Conservatism has finally died. I say this with a heavy heart, and an anxious soul, for I fear what America will look like without conservatism to show us our way.
Was it not conservatism that prevented a single Republican from soiling his soul by voting for Obamacare, or trying to negotiate its alteration? True, this led to the passage of the most far-left healthcare bill in decades, but were it not for Donald Trump’s unprincipled decision to remove the individual mandate, that law would be growing more unpopular by the day until eventually it was repealed in a cataclysm of glorious philosophical purity. And besides, even if it continued undisturbed, at least the Conservative Witness of our legislators would be protected from it.
Did not conservatism give us the Reagan Democrats? No, I don’t mean those disgusting, smelly, ignorant, lazy, white blue-collar workers. I mean the children of all those true Americans who happened to arrive inconveniently outside legal channels prior to Ronald Reagan’s courageous legalization of their status in 1986. Without them, California might still be in thrall to the xenophobic nationalism propounded by the likes of Stephen Miller, to say nothing of… no, no, I must restrain myself from talking about them for the nonce.
And, even if you are one of the benighted souls who does not see the value in these accomplishments, was it not thanks to conservatism that the inevitable triumph of abortion-on-demand has been delayed by perhaps ten years, saving countless children from the knife? Not that I care about such parochial, backwards causes myself, but if you do, you must admit the vital contribution that conservatism has made to slowing down the enemy. Indeed, one might almost say, with Bill Buckley, that it has stood athwart history, yelling “stop!” Almost as effectively, one might say, as I stand athwart the “no passenger” trains on the D.C. metro yelling “stop!” only to have them speed past like the callous, crypto-Communist inventions of the D.C. Metroworkers’ unions that they are.
But, alas, all these great accomplishments notwithstanding, conservatism is dead. I know this, because recently, the Claremont Institute, once a hoary redoubt of all things conservative, announced its list of 2019 Lincoln Fellows, and the results were absolutely horrifying.
Indeed, I cannot imagine what, outside of outsourcing the selection process to the few Nazis still in hiding in Argentina, could have produced a list granting one of the Right’s formerly (!!!!!) most coveted awards to so many degenerate, anti-American, Kremlinized, Nazified populists! Indeed, it is hard to distinguish which of the objectionable choices on this damnable list is most offensive, so I will just have to take them alphabetically. Indeed.
The list starts about as inauspiciously as possible: with Christopher Bedford, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation. Forget that deceivingly impressive title for a moment, and consider: This is the heir to Tucker Carlson. You know, the man who attacked Real American Ilhan Omar, and had the audacity to suggest that she might harbor anti-American sentiments?
Mind you, I have concerns about Omar’s brushes with anti-semitism and apparent parroting of Iranian propaganda, as well, but unlike the scoundrel Carlson, I would never stoop to suggest that just because Ilhan Omar harbors these opinions, therefore we should stop taking people just like her into the country! What kind of Shining City on a Hill would we be, after all, if we refused to take in people who hated us for being a Shining City on a Hill? As the Statue of Liberty says, “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Or in this case, to make everyone else stop breathing free, but America is too good and virtuous a nation to care about such details. Not to mention, Carlson (and therefore, I assume, Bedford) is a filthy socialist who agrees with Elizabeth Warren about regulating those fine examples of American entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley who, in no way, sponsored my multiple internships with the Niskanen Center.
And lest you be too charitable and assume Bedford is clean of the sins of his employer, let me remind you that he fired Eric Owens, the one Daily Caller editor who was willing to fight back against fascism by justly refusing to run articles by anyone not affiliated with the Koch network.
Still, at least Carlson worked at The Weekly Standard for a time, and honestly, given the next name on this list, I would take a hundred Bedfords if it meant avoiding what is to come.
Now, perhaps you scratch your heads. Isn’t that the name of someone’s Dungeons and Dragons character? Alas, I suppose some people do not follow the minutiae of the Twitter feeds belonging to staff writers at The Bulwark and the now-defunct but noble and aptly named Buckley Club as devotedly as I do. For you see, Mytheos Holt is very much real, and very much a sign of how terribly corrupted conservatism has become. Why, did you know that in 2010, he suggested that 4chan (!)—that awful hive of people who never went to Church or won participation trophies every year in football like your humble correspondent—might join the Republican party to fight back against the Left? Not to be outdone, he openly endorsed white nationalism in an article that suggested that . . . the way to fight white nationalists was to actually pursue policies that end the social pathologies making white nationalism attractive. Ha!
Any true, virtuous conservative knows that the way to get rid of hostile ideologues is to scornfully shove a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom at them, and then promptly wash your hands just in case you happened to touch their uncredentialed clothing in the process! As one of my brothers in the fight to rid conservatism of its hacks recently put it, “Nearly every right-winger with a byline laughed at Mytheos Holt and now half of them are parroting his arguments.” That a man who Verified Twitter nobly stood athwart and yelled “stop!” to should be allowed to have prefigured literally every problem the Right currently faces is a sign of a shameful lack of character on the part of reality, and that he is being honored for it is a sign of a contemptible lack of sense on the part of Claremont.
The next choice, on the other hand, has no regard for Americans of any kind! I refer to Anna Smith Lacey, a naked shill for the government of Viktor Orban. Or at least, so I assume, given the fact that she is the head of an organization called the Hungarian Initiatives Foundation, which as far as I know takes no money from George Soros, and because a fellow sufferer among American truth-tellers who still remain stubbornly unverified by Twitter has said Lacey is an Orban shill, and his word is good enough for me. In any case, imagine how truly Kremlinized Claremont has become to accept anyone associated with Hungary at all!
Imagine! Accepting someone who advocates better relations between America and an authoritarian state that walls out politically undesirable immigrants, sabotages opposition parties, jails protesters, and helps spread intelligence hostile to the American government! True American NATO allies like the British would never do that, and besides, if they really wanted a representative of a foreign government, surely Ana Navarro was available to speak on behalf of Mexico? But no, not for Claremont is our staunch ally south of the border. Better to give aid and comfort to the lackeys of Putin!
And yet. And yet! It somehow gets worse. Far worse than Bedford’s unfashionable employer, Holt’s apologies for white nationalism cunningly disguised as attacks on it, and Lacey’s clear affiliation with the Kremlin, as any trained reader of Eric Garland should be able to see, is someone who combines all three. I refer to that . . . that . . . animal, Jack Posobiec.
How? How could Claremont let this man in? Is it because he has the ear of the president of the United States? Of the president’s son? Because he served our country in the Navy as an intelligence officer for five years, illicitly spying on that great, misunderstood triumph of capitalism and social propriety, China? Because he has attended White House press briefings? What are these illicit, unworthy achievements that Posobiec clearly usurped from the real conservative journalists who toil in obscurity, choking back the checks for multiple book deals—noble, honest men like Charlie Sykes, or Tim Carney, or those soon to join them, like Harold J. F. C. Tweedy III?! Obviously, Claremont did not care that Posobiec posts supposedly tongue-in-cheek white supremacist memes—after all, we all know that the proper name of that scoundrel Michael Anton’s essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” The 1488 Election!
But really? They did not care that Posobiec pushed the discredited Seth Rich conspiracy theory, rather than accepting, as I have, that Nigel Farage, Steve Bannon, and Roger Stone were all secretly the pawns of Russian intelligence, in an attempt to install Donald Trump as president—a plan that has roots going back at least to the late 1980s? They did not care that Posobiec pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which nearly got people killed, unlike the undeniable truth that Trump would not be president without Russian help? And never mind nearly getting people killed, how dare Posobiec imply that our elected officials could be ensnared in child sex trafficking rings, which clearly only serves to undermine the American people’s faith in democracy, and—oh my God can you imagine how easy Trump will be to impeach when everyone realizes he ran in the same circles as Jeffrey Epstein?!
Ahem. The point is, Posobiec is emblematic of the fever swamps that once were considered unworthy of notice even by the most depraved and unprincipled people—you know the sort, the ones who dared to suggest that American foreign policy should not be to go to war with every dictatorship on the planet for the sake of peace? But alas, even Posobiec’s inclusion was not the cruelest cut of all. For the list of 2019 Lincoln Fellows was even more terrible for what it left out than for what it included.
For who, despite applying with every willingness to believe that Claremont, for all its dalliances with the monstrous Trumpist invasion of the conservative movement, was still a place where real scholarship could be done, was unceremoniously rejected? Why, none other than your humble scribe, Harold J. F. C. Tweedy III. Indeed, they did not even see fit to include me as an alternate to one of the reprobates already mentioned, despite the fact that my credentials as a graduate of Yale College, as a contributing editor to The Bulwark, and as the head of a presidential exploratory committee for that last great conservative mind, Charles Koch, easily outstrip all of these supposedly “relevant” stains on the Right!
But no, in a sign of the miserable, irreversible decline of the conservative movement, Claremont apparently did not recognize that my stewardship of the “Yelling STOP” podcast, which currently ranks #200 in political podcasts on iTunes, and clearly qualifies me for inclusion. Nor were they evidently impressed with my Twitter following, which may be small, but includes such conservative luminaries as Charlie Sykes, Bill Kristol, Esoteric Jeff, Jamie Weinstein, Jonah Goldberg, and the entire staff of Arc Digital. And forgive my being a bit braggadocious, but how many of these morons they brought in had a billionaire entrepreneur as a recommender?! Indeed, Claremont’s fall to socialism must be complete, if they fail to recognize that my two-sentence recommendation letter from Pierre Omidyar shows I am in tune with the workings of the almighty Market, praise be upon it.
Who knows? Perhaps if I had been included, I could have shown not merely to the Bedfords, and the Holts, and the Posobiecs, but even the Antons, how terribly misguided and unleavened by expert knowledge their support for Ronald Reagan’s usurper, Donald Trump, has been. Perhaps the exhibition of my unfettered, all-American masculine virtue could have persuaded even Miss Lacey of the frailty and weakness of Hungarian nationalism, until she was persuaded, like a sexually liberated Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, to lay down both figuratively and literally with Americanism, embodied by me, Harold J. F. C. Tweedy III!
But now, I shall never get the chance for any of these feats of derring-do, and evil shall be permitted entrance to Claremont unleavened by virtue. No, here I sit, boats against the Trumpist current, trying desperately and ceaselessly to propel conservatism into its glorious past. But alas, it has resisted my pull and instead placed itself on the ash heap of history. I can only take comfort—cold as it is—in the fact that when historians write the history of this troubled era, from what will no doubt be an evenhanded perspective motivated by their years fighting fascism in the streets as graduate students, they will recognize that this was the moment the conservative movement truly lost its way.
Harold J. F. C. Tweedy III is the head of the Conservatives United for Charles Koch 2020 Exploratory Committee.