eight years of Obama. A mere four years – of importing tens of millions of new left-wing voters, of packing the Supreme Court with a leftist majority which will endure for the next quarter century, of further institutionalizing the governments role in persecuting anyone even suspected of conservative thought -crime.

      • Either you think the Republic will survive four years of HRC, or you don’t. The extremely high likelihood that it will is all that the word “mere” is doing in my comment. This Publius is talking as if he doesn’t think it can. That is a judgment, which, if actually taken seriously and believed, and not as rhetorical drama, would arguably oblige patriotic Americans to try to assassinate her if she were to become president.

        One might think that this Publius is “indifferent” about the truth, and the long-term effect of his words. But surely, since he agrees with me that we may be entering a period in which the survival of the republic is at stake, he wouldn’t be so careless, right? But so far, he is…

        And Severn, one sees in your comment, yet again, a trait of many Trumpers: a lack of charity toward and open-minded curiosity about those in the conservative ranks who disagree with you. I could say this is a “Trumpist” trait, and be done with it, but that would be unfair, since not all Trumpers are alike. As I have taken pains to insist upon: Would that the pro-Trump writers, even on this civilized site, extend the same courtesy of precise labeling when they discuss the supposedly monolithic NeverTrump crowd.

      • Ah yes the National Review. Is that not the same magazine that described the Trump candidacy as “Witless Ape Rides Escalator” back in June of 2015?

        The problem with the NeverTrump Crowd calling for a return to civility is that they never displayed civility on their part from the beginning. I could throw a rock at an empty oil drum and it would ring less hollow.

      • You’re lumping. Unfairly. The NeverTrumpers are not a monolithic group. Nor, even, are the writers for NRO. Some impolite insults from some of them cannot be used to characterize, let alone to dismiss, the range of arguments they’ve employed against Trump. And you’re also edging into the tu quoque fallacy.

      • Yes. I forgot to include The Federalist website who’s first response to Trump declaring his candidacy was to compare him to a Disney cartoon. Such civility.

        The fact remains that the NeverTrump Crowd’s first response was insults and ridicule. If they had treated Trump with the respect that they had shown every other candidate, then they might have been able to mount an effective response. But when you have Rick Wilson insult Ann Coulter by asking if Trump pays for anal, and nobody on the NeverTrump side of the house said “Ricky, I don’t like Trump as much as the next guy, but you went way over the line.” Then all you have done is shown that your moral posturing was a sham from the very beginning.

    • Once you’ve finished reading this reply, I urge you to read Severn‘s again. There isn’t any more time. The apparent attempt at self-flagellation by electing a minority non-entity who turned out to be a treasonous time bomb, whilst the GOP fiddled, has wasted whatever can-kicking time we had left. The Court and its vacancies, its utter disregard for the plain meaning of words, and the deliberate, ongoing effort to import as many third-world, human debris, Democrat voters to replace Americans all mean that this is the Two Minute Warning. As George Carlin said: “Two minutes, get your sh*t together…”

    • Doesn’t matter who holds the House or the Senate, Congress will give Hillary what ever she wants. The GOP’s record of capitulation guarantees this.

    • If Hillary Clinton is elected president, there is no doubt that it will be the end of America as we know it. Open borders, tax increases, and assaults on a number of our constitutional amendments. We will not recover.

    • GOP victories in 2018 and 2020?
      You mean like in 2010 and 2014 when GOP majorities led them to FINALLY fight to turn back the Left agenda… Oh wait.

  15. ” If you can’t say, forthrightly, “yes,” (to Trump) you are either part of the junta, a fool, or a conservative intellectual.”

    Seldom were truer words ever written; if the voters reject Trump, we’re headed for dissolution, and deservedly so.

  16. I guess there is a market for #NeverNeverTrump !

  17. I don’t agree with everything in this article in regard to what I consider baseless cheap shots at Mr. Trump but I do agree with its assessment of the NEVER TRUMP crowd – frauds all – who see their cash cow of products lamenting the loss of our country as more important than saving it.

    A pox on the whole sorry lot of them!

    My view of Mr. Trump as a Catholic Vietnam War Navy Veteran follows in an article published under the title: Should Catholics ‘Trump’ Hillary?

    I’ve been asked “How I can trust Trump?” Here’s my answer. I love my country. I love my sons in the Navy and the state police. Trump loves what I love and will take action to ensure that our military and police are respected not trashed; else, anarchy reigns supreme worldwide which is coveted by the despots in power to solidify their stranglehold on what’s left of the free world!

    Here’s the bottom line. Without a country whose assault from without and within is welcomed by traitors who hate it, there won’t be anything else to talk about.

    Just what is it that is hard to understand about that? None of the other candidates did anything of substance to stop the unilateral disarming of our military both materially and morally, especially those in Congress who had the power to do so. They’re really good at talking the talk, but no so much at walking the walk. In fact, I don’t recall any of them talking much about what should be our paramount concern for the survival of what’s left of a free America.

    So it’s easy why I and many vets like me, and per what I’m hearing, many on active duty, support Donald Trump for president.

    I don’t agree with everything in regard to Trump. But I do agree that he’s open to be educated accordingly by those of us who do see the big picture in terms of the seminal truths of the laws of nature, and of nature’s God that the disciples of the devil are trashing as a matter of course.

    Certainly, per the Bible, God used some people that arrogant man would have dismissed out of hand to carry out His Will! This could be happening again with one last chance for our country to get it right.

    Just how do you think Reagan won those landslides to stop the hemorrhaging of our country under the sorry likes of Carter? He did this by appealing and addressing those who had disagreements with him but came around to put him in office because Reagan made them see that they were going to hell with their country per the status quo.

    This is what Trump is doing and succeeding in doing, per my observations. If you’re just concerned with preaching to the choir, you turn the election into a crap shoot because you turn off a large segment of voters that would have otherwise supported you. What’s so hard to understand about that logic stream?

    Reagan’s views changed on a lot of things to include social issues once he started the turn to the right, and he changed the views of not a few others that saw the truth of what he said before HW destroyed everything that Reagan did piecemeal with his “compassionate conservatism,” which was liberalism masquerading as conservatism.

    Trump has proven to me that he is that man as his bonafides in regard to what counts the most: our military and its vets, the trashing of which ensures the trashing of the country via its national security being no priority at all, are undeniable as I and every other member of the military, active, reserve, and law enforcement worth their salt can see clearly. And any problems that I might have with some of his positions can be dealt with because Trump has shown that he’s open to good advice, which is what having a friend like Sarah Palin means.

    • The writers style is deliberately misleading? Maybe ORourke?

    • Disagree. Black has lost his clear sighteness and meandered into centrist territory since his unfortunate and likely unwarranted incarceration. He wrote an entire long book on how FDR was a great president instead of one of the founding links among American presidents forging the chain of socialism.

  18. True Conservatism, Inc., is as greedy, fraudulent and corrupt as the Clinton Foundation. The latter seems somewhat confident in its criminality, though. This brilliant analysis helped me understand why there is so much overlap of #NeverTrump with the Clinton campaign. They feed at the same trough: (b)ut for most of the other #NeverTrumpers, is it just a coincidence that they also happen to favor Invade the World, Invite the World?


    Brilliant work.

  19. Who holds the copyright on the word “conservative”? Also, philosophy is one thing and politics is another. In philosophical discussions you can argue purity of thought but in politics if you lose elections you are powerless. Conservatives (or liberals for that matter) have to settle for the candidate who most closely matches their interest. In 2016 that choice for conservatives has to be Donald Trump.

  20. Best political article I’ve read in years ! The “never trumpers” have been fully exposed for the vile establishment shills that they are !

    • In essence, they are merely Manhattan Privilidge on steroids.

  21. Ben Howe over at Red State took the bait.

    Here’s the link

    This kid is frothing at the mouth and hysterical which means he’s scared of what he’s looking at in the mirror.

    He’s a fragile individual whose self image, he’s just realizing, is built on dogma and therefore just a house of cards.

    This piece is, pardon the metaphor, a hurricane force wind to Ben. He’s battened down the hatches. However, we all know how this story ends.

    He can’t refute anything in this piece and like a drowning man waves his arms around as he sinks while the light of the sun dims the deeper into the depths he goes.

    Of course (at least I hope so), Ben will survive his brush with ideological death and become a man.

    Adversity is a great teacher.

    • Well saId ! However, after reading the article and purviewing the comments , it appears that “pride goes before a fall” .

      • They haven’t realized yet the ‘their Karma ran over their dogma!’

  22. I disagree. There’s absolutely a plausible suggestion that Trump would be worse than Clinton.

    One thing should be crystal clear to nearly everyone, perhaps even those already in the Trump camp: Trump is an unknown quantity. Because of that, he could be better or he could be worse. So, the question is which possibility is given more weight?

    In my opinion, he’s likely to be worse. Considering the idea that many of the policies he advocated for, just prior to running, are identical to your run of the mill Democrat, and the fact that any of his right-leaning positions are, by his own admission, up for negotiation, there’s a very strong possibility that many of his domestic policy prescriptions would be identical to Clinton’s. Those few positions that are different are either unrealistic, e.g. a physical wall spanning our entire southern border, or dangerous, e.g. Hawley-Smoot styled tariffs. Not to mention the utterly dangerous prospect of a presidential candidate mentioning the possibility of a US default on our obligations as a legitimate tactic. A national economy is not an ill-considered business entity that can simply be jettisoned or restructured. The implications and real consequences of such an endeavor seem to be lost on Trump.

    Trump doesn’t really have a foreign policy, other than pandering to the emotions of those that have a soft spot for nationalist authoritarianism. And there’s no reason to think he’s hiding some gem of genuine understanding of the world around him. His thoughts on many subjects, but most readily apparent is foreign policy, are scatter-shot, with no real grounding tether illustrating any fundamental principles or understanding. This is extremely dangerous in the sense that it creates an uncertainty in our partners around the world, and especially so in our enemies. For a point of comparison, everyone knew what Reagan thought and how he would respond.

    The real danger, domestically, from Trump is the idea that Republicans are simply playing a game. That there really aren’t very many coherent ideological differences between the parties, and where there are differences, there are a lack of basic philosophical underpinnings, one might consider to be genuine core values.

    Clinton may end up being worse, domestically, but we’ve come back from bad Presidents that implemented horrible domestic policies. We’ve come back from a power hungry Supreme Court that sought to erode civil liberties, take private property, and stamp out freedom, e.g. SCOTUS circa early 1900’s. That last point assumes Trump’s SCOTUS picks would be different than Clinton’s and I’m not convinced they would be, his SCOTUS list notwithstanding.

    On foreign policy, Clinton has pushed absolutely horrible agendas for Obama, and yet the world is still here, even though the middle east is in utter turmoil (is that something new?). With Trump’s foreign policy, the real danger is apocalyptic. Trump’s brand of uncertainty, matched, it seems, by his narcissistic version of nationalist authoritarianism is a witch’s brew of almost unimaginable proportions. Trump’s “tough” talk is reserved for those organizations with whom tough talk has no real consequences. A bully is only a bully, because others don’t fight back. His no-nonsense, tough talk suddenly demures when the subject changes to Putin or Russia, begging the question: do these strongmen have an admiration for each other, or is only one of them a true strongman, using the other to destabilize Europe and western civilization via dismantling NATO, etc?

    One can plausibly argue that Trump is the wrong answer to the question of Clinton or Trump? For those of us that could never vote for Clinton, this question has put us at an impasse, and so we remain committed to upholding the values we believe make our country great. Thus, we cannot put our stamp of approval on either candidate.

      • Not only is your argument lazy, but it’s intellectually dishonest. If Hillary Clinton receives 10,000,000 votes and Donald Trump receives 10,000,000 votes, my lack of a vote for Trump doesn’t give one extra vote to Hillary Clinton or vice versa.

        If you believe Clinton is more dangerous, then that is your calculation. My calculation is that Trump presents a likelier worse outcome, but I won’t vote for Clinton, because I’m not voting for the lesser evil anymore.

      • I am sorry if the truth offends you , however, you ARE a de facto Clinton supporter whether you acknowledge it or not !

      • No one is taking offense. That seems to be one more lazy attempt on your part to malign my opinion in some nonsensical way. Support is a positive action. Your perspective is not reality and I plainly argued why it isn’t. Stating something is so doesn’t make it so. Try reasoned logic for a change. Try again, if you choose, but these lazy attempts are pathetic, so maybe try harder.

      • Speaking of lazy arguments, yours is the worst. Why pick even numbers, a mathematical impossibility? If Hellary is ahead by a single vote (or multiply that by a few thousand) she’s ahead by an unopposed vote that you (or your kind in the thousands) granted her by not voting for her only real opponent.

        She has her positive supporters who actually vote for her and her effective supporters like you who refuse to vote to stop her.

    • Hillary Clinton has been operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise for over 30 years.

      She’d sell the Nuclear Codes for a donation to the Clinton Foundation.

      No thanks, I’ll pass.

      • I don’t disagree with your underlying premise, hyperbole aside. My argument is not in favor of Clinton, as I won’t be voting for her. My argument is why I won’t be voting for Trump as the supposed lesser evil.

      • You’re arguing angels dancing on pinheads. It won’t matter when she naturalizes the illegals, because you’ll never have a Republican executive again. Maybe Trump can stop the flow of illegals and deport the ones here, maybe he can’t. But Hillary ensures the status quo carries on, which in turn ensures defeat for the Republican party.

      • Mace, we’re already there. Whether Trump wins or not, the Republican Party, as it was, is no longer. You can’t have the head of a party on the opposite side of most of the party’s platform and think that everything’s going to be fine. Republicans have been paranoid about the prospect of Democrats using government to, essentially, create a de facto one party system, through government handouts, amnesty, SCOTUS appointments, etc. Who would’ve thought the Republican party would have done it for them?

      • The point is that there be a party that is not anti-white. The republicans are such cucks that they shrink from being called the “white party” like testicles on a cold winter morn. Like it or not, that’s the dynamic now. The Dems have built a coalition of non-whites and various degenerates.

        Yes, the Republican party, as we knew it, is dead. Huzzah. Now it’s time to remake it. But the problem is, if something isn’t done about the demographic situation, it will die entirely. From that point, you’re looking at the coalition under the Dems splitting, and nothing other than ethnic politics, and eventually, Brazil-Norte. Or war or some kind of coup. I think anyone who’s not rushing the cockpit at this point is crazy.

      • Hahahaha!! Racial politics at its worst. What a great solution you have. Dems accuse Reps of being racist, so why not embrace it, eh. So long. I’ve no intention of continuing this worthless conversation.

      • You’re an idiot. You don’t have the choice to opt out. If someone sticks a gun to your head, there’s no option to say “hey, I’m against all this gun business.” The reality is, there’s a gun to your head. You can either fight back or lay down, or get killed. There’s no opting out.

        Let me be clear: I didn’t ask for this, nor did the American people. No one voted to change the immigration law in 1965, nor did anyone vote to have the government ignore illegal immigration. This was forced upon us.

        Your “position” is to just lie down in your grave and maybe apologize that it took you as long as you did to dig it. You’re a pathetic cuck.

      • A pro-white party is minority coming out of the gate. America itself will be minority white within 20 years, sooner with any form of Amnesty. Many major cities are already minority white and surprise! you wouldn’t want to live there. Half of the future white minority are libs/Dems herding what they foolishly think will always be their non-white voters. Apparently they can’t learn from observing around the globe how non-whites in a majority situation treat whites. (Hint: no set asides, affirmative action, human rights tribunals, PC protection for white minorities or calling their oppressors Leukophobics).

    • Thats an awful lot of text to say “we don’t know for sure”.

      Candidate A has good policies on several issues that those on the right care about, but could be lying! Candidate B openly states having bad policies. We have our answer.

      • Based on your complaint and inaccurate summary, perhaps you didn’t read the whole thing. The length of my comment was intended to convey two things: 1) the idea that this decision wasn’t glossed over, unlike your reply, and 2) that my disagreements with Trump aren’t based on some media narrative that he’s racist or is corrupt.

        In fact, I shortened by comment, and omitted about a dozen massive problems I have with Trump, because it would cause people to not read all the way through. The reality is that, technically, both Clinton and Trump, as President, are unknowns. We don’t know how Congress will treat either of them. We can say that Clinton wants to grant amnesty to illegals, but she needs Congress to do that and they weren’t willing to do it under Obama, because each congressperson was concerned about retaining the power he has. So, it’s plausible that issue would remain where it is under Clinton. Consider the years under President Bill Clinton as a potential barometer. However, because of Trump’s admission that he’s willing to negotiate everything, it’s also plausible that he would sign a bill from Congress granting amnesty, under the guise that he got something he wanted. Something like that has already occurred, if you view Trump’s endorsement of Ryan as a microcosm indicative of things to come.

        So, you may have your answer, but I’ve come to a different conclusion and illustrated why, which lies in stark contrast to the flippant replies from the Trump crowd.

  23. “what has conservatism achieved lately? In the last 20 years?”

    Is that American conservatism, Anglo-Saxon conservatism, or a private-reserve definition which excludes all but the katharoi? As Michael Taube’s recent column at NRO testifies, Stephen Harper’s record is considerable, including a thorough and thoroughly rational overhaul of Canada’s immigration system, the core of which may even withstand Prince Justin. John Howard won four general elections, and in the form of the One Australia policy, also brought about a substantial and rational reform of Australia’s immigration system. David Cameron failed, as all politicians do eventually, but even he may be said to be responsible for significant achievements, including what will very probably be a similarly positive overhaul of the United Kingdom’s immigration system. Maybe the problem lies with the American version of conservatism?

    • If you believe David Cameron was a conservative , you live in an alternate reality. Maybe you’re too young to remember Margaret Thatcher.

      • I’m not quite old enough to remember Eden, but I do remember Lord Home, actually.

        As for what qualifies as conservative, apparently you follow the katharoi definition. To which I can only repeat: perhaps the problem is this American version, since conservatism as understood in the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world is doing perfectly well. I don’t expect you or anyone here to give this idea serious reflection, because at the moment you’re all focused on “charging the cockpit”. But after you’ve given that a try, you might possibly be ready to consider the point.

    • Tell us about all of these “achievements?”

  24. This article stirs the souls of men and women on the Right — as it should. I greatly appreciate the clarity and energy. I do not, however, for the life of me, understand why Decius (and other American Conservatives) oppose free trade. Really smart people on our side are repeating economic falsehoods that were demolished by von Mises and Friedman and earlier classical economists also.
    Folks – do you believe in free trade between CA and AZ? Between MA and NY? Why? Do you fear that CA will “export jobs” to AZ – or AZ businesses will undercut CA businesses with “unfair” lower costs and prices?
    Maybe Decius has a special definition of “free trade” that he uses — different from the one used by economists for decades. This economic nationalism version of “free trade” is economic nonsense. Barriers to free trade hurt consumers – that’s you and me and everyone.
    If you oppose deals made between governments whereby Nation A can sell freely into Nation B, but not the other way around — that’s one thing. And say that, if you mean that.
    But folks, the imbalance in barriers to international trade is not what’s killing America. Domestic economic policies (I’ll skip naming all of offenders) are incentivizing consumption and debt while taxing / punishing production. U.S. government and many states’ taxation and regulation policies are imposing costs on American producers that are not imposed by foreign governments upon their producers. Duh — the foreign producers and the foreign nation economic environment will beat ours in that scenario. That has nothing to do with free trade.
    Decius’ appeal here is strong — but its economic error level means that we’ll be storming the cockpit of Flight 93 with a flight plan to plow us not into a field in Pennsylvania but a mountain in West Virginia. Stop this anti free trade rhetoric — start criticizing accurately the culprit: statism and government control of the economy.

    • The problem is that Nation B games the system to take advantage of Nation A while the multinational businesses inside A happily play along.

      • The one sentence dismissal of the Austrian and Chicago schools, as well as of the classical economists’ analysis of free trade, is just insufficient. Take a look a Thomas Sowell’s book, Basic Economics, chapters 20-21 in the 2000 edition. I remain astounded that Decius, affiliated with a major intellectual institution (Claremont), would engage in the economic fallacy of attacking free trade. (Unless he is using a different definition – I still don’t know whether he is.) Conservatives and libertarians can and should join together to fight statism and government control of the economy. Remember – the results of attacking free trade are — wait for it — central government control of the national economy in its exports and imports. What makes that a “good plan” for us on the small government and liberty side of the Right?

      • There is just one problem. We are not talking about Maine exchanging goods with New Hampshire or Pennsylvania selling coal to Florida in return for oranges. Free Trade between the States works out very well for everybody and is often touted as a good example of libertarian economics working wonderfully, and that such a system should be applied to foreign countries as well.

        The only problem is that the comparison is complete garbage.
        – Maine, Florida, Alabama and New York all use the same currency.
        – They all speak the same language.
        – Citizens in one state has the same rights in any other state.
        – Disagreement between businesses in different states may be settled in a court of law.
        – Environmental, Labor, Transportation and Financial regulation are for the most part universal.

        This does not exist with foreign countries. The Chinese freely manipulated their currency so as to drive up the cost of imports, which is a protective tariff. Environmental, Labor, Transportation regulations do not exist in any meaningful sense of the word. Business must be conducted on the basis of you can successfully buy off in the government. Corruption runs the whole show.

        To tell American firms that they must obey all regulations while inside the U.S. and that they must compete with business who do not is the same as telling a midget that he can freely arm wrestle the giant, only he has to do so with both arms tied behind his back. All you are doing is incentivizing manufacturing to move overseas with complete disregard as to what it will do to the Middle Class right here at home.

      • Eric suggests that free trade policy is a doctrine of “libertarian economics.” Eric is incorrect.

        Free trade policy is the result of centuries old understanding of the basics of economics, and it is confirmed by modern marginal analysis as well. The fundamentals of economics do not depend upon people having the same language or currency or political rights or even recourse to the same courts or to the degree of regulation.

        Kindly research any mainstream college economics textbook. Read the works of AEI or Cato or Heritage or Foundation for Economic Education. You will not find that the classical laws of supply and demand are modified based upon any of the five things Eric mentions. You will not find the principles of the interplay of more modern marginal cost and marginal revenue considerations to be modified by any of those five things.

        In the modern world, there is no concern about different languages. The differences in currencies are resolved in arbitrage with dollars or euros. Courts exist for nearly any commercial or personal contract in the world – either by existing law or by choice of forum provisions.

        The concern about whether people in one country have political rights is a moral concern – very worthy of our consideration – but not an economic reason against free trade.

        The differences in regulations between countries affects the varies costs of production and distribution. Those are facts of the economic environment – they vary from product to product and country to country – and they do not affect the principles underlying the policy of free trade.

        Eric argues there are various incentives set up by the kinds of regulations and taxes involved in the countries. He’s right. Incentives are economic phenomena — they do not violate the laws of economics — they arise from human action within the laws of economics.

        If the incentives are government taxes or subsidies, etc., and you don’t want those incentives to be in play, then you have to change the government’s approach. You cannot deny the laws of economics just because the government actions have (predictably) caused dislocations and/or disadvantages.

        Free trade policies tend to maximize consumers’ benefits — more products, lower costs. Government policies that interfere with free trade will result in dislocations. This is not a new idea. The attack on free trade is a political attack by politicians seeking to curry favor with uninformed voters. There is no valid economic analysis behind it.

      • Free Trade as you have described it has never existed when dealing with sovereign independent nations. The British had free trade between itself and it’s colonies. The same thing with Spanish crown and it’s various possessions. However, such free flow of goods did not happen when each country traded with other countries in Europe. The Navigation Acts ring a bell?

        Your idea that the U.S. should continue to lie down and let others screw us over because to stand up for ourselves equals Leftism stinks of nothing more then libertarian pseudo intellectualism.

        My suggestion to you sir, it that you put down the Econ 101 textbook, and pay a little bit better attention to World History. Then you might actually learn something.

      • Eric’s argument is that economics as a science is invalid. David Ricardo, Frederick Bastiat, von Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Hazlitt, Sowell, Williams, even Samuelson, and countless others are all wrong — according to Eric’s post. They all should have read “world history” and everything would be obvious.

        Eric seems unwilling to realize that government control of exports and imports – the opposite of Free Trade – equals the multiplication of centralized government power. Why a person on the Right would favor that outcome is baffling.

        Readers not so willing as Eric to cast the science of human action into the dust bin can take a look at Econlib dot org, there’s a short but clear article on the law of comparative advantage. Also there, Pierre Lemieux’s 2016 article, “Free Trade and TPP,” deals with the criticisms of Free Trade, why the critics might have a point, but how the whole thing is to be analyzed correctly.

      • The “control of imports and exports” has been a legitimate function of national government since the beginning of time. To argue otherwise is pure folly and a complete disregard of history.

  25. For wealthy individuals there is the Ausonian solution as Robert Bork described, retreat, for a time, to write poetry and meditate on what has been and what will be. This too is a temptation.

    Pascal’s wager, yes, indeed, that means go for Trump. the choice is stark and final.

    A civilization must have a will to live; if it loses its weight of energy and becomes indifferent to itself, or worse yet, seeks its own dismemberment and annihilation, it is doomed, and the innocent and the guilty alike will suffer the war of all against all. This is what we face.

    Thank you for this perceptive and articulate presentation, M. Decius, our devotio.

  26. The time has come for straight talk. Conservative think tanks and their inhabitants have become little more than collection points for monies solicited under false pretense. The National Review and other think tanks claiming constitutional and conservative DNA seem these days more like money laundering machines providing paychecks for the pretend-like conservative scholars who inhabit them. The utter uselessness of faux conservative intellectuals and their disingenuous drivel is now quite apparent. Were this indictment not true, these self-anointed elites would not be out trying to elect Hillary Clinton president.

  27. “If you haven’t noticed, our side has been losing consistently since 1988. We can win midterms, but we do nothing with them.”

    In case the author hasn’t noticed the reason why this is happening is because neocons (aka RINOs) have been selling us out, hand in hand with the democrats, in order to line their pockets with corporate and foreign bribes.

    • The author noticed and made the same point several times about a bipartisan Washington junta.

  28. This tracks along with my own ruminations of the past four decades. Yes, we will go over a cliff if Hillary wins, because there will be no path back to power for the Historic American Nation. Our only path back to power would be a future revolution and secession from the polyglot empire.

  29. “…can’t stomach him.”

    And this is sincerity ? No. This is what any self-respecting man CAN’T STOMACH…pious “better than thouism.” Thus such a blind Pharisee is worse than the suicidal (yet still phony) “purists.” AWAY WITH HIM!

  30. I just want to say that this is impressively retarded and completely disconnected from reality. I don’t know how or why it was published, but it is a waste of 1s and 0s, primarily because the analogy is shit, but aside from being shit, it is entirely disrespectful to real people who actually died, versus ridiculous fear mongering about the “end of the world” if Donald Trump doesn’t win. And not the least of which because Gary Johnson is running and isn’t a risk to American Greatness, in fact, he defines it.

  31. This is the best writing on conservatism that I’ve read in twenty years. Absolutely spot on.

  32. Most accurate analysis I’ve seen on our dire situation so of course it’s gloomy i.e. “You have cancer that’s metastasized and is likely terminal. We can try heavy duty chemotherapy. Are you willing to suffer it?”

    We came to this pass because conservatives have been feckless for decades prancing about like Little Lord Fauntleroy while the Left has been tireless with no holds barred to them thanks to the media ref throwing the match. As Yeats said: “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.

    Guess where we are now on the spectrum that Winston Churchill described?

    “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed;
    if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly;
    you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you
    and only a precarious chance of survival.
    There may even be a worse case.
    You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory,
    because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

  33. We’re fed up with the two types of timidity that have dominated the so-called conservative movement since the end of the Reagan era in 1988. Timid conservative intellectuals huddle within the safe space of their think tanks, conferences, and very very little magazines. Elected Republican Establishment types are equally timid, because they are strictly election year conservatives…they know what to say and how to posture during re-election campaigns, but once they get back to Washington, it’s business as usual. Talk radio and conservative websites are much more in touch with the conservative base, but they’ve been kept well away from the levers of power. Finally, we have Trump, a leader with guts, brains, and energy. Trump’s guts make him invulnerable to Establishment insults. His brains make him correct on all the important issues. His energy would be amazing in someone half his age. Trump puts the so-called conservatives to shame.

  34. God you right-wingers are stupid. The United States is the biggest economy, the biggest source of innovative capitalism, has the most powerful military in the world, and here you are whinging about “decline.” Good God people. There is no other nation that even comes close. Try to get a grip on reality.

    The only thing holding us back is deepening class divide and the tightening grip of the plutocracy, which will destabilize the republic. You’re playing this little VHS fantasy tape in your minds. How could you have gone so wrong?

  35. You are all willing to sink America. This orange ape is a good symbol for you and your party, which you elevate above your country. Have you, at long last, no sense of decency?

    • This, from the party that has nominated the most overt, self-enriching criminal politician in US history….


      • Except that she has released her tax returns, showing that the money she got for speeches is legally obtained. On the other hand, your orange maniac doesn’t want us to see anything about his refusal to pay taxes, the way he runs his businesses, his ties to Russia, or his epic six bankruptcies. I’ll take the “criminal” who is transparent over the criminal who isn’t any day.

  36. ‘If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.”

    You sure are, if you’re backing Trump….

    • Yes, because Clinton will steer us away from the cliff. LMAO!

  37. Spot on. As far an analysis of “conservatism”.

    Rather too convoluted in projecting the future of the United States. Fact is that nations composed of roughly equal competing ethnic populations will not last long. Empires sometimes do as long as the central authority is strong enough to enforce cohesion. But not nations.

    We very nearly split once before over regional differences. Race is much more powerful. Dissolution is a foregone conclusion.

  38. I came here because this guy unmasked and this was declared one of the important essays of the new regime. Wow! This? My have the conservative intellectuals fallen since I used to read Buckley back in the 1980s. (Even he was a bit overrated – he misunderstood Aquinas quite badly even according to my conservative Catholic friends in a conservative seminary.) I do agree that the think tanks have been a problem mostly because their work is not peer reviewed so is deemed suspect and is generally not data driven, or the analysis is quite college level work. There are actually quite good conservative economists in academia but their mathematical models generally don’t fit the real world data well (the so-called battle between salt-water and fresh-economics). But there’s a bigger issue which these pointy headed ones will learn in power. Your failure is because you mostly misunderstand how the economy works. I’m mean nobody really fully understands it, mind you, but your past approaches have led to the classic overproduction underconsumption crises and credit bubbles in an effort to assuage this. What I’ve seen in terms of planning by the Trumpers so far is quite a mess that absolutely can not fix the economy nor will it help the working class. In your failure you may well bring about the nightmare that we all wish to avoid – empowerment of the Bernie Sanders left. Well, good luck to you! So far you’re the gang that can’t shoot straight.

  39. If we want to wax philosophic about the problems of education the number one is innumeracy. In classical times an educated person knew advanced mathematics, Greek & Latin as well as literature. Remember Voltaire’s critique of Locke? He said he had very good ideas and instincts but was poorly trained in mathematics and so lacked the sense of proportion. This is what I find is the greatest incapacity among the public intellectual class such as the writer of this document. They do not easily think about things on a continuum, a curve, slope. All the countries that push for increased math seem to share a very centralized educational system. I don’t know if that’s the answer but certainly the amount of local control we have now is not working. And the conservative mania for diverting resources from public to private in order to placate the wealthy is bad for everyone in the long run. It is true that America’s schools perform better when some low performing segments are removed. It is also true that there is a problem with discipline and union protection of poor performing teachers. But above all of this there is a problem of low pay. And the areas where you have the most trouble and need the most help have the lowest pay. Very close correlations in the data I saw. The latter shows that teachers are not valued by society. Truly you get what you pay for.

  40. No. The problems started when Reagan began giving more and more to the rich. Inequality is at the root of our problems. the article finally gets around to admitting it and calling for a more equitable distribution of wealth, a smaller pie it says. Conservatives don’t want that! It’s socialistic. this whole article is bunk.

  41. The absurdity of the so-called conservative position is well-described by this poor ass’s whining about the decline of white male supremacy and his desperate reach for a stwong man to save him.

  42. The US Bureau of the Census has predicted that in a little over a couple of decades, even without immigration, the USA will be a non-white majority nation – as it was until you fellows got here.

    It’s over and out for you racists. Trump is merely the Dinosaur Room in the museum having a skeleton dance: a last lambada of the WASPs.

    • Or is that Bagelman? As if only the only genus minds in modern civilization is Einstein and his fellow
      Wise Elders of Zion practicing their Protocols on humanity.

  43. So I read this and find it describing some alternative universe and I decide to make a quick reality check against something easily verifiable, crime. It turns out US murder rates rose in the ’60’s and are now about where they were in the 1940’s and 50’s. Over a longer view the peak of 1970 – 1990 is about the level of 1900 – 1930. They dropped fast in the thirties.

    Strange, that. It doesn’t match up at all with this essay.

    “Crime, for instance, is down from its mid-’70s and early ’90s peak—but way, way up from the historic American norm that ended when liberals took over criminal justice in the mid-’60s. And it’s rising fast today, in the teeth of ineffectual conservative complaints.”

    “Because the deck is stacked overwhelmingly against us.”

    Has the author noticed that the Republicans have lately won far more House seats than their electoral margin? That they refused to consider Merrick Garland for the Court and will keep a Court majority despite 2.9M fewer votes? That efforts to make it difficult for Democrats to vote are successful? That the Republicans have a structural advantage in the Senate because rural areas are more conservative?

    What a bunch of uninformed whining. Michael Anton is a model Trumpista, contemptious of fact, indifferent to reality, a huge unearned chip on his shoulder.

  44. Michael Anton, the author of this article, combines the vocabulary of an intellectual with the short attention span of Donald Trump. He’s so busy building towers of big words that he never bothers to get on the ground to observe and analyze how things are working in the world. He needs lessons in clear thinking and clear communication from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

  45. Great article! Kristol is the Trotskyist who would be supporting Hitler, but for certain racial issues. Hayek referred to these Jewish authoritarians with scorn in “The Road to Serfdom”. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with Jews, but when a Jew slams someone as Hitler, it requires close analysis.

  46. Can we get rid of Limbaugh now? He is a Uniparty conservative hack.

  47. In behavioral science we call this risk-seeking in the domain of losses. I employed this principle to support the possibility of Trump winning long before the race tightened. The logic is that if you perceive a sure loss coming (4 more years of Obama-Clinton), any risk (Trump) is worth taking. Looks like it turned out that way.

  48. I am an immigrant and I’m conservative. And I know a lot of other immigrants that are too. On the other hand when I think liberal, I always think white. The truth is that most of the leftists are white, the liberal college professors are white, the media is filled with white liberals. 72 genders is not an immigrant idea, its an white liberal American idea. When Tanheshi Coates writes about reparations, all the hack scholars he cites are white liberal professors. Marxist is a white idea. Feminism is a white idea. Transgenderism is a white idea. The concept of cis-gender is a white idea. The people who went to Woodstock…the 1960’s radicals were all white. All this craziness is purely a White American production.

    And to the extent immigrants or even black people participate in all this garbage, its mostly because they are wannabe whites. Who aspire to be white, date white people, have friends who are white, think like whites and act like whites. This of course is a bit hilarious and deeply ironic. In order to fit in with white people, these wannabe white have to actually say nasty things about white people…and yet the date, fuck and befriend white people. This is a delicious example:

    Now admittedly immigrants have little in common with the original northern white American culture typified by men like Sam Walton who hunted, went to church, worked hard, ate bland food, were competitive, individualistic, ambitious … traditional WASP culture. But we have much much less in common with the new American culture with its 72 genders, radical feminism, socialism, political correctness etc.

    We aren’t the alien culture. The alien culture comes from you people.

  49. The left’s refugee sandcastle kingdom of open border sanctuary cities and LGBTiQXYZ gender species is crumbling to the ground as Trumps MAGA Wall is rising to ever greater heights. The Genocide of White America has subsided and looks to be contained. I am now a believer in miracles.

  50. Terrific essay, simply splendid. I only read it just now, but I’ve been on the Trump bandwagon since day one, since I have viewed politics in the terms outlined in this essay for a good decade.

    I only wish people like the author would not be so quick to denounce the Alt Right as nothing but a pack of white supremacists and holocaust deniers. There’s no question that some of the looniest and most hate-crazed people in existence can be found in those quarters, but nowhere else on the internet have I found so much truth stacked upon relentless truth as I have there. There’s no requirement whatsoever that one agree with white supremacist prescriptions regarding what to do in consequence of those truths, but I am firmly convinced the political climate for conservatives (of whatever strain or inclination) would be improved by leaps and bounds if we all acknowledged the kind of truths which are simply taken for granted among the Alt Right.

    If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out these blogs. Yes, you’ll encounter boundless racism and anti-semitism, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly you become inured to it. The best part is you’ll have a chance to internalize some basic truths about humankind that our present order is living in abject denial of – a denial to which ongoing acquiescence ensures that no genuinely conservative solution to our problems will ever be in the offing.