The coalescence of the American Right: a view from David Brooks

November 23, 2021 • 1:30 pm

I didn’t know that, alongside his gig as a columnist at the New York Times, David Brooks is a contributing writer to The Atlantic. And five days ago he wrote a long column about his visit to the National Conservative Conference in Orlando, Florida (NCC; click on screenshot below). As a centrist-rightist who hates Trump, Brooks feared he’d be expelled or ostracized from the meeting. Instead, he was treated politely. What happened was that the meeting scared the bejeezus out of him as he realized how the right is coalescing around a central narrative—one that could propel Trump back to the White House.

According to Brooks, the new Republicanism fuses hatred of the “elites” (which means all Democrats, centrists, and the media), who are said to control everything, with espousal of a working-class populism that sees the average Joe and Jill as victims.  Into that toxic mess they toss a large dollop of religion, for this movement sees religion not only as important for their goals and the “salvation” of America, but essential.  Finally, the conservatives at this meeting feel that they must regain power by starting at the state level.

Here are the three themes of this gemisch and their adherents. I note to my dismay that Glenn Loury is calling himself a conservative again. My emphasis:

The movement has three distinctive strains. First, the people over 50 who have been hanging around conservative circles for decades but who have recently been radicalized by the current left. Chris Demuth, 75, was for many years president of the American Enterprise Institute, which used to be the Church of England of American conservatism, but now he’s gone populist. “NatCons are conservatives who have been mugged by reality,” he told the conference. Seventy-three-year-old Glenn Loury, a Brown University economist, was a conservative, then a progressive, and now he’s back on the right: “What has happened to public discourse about race has radicalized me.

The second strain is made up of mid-career politicians and operatives who are learning to adapt to the age of populist rage: people like Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard), J. D. Vance (Yale Law), and Josh Hawley (Stanford and Yale).

The third and largest strain is the young. They grew up in the era of Facebook and MSNBC and identity politics. They went to colleges smothered by progressive sermonizing. And they reacted by running in the other direction. I disagreed with two-thirds of what I heard at this conference, but I couldn’t quite suppress the disturbing voice in my head saying, “If you were 22, maybe you’d be here too.”

What has driven Loury back to the Right along with the young? Wokeness.  Still, Loury quacked like a liberal at the NCC:

Some of the speakers at the conference were in fact classical liberals, who believe in free speech, intellectual debate, and neutral government. Glenn Loury gave an impassioned speech against cancel culture, the illiberal left, and the hyper-racialized group consciousness that divides people into opposing racial camps. Loury asserted that as a Black man he is the proud inheritor of the great Western tradition: “Tolstoy is mine! Dickens is mine! Milton, Marx, and Einstein are mine!” He declared that his people are Black, but also proudly American. “Our Americanness is much more important than our Blackness,” he said, before adding, “We must strive to transcend racial particularism and stress universality and commonality as Americans.” This is the classical-liberal case against racial separatism and in favor of integration.

And then the characterization of the Left as elitists who must be overthrown at the state level:

The idea that the left controls absolutely everything—from your smartphone to the money supply to your third grader’s curriculum—explains the apocalyptic tone that was the dominating emotional register of this conference. The politicians’ speeches were like entries in the catastrophism Olympics:

“The left’s ambition is to create a world beyond belonging,” said [Josh[ Hawley. “Their grand ambition is to deconstruct the United States of America.”

. . .Conservatives have got the culture-war act down. Trump was a culture-war president with almost no policy arm attached. The question conservatives at the conference were asking was how to move beyond owning the libs to effecting actual change.

Christopher Rufo, the architect of this year’s school-board-meeting protests against critical race theory, argued that conservatives had erred when they tried to slowly gain power in elite cultural institutions. Conservatives were never going to make headway in the Ivy League or the corporate media. Instead, Rufo argued, they should rally the masses to get state legislatures to pass laws embracing their values. That’s essentially what’s now happening across red America.

My old friend Rod Dreher of The American Conservative argued that because the left controls the commanding heights of the culture and the economy, the only institution the right has a shot at influencing is the state. In these circumstances the right has to use state power to promote its values. “We need to quit being satisfied with owning the libs, and save our country,” Dreher said. “We need to unapologetically embrace the use of state power.”

The importance of religion:

Yoram Hazony, the chief intellectual architect of national conservatism, is an Orthodox Jew who went to Princeton before moving to Israel. He argues that you can’t have a society that embraces government neutrality and tries to relegate values to the private sphere. The public realm eventually eviscerates private values, especially when public communication is controlled by a small oligarchic elite. If conservatives want to stand up to the pseudo-religion of wokeism, they have to put traditional religion at the center of their political project.

Another Israeli political philosopher at the conference, Ofir Haivry, argued that Americans shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that a nation is built out of high-minded liberal abstractions, like the Bill of Rights. A nation is, instead, a cultural tradition, a common language, a set of rituals and beliefs, and a religious order—a collective cultural identity.

But is that collective identity going to be Jewish or Christian? For make no mistake about it, conservatives see America as a Christian nation, not an Abrahamic or Judeo-Christian one. They’ll come for the Jews after they take care of the Left.

For his part, Hazony argued that the American cultural identity is Christian—and has to be if it is not going to succumb to the woke onslaught. If 80 percent of Americans are Christian, Hazony reasoned, then Christian values should dominate. “Majority cultures have the right to establish the ruling culture, and minority cultures have the right to be decently treated,” he said. “To take the minority view and say the minority has the ability to stamp out the views of the majority—that seems to me to be completely crazy.”

I’m not a sophisticated enough thinker to parse the Right this way, and I didn’t go to that conference. But to Brooks, this neo-populism is not only growing, but a severe danger to America:

Over the past few decades there have been various efforts to replace the Reagan Paradigm: the national-greatness conservatism of John McCain; the compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush; the Reformicon conservatism of the D.C. think tanks in the 21st century. But the Trumpian onslaught succeeded where these movements have so far fizzled because Trump understood better than they did the coalescence of the new American cultural/corporate elite and the potency of populist anger against it. Thus the display of Ivy League populism I witnessed in Orlando might well represent the alarming future of the American right: the fusing of the culture war and the class war into one epic Marxist Götterdämmerung.

It’s a long piece, but we should all be sussing out the Right to better anticipate and combat their inevitable striking out in the 2022 and 2024 elections. Brooks’s piece is free, so go read it.

82 thoughts on “The coalescence of the American Right: a view from David Brooks

      1. Thanks. It works. I found the article on their site but I had used up my free articles. Thanks for the magic, too, then.

  1. I read this article: scary.

    I think they’ll come after the Jews only after they take care of the more odious groups such as atheists, LGBTQ, et al.

    1. Someone should ask these speakers to define “Christian.” While 80% of Americans may identify as Christian, they are not all “Traditional” Christians. Millions of Christians are pro-choice, see nothing wrong with co-habitation, support gay marriage, are gay, accept the reality of evolution, and so on. Conservatives will then say “Then they aren’t real Christians!” If they aren’t, then you can’t count them as part of the 80%. You can’t count them as Christians only when it suits your purposes.

      1. I’m sure “Christian” is only a brand name to most of them. They use it for its unity and messaging services but don’t care about its core values. Even the true believers don’t seem to care much about those, having just elected and sworn allegiance to a president that flaunts every one of them.

  2. Glenn Loury is a smart guy. I like hearing his perspective, *because* I sometimes agree, and sometimes disagree.

    That said, I am naturally suspicious of people who veer wildly across the political spectrum based on external circumstances. This is not to say one cannot change their views; I certainly have. But wide swings across the spectrum always make me leery.

      1. Perhaps we can hope that Loury just went to the wrong conference or didn’t know what it was all about. After reading Brooks’ article, he’ll understand what he’s done.

        1. “Americans shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that a nation is built out of high-minded liberal abstractions, like the Bill of Rights. A nation is, instead, a cultural tradition, a common language, a set of rituals and beliefs, and a religious order—a collective cultural identity.”
          “If conservatives want to stand up to the pseudo-religion of wokeism, they have to put traditional religion at the center of their political project.”
          Absolutely, 100% wrong on both counts. France and Quebec are living proof that you don’t need religion to either build a nation around cultural norms, OR to fight wokism. But evidence based approaches rarely get attention when emotions run high.
          Well thanks so much wokes, for bringing theocratic religion back into play when it had already lost its biggest battle in a generation-gay marriage and was licking its wounds.

          1. Quebec is a white-francophone-supremacist nation-state ruled from a parochial village council in the capital, Quebec City. Montreal became cosmopolitan in an earlier time and is now losing ground as its Anglo- and allo- families and corporate head offices decamp.

            Traditional religion may not be necessary but enforced cultural norms still seem to be. Those who can’t abide them will be pushed out, not indulged in place.

  3. The two major groups in American politics are now those who believe in the effectiveness and propriety of the American political and economic system, and those who want to tear it down. I’ll follow anyone in the first camp, and oppose anyone in the second. Brooks’ piece fails for the implication that fears of left authoritarianism are groundless.

  4. “To take the minority view and say the minority has the ability to stamp out the views of the majority—that seems to me to be completely crazy.”

    RWNJs ARE the minority, but they have no trouble at all seeing their views imposed on others.

    I keep waiting for someone with a voice to begin to describe the Right’s ideal world after they massacre the rest of us, but nobody seems to see anything beyond the takeover. The Right revels in their fantasies; the Left fears those fantasies.

    But, what comes next?

    No more birth control. No more Social Security. No more Medicare or Medicaid. Voting will be performative only, pointless to anyone who wants to see something different. Political imprisonment.

    But the biggest glitch is going to be economic. The “elites” who “run everything” are making a significant contribution to the GNP, which is going to be massively diminished once the Righties take over. If you look at the education level of the political spectrum, the largest piece of the Trump support comes from the lowest 10% of educational achievement. They may like throwing bombs, but most of them are never going to make any contribution to the body of knowledge.

    There’s a reason why after authoritarian takeovers that the new people in power want to keep people from leaving. They know that if too many people with knowledge and skills leave, they are going to have not much left in the way of an economic engine. Afghanistan is a great example of that. They can’t even feed people, and their primary source of income is opium.


    1. I suspect that many of the elites who contribute to the GNP will continue to do so. They’ll no longer be interested in politics and will do their best to survive in the new system, as has been the case with such transitions throughout modern history. The new Christian autocracy may well doom the US economically but it will take many decades for the damage to accumulate.

      1. It’s possible that you are right. I think that the right is counting on not much opposition.

        However, I am aware of people who are organizing a possibly needed resistance who plan to use striking as a primary tool. They are committed to non-violence, too, so if authoritarians don’t completely shut down communications, violent responses to strikes might turn a lot of right-wing supporters against the power grab.

        Also, when birth control and Social Security disappear, they are going to lose a lot of support. That’s why they don’t talk about their ideal world; they know that many wouldn’t like it one bit.


  5. Well at least Brooks gets within spitting distance of the truth:

    Trump understood better than they did the coalescence of the new American cultural/corporate elite and the potency of populist anger against it.

    The populist anger against it is very real. But the coalescence of the cultural/corporate elite is mostly imaginary, although they do have a truce of sorts. That is, the cultural elite at most pretends to condemn corporate power, and usually doesn’t even do that. Meanwhile the corporate elite pretends to go along with cultural requirements as long as they don’t hurt the bottom line badly. A few DEI course fees only cost a small fraction of, for example, the stolen wages gained from making employees do some work tasks off the clock.

    1. I’ve argued elsewhere that it is too simple to reduce politics to Left/Right dimensions. So last millennium. But if we must over-simplify perhaps American politics is now laid down across a neoElitism/neoPopulism dimension. It seems curious that the neoElites are formed mostly from previously left wing groups and neoPopulists from previously right wing groups.

      Heraclitus was on to something when he argued that things change into the inverse of themselves.

  6. The people at this conference, with perhaps a few exceptions such as Loury – a true anomaly, are motivated by fear, indeed, stark terror. They pine for a world that they believe once existed and has slipped away. It is a world of White Christian nationalism where people of other races, religions, or ethnicities were only seen, if at all, as servants or at menial jobs. They cling to the belief that only they deserve political and social dominance. They represent the tribalism of white identity politics. They will do anything to retrieve what they believe they have lost, which may very well include violence. Brooks has every right to be terrified of what he saw. He may be witnessing the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge — the last desperate gasp of white supremacy. So, the right is terrified, as are centrists and moderate leftists, as are the far leftists, all for different reasons. Three colliding visions of America’s future brook no compromise. The result will be an explosion and nobody can predict what will emerge from the ruins.

    1. I really wonder how many of these educated people truly believe in these fears as they claim. Instead, it is a collective performance to justify their no-holds-barred efforts to get their way politically. Perhaps many red state voters truly have these fears but these conference speakers and attendees are just there to learn how to exploit those fears and to coordinate their efforts and messages.

      As a non-Woke Lefty, I do worry that my dislike of Trump and the GOP is based on irrational fear. When someone accuses some opinion that I share of Trump Derangement Syndrome, I check myself. But when we hear every day of new outrages by these people who want to take over the country based on their “fears”, I know my syndrome isn’t deranged.

      I was born in the UK but have lived in the US since I was 5 years old. I’m seriously looking into moving back there permanently before things go too far south here. Real soon now I’m going to hire a specialist in this area to figure out the details and options.

      1. > I’m seriously looking into moving back there permanently before things go too far south here.

        Speaking as an expat myself, while I recommend moving abroad, I also recommend picking a location other than the UK. I have a lot of British Expat friends who have many of the same concerns we have seen here, both about the New Left and the New Right. I haven’t found a country I prefer yet – hence ‘anonymous’.

        1. Germany offers a faster path to citizenship for Jews (and others) and their descendants who had to flee Nazi Germany. In an interesting twist, many who ended up in the UK are taking German citizenship and, in some cases, moving to Germany and learning German, because that is preferable to Brexit.

          1. My German expat friends are also thrilled to be out of Germany. They are not concerned about the German New Right; the movement seems to be too small to think about. More and more friends are sick of the German New Left and are getting increasingly worried about the immigrant New Right in Germany. It mirrors a lot of concerns we have seen in this blog.

            1. What they should be more concerned about is the growing Muslim community in West Europe. Germany is not as bad as France, because the local community is mostly not Arabic, but still, there is a great potential for messed up things.
              Of course this is only a concern if somebody moves out from the US. After all the UK is not better in this regard than Germany.

              1. Frist, one needs to differentiate between Muslim and Islamistic. Many Muslims in Germany are almost the equivalent of “hatched, matched, and dispatched” Catholics. Most are from Turkey. Despite Erdogan’s attempts to portray himself as some sort of overall Muslim leader, most Arabic-speaking Muslims see Turkey as something completely divorced from their world. Turkey had Atatürk, who is still important to many, especially those who came to Germany a half a century ago and their descendants, despite Erdogan’s attempts to turn the clock back.

                As you say, the situation is very different in France. Not only are most Muslims Arabic-speaking, but many are from former French colonies. Many are native speakers of French, which demonstrates (no matter whose fault it is) that in their case language is not the barrier to integration.

                It’s not a good idea to lump all together. That’s like saying that if you’re not woke then you support Trump or vice versa.

        2. I haven’t made a thorough investigation but most countries aren’t interested in a retired guy emigrating to their country, not unless I’m willing to invest $5M in something which is too rich for me. I figure since I was born in the UK of English parents, they have to take me. I briefly looked at Malta but it’s probably too hot and humid for me. Also, I’m not interested in being forced to learn a new language at this point in my life. Canada would officially let me live there for half the year. Perhaps they don’t check very closely.

          1. Interesting idea.

            Living in Canada illegally would be a challenge for people who can’t live on cash alone because a plume of digital signals emanates from us as we go about our business, starting with the bank account your pension would get deposited into. The first people to catch you would probably be the tax authorities, not the immigration folks. As a resident, albeit an illegal one, you would be liable for Canadian tax on the income you were receiving but would have no way to pay those taxes because only legal residents get taxpayer identification numbers.

            Best bet would be to make an asylum claim at our border. You would have to cross at an “unofficial” crossing like Roxham Road where the Safe Third Country Agreement doesn’t apply, which is in the news because it reopened today after being barricaded during Covid. Don’t worry if you don’t know about it: all the taxi drivers in Plattsburgh NY and everyone in Central America, Congo, and Nigeria know the drill. (Many Central American migrants crossing your southern border are actually on their way to Canada.) Just join the long queue at the “Do Not Enter” sign and someone will tell you what to expect as you walk over. The Mounties are just to make sure you don’t wander off into the woods. If you play along, they might even carry your suitcase for you.

            No matter how bogus your claim, you will be able to stay in Canada, work, draw welfare, open bank accounts, and get free health care for the 2-5 years it takes for your appeals to run their course. And even then, our track record at deporting failed asylum claimants (the majority) is so poor that statistically you could probably live out your life here. You couldn’t go back to the States at all during that time, though, because returning voluntarily to a country you had fled because of persecution would undermine your claim.

          2. If you think Canada will be a safe haven from the rights culture war I would suggest you are very much mistaken. Canada is almost entirely dependent on the US for trade, both ways. The US is not dependent on Canada at all. The US has been reluctant to use this cudgel to force change in Canada, mostly in the name of free trade but that will change.
            It did change when Trump was in office.

            Religions and cults tend to spread and force their beliefs on others.

            1. Trade is our savior. I hardly ever know the political leanings of those who make the stuff I buy. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure many of them are Communists, at least on paper.

            2. Democratic administrations are generally worse for Canada’s export trade because they lean toward trade-union protectionism and enviro-wacko positions that hurt Canada’s vital mining, oil & gas, and automotive sectors. Republicans are ceteris paribus generally free-traders. The U.S. is not dependent on Canada for anything but some things we can make with better value for money than they can and so they buy them from us. I’m not sure what Trump’s philosophy actually was, but other than a brief imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum to force us to agree to NAFTA 2.0, he mostly let the markets run. (The tariffs were very unpopular with American businesses who used Canadian smelted metals and were rescinded after he was satisfied we got the message..) “Buy American” is worse for us than “America First”, because it actually means something tangible. Way worse.

              Not that this should carry so much as a nanogram of weight with American citizens who actually elect the President to serve their interests, but I was a self-interested Trump fan up until 6 Jan. We are going to miss him, even if we don’t know it yet.

      2. Let me know what you find out. Look as far south as possible in England. Winter is a long time over there. Taking over at state level is exactly how they will do it. It has already been accomplished. They have control of the most states, their election processes, all the gerrymandering and so on. Unless the democrats can do something federally in the congress, and I don’t think they can, it is all over. A democratic president with a Trump cult congress is a useless government.

        1. My father and I were from London and my mother from Canterbury. I have spent quite a bit of time over there so the winters don’t scare me. They do scare my wife though.

          1. I would think a Canadian winter would scare her even more. “But it’s a dry cold,” as they say in Winnipeg. In southern Ontario it’s a damp and slushy raw cold, even with global warming, but the winter nights at 43 degrees latitude aren’t as long as farther north.

            1. British Columbia along the coast has weather a lot like England’s. That doesn’t make my wife any happier but beggars can’t be choosers. I happen to like a little weather.

              1. The best place to live in my opinion in Canada is in the Maritimes as long as you do not go too far north as the winters can be extended. The Maritimers are wonderful and I consider myself one now after being here for almost twenty years and I have lived in many places across the planet. The population is relatively small which has some negative effects but there is lots of space with no people and the quality of life is unbeatable. The UK is fast approaching a population size of seventy million and this in land area about the size of the Maritime provinces combined but with a Maritime population of around two and one half million. Nova Scotia considered populous has a population of less than one million.
                I am retired and I can help you if you want more information and the best way to become legally resident and ultimately a Canadian Citizen.

      3. I guess that is the same “white supremacy” that motivated Tom Payne. The greatest revolutionary theoritician who was also an abolitionist and believer in universal male suffrage. Who turned the public opinion in favor of the Revolution in Common Sense but also explained his anti-monarchary motivations in the Rights of Man.
        Because we “know” that the Revolutionary War was motivated by protection and preservation of slavery. We start from that conclusion and we work our way back.
        Right, “Historian”?

      4. If the Right get power and systemic racism is ramped up and white supremacism is the order of the day once more, I can foresee a lot of Black people joining you in leaving America after things go too far south.

    2. I think you’ve accurately captured the essence of what Brooks calls the first and third strains of the new conservative movement, Historian. But the middle strain limned by Brooks — the “mid-career politicians and operatives who are learning to adapt to the age of populist rage: people like Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard), J. D. Vance (Yale Law), and Josh Hawley (Stanford and Yale)” — are simply cynical sonsabitches. They know what they’re pushing to the others is arrant nonsense, but they see it as their route to power — indeed, as their only route to power running through a Republican Party besotted by Trumpism.

    1. And they’ve had five attempts to get it right, plus the Napoleonic interlude and the German occupation, since their revolution.

  7. “If conservatives want to stand up to the pseudo-religion of wokeism, they have to put traditional religion at the center of their political project.”

    Well isn’t that special. They don’t want pseudo-religion (a bit of a redundancy there) pushed in their face. Well of course they don’t, that shoe only fits one foot.

  8. The article by Brooks gives me chills. And Brooks didn’t even write about the Keynote speech given by Peter Thiel. As described by David Corn, who watched it via Youtube (where it can be found via the link in his article) and it gave him chills.

    “Thiel appeared to be advocating smashing the Fed, relying on crypto, and ginning up nationalism. And that’s not a surprise. His biographer Max Chafkin recently observed, “There’s always been a lot of libertarianism in Silicon Valley, but there are aspects of Thiel’s politics that aren’t libertarian at all; they’re closer to authoritarianism. It’s super-nationalistic, it’s a longing for a sort of more powerful chief executive, or, you know, a dictator, in other words.”

  9. James Lindsay on his New Discourses YouTube channel posted a video called Groomer Schools 1. In it he posits a 100 year old communist conspiracy to undermine capitalism by destroying the family by the mainstreaming of pedophilia, AND the Democratic party is controlled by them.
    The Tw*tter culture wars have literally driven him insane.

  10. Yes, you are probably screwed. The joint project of woke identitarians and woke neo-liberals, also known as “Democrats”, have told f£ck off to Bernie Sanders and his populist base. That killed off a lot of momentum. A young, once enthusiastic generation has so far voted only to prevent a greater evil, and that style won’t draw the numbers another time.

    Democrats recently appear as a pro-corporate, lobby-friendly party for big money and elites. They gave away many gifts to the Right, while launching race/gender “culture war” topics on their own. This style of symbolic Ersatz-Politics is common on the Republican side, but I assume it won’t work nearly as well on liberals and leftists, especially when Democrats foolishly gave away “freedom of speech”.

    I don’t think enough voters will turn up for this after repeated disillusion on more material matters, which the Democrats won’t pursue anymore due to their newfound corporate sponsors. Consider also the Republican vote supression shemes that will brutally exploit an already low interest in boring Democrat status-quo politics for rich, “diverse” elites.

    Last but not least, nobody likes woke people. They don’t even like each other. This authoritarian, sniveling, hostile pecksniffery is just unpopular. There is nothing positive, humorous, compassionate, playful, or anything in that whole corner. It looks pretty bad over there, but I can’t say it wasn’t earned.

  11. The article is mortifying but every time I read a sentence like this:

    — But the Trumpian onslaught succeeded where these movements have so far fizzled because Trump UNDERSTOOD better than they did the coalescence of the new American cultural/corporate elite and the potency of populist anger against it.—

    I bump on the combination of “Trump” and “understood.”

    It’s just so hard to imagine Trump actually understanding anything, let alone anything of real insight.
    I can understand why Trump strikes Sam Harris as a sort of Chauncey The Gardener, whose intense
    desire for promotion and self-aggrandizing combined with his liabilities of having no conscience or external principles of concern, allowed him to be blown by the winds of those who would elect him.
    Sort of like the kid at the party who prat falls, all the other kids get a kick out of it, so he goes “They are giving me attention! I’ll do it again!”

    Ultimately that’s likely a facile take, Trump is a human and there must be some complexity in there.
    But it sure “feels” like that watching Trump.

    1. Trump isn’t smart in an academic sense but he has skills that are being recognized now. Check out this article for some convincing:

      How Trump Repeatedly Duped the GOP Elites

      Part of his power is due to his complete lack of caring about doing the right thing. People he dupes aren’t used to dealing with someone so craven. They also think that they will never let Trump drag them over some invisible line but he manages to do it without them realizing it until it’s too late.

    2. If I’m recalling my Jerzy Kosinski correctly, Vaal, that ought to be either “Chance the gardener” or “Chauncey Gardiner” — depending on whether it’s before or after his wealthy employer dies, thereby loosing him upon the world-at-large. Harris plainly had in mind the latter.

    3. I couldn’t agree more. It’s long since gotten to the point that when someone says something like “Trump understood,” my assessment of their judgement plummets.

  12. The people who claim to want religion at the center of society have given their unqualified support to a man who flagrantly opposes all the values of their religion.

    Jewish intellectuals support a Blood and Soil nationalism that worked out so great for their ancestors in Europe 80 years ago.

    My mind, it boggles.

  13. I was, of course, struck by this part of Brooks’ report: “They went to colleges smothered by progressive sermonizing. And they reacted by running in the other direction.” It will perhaps turn out that our zealots of the church of D, E, and the holy I have really been screwing the pooch—with an outcome
    more dangerous than anyone suspected.

  14. After 11 months of Biden, prices are rocketing and TVs show luxury shops being looted by gangs, as crime rockets in Democrat controlled cities and Black criminals released on 1000 dollar bail mow down over 50 white people in a Christmas parade.

    Why is Trump so popular?

  15. This is the most depressing stream of comments I’ve encountered in the many years I’ve been reading this blog. So many people giving up on the United States, the country I love and was raised to consider a haven for those fleeing from tyranny elsewhere. I feel all the same fears, but I won’t leave until Godzilla is cited near Washington or New York. And not even then.

    1. I didn’t realize that Godzilla had written any papers; as you say, he hasn’t been cited yet. 🙂

      Seriously, countries can change, even quite substantially, for the worse or for the better. There is no law which prevents the USA from deteriorating. Part of the problem are people (who usually have no point of comparison) who insist that it is somehow magically better than anywhere else.

      1. Of course you’re right. Countries can change, for the better or the worse, and in this sense the United States is exceptional only because it seems headed in directions at the same time. And your implication (or what I took as your implication) also is right: woe to those unable or unwilling to acknowledge the fundamental change — to wit, the German Jews who refused to accept that the country and culture they loved could so quickly become debased.

        But the lesson that the political culture of a country can change has a hopeful corollary: a tyranny of the American alt-right or woke left is not inevitable. Large portions of this country don’t want to live under a tyranny of any sort. Trump was defeated after all, both at the polls and in the courts, and recent elections suggest that — outside the universities — a majority of the left rejects wokism.

        So the tacit defeatism of the “where can I run to” crowd seems to me unjustified. And, while my Godzilla remark may have been crude and a bit silly, I adhere to the underlying point — don’t run until that is the only realistic option. As of now, it is not.

    2. Nothing lasts forever. The US will be a “haven for those fleeing from tyranny” until it isn’t. I’m not giving up on the US but if it becomes clear that Trump and the GOP are going to control everything, I’m getting out while it is still possible to do so. The idea that it can’t happen here is just Pollyannaish in the extreme.

      1. Please spread the word that Republican = Trump . It is vitally important that as many potential voters as possible know that a vote for a Democrat is a vote against Trump returning in 2024.

        This is , simply put, the most effective message that can be conveyed.

        1. I thought the Virginia governor’s race showed that equating the GOP to Trump is insufficient to guarantee a Dem win. Culture war issues can win over voters more consistently than trying to associate a candidate with Trump. Many of the voters that must be won over regard Trump as just another candidate and may vote party over country. A coworker of mine used to say he always voted GOP because they promised to lower his taxes. That’s all he cared about. The Dems need better arguments than Trump if they are going to win.

      2. While your idea might sound good in practice, in reality it turns out that people are doing the opposite. Currently people are fleeing blue states and heading to red ones in droves. It seems that people who vote blue don’t actually want to live under the conditions those policies create and the mythology of the totalitarian right doesn’t pan out in practice.

        1. That’s nonsense. First, there are no droves. Second, those that are moving will take their voting preferences with them. If I switched states in pursuit of a career or a cheaper house, I wouldn’t automatically vote like my new neighbors, especially if they were Trumpers.

          1. If you do a search for the states which are growing the fastest, you will see that they are overwhelmingly red. And I understand that most of the people moving won’t change their voting preferences. I think that’s due more to ideological blinders than anything else. It’s also a reason that the blue refugees also bring tension. As someone living in a state people are coming to, I don’t want the same policies that caused the people to flee enacted in my state. Personally I welcome the dems coming as long as they stop voting dem.

            And if you were to give your new Trumper neighbors the benefit of the doubt, you’d probably like them more than you’d care to admit.

            1. “And if you were to give your new Trumper neighbors the benefit of the doubt, you’d probably like them more than you’d care to admit.”

              You’d definitely lose that bet. Anyone who would even think of voting for that lying, cheating, buffoon is not a friend of mine. As far as red state policies go, even the residents of those states don’t like them. Most people want abortion rights, healthy vaccination policies, and fair elections yet their local politicians are going the opposite direction. There’s also hard evidence that blue states are actually funding the red states. The red states are losing economically but they just don’t know it yet.

            2. I see you changed moved the goalposts. You went from states losing population (‘fleeing in droves’) to states gaining population fastest.
              I see you are ignoring red states that have lost population. Funny that.
              I see you are ignoring the fact that in many of those states that are growing it is the cities that are growing, cities that are most often overwhelmingly blue but the state itself has been gerrymandered so Democrats can’t win even when they have a solid majority.

              In other words, Republicans cheat. And lie. And try to over turn elections when they can’t win by cheating. Last time, with violence.

              I see by your previous comments you ignore right wing violence and only choose to see one side. Perhaps that’s just the media you follow. Perhaps you missed elected Democrat politicians decrying the violence.
              Perhaps you missed a plot by right wing extremists to poison a water supply?
              Perhaps you missed Trump supporters beating police while saying they were going to hang Mike Pence.
              Perhaps you missed Trump egging on violence in his supporters.
              Perhaps you just choose to ignore it.

              I’d be interested in seeing your data that links Democratic policies to people leaving. Besides your opinion or weak anecdotes by right wing pundits.

              1. “I see you changed moved the goalposts. You went from states losing population (‘fleeing in droves’) to states gaining population fastest.
                I see you are ignoring red states that have lost population.”

                Correct you are. Thank you for pointing that out.

                Here are the states losing population the fastest according to the US Census Bureau:

                5 states losing the most population

                47. Pennsylvania. The state lost an estimated 15,629 people from mid-2019 to mid-2020.

                48. Michigan. The Rust Belt state lost 18,240 residents.

                49. California. Reversing a trend of population growth over the past decade, California lost an estimated 69,532 residents. Home prices have grown eye-wateringly expensive.

                50. Illinois. Continuing a trend of outward migration, Illinois shrank by 79,487 people from mid-2019 to mid-2020.

                51. New York. The state was hit hard in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. New York lost an estimated 126,355 residents.

                So it looks like the states losing people the fastest are blue and the ones gaining it the fastest are red.

    3. If Godzilla is sighted anywhere near DC or NYC he damn well better get cited for some violation or other.

      But I’m with you. I’m still bullish on America and I don’t even live there. Leonard Cohen, “Democracy”:

      “It’s coming through a hole in the air
      From those nights in Tiennamen Square . . .

      “It’s coming to America first
      The cradle of the best and of the worst.
      It’s here they’ve got the range and the machinery for change
      It’s here they’ve got that terrible thirst.

      “Democracy is coming
      To the U. S. A.”

      You do have to believe.

  16. I don’t need to read his article to know the right is more extreme every single year and is an existential threat to democracy and freedom. I’ve been harping on this for a decade.

  17. The discussion (stimulated originally by Paul Topping’s posts) about where to go reminded me of an apocryphal story from the last century. In it, a couple in the early 1930s despaired at the onward march of tyrannical ideologies of both Left and Right, and the signs that a terrible world war was on the horizon. Seeking a retreat from these looming threats, they looked for a remote island paradise far from centers of conflict, and one which major powers had agreed not to fortify. They found one which filled this bill perfectly, and also had a balmy climate, so they moved there. It was Guam, which became the site of the ferocious battles of 1941 and 1944. Well, at least Godzilla wasn’t involved.

  18. Doubting Thomas
    November 24, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    Are you friends or even acquaintances with anyone who you know voted for Trump?

    Paul Topping
    November 24, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Used to be.

    Hopefully you see this as I’m really interested in it.

    Did you stop being friends with someone just because they voted for Trump?

      1. “I’m done with this subject now.”

        This does seem to be people’s favorite response to me here.


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