The right’s failure in 2020’s election may herald the start of a new conservative ascension. But it cannot happen under the current Republican Party leadership.
The problem is greater than the Republican-in-Name-Only politicians ignoring the legitimate charges of election-rigging and jumping Trump’s ship. For years, the established conservative political class has looked away from the left’s most serious tyrannies over ordinary Americans.
The failure of the conservative establishment long predates the 2020 election and is largely responsible for its outcome. Stuck in the political battles of yesteryear, they have, at best, misunderstood the dynamics driving today’s left and thus have unwittingly contributed to its hegemony. At worst, conservative power brokers exploit leftist agendas for their own advantage.
Conservative leaders effectively ceded power to a leftist coup of largely adolescent activists. These leaders had already forfeited the moral high ground, which they could have occupied by championing a few key issues of critical importance to ordinary Americans. They had a golden opportunity through President Donald Trump, who was defiant toward the established political class in Washington and open to confronting what was previously off-limits. Instead, they colluded with leftists to conceal government’s most hideous injustices.
These professional conservatives in Washington have long displayed contempt for ordinary people. They have refused to examine their own repeated failures, stubbornly adhered to clichéd free market dogmas, obsessed over building their personal political empires, and ruthlessly silenced criticism. Official conservatism is as culpable of practicing its own version of “cancel culture” as is the left.
I’ve laid out a broad indictment; now I’ll discuss three areas of reform that a Republican Party must address before it can again claim the mantle of a true party of the political right. These are issues that threaten to devastate the lives of millions of Americans if they do not have a legitimate conservative party willing to champion them and stop the abuses of the left, issues in which the use of the word “oppression” is fully warranted. They are: radical sexual ideology; judicial injustice and tyranny; and the politicization and weaponization of education.
Radical sexual ideology is undeniably on the cutting edge of today’s left. Yet on no subject are public debates more misinformed, evasive, or dishonest, on both sides of the political spectrum. Its complex dynamic is admittedly difficult to understand, compared with past radical movements, but it is far more destructive of people’s lives.
Sexual ideology not only divides women from men, and children from parents. It also severs family ties, dissolves social institutions, and rationalizes the invasion and control of private life by state functionaries. It erodes family and public solvency and erects political tyranny.
Yet professional conservatives prefer their familiar, safe battlegrounds: communism, socialism, and race. Yes, the radicals themselves have revived racial politics along with communist methods, but this is an optical illusion—a flanking maneuver, to slip a more extreme sexual agenda under the radar.
Black Lives Matter (BLM), for example, was created by radicalized women, but it is not just pushing racial politics, it also empowers sexual militants. BLM’s political platform includes statements such as “queer affirming,” “transgender affirming,” “free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.” BLM’s goals are focused on disrupting the family, and include phrases such as “dismantle the patriarchal practice,” “disrupt the…nuclear family structure,” and “collectively care for…children.” This is the perfect agenda, in fact, to further emasculate and criminalize the ever-disposable black male, for whom many progressives and conservatives seem to have nothing but disdain.
Conflicts touted as racial are really familial and sexual. The rage and violence that draws police to minority communities is not the result of racism, but of family destruction. A young black criminal is invariably a youth deprived of a father. A homeless, derelict black man has almost certainly been through divorce court. By blaming the ever-spiraling self-destructiveness caused by family destruction on racism, black resentment is the gift that keeps on giving—to the militants certainly, but also to professional conservatives who thrive by ineffectually wagging their fingers at it. They will never disrupt an arrangement in which they have a vested interest.
Basic political science recognizes that the professionals paid to solve problems have an incentive to perpetuate them, and that includes politicians, civil servants, lawyers, and professional left-wing activists, as well as their right-wing counterparts. Citizens alone have the right incentives to address political problems effectively, precisely because they are amateurs. Their efforts spent on political problems sacrifice their time and money, and therefore they are motivated to solve them as efficiently as possible.
The professionals’ engagement with sexual ideology itself is likewise self-serving. Conservative politicos fixate on the inflammatory, high-profile manifestations of radical sexual politics that help them rally their bases, to procure power and funding: homosexuality, transgenderism, and same-sex marriage. But their treatment of these issues is more symptomatic than substantive (and even then, they always lose!). These grotesque but marginal issues are easy targets that affect the lives of very few people.
Meanwhile, for decades conservatives have neglected the radicals’ far more harmful attacks on family issues, which would require courage and intelligence to confront. Foremost among these are the corrosive effects of the welfare state on families, and the involuntary divorce industry. These issues devastate the lives of millions, wreak untold havoc on our social structure and economy, and have now reached the scale of state repression. Yet the conservative political class averts its eyes and holds its tongue.
It is the welfare state that, year-after-year, traps minority youth in violent crime, substance abuse, truancy, and angry rebellion. This is not to mention the welfare state’s encouragement of unwed childbearing, which transmits social costs on to subsequent generations. Tax dollars are coerced from the rest of the population to subsidize and proliferate the single-parent homes that breed all our major social pathologies. In turn, these pathologies are used to rationalize further gargantuan expenditures for law enforcement, incarceration, health, and education—virtually the entire domestic budget.
After the 2020 election, a new class of functionaries who will manage this largesse will enslave us through taxation to finance it.
Likewise, the involuntary divorce machine has been more destructive of children, private life and private lives, family and social structure, private and public solvency, and liberty itself than any other achievement of the sexual revolution. Devised by radical feminists, divorce laws are uncontestably the most repressive government machinery ever created in the United States, and trample over every amendment in the Bill of Rights and other constitutional protections.
Yet no government depredation is more conspicuously avoided by right-wing politicos, including Christian ones who rant about the sanctity of marriage. This is because Republican lawyers (also including “Christian” ones) amass huge sums by looting families through divorce. It’s also because conservative leaders fear feminists, including Republican feminists, who understand how our divorce laws render powerful men manipulable, making alpha females society’s effective bosses.
A reformed conservative party must not hesitate to confront the radical sexual ideology within its own ranks. It must contend with the fact that vast powers accrue to the judicial operators who allow the divorce juggernaut to systematically roll over American men. Which leads me to my second area of reform, judicial injustice and tyranny.
It should surprise no one that the courts fled their constitutional responsibility to rectify the illegalities of the 2020 election. They long ago abandoned constitutional adjudication for more lucrative endeavors.
Conservative moguls love waxing indignant over “judicial activism.” In fact, they protect more chicanery than they expose. Most professional conservatives are lawyers. They ensure that judicial aggrandizement serves their own purposes and carefully limit their complaints to a few issues that concern Washington elites and the federal courts.
Meanwhile they ignore the vast miscarriages of justice that go on in state and local courts. Vastly more people are systematically harassed, plundered, ruined, unjustly incarcerated, and rendered homeless by state and local courts, where most conservative lawyers operate. The issues that plague these lower courts are many, including predatory lawsuits, thievery of probate, out-of-control prosecutors, neutered grand juries, extortionate plea-bargaining, knowingly false criminal charges and convictions, incarcerations without trial, and mass property confiscations. Above all, local family courts routinely seize control over the children and private lives of legally unimpeachable citizens.
Federal courts, even those run by Republican-appointed judges, protect these depredations at the state and local level. These abuses are never scrutinized in confirmation hearings by the grandstanding Republican senators (themselves mostly lawyers) or conservative pressure groups (again, composed mainly of more lawyers).
above: facade of Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, New York City (Jordi De Rueda Roigé/Alamy Stock Photo)
“At all levels of American society…the idea that American courtrooms strive toward justice is no longer taken seriously,” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board observed way back in 1999. “The courts are greatly feared for their ability to ruin, but they aren’t much respected anymore by the American people.”
Walter Olson, author of The Litigation Explosion, wrote in Reason magazine that “lawyers have more power to ruin your life in America than they do in any other advanced country.” They “are so widely disliked in this country because they are so very widely, and correctly, feared for the power without responsibility they wield.”
Yet it is the same conservatives who condemn “judicial activism” who then turn around and futilely seek “law-and-order” by empowering criminal courts. But it is all the same judiciary, which augments its power, as Charles Dickens observed, by creating business for itself. To start, the crimes being punished are committed, virtually 100 percent, by youths rendered fatherless by the same court system. Here conservative activists play the game they learned from their leftist confederates: First create the problem, then profess outrage at the consequences.
Furthermore, like the welfare and divorce machineries that feed clients to lawyers, the criminal courts have been commandeered by the left. The courts’ focus on obvious crimes such as murder, robbery, and rape (traditionally defined) are being replaced with new political and gender crimes: rape (redefined broadly), sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual this-and-that, plus “hate” crimes, “hate” speech, and more.
This trend is embodied in Vice President Kamala Harris and others whose political careers begin as prosecutrices and attorneys general—occupations sustained largely by incarcerating young black men (though their list of targets is growing). These incarcerations may be for crimes of real violence (though again originating in single-parenthood) or concocted “gender” crimes, often connected to welfare and divorce, and refined as “rape,” “domestic violence,” and “child abuse.”
In fact, nowadays young black men are less likely to be incarcerated for violent crime than they are for nonpayment of child support. The child support racket is yet another dishonest, extortive, and lucrative subsidy on single-motherhood that hugely exacerbates social problems and grows government power, and yet it enjoys uncritical support from the professional conservative class.
Traditional leftists criticize Harris’s glee for jailing people, camouflaging her own far-left agenda and fooling some right-wingers into approving of her “moderate” stance on law-and-order. But building the planet’s second-largest gulag in America (only North Korea’s is bigger) is not “law-and-order.” It is creeping Stalinism: Radicals first challenged the penal machinery, now they’ve seized it for their own purposes, while cynically invoking traditional values to co-opt conservatives.
The methods pioneered on the left are often later imitated by the right, and that is the case here. Conservative advocacy on family and sexual politics is ineffectual because it is monopolized by law firms like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom, whose first priority is their own funding, power, and growth, and who dance a delicate pas-de-deux with their leftist counterparts. Conservatives send them $100 a year to perform our citizenship for us and think we have done our civic duty.
These establishment conservatives, both in and out of office, allow the left to set the terms of debate. Then, using mediagenic smoke-and-mirrors, they trick us into believing that they are battling the left when they are really building political empires.
The proof is that we can no longer even discuss any of this outside of unconventional magazines like Chronicles. Journalists, scholars, writers, whistleblowers, anyone who exposes this muck is quickly “canceled”—ostracized, vilified, fired, sued, silenced, or even incarcerated—not only by the neo-Bolsheviks of the left, but also by their neo-Stalinist collaborators on the right.
A reformed conservative party must not hesitate to confront the judicial injustice and tyranny practiced within its own ranks. The public voices who should be challenging power have for too long been indoctrinated into the establishment’s acceptable terms of debate well beforehand. Which brings me to my third area of reform, the politicization and weaponization of education.
Universities incubate not only leftist ideology, but also leftist methods, which are likewise imitated by the right. They train, indoctrinate, and socialize the political class of journalists, lawyers, judges, civil servants, congressional staff, lobbyists, pollsters, and techies—including the conservative versions of these professions.
These graduates also spread “woke” techniques of the left that they learned in the academies to the larger body politic. These techniques—intimidation, censorship, purges, even what amounts to public show trials—can now be used to determine more than one election outcome.
So intoxicated with power are the campus militants, and so little opposition do they encounter, that for years radicalized students, professors, and administrators have invested themselves with pseudo-judicial authority and staged trials of fellow citizens in makeshift kangaroo courts. Using the redefined definition of rape and other evidence-free sexual accusations, these rigged political tribunals epitomize all three legs of my triad of conservative abdication: sexual, judicial, and academic.
Allowing this state-within-a-state to exist within campuses further corrupts the real judiciary, just as the feminist rape industry conceived within academia has already compromised the criminal courts. These campus tribunals served, in turn, as stage rehearsals for the #MeToo campaigns used to target political and social enemies.
One may have thought that the reemergence of Jacobin- and Stalinist-style political trials would have sufficiently alarmed conservative scholars, often exiled from these universities, for them to expose the danger. But no, confronting these knowingly false criminal accusations is seen merely as an annoying distraction from the more urgent task of interminable philosophizing and moralizing, which is the conservative intelligentsia’s stock answer to the aggression of leftist sexual radicalism. One conservative scholar may take the occasion to wax philosophic about the semantics of “consent.” Others add qualifications to what are essentially endorsements and encouragements of the Jacobins.
There are consequences when intellectuals inure themselves to injustices that it is their job to criticize. Academia is becoming known as one of the dirtiest of professions, by both the right and the left. For both sides, it has become a practice arena for terminating the careers of randy college students and politically incorrect professors, before moving on to larger prey in broader society.
Some enterprising conservatives have founded alternative colleges offering traditional curricula. Yet these exceptions eventually prove the rule. They are hardly more ethical or reform-minded than their mentors on the left, which is where they usually end up after some time.
above: Jerry Falwell, Jr. speaking with attendees at the 2nd Annual Turning Point USA Winter Gala at the Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida on December 18, 2019 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
These alternative institutions carry little intellectual weight and often endure ridicule because of their leaders’ proclivity for shooting themselves in the foot, most recently Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s disgraceful sex scandal at Liberty University. Liberal-left muckrakers have leapt on Falwell, Jr. with accusations of assorted sexual and financial sleaze—allegations that distract and divide conservatives, who cannot seem to grasp the real problem.
More important is the question of what kind of universities moguls like Falwell, Jr. aspire to build. They provide little leadership for academic or other reform, because they are foremost the domains of conservative kingmakers, rather than intellectual institutions encouraging critical scholarship or challenging the left’s chicanery and cultural hegemony.
Politicos like Falwell, Jr., Albert Mohler at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Michael Farris at Patrick Henry College (the right’s preeminent Never-Trumper and head of the Alliance Defending Freedom)—all public figures with major public platforms—show scant interest in reforming higher education, or anything else for that matter. Few conservatives even bother to press for serious reform. They refused not only to condemn the phony rape trials but also failed to support the one official, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who moved to curtail them. When attacked, they responded not by debating like scholars but by trying to stop critics’ mouths with lawsuits and more underhanded legal weapons.
The timidity of many conservatives in the face of the leftist cultural hegemony leaves them vulnerable to be pressured into joining the radicals they shrink from challenging. They even to do the dirty work for the left by purging the few conservatives among their ranks who do speak out. The time-servers in the university system feed real scholars to the wolves to avoid being devoured themselves. This is why conservative colleges are “woking” up, cleansing their faculty, and hoodwinking and threatening even their own governing boards.
Buried in the prurient exposés of the Falwell incident is the really serious indictment: Liberty’s determination to silence dissenting and critical faculty and even trustees. Summary dismissals were allegedly used to extort faculty into taking hush money through “nondisparagement” agreements, with even more authoritarian measures allegedly applied to punish those refusing to be silenced. “Everybody walks around in fear,” one anonymous Liberty employee told Politico in 2019. “Fear is probably [Falwell’s] most powerful weapon.”
Lest one assume this authoritarianism protects the doctrinal integrity of Christian institutions, for which legitimate safeguards exist, it does the opposite. It punishes faculty who blow whistles on unethical practices, including those of the leftists who have crept into these institutions.
Politically, these bankrolled academic entrepreneurs have been overshadowed by more puissant left-wing versions, notably today’s most formidable academic adventurer, the billionaire George Soros.
Like his right-wing counterparts, Soros understands the political leverage wielded by commanding one’s own personal university, with docile faculty kept on a tight leash and feckless trustees who look the other way. His Central European University has been a principal seminary for his political intrigues (which is why three countries have refused it funding and effectively ejected it from its eponymous region).
Whereas established universities subvert learning with ideology, extort tuition from the young for overpaid and unprincipled administrators, purge critics, and even stage show-trials, Soros takes a great leap forward in toppling governments. This modus operandi was perfected in the “color revolutions” that deposed elected leaders in Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere, before being redirected, predictably, in the coup against Trump.
If rightist salonniers and their parlor intellectuals cannot challenge this weaponization of education by a megalomaniac ideologue like Soros, it may be because they are too busy imitating it. Whether on the left or the right, the Soros-Falwell-Farris-Mohler model is not a corrective to politicized campuses; it takes their logic to the next level. A reformed conservative party must not hesitate to confront the politicization and weaponization of education, even within its own institutions.
All of this demonstrates how conservative kingpins insulate their empires from criticism by intentionally marginalizing their own intellectuals, without whom conservatism remains incoherent, opportunistic, and reactive. It makes for a Conservatism Inc. that is complacent, spineless, and vulnerable to the allure of money. Its operating dynamic can only make the establishment right progressively more unprincipled and irrelevant, as attested to by warnings of permanent impotence following the 2020 election.
above: then candidate Donald J. Trump spars with his political rivals at the GOP Presidential Debate on Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colorado (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Like Reaganism and Thatcherism, Trumpism represents a revolt against this conservatism as much as against the left. But today’s problems are deeper and the stakes greater. The neo-Jacobins and neo-Stalinists now planning criminal trials to “cleanse” Trump, his supporters, and others are merely pushing further the methods they pioneered against young black men, involuntarily divorced parents, university students, un-PC professors, and others. It looks like the same revolutionary justice, met by the same conservative acquiescence.
Critics have long been stymied by conservatism’s do-nothing leadership. The 2020 election has highlighted the consequences of accepting political salvation on the cheap. It is not possible to get out of this by doing the same things that got us into it. I have identified specific oppressions to both individuals and society that a reformed conservative party must address. Any conservative who cannot suspend his philosophizing, moralizing, lamenting, and bemoaning in order to grasp these nettles and act on them needs to step aside.