The Great Convergence

Read this text . . . if you can . . . or at least skim it for tone and argument:

Trump’s White Nationalist Fans Discredit His Candidacy

Those unfortunate enough to follow the right-wing Twittersphere will likely have a passing familiarity with the label “cuckservative,” coined in the Web’s feverish backwaters, but brought into vogue this summer with the ascendance of Donald Trump. The term is not a compliment. A portmanteau of “cuckold” and “conservative,” it has its origins in the white-nationalist movement, as Richard Spencer, president of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, told the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel:

It is the cuckold who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, loses control of his future. This is an apt psychological portrait of white “conservatives,” whose only identity is comprised of vague, abstract “values,” and who are participating in the displacement of European Americans — their own children.

Matt Lewis, a Daily Caller reporter who in July became among the first to be accused of “cuckservatism,” augments this explanation: “The people who throw this term around are most likely referencing a type of pornography whereby a (usually, white) man is ‘humiliated’ (or ironically thrilled) by being forced to watch his wife having sex with another (usually, black) man.”

Last weekend, National Review became the target of this crowd, which folded the hashtag “#NRORevolt,” prompted by . . . Jonah Goldberg’s denunciation of unthinking Trump partisans, into “#cuckservative” — and eventually, in honor of Goldberg’s heritage, “#kikeservative.” Charming.

This racialism may not have been caused by Trump, but its explosion has coincided with his, and while, as The Federalist’s Ben Domenech has noted, “‘identity politics for white people’ is not the same thing as ‘racism,’ nor are the people who advocate for it necessarily racist,” among Trump supporters there appears to be significant overlap. This should give the ranks of good and decent people supporting Trump pause.

Domenech ably chronicles the circumstances that have fueled Trump’s rise: “If a large — sorry, yuge — portion of the country wants existing bipartisan immigration laws to be enforced, and one party tells them ‘Yes,’ but means ‘No,’ and the other party tells them, ‘No’ but means ‘You’re a racist,’ then it’s only a matter of time before some disruptor is going to emerge to call them out for their game.” A “mad-as-hell” moment was entirely foreseeable.

But the disruptor who has emerged is proving less disruptive than dangerous. Demolition can be a political strategy — if you know what you’re doing well enough to avoid massive collateral damage. Trump doesn’t. He’s not merely an overgrown rich kid, a loutish but ultimately amusing clown; he is a particularly revolting species of id — vulgar, unprincipled, and increasingly poisonous. Perhaps he really does want to blow up certain parts of the current political consensus. But in the process he is also managing to blow up the boundaries of respectable public discourse, and to create space for the most unsavory ideological elements. He is exactly the type of rhetorical bomb-thrower who attracts support from the most extreme, racially charged corners, and exactly the type of opportunist who will play footsie with them if it serves his purposes.

In political life, supporters reflect their candidates, and while it may be true that Trump is such a protean entity that he has managed to capture support from various constituencies, the most level-headed Trump supporters should reconsider their horse. You can’t separate the Trump who rebuffs the “PC police” from the Trump who vilely insinuates knowledge of Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycles. You can’t separate the Trump who reasserts the need for national identity, and for the national sovereignty that protects it, from the Trump who propagates baseless conspiracy theories about the Mexican government. It should tell us all we need know of Trump’s candidacy that he does not have the coherent worldview or the rhetorical discipline required to attract genuine conservatives without also attracting their distant, deranged kin.

Where would you guess this was published? or the Huffington Post? The New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle? Or was it The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Watch” blog? It certainly could have been placed at any one of these venues, without any changes.

The actual publisher is National Review Online[1] ; the author is one Ian Tuttle, the William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. Here’s a picture of him, which was apparently taken just before a croquet match.

Yes, NR might have disagreements with Salon, the HuffPost, or the SPLC on taxing Wall Street or foreign policy (in the sense that the latter organizations are much saner on these issues). But are we not witnessing a remarkable convergence on the questions of race, culture, and identity—which are really the only issues that matter? And is this not the ultimate outcome of William F. Buckley’s quest for respectability?

As the Great Convergence takes place, we’ll win the hashtag wars.

  1. I admit that I cheated a little. The ellipsis in the fourth paragraph marks a place where Tuttle writes “my colleague Jonah Goldberg,” which would have given the game away. ↩︎