Right Liberalism Loses In Germany
The preliminary results of the German elections reveal how a political party devoted to right liberalism is unsustainable in the end.
Last Sunday, German voters went to the polls to cast their votes in the Bundestag election. The preliminary results reveal how a political party devoted to right liberalism is unsustainable in the end.
As it stands now, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has captured the highest percentage of the vote share at 25.7% and amounting to 206 seats in parliament. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who decided not to run for a fifth term as chancellor, captured 18.9% of the vote. The CDU’s partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), captured another 5.2% of the vote, granting CDU/CSU a total of 196 seats—50 fewer than they were given in 2017. After briefly taking the lead in the polls in the spring, The Greens came back to earth. However, The Greens grew their vote share by nearly six points and their caucus by 51 seats, securing their best ever election result. Alternative for Germany (AfD), Germany’s right-wing populist, Eurosceptic party founded by CDU defectors, got 10.3% of the vote, 2.3% less than it did in 2017, and lost a total of 11 of its 94 seats.
Just a few months before the election, the SPD seemed to be drawing dead with little chance of controlling the post-Merkel years. Polls as late as July 28 showed the SPD was in a double digit hole to the CDU and a few points behind The Greens. Surely, massive rains that caused flooding and other disasters that killed well over 200 people and a series of blunders from Armin Laschet, the CDU’s new leader and a relatively unpopular figure compared to the exiting Merkel, played their part in the undoing of the CDU.
However, this telling of the election results in Germany is incomplete. For those not familiar with German politics, it’s analogous to the narrative that emerged shortly after the U.S. presidential election in 2016 when the American left claimed Donald Trump would not have won had then-FBI Director James Comey not held a press conference about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails days before the election. This version of the 2016 presidential election ignores policy decisions from both parties, such as “free” trade deals, high levels of immigration, and wars of choice, that hollowed out the American heartland and resulted in Trump’s victory. Chalking up the CDU’s loss to flooding and a poor candidate is myopic, and leaves out fundamental flaws prevalent not only in center or center-right parliamentary parties across Europe, but is also prevalent among some members of the Republican caucus in our two-party system at home.
The CDU was founded in the immediate aftermath of World War II, seen as a successor to the Catholic Centre Party of the Weimar era. In those early days, the CDU defined itself as a classically liberal party with center-right economic tendencies, pro-European and anti-nationalist sentiments. Since then, the CDU has enjoyed fair amounts of control over the country, as five of the eight German chancellors in the post-war era have been members of the CDU.
Meanwhile, imperializing forces of liberalism have taken a stronger hold over the party’s direction. This has been especially true over the course of the Merkel years.
Over her tenure, Merkel increasingly bought the lie espoused by right-liberals that if the right wants to remain politically relevant in a world where the arc of progress is ever-rising, demographics are rapidly, and religiosity is declining, then the right must dump the parts of their platforms devoted to upholding tradition and cultural values.
Thus, Merkel moved the CDU towards the center of the German political spectrum, and formed coalition governments with Social Democrats for three of her four terms. This shift was reflected in Merkel’s policies over her tenure, such as Germany’s response to the 2015 migrant crisis, the Nord Stream projects, climate change and energy policy, trade and investment deals she struck with China, and her favorable attitude towards the European Union.
Overtime, Merkel changed the CDU into a party for secularism, consumerism, and big business. This alienated members of the CDU’s base like Christian families, blue collar workers, and members of rural communities, which can partially explain the rise of AfD—founded by CDU defectors.
What the CDU lost from its traditional base, it gained in support from lukewarm liberals, which is why Merkel was able to retain power for herself and the CDU for four consecutive terms. But, this “big tent” version of the CDU has proven to be more of a house of cards. Its success, it seems, has more to do with her own popularity than the popularity of the modern CDU platform. Without her, “The C.D.U. is hollowed out: it has no leadership and no program,” author and German political scientist Herfried Münkler told the New York Times. “The essential ingredient has gone — and that is Merkel.”
When Merkel’s name did not appear on the ballot Sunday, the aforementioned lukewarm liberals, known for their propensity to cave from social pressures from the hard left, defected from the CDU by the millions. Two million voters switched from CDU to SPD, and another million defected to an even further left party in The Greens or an even more pro-business party in the Free Democrats.
The election results “ha[ve] raised a question about our very identity,” Norbert Röttgen of the CDU told ARD Monday. Rightfully so.
The great irony of Merkel’s CDU, as with other right-liberal parties, is their quest for relevance ends with their irrelevance. I don’t want to overreact and say the CDU is done for. It’s not. But, when the CDU does return to power, it won’t be because the CDU has rediscovered the importance of culture, family, and tradition—it will be because it finally sheds its pretenses of being on the right at all.
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Terry McAuliffe Understands Our Schools
We handed education and child-rearing over to the state a while ago. Terry McAuliffe was just the latest to endorse it out loud.
“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Thus spake Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, in a moment of rare political candor during Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate. The former governor and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman went on to clarify that he’s “not going to let parents come into schools, and actually take books out, and make their own decision,” because that would just be too much for the man to whom Bill Kristol is the “leading conservative in America.”
Of course, the usual round of conservative Twitter types and websites issued their takedowns of the comment, and of course McAuliffe didn’t change course, but the whole hubbub was one of those atypical moments when politics actually gets close to the heart of a major question, and it merits consideration. Why does it really matter that parents have a say in their child’s education, beyond mere prevention of indoctrination by way of critical race theory? Why was this one line so striking?
An honest glance at recent history suggests what McAuliffe is promoting is not avant garde at all, if still inherently radical. Parents have been handing over the reins—excuse me, the whips—for their children’s education and even upbringing for decades, since the creation of the Department of Education told them in a soft, bureaucratic whisper, “We’ll take it from here.” While nannies and tutors are hardly modern, the total subject matter and orientation of a child’s rearing and reading has never been so divorced from the parents and never so willing to flaunt its stateside adultery as in the 21st century. Conservatives were just shocked because McAuliffe actually said it out loud.
We saw a flashpoint in the fight against Common Core curriculum, and again with critical race theory, as parents fought and discovered in desperation how little control they still held over their child’s education. But after each battle, the majority of parents exhaled and went back to work, assuming these big-name issues were lone wolves rather than Trojan horses. Parents have let their children slouch toward an arrangement in which they receive more from the public school system than from themselves—from lunchtime meals, transportation to and from school, and extended childcare before and after hours, to the very structure of the system which can take children from the home at the age of two. They’re never too young to start.
Parents really aren’t involved much at all. Sure, they attend the school functions (though in Fairfax County, Virginia, unvaccinated parents cannot). They certainly send plenty of emails to their child’s teachers, as my friends and family members working in the public school system attest, but these often focus on means, not ends—whether a certain grade was appropriate, if the student should be considered for special education allowances, or making sure the requirements of an assignment are clear. Concerns about pedagogy and purpose are few and far between. But this late in the game, even the parents who want to be involved are barred entry, as Terry says they should be.
The political question is important, because the answer is the difference between a populace that believes in family and one that does not. But that’s just the “who”; the “what” which it determines is whether the children will learn of things like beauty and heroism, or if they will be taught to read all history in terms of personal persecutions and sexuality.
So yes, the assertion that parents should be excommunicated from the schoolroom was outrageous—but it has been flaunting itself under every spreading tree for a while now. What’s really outrageous is that it took Terry McAuliffe to alert us, when it may now be too late.
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Pioneers Over Public Health Officials
Residents of Cody, Wyoming have been able to keep a common sense alive that our nation’s credentialed elites have not.
Breaking news from the frontier! It has, for the most part, returned to normal.
I spent the past week in Cody, Wyoming, at the foot of the Yellowstone wilderness attending a family reunion on my girlfriend’s mother’s side. My main takeaway from the trip is that Americans should turn to the American West and the vestiges of the pioneer spirit to navigate the post-pandemic world. Yes, the American frontier is disappearing, and the parts that remain are much more tame than it once was. But, to this day, the people of Cody, Wyoming, and places like it still retain their dual senses of self-reliance and communal duty to maintain their way of life in spite of the impediments mother nature puts in their path—something our educated urbanites have completely lost.
My girlfriend and I touched down after dark last Tuesday at the small airport in Cody. One of those airports where the clerk who checks you in for the flight also helps guide the plane in and help load checked bags into the hull of the plane. Family picked us up and drove us to the house we’d rented just a few miles down Route 14 that runs through the center of the small city of around 10,000 people. Streetlights and flickering neon signs advertising motel vacancies lit the road and its adjacent buildings.
It wasn’t until the next morning when I would first lay my eyes on the natural wonders the darkness had covered. Cody sits on the Shoshone River at the bottom of a basin created by the Absarokas Mountains to the west, the Owl Creek Mountains to the south, and the Bighorn Mountains in the east. As I strolled through the main strip of town with a backdrop that Hollywood westerns could only hope to recreate, it felt as if I could breathe freely for the first time since that pesky bug from Wuhan, China, began to infect our bodies and minds 18 months ago.
We popped in and out of a number of ma-and-pa shops from ranch suppliers and wilderness outfitters to candy shops and Yellowstone souvenir vendors without wearing a face covering that signaled our adherence to the religion of Science. As we walked in, we were greeted with a “hello,” or better yet a “howdy,” and a big smile. A smile we didn’t just have to deduce based on the way the store owner’s eyes wrinkled. We could see teeth and all, and we were happy to return the gesture.
Remnants of the pandemic were still present. Some of the stores had small signs recommending masks for unvaccinated patrons next to a stand where you could swipe a pump of hand sanitizer and a new surgical mask, and other customers made the personal decision to do just that. But, the decision to wear a mask was theirs, and not on the authority of some far away public health official or a deranged white-wine liberal mother who happens to be shopping at the same store.
And, if it’s social distancing you desire, then there’s ample room to get it all around you. The residents of Cody, Wyoming, and towns like it across the American West, have known this and have taken advantage of it for the better part of two centuries.
During our stay, we ventured into Yellowstone National Park. The massive flora and fauna that surround the geysers, steam vents, and mud pots bubbling with primordial ooze, seem to transport you back to the end of the last ice age. However, by entering Yellowstone, we had also entered a place where the federal government retained complete jurisdiction over pandemic precautions. Posters with icons of people wearing masks hung in the windows of every building to remind park guests that wearing a face covering was mandatory—regardless of how many Fauci-ouchies you’ve gotten in the arm. Many of these buildings were vast in size, and had large, open doors or no doors at all. They were more like glorified shade structures than confined, indoor spaces. Nonetheless, if you wanted that souvenir sweatshirt, you better pull those straps around your ears and shut up. A gaiter also worked as a “face covering” for these establishments, even though The Science tells us that gaiters actually aerosolize the spittle that spreads Covid-19. Thank goodness the public health authorities are truly looking out for us.
Not two years ago, sharing a smile in a small-town store wouldn’t have had such a profound impact on me—or anyone else for that matter. But, in these exceptional times, the average—yet extraordinary—Americans of Cody, Wyoming, have been able to keep a common sense alive that our nation’s credentialed elites have not.
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Big Apple is Watching
Users will soon be able to prove their vaccine status with a QR code in Apple Wallet, but don't worry, this isn't a vaccine passport.
The vaccine passport alarmists were wrong, and thank goodness. Turns out you will not have to carry around a state-issued identification card to prove your purity, because big Apple is already working with big pharma to make a digital one. Praise God for the free market.
About a month ago, The American Conservative‘s Helen Andrews drew attention to a snarky tweet from a senior member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, in which the bureaucrat insinuated a more standardized, coordinated effort was in the works to verify Americans’ vaccine status. A vaccine card is too easily fabricated, some have argued, so someone should find an invulnerable way to verify your status in the new normal world order. We can’t allow scofflaws in the same places as the rest of us.
We’re in luck. Medical marginalization is finally imminent, and at least visibly, the government remains out of the picture. Last week, Apple announced that a pending iOS 15 update will include a vaccine card function for the Wallet and Health apps, presumably in collaboration with health care providers, so restaurant owners can ensure patrons’ shot status is verified by your favorite independent third party in Cupertino, California. The simple update to the software already installed on your best digital friend will allow you to upload a QR code from the physician who administered your shot straight into a convenient and cheerfully-colored app. With your personal, machine-readable code easily accessible from your iPhone or Apple Watch (everyone has one, right?), you can now enter a bar, restaurant, movie theatre, gym, or concert almost as easily as you could in the pre-Covid era. Just scan your digital papers at the door to prove you’re not a moron. Trust, but verify.
We should be grateful, really. Apple is so selfless to look out for our health and safety in this way. They took time out from preparing their 13th line of products for planned obsolescence just to make sure grandma doesn’t catch the flu. Not to mention, as a private company they’ll, by definition, be better stewards of our private health information than the federal government would, duh. The tech companies have reassured us that your personal health information is safe, and they certainly have the track record to prove their definition of “safe” is the same as yours. They’re more efficient, too, which is what really matters. Ah, the beauty of competition.
Some are concerned Apple’s move is the first step on a slippery slope that takes us far closer to China’s social credit system than any sane person would like to go. They say requiring proof of vaccination is a de facto “vaccine passport,” and that once Americans are accustomed to having to present their papers to be permitted in public, it’s a far smaller step to add other qualities—like whether your activity online meets the current standards of political correctness—to the docket that determines your fitness to engage in society.
Such claims are alarmist. This isn’t a vaccine passport; Apple is just trying to help us get out of the pandemic, and we should submit to the minor inconvenience willingly, to ensure we’re all safe. For those who still aren’t sure about the shot, they can simply go to a different restaurant—or state, or job—that doesn’t require them to show their papers. Separate but equal!
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We Won’t Be Fooled Again
They don't want what you want; they just want more war.
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.”
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135 Republicans Want to Draft Your Daughters
In passing the NDAA, GOP congressmen capitulate decency to the War Lobby.
In what’s now an annual rite of passage, the House of Representatives voted to approve the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week. The NDAA is a rare example of bipartisanship; the 316 total “Yea” votes to pass consisted of 181 Democrats and 135 Republicans. That the NDAA is the legislation that commands such bipartisan support says a lot about the defense industry’s enduring power in Washington.
This bipartisanship is not praiseworthy. As Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) wrote in TAC making his case for voting against the NDAA, the Biden administration’s botched handling of our Afghanistan exit alone warrants accountability from Congress. The 135 Republican “Yea” votes are especially condemnable this year, though, considering what the Biden administration has shoved into the NDAA.
The proposal to require women to register for Military Selective Service drew mild outrage from the Right when it was floated earlier this summer. In July, TAC’s Shaun Rieley analyzed why the Right might be ineffective at stopping the effort to draft our daughters. And now, we see Rieley’s analysis come to fruition. The 2022 NDAA, passed last week, includes a provision to require women to register for the draft, with 135 House Republicans lending their approval.
I have two daughters. The thought of them fighting in whatever stupid war our elites concoct next—let alone being conscripted to do so—is repulsive. It’s a barbaric capitulation of any semblance of chivalric obligation among men, to say nothing of considerations of military readiness. A civilized society would find the very proposal offensive.
We shouldn’t underestimate the damage that drafting our daughters will wreck on a society already deeply confused about masculinity and femininity. TAC’s Carmel Richardson commented recently on viral reports that men are abandoning higher education in large numbers. She wrote:
There’s not much left for men in higher education. There’s not much left for men anywhere, for that matter, and one has to ask what reasonable means remain to try to close Pandora’s box.
One would have hoped that saying no to conscripting women to fight wars—a quintessentially masculine pursuit—would have been one of these reasonable means to try to close Pandora’s box. Apparently not.
Conservatives need to make support for drafting women a “red line” issue. We have been remarkably successful in bullying Republicans into compliance on the issue of abortion. A vote for a bill containing pro-abortion measures can be a career-ender in most districts.
Every GOP congressman who voted for the NDAA deserves to be grilled on this vote, and whether they really want their constituents’ daughters forced into battle. For now, the NDAA vote is instructive. The war lobby rules in Washington; its interests are powerful enough to override many sensible concerns about conscripting women. A civilized society requires we resist its power.
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Veganism for the Masses
The elites get the fatted calf, you get the engineered vegetable patty.
The creators of the Impossible Burger just came out with another machine-made meat alternative, the Impossible Nuggets. Produced from a combination of every expeller-pressed seed oil in the books and “natural flavor,” the catchall that leaves a disturbing amount of the faux meat’s actual makeup to your imagination, this vegan protein is, supposedly, better than the real thing. Hence the name.
A review in the San Francisco Chronicle says the engineered nuggets are slightly better than McDonald’s, which, as she points out, is not saying much. The burgers have been lauded as the most meat-like meat alternative, which is also not high praise, in a market saturated with bad options. That doesn’t seem to make a difference for Impossible Foods and its biggest investor, Bill Gates, however, who made headlines earlier this year for calling on rich nations to switch entirely to synthetic beef. He hardly needed to demand it: a flood of burger joints, from midlevel Wahlburgers and Red Robin all the way down to Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, White Castle, and even Starbucks had already added the Impossible patty to their menus the moment they hit the market. The fact that there is significantly less demand for these products than for real meat, as McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski attests, did not seem to matter. (For its own part, McDonald’s added the “McPlant,” which features a Beyond Meat patty, a slightly older vegetable offering.)
Slights about the flavor of the vegan burger and nugget alternatives aside, however, there’s something painfully ironic about the class of people responsible for the majority of the climate problems forcing you to eat fake meat to save the environment. Never mind the fact that individual consumers have never had more than a negligible impact on the climate, or the fact that said green burger likely generates a comparable amount of its own pollution as a by-product of its labyrinthine production. These arguments don’t matter to the elites who are the problem, because they’re going to make sure you own your role as the solution.
Yet no matter how you slice it, real meat is still significantly better for the human body than lab-grown alternatives. By the length of the ingredient list alone, there’s no comparison. The Impossible products rely heavily on vegetable oils, too, which have increasingly been linked to deleterious health conditions, such as cancer. Meanwhile, grass-fed beef is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3s, and only contains one ingredient: beef. Even if we were to view it as a charitable new solution to poverty, assuming such meat will be cheaper to purchase than animal products in the long run (a reasonable stipulation), we should ask then if the side effects of such creations on human health are worth the benefits. Once again, man’s attempts to outperform creation are laughably worse, at best. At worst, well, they’re Impossible.
Gates and the Impossible burger backers’ incentive, of course, has little to do with actual health or conservation, however, as anyone who has read his Old Testament has probably already begun to surmise. Kings eat fatted calves; the masses get vegetables. Capitalism, it seems, has changed the equation only slightly: If you can convince the common man that vegetables are meat, your only competition for that scarce resource is the rest of the 1 percent.
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Remember When We Had Sovereignty?
Every other debate hinges on border security.
In an attempt to quickly empty the town-sized camp of migrants currently living at the U.S.-Mexico border, an unknown number of Haitian migrants are being released into the United States, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The report, which comes from two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to discuss the matter, explains that many of the Haitian migrants have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office in 60 days—because catch and release, of course, has proven so effective in the past. The migrants, who are not required to be vaccinated for entry, unlike American citizens in every job with over 100 employees, were supposedly being bused to El Paso, Laredo, and the Rio Grande Valley for processing. Some have been deported back to Port-au-Prince, but thousands remain.
We’ve seen this show before, too many times to count. A flood of migrants shows up at the border, Border Patrol agents lack sufficient resources to process every asylum claim, and so another several-thousand-strong colony is welcomed in and told, almost as an afterthought, “don’t forget to show up to court in two months.” How many actually return for their court date is a hotly disputed data point; but even so, to make sure that conservative talking point is moot, Border Patrol has been instructed to release migrants without a court date in recent months, because all that really matters is getting them in.
The gaslighting from libertarians and leftists about a right to migration and asylum, or the supposed economic benefits of a free flow of cheap labor are obscuring a question that is essentially about identity. Who, and what, is America?
As The American Conservative‘s Declan Leary pointed out today, identity comes from the Latin word which means “same.” In other words, without some level of homogeneity, at least the kind of shared culture that comes with shared history and time, we have no identity. Without sovereignty—the physical boundary between what we are and what we are not—we have no nation.
Our debates about national policy; our concerns about the direction of American culture; our battles of ideology and ideas—all are meaningless if we don’t have a nation. One of the basic actions of a nation is deciding who is or is not a part of that us.
Estimates of the number of migrants camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, range from 8,000 to 14,000. We know many are from Haiti, but politicians have suggested only half answers for why they are here. Most of the Haitians already have refugee status in Brazil or Chile, AP reported, and weren’t seeking it in Mexico. Look at the photos of the migrants. These are healthy, young men, not the poor women and children asylum policy is purported to protect. Perhaps they have read their Locke, and are seeking higher political fulfillment in a post-Enlightenment society—but then again, perhaps not. More likely, they’ve heard about their so-called right to an American life, and the free money and protections they will receive upon arrival.
While we’re up in arms about Del Rio, let’s not lose sight of what’s actually at stake. A group of migrants that is bigger than all but the 13 largest towns in Wyoming has shown up on our doorstep and demanded entry. Whether we choose to let them in or to maintain our national sovereignty is the most important question our nation is facing today. Everything else hinges on this.
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A Defense of ‘Barstool’ Conservatives
Traditionalist conservatives could learn a thing or two from Dave Portnoy and his fans.
At college football games across the country the past two weekends, student sections erupted in “F— Joe Biden” chants. Thousands of unruly fans expressing their discontent with the president packed Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, and dozens of other football stadiums. Many conservatives I know found it impossibly crude. Others found it amusing. They all missed the point: The chanting did more to break the progressive narrative on campus than God and Man at Yale ever did.
Well-funded think tanks and decades of conservative activism failed to yield results. But two weekends of college football anarchy and a social media trend popularized by Barstool subsidiary “Old Row” has normalized conservatism on campus again. College administrators accustomed to threatening, brainwashing, and harassing their students finally met their match: ticked-off football fans.
The scenes were perhaps the most visible iteration of a phenomenon identified by TAC contributing editor Matthew Walther as “Barstool conservatism.” Dismissed by progressives as neanderthals and bemoaned by conservatives as the harbinger of the end of traditionalism, Barstool conservatives’ introduction to the American political mind has been widely scorned. While progressives are right to fear the cultural power of these developments, conservatives should reconsider their concerns. Barstool conservatism isn’t just a crude retaliation against political correctness and certainly isn’t an attack on traditional values; it’s a reawakening of long-forgotten conservative impulses to preserve sport and to battle elite threats to little platoons. The broader movement would be wise to heed to lessons.
In addition to democracy, the Greeks gave us in the West a passion for sport. Socrates’ call for fitness, the battle of Marathon, and the first Olympic games created a bedrock of Western culture. Today, millions of Americans love and play sports. They coach little league; they play in company, city, and church leagues; and they gather with their families to watch their favorite teams. It’s a sacred tradition for much of this country.
But today, like so much of the West’s cultural inheritance, sport is under assault. Recess time, once a hallmark of elementary education, has been drastically reduced in recent decades. Schoolyards no longer feature contact and team sports. The Transgender movement threatens to eradicate women’s sports entirely, and the professional sports leagues have become laughably woke shills for progressive corporations. Contemptible figures like LeBron James and Steve Kerr spend their press conferences hawking Chinese communism while Rob Manfred systematically eliminates baseball tradition between issuing edicts on election fraud. Once a cherished prequel of every sporting event, the national anthem has been supplanted by the so-called black national anthem at NFL games.
The conservative response? Largely non-existent. Other than some typically hilarious Trump feuds with Colin Kaepernick, the left steamrolled a touchstone of American common life. Just before the left reached the endzone, however, Barstool Sports blitzed. They fought back against the wokeization of sports: with T-shirts, comedy, and an open mockery of the crony commercialization of sports. When all seemed lost, they reminded us of the value of sport—the ceremony, the community, and the pleasure. Their content refreshed, reminding fans of the days of natural grass and nickel beer at the ballpark. Long-held in contempt by the progressive sports media and the leagues, fans were placed at the forefront of coverage. Barstool’s success was unparalleled, quickly turning the site from a typical sports blog into a populist cultural force. Their influence even prompted ESPN to cut political programming and revert to sports coverage to stay competitive. While traditional conservatives neglected their cultural responsibilities and frittered, Barstool filled their role and set about winning the culture war.
It wasn’t until the onset of Covid-19 that Barstool began to wade into cultural issues outside the sports arena. Founded by Dave Portnoy, a son of the hyper-local and fanatically traditional Boston sports scene, Barstool was a natural fit to speak out for small businesses crushed by Covid-19 lockdowns. A reviewer of local pizza shops and the proprietor of a website catering to dive bars, the threat of lockdowns to America’s middle was evident to him. He sprang into action, raising awareness and money to donate to small businesses forced to close their doors. The Barstool Fund culminated with over $41 million in donations to struggling businesses. The effort transformed Portnoy into the most prominent lockdown critic and small-business advocate in America. With Congressional Republicans busy wallowing in inaction, Barstool conservatism once again filled the void. The effort raised Portnoy’s profile on the right to the point of being invited to the White House by President Trump ahead of the 2020 election. His credibility established, Portnoy is now a frequent guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight and a consistent critic of the left’s cultural assault on the American middle.
In the same year Barstool battled lockdowns, El Presidente continued his war on America’s elite with the retail investment app Robinhood. During the now-infamous Game-stock revolt by small retail stock traders, Robinhood froze trading to protect wealthy hedge funds that shorted “meme stocks.” The move was appalling and exposed heaps of corporate corruption. Still, most lawmakers met it with silence. Portnoy again stepped up to become Robinhood’s most prominent critic, defending small traders that frequent his website. He declared that Robinhood had “killed the little guy.” He was right—and his efforts helped fuel pressure that humiliated Robinhood’s CEO Vlad Tenev. Robinhood lost millions of dollars and apologized, though they escaped from the harsher consequences they deserved. Once again, Barstool had proven its ability to fill a void left by traditional conservatives who ought to have stepped up to defend the main street people they claim to represent.
It’s highly unlikely conservatives will embrace Barstool to the degree they should. Like President Trump, Dave Portnoy’s brash approach blinds observers to obvious lessons. But also, like Trump, elite conservatives won’t have to embrace Barstool. Their voters and their constituents already have. Americans know that their congressmen won’t stand up to Roger Goodell, and they know Republicans are more interested in defending their hedge-fund donors than retail traders. So, they’ve found a new and better champion. Love Barstool conservatives or hate them, they’re standing up and saying what everyone is already thinking.