The times they are a’changin’.
Particularly for those on the political right.
The party that once embraced America’s most imperial impulses, ensured the expansion of a globalist corporate agenda, and struggled to court minorities is rapidly becoming more isolationist and pro-labor and, by extension, more attractive to voters of all creeds and colors.
It’s an ideological shift that is exacerbating the rift created by the rise and presidency of Donald Trump, and that was later solidified by Biden’s incompetence and the unraveling of the regime experts’ COVID narrative.
This rift was experienced recently by yours truly in a text thread of what used to be a circle of ideologically identical contacts. A dear friend, whom though we once considered ourselves conservative brethren I find myself increasingly at odds with, expressed sympathy for the Ottawans forced to endure the horns of the protesting Canadian truckers.
“Politics aside,” of course.
And of course the discussion rapidly turned to politics, as the truckers’ supporters were labeled hypocrites because, according to my friend, we would not be cheering if Antifa was doing the honking.
Setting aside the obvious distinction that the truckers are peacefully protesting the violation of their bodily autonomy while Antifa violently advocates for the overthrow of society as we know it, he did have a point.
For decades the trucker protest was precisely the type of thing conservatives decried as barbaric and unbecoming of an advanced nation. But now, when it suits our needs, we support it.
For I, and many others, remember well how yesterday’s “more sophisticated” neocon strategies rolled out the red carpet for defeat time and time again. And while the designers of those losing strategies inked book deals, it was the Republican rank and file who were forced to live with the consequences.
As I typed this rebuttal to my friend, I was reminded of a much higher profile tiff resulting from a lengthy essay by James Kirchick at Tablet magazine, in which he attacked the ideological evolution of The American Conservative’s Sohrab Ahmari.
Ahmari is often, fairly or unfairly, aligned with The New Right, and he and Kirchick appear to go back a while. After recounting Ahmari’s days as a right-of-center moderate, Kirchick moans:
“Rather than fight an increasingly lonely battle against the enemies of liberal values on both right and left, Ahmari quite rapidly transmogrified into a partisan supporter of the president, in turn appearing to renounce the ideals that had, until quite recently, been his lodestar.”
While I would never claim to speak for Mr. Ahmari, Kirchick’s attack was a familiar refrain to someone like myself who has been repeatedly accused by NeverTrumpers and libs alike of abandoning my conservative bona fides by supporting Number 45.
I also don’t know Mr. Kirchick, and certainly don’t speak for him either. Nor do I wish to beleaguer my friend, an intelligent, open-minded man of conscience whom I respect more than 99 percent of people on this planet.
But their arguments echo a bloated Beltway mindset that seeks to chain conservatism to the politics of the past and, by extension, ensure it’s irrelevance in both the American and Western political spheres.
It’s an ethos cherished by the old guard, and they will go to their graves to protect it.
These longtime gatekeepers of conservative thought and destroyers of once-influential magazines now champion the most radical liberal causes and proudly work alongside the people they once labeled fascists. And yet still dare they claim the mantle of “principle,” as if they ever knew the definition of the word.
We are all their targets, and while none of us command a spotlight like Ahmari, we all have a friend who loves to poke fun at our philosophical metamorphosis. Albeit in perhaps briefer, and likely more aggressive, tones.
“The guy who voted for George Bush now wants to pull out of Afghanistan!” “What happened to free trade?” and “I’m old enough to remember when conservatives were pro law enforcement . . .” are all familiar rebukes to those of us who have dared to stray from the conservative cruise ship canon.
So, did our principles change? Did Ahmari’s? Did millions of proud Americans suddenly suffer a simultaneous collapse of our spines?
Unlike the rapidly petrifying neocons that once commanded the Republican Party, most common sense-conservatives are simply adjusting to changes on the battlefield; we are learning from our past mistakes and reevaluating our allies.
Some of us may have supported the Iraq War, but we never asked for an occupation of eight long, bloody years (it’s no coincidence that much of the resistance to the new right is made up of the very people who sold the invasion).
Never again, we vowed, will we be led astray by a foreign policy that seeks a means without an end.
Nor will we be walked on by business interests we once protected in the name of “economic growth.” For we have not yet forgotten how our jobs were shipped overseas and woke grads, armed with Ivy League educations, were dispersed to legal and HR departments across corporate America to ensure political correctness trumps merit and morality.
Our conservative betters couldn’t be bothered to intervene, of course, as they were too busy making out like bandits.
And law and order? While we largely support the work of local police, we saw firsthand how the FBI and CIA operated as partisan agents, targeting conservatives and attempting to influence elections.
Politics in the West have undergone a paradigm shift, and such developments dictate a change in strategy, not principle. Conservatism has always been about the protection of traditional values and the rights of the individual over the rights of the collective, and that’s precisely what the new right is doing in the face of unprecedented global change.
If anything, this evolved conservatism proves that principles can remain steadfast in a hurricane of changing circumstances.
To adhere to the neocon philosophy of yesteryear is to assume this is the 1990s, and that today’s Democrat Party bears any resemblance to the drooling mob that seeks to destroy the ideals of this nation by creating division out of thin air.
The left has always fought dirty and gotten away with it, and the right has taken far too long to counter.
Until now, and for that reason the old guard, which time and time again failed to see what was coming, has no right to bemoan the state of anything.
In many ways it’s their own doing.
Be it due to vanity or political stubbornness, the GOP’s old power structure has repeatedly proved incapable of adjusting to the modern world. They had their time, and while they logged a few notable accomplishments, they ultimately fell short. Far short.
This is war, not the campaign trail, and if we’ve learned anything it’s that weak-kneed soldiers will get us all killed.
Or, at best, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Triumphs against school boards mandating the teaching of critical race theory, the Freedom Convoy’s success in getting mandates repealed, and the recent blocking of the bloated Build Back Better bill are all proof that the GOP’s ideological shift is a good one.
As is the fact that Democrats are primed to get smashed in the midterms. 2024 could be even worse, as the Executive Branch has practically been forfeited by a President who, though beloved by the old conservative guard, has done more to target conservatives than any other leader in American history.
And perhaps that’s why the old guard is so sore: we are finally exposing how they repeatedly abandoned the conservative cause in favor of personal gain and make-believe Beltway harmony.
So the next time someone asks you when your principles changed, tell them about the same time the conservative movement began upholding them.