Editor’s Note: It is nice to resurface from time to time to take a look at current events in the 21st century. I’m currently very deep into my research project on the history of the Southern economy which for the most part has my mind elsewhere.
By Hunter Wallace
Over at National Review, John O’Sullivan has an important article for the eyes of the conservative establishment as this whole Trump movement looks deadly serious on New Year’s Eve only a month before the Iowa caucuses:
“If you think this argument is vaguely familiar, that’s because throughout the 1990s and early “Noughties” I was one of a handful of conservative writers who were “banging on” in National Review’s pages about the danger to mainstream conservative parties posed by the rising “fringe” parties to their right. Those parties were small in the 1990s, and their sting wasn’t very painful. The major parties continued to prosper. But the fringe parties didn’t die. …
Less dramatic versions of that story occurred right across the advanced world. How did this happen? The short answer is that these fringe parties occupied the large empty spaces on the political Right that the mainstream conservative parties had abandoned. British Tories, French Gaullists, Swedish Moderates, and other parties elsewhere increasingly narrowed their appeal to that of superior economic management in a capitalist economy than their countries’ respective Leftist parties. They adopted what Marx called “economism.” They were embarrassed by the patriotism and traditional moral values that had been part of their original identity. They wanted the approval of the metropolitan liberal opinion-formers in which their leaders moved socially. They tailored their electoral messages accordingly. …
We can estimate the size of that minority by looking at Germany where, since the early Fifties, the conservative vote has been split between the socially conservative Christian Democrats and the economically conservative Free Democrats. While the Christian Democrats repeatedly won around 40 percent of the popular vote whereas the Free Democrats struggled to keep above the 5 percent threshold needed to enter the Bundestag (at present they stuck outside Germany’s federal legislative body). Even so the tail succeeded in wagging the dog.”
Read the whole article. It is very important.
Let me break it down for you: the Republican establishment and the donor class, along with its handmaiden which are the mainstream conservative publications like National Review, are a tiny minority in the United States. Like a tick on the ass of an elephant, this elite can only ride to power on the coattails of a much larger White majority, which doesn’t really care for its ideology of “economism,” by playing backlash politics.
The problem is that the conservative elite wants to 1.) impress all their friends in the liberal media at cocktail parties by thumbing their noses at their uncouth base and 2.) cater to the agenda of the donor class. This puts the Republican Party in the position of having to constantly thread the needle by saying one thing to voters and another to the big donors. When the Republican Party seizes power, it uses that power to exclusively advance the agenda of the big donors (i.e., amnesty, tax cuts, free-trade, deregulation, etc.). It also compounds the problem by periodically aggravating its base to maintain its “respectability” (see the Jeb Bush campaign) by disavowing the dog-whistle/token gesture backlash politics that creates their electoral majorities.
So that is why the Republican Party now has to deal with this enormous populist backlash. It can’t contain and cuck the populist backlash as usual this time because 1.) it has lost its legitimacy after decades of electoral victories and 2.) Trump is a billionaire who can finance his own campaign. In order to survive, O’Sullivan believes that the Republican Party might be forced to emulate Victor Orban in Hungary by conceding the immigration issue – essentially, Frumism – to fend off the Trump insurgency.
The great question is: how does the GOP continue to ride the bull? How does it continue to push forward this “conservative” agenda of tax cuts, spending cuts, open borders, deregulation, and free-trade as its own base is demographically marginalized and suffers from ever more downward economic mobility? How does the conservative establishment mount a “comeback” while staying in the good graces of the mainstream media?