The Occupy Wall Street movement failed like a third-century Christian heresy primarily because it lacked orthodoxy and a pontiff. The movement’s heresiarch, Chris Hedges, never truly embraced the role or imposed a rule, and despite all the eschatological sermons he delivered on cable news, denied himself the mitre. Leaderless and incoherent, the movement broke down. Hedge’s sheep scattered. Those not devoured by the wolves of Wall Street or left prostrated at the feet of statists like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden (the likes of Cenk Uygur and Michael Moore), were sacrificed in one or two rigged Democrat primaries.
The Democratic Party and establishment Washington handily destroyed the leftist populist movement, at least in its 2011 formulation. The loss was not, however, inevitable, and served a greater purpose than its own: to inform another’s success.
Two years earlier, there was a populist revolt on the Right, in the wake of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential bid. Those participating in this revolt—which at the outset was primarily targeting the rot and detachedness in the Republican Party—identified many of the same problems, corrupt institutions, and behaviors that the leftist populists railed against at Zuccotti Park.
The Tea Party Rises to Power
The conservative populists’ solutions, however, were disparate from their populist brethren further left afield: not destructive but liberating; Christian, not nihilistic; life-affirming, not murderous; individualistic, not identitarian; freeing, not constraining; nationalist, not globalist. These solutions were also incommensurate with establishment Republican policy and outlook.
Cantankerous seat-warmers like Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Representatives John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knew what adaptation would mean for them and for their donors, so they fought back. Thanks to the intestinal fortitude of conservative populists like Dave Brat, Tim Scott, and Matt Bevin, it soon became clear that the RINOs were all dust and no horn; that this was a party for elephants.
Those corporatists and war-criminals in the GOP who for too long had masqueraded as Republicans were called out, castigated, and mostly unseated by this new generation of fire-breathers, with the assistance of a new style of media gunboat—one left armed and ready in port by Andrew Breitbart. The fight that ensued was legendary.
The Republican Party attempted desperately to stop the evangelization of the party—to caltrop the Tea-Party-led charge—but it succumbed. Though the war had not yet been won when 2015 rolled around (and remains unwon to this day ), all of the major battles had turned out in the populists’ favor.
The stage was set. To wrench authority away from the remaining RINOs and to begin another war on another front with the corporate Democrats, the populists still needed a pontiff and an orthodoxy. Without both, their populist play might have been cut short.
Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon had approximated the orthodoxy that this new movement would ultimately adopt, and pushed Sarah Palin to run with it. She rejected the laurels not thrice but four times. Would this revolt against a broken system and a corrupt city flounder as had Occupy? The answer came on June 16, 2015.
Enter Trump and the Greatness Agenda
A real-estate mogul named Donald J. Trump descended the golden escalator in the Trump Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City. It quickly became clear to those who’d been waiting that the time had come and with it the answer to decades of managed decline: “No more,” said Trump.
Though Trump had outlined his chief concerns a decade earlier on talk shows like Oprah’s and David Letterman’s, as well as in full-page ads in newspapers of record, he clarified his position at the base of the golden escalator. Trump identified what Americans should and would no longer tolerate:
- America being ripped off by genocidal Communists;
- Working-class jobs being stolen or shipped overseas;
- Allies taking advantage of American beneficence and security won with patriots’ blood;
- The last and next enemy to pose a real threat to the West stealing American intellectual property while liquidating Uighurs, Nepalese, Tibetans, house Christians, Falun Gong adherents, and members of the underground Catholic Church;
- America fruitlessly hemorrhaging blood, respect, and treasure in Near-Eastern sand traps;
- Statists, keen to distract from macro-problems and macro-corruption, giving leftists the green light to distract the masses by normalizing debilitating madness;
- Men in women’s washrooms;
- The butchery of the unborn;
- The mutilation of adolescents’ genitals;
- Marcusian terrorists tearing down statues of America’s Founders;
- Chinese fentanyl killing tens of thousands of Americans each year, made possible by a farcical immigration policy supported by both parties and a porous border that also permitted entry to millions of wage-suppressing illegal aliens;
- Tax dollars being sacrificed willy-nilly to European enviro-Marxist wealth redistribution schemes based on questionable science pushed by incentivized charlatans owning beachfront property and all pricked by a Wordsworthian discomfort with people freckling the scene;
- Islamists murdering innocents at home and abroad while mouthpieces in Washington redefine impotence, unable to even name the ideology responsible;
- Wall Street bailouts and Main Street foreclosures;
- Gun grabs;
- The weaponization of the IRS against populists;
- Anti-Christian bigotry.
Thanks to his personal wealth, President Trump did not have to pander or become beholden to any of the various lobby groups that hold the majority of Congress and the Senate captive. He did not have to play along and pretend that amnesty for millions of foreign nationals would benefit the nation. He didn’t have to pretend that remaining in Iraq or Afghanistan benefitted America or kept it safe. He didn’t have to pretend that Obama and Biden’s arming of jihadists in southern Syria (who went on to murder hundreds of thousands of civilians) via Operation Timber Sycamore was about decency or democracy or freedom.
He spoke frankly and honestly, and said the truth loudly and freely. This, of course, was intolerable to the intolerant American aristocracy, forever rebelling against the poor. The public face of the Washington establishment contorted while the sickly mind behind it turned to jelly. How dare they send an uncommon man with common sense to Washington to execute the will of the American people? The only thing we know how to execute here is the American dream, one slice at a time.
The Empire Strikes Back
Unlike Occupy, conservative populists refined and supported a coherent political worldview (with a Chestertonian affinity for family, and a healthy antipathy for big government and corporatism; all contingent upon a Christian outlook), and unlike Occupy, conservative populists actually elected a leader—an unrefined man who had synthesized their secular orthodoxy into four words: Make America Great Again. With their orthodoxy and leader, conservative populists fought the establishment and won.
The proof of the efficacy of the conservative populist movement and its potency is not the mere fact that President Trump won the 2016 election or that he received tens of millions of more votes four years later. The proof is manifest in two spurious impeachment efforts. The proof is four years of hysterical propaganda, not only from a corrupt and gutless news media, but from Hollywood and those institutions infiltrated by lunatic leftists and greedy statists.
Every conservative social media account suspended and every tweet flagged and every accusation of this-or-that-ism is another proof that the enemies of the American people—in Big Tech, big media, big government, and the military-industrial complex—are afraid that the ground beneath their feet is shifting. The proof that populism is the future is that the oligarchs and aristocrats of yesteryear are doing everything they can to stop it.
Establishment chuckleheads claim that they are afraid of populism undermining democracy, and yet they stole the election. They claim that they are afraid of populism being authoritarian, and yet they deplatform and try to silence anyone who openly supports Donald Trump. They have surrounded the Capitol with soldiers. They feigned fear over the possibility that the man put in power by the conservative populist movement might start a war, while they themselves have spent the past four years fanning the flames of war with another nuclear power.
(It’s worthwhile to note here that President Trump, despite being conferred more war powers by a Democratic Congress even during the impeachment charade, ended his first term as the first president in decades not to start a new war, but only securing peace in the Near East and defusing a nuclear threat on the Korean peninsula.)
Leaning Into the Great Reset
Though Joe Biden has only been in power for a few days, the establishment has already stopped pretending that the lies they’ve peddled and the fear they’ve mongered over the past four years have been anything other than a concerted, albeit desperate, attempt to hold onto power.
CNN has dropped the CCP virus death counter. The World Health Organization now admits its PCR tests provide false negatives, meaning that the number of COVID-19 cases blamed on President Trump—and curiously not blamed on the Chinese Communists who made the gain-of-function virus—has been grossly inflated. Democratic governors are reopening their states and ending their business-killing lockdowns. Done pretending, the establishment is now rushing to reclaim their illegitimate authority and leaning into the great reset.
American troops are rolling into northeastern Syria; the energy sector is being decimated and American energy independence undone (marking a return to dependence on Islamofascist oil); blanket amnesty is being worked out for tens of millions of illegal aliens who will constitute the Democrats’ new voting bloc.
The establishment won’t dare risk losing power again to the American people. They wish to kill the populist pontiff with an unpardonable impeachment and demarcate his orthodoxy as terroristic. All the while, populists on the Left cheer on Biden and Harris and Schumer and Pelosi and Schiff—who don’t give a damn about them—not realizing that this means they, too, will never again stand a chance of having a say or a day on the hill.
Leftist populists will continue to be used and abused by the Democratic Party unless they recognize a painful truth: they missed their shot because they didn’t define an aim or elect someone to hold the bow as the populist Right had.
They can now either hold their noses and cast votes forever for neoliberals pretending to be democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders—who will betray them again and again by voting in line with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for imperialistic adventures and economic policies that devastate the working class. Or they can, in league with the MAGA movement, defeat the Washington establishment.
Slaying the Dragon
The conservative populists and the leftist populists are both knights and the establishment a dragon. The two knights—the courtless leftist and the red-crossed rightist—agree mostly on what constitutes America’s problems, but disagree entirely on how to go about solving them. A common diagnosis means a shared diagnostics and comparable methodology.
Presuming the populist Left has discarded the phenomenology that rendered their forerunners incoherent and listless, what we are left with—if left with these two knights—is a workable political binary; one that can be stretched out to a spectrum of agency where there could be genuine give and take, debate, and perhaps even bipartisanship.
There can be no bipartisanship with a dragon that seems keen to destroy the realm with fire. A patriot cannot debate with a flagless beast programmed only to kill and hoard gold. The best route forward for the courtless knight is to join the red-crossed knight in slaying the dragon—in voting out the remainder of the RINOs in the Republican Party, pushing an economically nationalist or protectionist agenda that shores up the American working-class and prioritizes Main Street over Wall Street. That is the only way to change the political paradigm in Washington.
After all, the populist leftist is in his or her heart ultimately a rebel. (Every American inherits the 1776 reflex.) At least here and now they again have something worth rebelling against, and an entire nation for which to rebel.
Had the leftist populists a pontiff and orthodoxy, perhaps they could have penetrated the defenses thrown down by the elites back in 2008; perhaps they could have distilled the most incisive rhetoric advanced by Glenn Greenwald, Michael Moore, Chris Hedges, Tulsi Gabbard, and even Noam Chomsky down into a digestible form and won the day. They didn’t or they couldn’t and they failed. Conversely, the conservative populists and Trump managed to break through. Lest leftists be happy to sacrifice ever more to the dragon (a reader of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn might suppose that would be their natural inclination), it’s time for them to saddle up and ride with the red-crossed knight. Not for Trump or MAGA, but for America and a populist future.