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Home/The State of the Union/We Won’t Be Fooled Again

We Won’t Be Fooled Again

They don't want what you want; they just want more war.

House Republican Conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney (By vasilis asvestas/Shutterstock).

Over the past six months, Americans have been shocked by the U.S. military’s embrace of the left’s new woke secular religion. General Mark Milley’s comments on “white rage” opened an inquiry, leading to an avalanche of new reporting exposing everything from critical race theory to flirtations with coups in the armed forces. Now, with Congress preparing to forcibly conscript females into selective service and ongoing preparations to rename key military installations across the country, the institution is all but lost.

Republicans are eager to cast the blame for these developments on the left. By doing this, they are correctly identifying the source of the rot. But they are also covering for those who enabled the rot: so-called conservatives who ran for office with socially conservative platforms but used their power to bolster the wokening of the military. 

The suspects are usual. Congresswoman Liz Cheney confirmed the depths of her cynicism on 60 Minutes this past weekend. After reversing her stance on gay marriage, she gave a soft endorsement of the trans agenda. Her significant ideological influence, Bill Kristol, lamented the inclusion of the pro-life movement in his otherwise pro-death campaign just earlier this month. They both, per usual, blindly followed George W. Bush’s lead. Bush officiated a gay wedding in 2015. Never mind his proposed Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a key component to his reelection win in 2004. 

At this point, it is safe to say their opinions on these issues don’t matter anymore. Liz Cheney is condemned to fighting a primary to keep a place in the nosebleeds of the backbenches of Congress. Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard was shuttered after losing subscribers by double-digits in its final years of existence. Spiritual successor the Bulwark is unimpressive and irrelevant. As for the Bush dynasty, their humiliations have compiled. A bizarre fourth-place finish by a Bush in George H.W Bush’s congressional seat has compounded Jeb Bush’s expensive 2016 primary loss. Brother George and co.’s desperate careening for attention on national television reaches new lows every week. Luckily, the expected trouncing of Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the Texas attorney general primary will likely end the Bush charade for good. 

There was a time, however, when the opinions of these actors mattered a great deal. Off and on again for 30 years, this crew of neoconservatives exercised more institutional control over the armed forces than any other faction in American politics. Their power mattered, and they used it to launch two wars in the Middle East and enforce woke, liberal ideology on Islamic populations hostile to the experiment. American sons and daughters, largely unfamiliar with wokeism, found themselves ordered to peddle woke gospel between spurts of combat.

The effort in the Middle East would result in the deaths of thousands of U.S troops and millions of civilians and the loss of trillions of taxpayer dollars. It would also result in the launch of a “Gender Studies Center” at the American University of Iraq, the protection of bacha bazi rape in Afghanistan, and a failed attempt to force the values of third-wave feminists on the Mid-East’s population. Colin Powell’s consultation with the Feminist Majority may have only harmed Afghan women. Still, it is providing the last line of defense of the neoconservative foreign policy disasters. No longer a “War on Terror”: The salesmen of war are now selling a battle to liberate Afghan girls

In this, the lust for war has been unmasked. For decades, the neoconservatives assured social conservatives they were the valued third leg of the right-wing stool. George W. Bush took great pains to run to the right of John McCain in 2000, ensuring his primary victory with the support of evangelicals. The Cheneys did their part; Liz’s cynical stance on gay marriage is forever canonized in film. Many social conservatives were fooled into believing them—myself included. We didn’t realize that domestic social issues were just part of the sales pitch. When an early-2000s center-right population was asked to support a war to promote liberty, protect freedom, and avenge 9/11, we were happy to listen to Toby Keith on the radio and support the troops. 

But America isn’t a center-right country anymore, and the war salesmen are no longer selling a patriotic war. Now, they sell a war to teach LGBT ideology in Kabul and defend feminists from the Mullahs. For the neoconservatives, the third leg of the stool was an interchangeable part from Ikea. They’ve unscrewed the traditional Christian conservatives and ordered a sturdier replacement leg from the progressive left. It remains to be seen if the secularists are as gullible as we were.

As for the remnant still battling for outmoded traditional values, it’s time we remember an old Texas (or probably Tennessee) saying. “Fool me once, shame on–shame on you. If fool me, can’t get fooled again.” 

about the author

Collin Pruett is an Operations Associate at The American Conservative. He studied political science and history at Texas State University. Before joining TAC, Collin worked for a myriad of grassroots conservative organizations and non-profits, and served as one of the youngest political appointees in the Trump Administration. A native Texan, he now resides in Washington D.C.

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