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It’s Too Bad We’re Not All NatCons Now

Gosh, that guy Reagan was really good.

Neal Freeman wrote last week in The American Spectator that the “National Conservatives,” as they style themselves, and Christopher DeMuth, the chairman of the two conferences the NatCons have held, have chosen to “move on” (as Freeman puts it) from fusionism. (Full disclosure: I was a sponsor of the two NatCon conferences, and I’ve known Neal since we both worked in the Buckley for Mayor campaign in 1965 — eat your heart out!) Before looking at Freeman’s objections to the NatCons, we should take a quick look at what fusionism actually is. The term was coined back in the ’60s at National Review to describe the coalescence of libertarians, traditional conservatives, and anti-communists. At the 1981 Conservative Political Action Conference, President Reagan said this about it:

It was Frank Meyer who reminded us that the robust individualism of the American experience was part of the deeper current of Western learning and culture. He pointed out that a respect for law, an appreciation for tradition, and regard for the social consensus that gives stability to our public and private institutions, these civilized ideas must still motivate us even as we seek a new economic prosperity based on reducing government interference in the marketplace.

Gosh, that guy Reagan was really good.

It’s not quite clear precisely what Freeman is objecting to, his prose is such … fun to read. He took Daily Themes at Yale (first taught in 1907), the same course Buckley took: 300 words a day. Only the best survive, like Buckley and Freeman. Now Freeman can write sentences like, “The NatCon political model appears to be neither Napoleonic France nor Churchillian Britain but Orbanian Hungary. When national conservatism first came on stage, some of us were expecting a bit more fanfare from the brass section.” Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. But what does it mean? What, precisely, is it that Freeman is objecting to?

We learn, in the very last sentence of his piece: it’s the planned economy, as advocated, he claims, by various people in the NatCon world.

Freeman relates that he once ran a business that could not compete with foreign imports, but he chastises those who say, as he says Rod Dreher does, “We need to unapologetically embrace the use of state power.” To do what?

Freeman is not fair to many of the NatCon folks: there’s lots to object to in our current economic arrangements before becoming an advocate for a socialist planned economy. Does anyone think what we have now is a free market? We should remember President Obama’s proposed TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), from which we can develop this axiom: no trade governed by a 2,000-page treaty can be called “free.”

If the current laws and regulations that govern business activities in this country could be printed (even in one-point type) on only 2,000 pages, every day would be the Fourth of July in this land for a generation. What this country needs is to repeal a thousand laws. For a start.

In taking a swipe at the NatCons, Freeman gives DeMuth a pass, but says, “His fellow NatCons are less measured. Spend an hour at the bar with a NatCon and you get the full, splenetic file” on how bad the libertarians are; that their solution to every problem is to cut the income tax. I was at the last NatCon conference in Orlando in November and missed seeing Freeman at the bar; nor did I get the impression that the NatCons had a bad enough impression of libertarians.

To wit: at the evening session on November 1 in Orlando the panel showcased two homosexuals, one of whom said, “The Catholic Church lost its moral authority in country after country. That was not because of liberals; it was because of the Catholic Church, specifically, the behavior of priests.” That’s rich, coming from a homosexual who said also, “There’s nothing so ridiculous as one male adult telling another male adult what to do with their genitalia.” My end of the bar required another round before quieting down.

Freeman also picks on J. D. Vance, currently running for the nomination for the U. S. Senate from Ohio. Vance has said (but was he joking?) that we (the government presumably) should seize the Ford Foundation’s $20 billion and distribute the funds … in a better manner than the foundation does. It’s not likely that Vance meant that exactly as it sounds: he is objecting, one assumes, to the lopsided power that lefties and wokies have gained in this country, including, as we saw just a year ago, the power to affect the outcome of elections.

About which something should be done!

Just what is a puzzle not yet solved, so far as we are aware, by the strict devotees of fusionism. One problem, surely, is that many corporations have simply become too big. Just because antitrust laws were abused in the early decades of the 20th century doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be applied appropriately now. It is most relevant to note that in the very first issue of National Review, Buckley wrote about monopolies: “The competitive price system is indispensable to liberty and material progress. It is threatened not only by the growth of Big Brother government, but by the pressure of monopolies — including union monopolies.” That sounds like an endorsement of government’s muscling in, not just a nostalgic longing for Southern agrarianism.

Big corporations, with armies of lobbyists and lawyers that outnumber the troops of Mordor — all armed with limitless budgets for wining and dining — influence the making of public policy with the goal, and the result, of making it increasingly difficult for small businesses to compete with them. China isn’t our only problem.

The size of government, mega-corporations, and most especially high-tech monopolies is a problem, though not the only problem. Those monopolies, with the gravitational force of Saturn, shape business, and they shape, and trash, the culture. It is not likely that little Burkean platoons of citizens gathered together here and there across the plains can escape that force; they will need to band together in something like, well, like government. During the Cold War we — we conservatives, we fusionists even — put up with a government larger that we wanted because a government of that size was necessary to keep us free (the Lions Club couldn’t develop Star Wars). Now we need to curtail the power, not just of big government, but of big business as well — mega-corps, big banks, high-tech monopolies — and the Lions Club can’t do that either.

We say, and not ritually, that a government big enough to give us all we want is big enough to take it all away — which is why we don’t want a government that big: not big enough to give us all we want, but only those things government should give us, primarily protection from our enemies foreign and domestic, and the other items enumerated in our Constitution, properly understood.

Our government today is a lot bigger than it was when Reagan made his remarks about fusionism in 1981. Our big government itself, including the Supreme Court, has been the instrument for abandoning our traditions and trashing our culture (rampant pornography), our mores (rampant, and subsidized, illegitimacy, homosexual marriage), our faith (driving God from the public square and from public schools), and our belief in the sanctity of human life, and the very definition of men and women. None of that trashing, now far worse than it was in 1981, is part of “the deeper current of Western learning and culture” that Reagan spoke about. Which of those issues would not have been a concern of the founding editors of National Review, or the solons of fusionism?

The people and the states should manage their own affairs, consistent with the goodness the Founding Fathers sought to embody in our system, but they cannot unless we dismantle more than a century of big government — the legacy of Wilson and Roosevelt and Johnson and Nixon and Bush and Obama — and the plagues big government, as well as the Supreme Court, has over the years visited on us, freed from any notion of good that the Founders had. We tend to forget that this country was founded not just to be free, but to be good as well.

So there is much work to do. We are adults, however, experienced in the ways of Washington, and we know, we know, that enacting a specific legislative provision to solve this problem or that problem will always be easier than repealing a major law or overturning a Supreme Court decision, which probably requires a full-scale attack on the zeitgeist. And so we propose discrete fixes … and then the number of laws and their complexity grows.

And with it, the need for National Conservatives to gather together to plan for — to plot and scheme for — a revival of the spirit of liberty and goodness that vouchsafed this nation to us, a revival that would make our ancestors proud, and our children free and good.


January 11, 2022
The American Spectator

Biden Powercrats vs. America

Democrats are bad enough. But there’s more to bemoan: The number of Republican office holders in Washington willing to fight is abysmally small.

People who for years were considered reasonable by their friends are proving blasé about many of Joe Biden’s disastrous policies, and their friends wonder why. Part of the answer is that many of Biden’s newfound allies were so afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome that they lost the ability to think critically. Now the question is, have they lost the ability to think critically forever? Many of the NeverTrumpers were once Republicans and, given that, should be expected to be skeptical of anything a Democrat like Biden proposed. But are they? And if not, why not?

It’s not just that the Biden policies are awful. It’s that they are contradictory. 

The Biden Administration is now promoting COVID vaccination “passports”—proof of vaccination—and will likely soon be requiring them, or at the very least urging states and businesses to require them. Requiring proof of vaccination either is, or is not, a good idea. But if proof of vaccination can be required for doing anything, why shouldn’t proof of identity be required for voting?

“Oh, no!” we are told by the administration, “Voter ID laws are racist!” Biden himself said there is “an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote. We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole, since the Civil War.”

That’s hyperbole, of course. But here’s the problem: blacks are also among the most vaccine-resistant. If urging voter ID, as many on the Right are doing, is considered racist, why isn’t demanding vaccines for employment? Why don’t people recognize the glaring inconsistency? Most civilized countries require proof of identity for voting. A majority of Americans (one poll puts the number at 81 percent) favor requiring a photo ID to vote. In Europe, most nations—including such bastions of progress as Germany, France, and Norway—require voters to have a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. But the Biden Administration says the requirement is racist.

This is ridiculous. Something else is going on—two things, in fact: the administration wants to scare blacks into thinking whites and Republicans are racists; and not requiring a photo ID makes cheating easier. Democrats know cheating is the only way they can win elections.

There is also the administration’s glaring inconsistency regarding restrictions on Americans who might have the Wuhan flu but not on illegal immigrants pouring across our southern border in record numbers, perhaps as many as 2 million of them by the end of this year. Many of them, thousands in fact, have tested positive for COVID-19. But the Biden Administration doesn’t give a damn. Why do the illegals get a pass, but not American citizens? 

Biden has called on Congress to pass what he calls “common-sense gun reform.” He says he wants to ban “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines. But why? And what’s an assault weapon, anyway? 

Bidenistas define an assault weapon as any semi-automatic weapon. Semi-automatics account for up to 25 percent of the approximately 400 million privately owned firearms in the country today. Do the Bidenistas plan to confiscate 100 million guns? The congressionally mandated study of the 1994–2004 federal “assault weapon ban” found that it did not reduce crime, in part because “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of gun murders.” One study puts the number of mass shootings (defined as one in which four or more people were killed) from 2006 through 2017 at 271, with a total of 1,358 victims, an average of 124 per year. Last weekend, seven people were killed in Chicago alone, bringing the total number of homicides this year to 433.

Biden wants to confiscate guns owned by law-abiding Americans but can’t find a word to say about the slaughter in Chicago. And of course, it’s part of the Democrats’ plan to release criminals back into society, for reasons that are murky: mostly because Democrats say the prosecutions of these criminals were racist. Try that line on the terrified residents of Chicago.

The Bidenistas claim to want to lower carbon emissions, but then they support the manufacturing of lithium-ion car batteries, which requires mining that is hugely polluting and deadly to child laborers, while celebrities and politicians fly private.

They decry the January 6 incursion into the Capitol, but have little to say about a whole summer of rioting across America in which at least 25 people were killed, and property damage topped $1 billion. And while Bidenistas are releasing felons all over the country, some of the January 6ers charged with crimes are still in jail. 

And on and on and on.

It is tempting to say the Biden Administration and its co-conspirators are behaving the way they are in order to win future elections. But even that isn’t true: the heavy betting now is on the Republicans’ taking the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms. So what is going on?

Partly, Democrats are driven by the desire to destroy America and her institutions in the hope that even if (actually “when”) Republicans win again they won’t be able to put America back together. These people don’t like America—why else would they let the homeless take over public spaces, defecating in the parks and streets? They don’t like the people who are typical Americansthey are now cheering a census report that shows the number of whites in America has declined. (Can you get more racist than that?)

It’s time for Mr. and Mrs. America, wherever they are, to realize Bidenistas despise America and hate Americans like them. 

The other part of what drives Democrats is the quest for power. They don’t really care about politics as we normally understand it: which policies will best serve the American people. They care only about which policies will best serve their hold on power. 

Less clear is why Biden enthusiasts support his policies. They don’t get the perks of power. Perhaps they just enjoy hating America? Why else support critical race theory and the “1619 Project”? 

Democrats are bad enough. But there’s more to bemoan: The number of Republican officeholders in Washington willing to fight is abysmally small. Nineteen Republican senators voted for the Biden faux infrastructure bill. At least three of them (Senators Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, and Rob Portman) are retiring. Pray that the rest do, too. 

Despite all the awful policies that come, one after the other, from Washington, however, there is a glimmer of hope in the land beyond: Conservative parents are organizing to take over their town school boards. That’s where the revolution—the counterrevolution—has to begin.

That’s where it has begun. 


August 18, 2021
American Greatness