Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Sunshine on the Frontier

State of the Union: California, even West Hollywood, is worth fighting for.
(By Maks Ershov/Shutterstock)

The little bar at a certain West Hollywood hotel saw the strangest combination of a crowd last week, as our party walked in for a drink after a political speech at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. The other assorted specimens were divided into either tank tops, shorts and man-buns, or full dresses. I wasn’t sure for a moment if this was a theme party or an initiation ritual.

People looked at us with a curious detachment, three men in suits, discussing loudly a potential armed blockade in the Taiwan straits over some early noughties deep-house. Then everyone went back to their drinks. It was West Hollywood after all. All things considered, we were the odd ones there.


It pains me to say this, as someone who considers sun and optimism to be overrated and often detrimental for balanced human intellectual development, but California is truly a stunningly beautiful state. I grew up watching Beverly Hills Cop and Die Hard (and Predator 2). And a trip to Los Angeles makes one realize that the same California is still there somewhere hidden under the husk of induced homelessness and disorder stemming from a Soviet-lite one-party misrule; it is waiting to be reborn from this chrysalis.

I saw protesters with placards doing laps in front of Fox Studio. Normally I don’t care about writer’s strikes. I am still somewhat ambivalent. But why is it that in the industry that once produced Ben Hur and Guns of Navarone, there are not many overtly conservative film directors other than perhaps a Brit who prefers directing movies on haunted and grey Homeric heroes?

Surely, with all the money in California, conservatives can afford to invest in cinematic media, to balance the liberal informational hegemony stifling creativity in the state since the mid-’90s? Why did conservatives give up on cinematic art, arguably the greatest medium for American soft-power, because some imbecile wants to recast Cleopatra and Snow White?

Contemporary right-wingers, especially American ones, tend to give up and move on. It’s an instinct that made this country, after all. If you don’t like it, move, and create your own.

But land and connection are not just toys. There’s nowhere to move away…and one shouldn’t either, at least in this particular case. It is the best of America. It gave some of the greatest moments of the American century, both in real life and memorialized by Hollywood. We must not lose art, and we must not lose California, the frontier, the west, from where two of the greatest modern Republican presidents came; or where live millions of Republicans too aptly described as living behind enemy lines.