Home/Rod Dreher/National Conservatism’s Big Night

National Conservatism’s Big Night

Too bad, identity politics Democrats. It turns out that a lot of Latinos want to be plain patriotic Americans after all (Screenshot of Trump campaign ad)

I’m writing this after midnight Central time, now that it’s clear we won’t have an idea tonight who won the presidential race, and probably not which party will control the Senate (though it’s going to be very hard for the Democrats to pull out a win). Still, I retire tonight a far, far happier pundit than I expected to be at the end of the evening. Why? Consider:

  1. I expected to slink to bed crushed by a Biden blowout, and the possibility of a Democratic Senate. That’s what the polls had predicted, after all. Now it appears that the GOP has held the Senate, and Trump might actually pull out a stunning upset.
  2. Even if Trump loses, the Senate will still almost certainly remain in Republican hands. That means elderly President Biden will take office as an enfeebled one-termer hemmed in by a GOP Senate.
  3. Trump out of the picture opens the path for new conservative leadership in the national conservative vein. Tonight’s result makes it clear that there will be no restoration of the pre-Trump Republican status quo. The Lincoln Project will have been its last hurrah.
  4. The president’s amazing performance with black and Latino voters signals a potential for realignment, with the GOP becoming a broad working-class party with a socially conservative base. Look at this:

  5. This election was a massive repudiation of Wokeness and identity politics. It should give conservative politicians the courage to go on the attack against it within institutions. If Trump holds the executive branch, the Justice Department, the EEOC, the Education Department, and others ought to put the fear of God into the likes of Smith College and Woke Capitalists. Despite what Stacey Abrams and other leading Democrats want to believe, there can be no illusion that the future of America is identity politics.
  6. The media will melt down, again. Couldn’t happen to more deserving people. Same with the piss-ant Stalinista sisters at Progressphiles, who drove David Shor off for telling the truth.
  7. If Trump holds the White House and the Republicans hold the Senate, Justice Thomas could retire from the Supreme Court if he wanted to, and they could put a young conservative in his place. Also, the GOP could create a 7-2 conservative majority if Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, retires in the next presidential term.
  8. If the GOP emerges from all this as the overall winner (which it will even if Trump loses), everybody is going to need to listen to Yoram Hazony’s 2019 speech defining national conservatism, to get an idea of where the Right is headed.

However the White House race is decided — and we might not know until week’s end, if it comes down to Pennsylvania — this year’s vote marks another catastrophe for pollsters. But I wonder how you poll accurately when so many people are afraid to tell the truth about their support for a conservative candidate? I cannot tell you the number of private conversations I’ve had in the past week or so, both in person and online, with Trump voters who expressed confidence that Trump would be re-elected because they knew so many people like themselves: voters who supported Trump, but would never admit it to a pollster or to someone they didn’t know.

Why is that? Because they are afraid. Of what? Of that information being used against them in some way. Of it costing them their job, or worse. These people aren’t fools. They see how the progressive left in power behaves, and how getting on the wrong side of woke ideology can destroy a person’s career.

One reader of this blog told me last week that his wife, who grew up in China under the Cultural Revolution, participated all campaign in a major weekly tracking poll, and consistently lied about her voting plans. She said she was a Biden backer who was planning to vote for liberals. The truth was the opposite — but she didn’t dare say so, because she was afraid. She has been watching the rise of woke mobs, and ideological persecution within American institutions, with horror, because she knows from her own family’s experience where this sort of thing leads.

What the Democratic Party and its progressive activist base have done is bully the American people into practicing ketman. What is that? It’s a concept that the Polish dissident writer Czeslaw Milosz introduced in his 1950s classic The Captive Mind, explaining why so many intellectuals fell for Communism. I write about it like this in my book Live Not By Lies:

Lying to pollsters makes sense in a society in which telling certain truths can cost you your job. This is the world that the Left has made for itself, and for us all. Joe Biden should have won this election going away, given the Covid crisis, and the president’s record. But he either lost the race, or he will have barely won it, and will take office with no mandate. My sense is that a lot of this comes from the fact that people hate the humiliation of having to lie to protect their jobs and their reputations from persecution by the Left — by college administrators, by HR departments, by woke, race-obsessed mobs within companies, and snitches, and media. For now at least, we still have the secret ballot. Someone said that Donald Trump is the last middle finger people like this have left.

The Democrats will not be able to absorb this lesson. Can you imagine the shock to their system? Already Nikole Hannah-Jones, the 1619 Project fabulist, is busy trying to rewrite the history of the 2020 election to blame white people for the Latino repudiation of intersectional solidarity:

Again, we don’t know yet who the next president is going to be, but we can say for sure that almost nobody foresaw this kind of setback for the Democrats. It is possible — and maybe even probable — that in the aftermath of this bad election, the woke power centers within media, academia, and corporations will double down on “antiracism” and other ideological madness. But now the American people have demonstrated powerfully that there’s no future in it outside of the pathetic precincts of middle and upper class power.

That’s not nothing! That’s very far from nothing. But it’s less than they thought they had before Tuesday. Well done, America. And to be fair, though I don’t often have much positive to say about him in this space, well done Donald Trump. Even if you wind up losing the White House, the party wouldn’t have had this unexpected performance without you.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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