Conserving Conservatism Is Conserving Defeat

The first thing we have to accept about the culture war is that the Republican Party and the conservative movement have lost. As it is for a battered alcoholic with bottles clinking about his heels, the first step toward recovery is admitting we have a problem. Nowhere is this more evident than in the battle of the biological sexes, lost without a shot fired. 

Even before the gubernatorial candidacy of Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner in California became official, rumors swirled that Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale would lend Jenner a hand. Sure enough, Parscale, currently one of Trump’s “top political lieutenants,” helped Jenner assemble a team, which reportedly includes Trump’s former pollster Tony Fabrizio and former White House communications aide Stephen Cheung. Jenner’s campaign’s website is now live and accepting donations without so much as a single policy issue listed—not that it would matter. The new GOP appears much the same as the old GOP.

Jenner will lose in California. But not before a pile of cash is incinerated in a distracting spectacle, and the GOP beclowns itself, graduating from “Democrats are the real racists” to chanting “Democrats are the real transphobes”—which appears to be the direction the conservative movement is traveling. 

According to Turning Point USA influencer Isabel Brown, the choice is between the “public execution” of LGBTQ+ people and freedom—and conservatives are in the freedom business. “We’re often told by the media and political Left that America is a terrible place for members of the pride community,” she says. “But the truth is, America is among the most progressive places on earth to be yourself.” Brown rattles off a series of the most violent examples of discrimination, which, she claims, tend to occur in “countries with big government domination over society,” like Iraq. 

Iraq has many problems; big government domination is not one of them. 

In the United States, on the other hand, Congress generously provided $5.7 million in taxpayer dollars to the National Institutes of Health for a study wherein children as young as age 8 received puberty-suppressing, cross-sex hormones that will render them permanently infertile. Such are the blessings of liberty. 

Prudence or Cowardice?

Nationally, Republicans like Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem have capitulated to the queer zeitgeist. Hutchinson vetoed a measure to ban castration for minors suffering from gender dysphoria, also known as “gender-affirming therapy.” Noem effectively killed a bill intended to restrict transgender participation in women’s sports. Even when they had the upper hand over Democrats in Florida and Texas, limp-wristed Republicans performed silent retreats from transgender sports bills, allowing Democrats to run the table. 

Republicans and conservatives lost the culture war, in part, because they are afraid of their own shadow almost as much as they are scared of shadows to the right. 

Transgenderism “seems to be the issue on which many on the Right prefer to let loose their inner reactionary, which then further rationalizes petty tyranny on the Left,” warned J. J. McCullough, a columnist for National Review Online. In other words, McCullough thinks losing gracefully is preferable to a fight, a view often described as “prudence,” because calling it cowardice is too on the nose. 

But they also lost because they started fights by accepting left-wing premises on issues. “I think it’s worth offering a conservative defense of transgender rights—which ought to be a conservative issue,” as Josh Gelernter argued illustratively in National Review.

Gelernter wrote in defense of Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who in 2016 promised to not use the state’s newly won GOP majority to push through a bill restricting transgender bathroom use. “Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom?” Bevin said dismissively. “The last thing we need is more government rules. I’m cutting red tape, not creating it.” Of course, the issue for the people who handed Bevin and the GOP victory isn’t “trouble going to the bathroom,” but the concern that individuals experiencing what was until recently considered mental illness will share a bathroom with their children. 

One year after Bevin’s quip, a young girl allegedly was sexually assaulted in an Atlanta school by a boy who identifies as a girl and thus was allowed to follow her into the bathroom. An investigation revealed the school district’s non-response to the sexual assault complaints of the girl’s mother and others and “its actively misleading communications with other alarmed parents and the entire school community,” Jane Robbins reported in The Federalist. “Policies founded in untruth cannot be maintained in an open and honest environment,” Robbins adds. “They must be cloaked in deception to prevent backlash from parents who don’t want their children sacrificed to political correctness.” She’s right. 

Brown, National Review, and other conservatives accept the Left’s premise that transgenderism is normative and, therefore, something to be glorified and even celebrated when they speak of the “rights” of the transgendered. The alternative, in this view, is rank bigotry and perhaps even violence. But this is a false choice. 

Order Not Worth Preserving

No one should suffer abuse, but rather than exalting the virtues of our transgender culture, the Right should reject the normalization of what is essentially a pathology connected to staggering suicide rates.

A long-term study shows this to be the case even with treatment in trans-friendly Sweden. “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population,” the authors found. “Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.”

In other words, shredding the genitals of people with a mental illness and pumping them with cross-sex hormones may not be the best way to help—but it is the easy way because it comes without the social stigma of sounding regressive.

McCullough wrote in National Review that it is the duty of “cautious conservatives” to shepherd America “through the new and unexpected in the cause of preserving a social order as peaceful and free as the one that came prior.” But an order wherein underage boys can receive hormone blockers to hinder the growth of their penises, and have male genitalia “reconstructed” into female genitalia, is not worth preserving. In the case of teen trans star “Jazz” Jennings, hormone blockers had so reduced the growth of his penis that there wasn’t enough male genital tissue left to “construct” a vagina, so he likely underwent an experimental procedure that involved using his peritoneal lining to build a vaginal canal. 

This is the order the conservative movement and Republican Party seek to preserve. They do not reject it but only protest that treatment should not be taxpayer-funded and that the bread and circuses of sports remain free of biologically unfair competition, blind or indifferent to the dishonor of it all. “The honour of a civilisation is not exactly nothing,” as French author Michel Houellebecq put it

Houellebecq recently aimed at the French National Assembly’s consideration of a law “giving and guaranteeing the right to a free and chosen end of life.” France has had a “let die” law allowing “deep and continuous sedation until death” since 2005. In the eyes of the author, France has sacrificed her dignity with the proposed measure that offers a medically assisted “rapid and painless death.” But from the anthropological point of view, more than civilizational honor is at stake. 

“It is a question of life and death. And on this point I am going to have to be very explicit: when a country—a society, a civilisation—gets to the point of legalising euthanasia, it loses in my eyes all right to respect,” Houellebecq writes. “It becomes henceforth not only legitimate, but desirable, to destroy it; so that something else—another country, another society, another civilisation—might have a chance to arise.”

A civilization that legalizes the sterilization and mutilation of its children has done worse than legalizing euthanasia because it lies to itself about the truth. It has put itself on a path toward suicide by robbing its sons and daughters of the ability to procreate even as birth rates plummet; it has chosen to die a humiliating death. 

Surrender Across the Board

But transgenderism is only the latest failure of conservatism and the GOP, which has surrendered on everything including immigration, criminal justice, and reparations even as it continues to welcome the influence of progressive corporations to their states—influence that in time will reduce “red states” to a shade of purple and then blue.

Further, conservative complaints that a new order can’t be legislated or that anyone to their right isn’t against them so much as the times betray a poverty of vision. Today, 1 in 6 adults born between 1997 and 2002 identify as something other than heterosexual. This did not happen organically; it was manufactured by the sheer force of will and tenacity of the Left and made possible by conservative fecklessness. 

There is, therefore, no reason to be “conservative,” because to be conservative in America today is to preserve an order that has lost its legitimacy, and the right thing is not to conserve but destroy it and institute something else. The Republican Party, as it stands, is and will continue to be an obstacle to this cause. 

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About Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez is associate editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He publishes the weekly Contra newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @emeriticus.

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