It was an entirely different time when support for Israel was a uniform consensus on the right. Back in the middle of the 2010s, when many liberals and leftists were being “red-pilled,” part of becoming a right-winger included defending Israel against the incoherent woke Left-Muslim alliance. Only Republicans would defend a bastion of freedom and democracy in a place where autocracy is the norm, according to “red pill” conservative outlets like PragerU and the Young America’s Foundation.
As many ex-leftists converted to the Right at the time, the mixture of the opposition and the censorship experienced meant that, at a certain point, the movement would splinter into many competing factions. Nobody foresaw that the mixture of a handful of neocons, libertarians, traditionalists, and self-proclaimed “classical liberals” would break apart. When Big Tech and Section 230 became the story of the day, the implications grew bigger than merely the role of the government in the economy.
Soon, the substance beneath the surface of paleoconservatism emerged. While the disagreement between factions of the political Right became more intense over foreign policy, all of the factions (except the neocons) were against funding Ukraine and cultivated ties with antiwar leftists like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi until the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. While disbelief in the current system of governance has been a point with right-wing beliefs or at least part of the rhetoric, it was never to this extent. After Big Tech, Ukraine, covid-19, January 6, and now Israel, right-wingers are growing more tired of the establishment than ever.
Incensed at their taxpayer money being used to fund woke indoctrination at home and wars abroad, many are becoming extremely wary of the government. Devotion to the GOP as the line of defense has declined as the GOP prefers to maintain people who are willing to sacrifice conservatism for more wars. While the Left will never face accountability for almost anything, the spread of critical race theory, constant gaslighting, and absurd government overreach hasn’t ended but gotten worse. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to hear arguments from parts of the Right that were once derided as “un-American” only a few decades earlier. Some people on the Right have called American foreign policy “imperialist,” and many hate the federal government.
To them, Joe Biden symbolizes everything rotten about the current status quo—an opportunistic, lying, and intrusive politician making his riches at the expense of taxpayers. Others go along the line of Biden being a two-faced opportunist looking to push for greater government control or merely a stooge for the establishment for such a purpose. Two years ago, you were dismissed from the military for not accepting the vaccine. Today, you can challenge the discharge. Two years ago (again), the Army rolled out woke recruitment ads, alienating predominantly conservative patriots. Now, the Army is rolling out ads featuring a nearly all-white male cast with none of the left-wing elements.
Newsflash: the damage can’t be undone by pandering to people when the substance remains the same. No amount of convincing will help the current administration’s reputation when it nominates Soviet sympathizers; enforces far-left diversity, equity, and inclusion training; gives preferential treatment to far-left rioters; and falsifies economic (and apparently crime) data. Institutional trust can’t be rebuilt by making the institution more like China. By moving further to control politically sensitive segments of the economy and society like artificial intelligence, criminal justice, and online communications while continuing to advance government control over traditional topics (guns and cars), this administration is eroding the very trust in the government it wishes to defend.
However, by no means is this a run-of-the-mill right-wing reaction seen during the days of Barack Obama. It’s no longer merely all bark and no bite, as seen with Social Security and Medicare. While these issues won’t be resolved any time soon, contra the unpopularity of wars, matters like immigration and gun ownership have seen a noticeable change in reaction. There is an ongoing battle between Texas and DC at the United States-Mexico border, where DC has been trying to destroy temporary fences erected by Texas. Elsewhere, several Republican states have nullified federal gun laws.
The only response from Biden and the Beltway has been doubling down on regulating their way to a progressive brave new world. Even though many on the Right clamor for the same federal power to regulate their way toward a “conservative” brave new world, the probability of a right-wing takeover is essentially zero. The Democrats and the Far Left will get what they want at home, the neocons will compromise with them just to keep an interventionist foreign policy, and some conservatives prefer expanding government powers (inadvertently for the same Far Left).
More importantly, what will happen after Donald Trump is out of the political arena? Despite being the architect of the vaccination programs and lockdowns during covid-19, compromising with the establishment over Afghanistan, and printing money during the pandemic, many will continue to stump for him in 2024. After Trump, there might be no one who can take his place. However, business won’t be as usual, meaning it can’t pave the way for another George W. Bush.
Undoubtedly, the idea of secession won’t be palatable. However, the chances of reaching out to the conservatives and convincing them about the right approach to foreign policy, economics, and society are greater than ever. More are questioning the efficacy of the old status quo and the “alternative” provided by the original “red pill” organizations. When many of these “red pill” organizations are busy cheering for further involvement in Israel, no one is going to the war-skeptic conference to point out their alignment with the Far Left on how deep and intrusive the government should be.
Some are still hesitant about libertarianism, viewing it as a vacuous, transactional narrative about human nature being willing to tolerate the usage of drugs despite the danger to the user and, more importantly, society. There’s no “collective renunciation” of certain rights—to quote the long-gone Roger Scruton—thereby endangering the fabric of society through vices like prostitution. Yet, those who are hesitant forget that the roads are a “collectively” owned good. In the face of creeping progressivism from DC and Sacramento, it’s within the conservatives’ best interests to advocate for privatization (or, at least, decentralization).
After all, libertarianism isn’t merely about transactional interactions, as voluntary associations include noncommercial activities. When the government taxes people 40 percent of their income—combined with a litany of other taxes and inflation—only to hand out a chewed-up paycheck when you’re retired, why double down on trying for a more “scientific” government (to use the language of the socialists)? Why follow the path of repressive inclusion where a Californian has a say in how you live? We can fix the churches by preventing them from going down the “Kool-Aid” path, but fixing the federal government is utopian fiction.
If Cato Institute adjunct scholar Corey DeAngelis can effectively evangelize for charter schools and let parents control their tax dollars a tad more effectively than being forced to place boundless faith in public schools, then libertarians too can take a step further. We can’t win on a federal level, but we can win on the local level, where the influence of California and DC is minimalized.