This essay was originally published at AlternativeRight.com on December 4, 2010, shortly after that year's midterm election.
Yesterday, I shook off the hangover from the open bar at the Election Night party and read about our historic victory. The conservative movement has heroically stopped Obama’s diabolical scheme to make America socialist, with John Boehner as our weepy Leonidas. Conservatism is flush with victory and all throughout the land, ambitious College Republicans, my fellow think-tankers, and unemployed scribblers are dreaming of staff jobs, committee assignments, and midnight tangos with the supple interns of Capitol Hill. The “beautiful losers” made excited references to 1994, seemingly blind to the reality that the “Republican Revolution” did nothing to stop the growth of government or reverse cultural decline and President Clinton cruised to victory two years later. Nonetheless, young conservatives are cute when they are happy, and I tried to hold my tongue as wild proclamations were made around the office about the imminent end of Big Government.
It was satisfying to see the Democrats go down to defeat, in the same way it was satisfying to watch Jon Stewart’s pained expression while reporting on President Bush’s re-election in 2004. Evil, or rather, the Evil Party, was justly punished. At the same time, let us be under no illusions about the Stupid Party.
It gives me no joy to say this, not even the contrarian Schadenfreude expressed by denizens of the Alternative Right when the conservative movement, yet again, fails to move. Despite years of disappointment and the cynicism that can only come from working in DC, there was something that suggested this year would be different. The Tea Party is not Astroturf—it is remarkably decentralized, grassroots, and leaderless, and though corporate front groups like FreedomWorks claim to speak for it, the Tea Party’s feelings on immigration and Islam suggest that there is something more here than Republican strategists slapping a new label on a program of tax cuts for millionaires. With Tom Tancredo mounting a spirited third-party run, Sharron Angle actually speaking up in defense of actual Americans, and institutions like the New York Conservative Party openly defending White advocate Jim Russell, this actually seemed like more than politics as usual.
There were some legitimate victories. Rand Paul in the Senate is a huge victory for the “Old Right” and sets up a possible presidential run in the not too distant future. The GOP takeover of the House means that Ron Paul takes over the oversight committee for the Federal Reserve, and not a moment too soon. The hero of Hazelton, Lou Barletta, won by a comfortable margin and is poised to become the next Tom Tancredo. Governor Jan Brewer cruised to re-election on the strength of SB 1070, and Arizona voters outlawed affirmative action in college admissions while they were at it. These and other victories at both the state and national level provide both a power base for future gains and help solidify a conservative consensus on issues of race, immigration, and monetary policy that the Conservative Movement ™ would rather ignore.
At the same time, even as the drinks flowed at the election night party, I could not help but feel this is the Indian summer of right-wing electoral politics. There will never be circumstances as favorable as this again in our lifetime. President Obama’s overreaching on heath care and federal spending, overt hostility to the American core population, and surprising political incompetence has led to a huge backlash. Within the Republican Party itself, the hold of the old guard has been weakened by the rise of the Tea Party movement. Candidates worth voting for have actually begun appearing in several states. The Ron Paul Revolution now has a secure place within the GOP: Sean Hannity praised Rand Paul, after mocking his father only a few years before. Even in the unlikely event of the fabled financial “collapse,” I doubt that one side will own it as exclusively as the Democrats own this recession.
Despite all these advantages, too many high profile contests were lost, and what they reveal suggest a depressing future. The most obvious was the defeat of Tom Tancredo in Colorado. This is mostly the Republican Party’s fault, as the party cut off its nose to spite the face, going forward with a candidate who couldn’t possibly win rather than letting Tancredo save the GOP establishment from itself. Nonetheless, John Hickenlooper ran a tepid campaign and his cheerleading for reconquista should have had some impact. Though it was too little, too late, the conservative establishment did eventually rally to Tancredo’s side, and so the movement itself cannot be blamed for this. Nonetheless, Tancredo suffered a greater than anticipated defeat.
Sharron Angle also lost to Harry Reid in Nevada. Reid is spectacularly unpopular and unemployment in Nevada is extremely high. Angle’s bracing advertisements turned the election into a referendum about immigration. Unfortunately, the contemptible Reid squeaked out a victory, and the media has lost no time in crediting Latinos with forming the firewall for Western Democrats.
The narrative is taking shape that Hispanics saved the Democrats in the West, and there may actually be some truth to this, as the “demographics is destiny” prophecy that Peter Brimelow warned of years ago may finally be happening. Jerry Brown somehow is governor again in California as Meg Whitman incompetently handled the immigration issue. Latinos may very well have saved Reid in Nevada and edged out Buck in Colorado. Republicans will learn, of course, all of the wrong lessons from this.
On MSNBC late on election night, S.E. Cupp did battle with a progressive panel discussing the election returns, and admitted she could not explain how Reid was able to win. She commented that the people of Nevada will presumably do something in the future as Democratic policies continue to drive the state deeper into recession.
This misses the point. More and more areas of the country are de facto one-party states that all sides understand are beyond persuasion. While the media obsesses about supposedly extreme things said by Sharron Angle, there is no disdain at the easy re-election of Hank Johnson, who worries about a naval base sinking the island of Guam. Nor will any of the Congressional Black Caucus members ever face a real challenge, despite that fact that a new one seems to be under indictment every other week. Even in this Republican tide, the cosmic order was restored in the 2nd district of Lousiana, where Vietnamese Joseph Cao was replaced Black Congressman William Jefferson in 2008 after Jefferson was arrested with thousands of dollars in his freezer. A Black congressman is now in power, and we can assume, will stay there until he dies or is arrested on corruption charges.
Republicans, no matter how well they do, are contesting a smaller and smaller area of the country where victory is even possible. Of course another way to look at this is that the country itself is getting smaller and smaller, with actual Americans crowding into smaller and smaller areas as they are surrounded by hostile tribes to whom the federal government casually cedes territory. The best Republicans can do is stop the bleeding. Instead, while some will win short-term victories running on a anti-illegal immigration platform, the GOP as a whole will do nothing to actually stop immigration -- indeed, the leaders will actively encourage it. After they are predictably driven out of that area because minorities have nothing to gain from stopping the state-sponsored theft from Whites of wealth, jobs, and access to education, we can presume the Republicans will retreat to the next White redoubt to complain about how Tom Tancredo scared away all those “family value” Hispanics. Incidentally, the country will also be destroyed, though the open bar crowd in DC might not even notice.
Interestingly, Jonah Goldberg chose as the subject of his post election column a direct attack on the “demography is destiny” interpretation. He states the 2010 election shows,
Identity politics can poison demography’s predictive power. Knowing how many women there will be in 2050 won’t tell you how they’ll vote. For instance, today we assume that white Christian male voters yield conservative politics. But if that truism were a political constant, you would never have gotten the Progressive era or the New Deal. Yes, the GOP still faces significant challenges. Heck, an electoral bonanza notwithstanding, Republicans are still fairly unpopular. But if the first half of the Obama presidency proves anything, it is that straight-line predictions lead to political hubris. Events change and attitudes change with them, for every demographic.
This is true for those who actually have opinions on political issues. Many demographic groups have changed their opinions on various issues over the years. Nonetheless, for non-Whites in this country, there are not views, but permanent interests not subject to nuance. This is why we speak of the “Black vote,” “Hispanic vote,” even though it would seem odd to speak of something called the “White vote.” Does anyone think Hank Johnson has an educated view on monetary policy, or that he even knows what this is? Does anyone think his ignorance will prevent him from being elected every year for the rest of his life? Though the Black vote might switch from one party to another on occasion, Blacks will (quite sanely, I’d add) support the movement that offers them more money, privileges, and resources. The Republicans cannot win this contest while paying lip service to “limited government.”
Tim Wise perfectly expresses the view of the Left on the establishment Democratic blog DailyKos where he practically foams,
I know, you think you’ve taken “your country back” with this election -- and of course you have always thought it was yours for the taking, cuz that’s what we white folks are bred to believe, that it’s ours, and how dare anyone else say otherwise -- but you are wrong.
You have won a small battle in a larger war the meaning of which you do not remotely understand.
Because you’re on the endangered list.
And unlike, say, the bald eagle or some exotic species of muskrat, you are not worth saving.
In forty years or so, maybe fewer, there won’t be any more white people around who actually remember that Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Opie-Taylor-Down-at-the-Fishing Hole cornpone bullshit that you hold so near and dear to your heart.
There won’t be any more white folks around who think the 1950s were the good old days, because there won’t be any more white folks around who actually remember them, and so therefore, we’ll be able to teach about them accurately and honestly, without hurting your precious feelings, or those of the so-called “greatest generation” -- a bunch whose white members were by and large a gaggle of miscreants who helped save the world from fascism only to return home and oppose the ending of it here, by doing nothing to lift a finger on behalf of the civil rights struggle.
So to hell with you and all who revere you.
By then, half the country will be black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about it.
Nothing, Senõr Tancredo.
Nothing, Senõra Angle, or Senõra Brewer, or Senõr Beck.
Loy tiene muy mal, hijo de Puta.
I pause here to note that Tim Wise is paid to teach law enforcement how to fight “racism.”
Wise is wrong in the sense that he is not White, no matter how much he gets paid to say that he is or how much more convincing his case is when he pretends he is. He is also wrong because America (if that word means anything) was created by Whites and belongs to them, while Tim Wise just lives here, for now.
However, Wise is right that conservatives do not remotely understand what is going on. As our post-racial President put it, racial minorities are out to “punish their enemies” on Election Day, specifically for holding the wrong views on immigration. However, in response to this, our new champion of the right-wing majority, the gallantly orange John Boehner, quit drunkenly stumbling around the Monocle on D Street long enough to condemn what he thought was Obama’s attack on “limited government.” While Tim Wise thinks the GOP is a secret White Nationalist conspiracy, as an insider, I can assure him that Republicans aren’t nearly this interesting.
Electorally, Wise is right, though. Last night’s “victory” is as good as it’s going to get, and while there are good people on Capitol Hill and in the state legislatures, there are not enough to do anything but hold the line on some key issues.
This does not mean we should give up on electoral politics. Elections are a necessity for organizing constituencies, spreading ideas, and building institutions and movements that go beyond one election cycle -- the Ron Paul Revolution being the best example. It does mean that something beyond electoral politics, at least within the existing system, will be necessary to actually accomplish anything, even if that something is a 0.1 percent tax cut. All the existing system can give us is smiling Republican faces like Marco Rubio who, after burning his pinch of incense, will push through the nation-breaking politics of amnesty and mass immigration while appeasing the Fox News watching Judeo-Christian masses with references to Ronald Reagan.
Some might say this is “giving up on America,” or arguing that there is nothing good about America. It doesn’t matter. It’s simply reality that the progressive machine will not be undone through the Republican Party because the numbers simply are not there anymore, no matter how skilled the political consultants or favorable the political environment. Wise may laugh triumphantly at this, but it is the Alternative Right that has the most to gain. Electoral victory will be impossible for the GOP at a time when the conservative base will still be large, politically mobilized, and concentrated enough that alternatives outside the system are possible. That base can only be defeated if they continue to play by the rules of a rigged game.
Amusingly, in his cute little rant, Wise complains,
There were those who wanted to take us back to a time when children could be made to work in mines and factories, when workers had no legal rights to speak of, when the skies in every major city were heavy with industrial soot that would gather on sidewalks and windowsills like volcanic ash.
But of course, it is those corporate overlords who agree with Wise -- and pay him to teach their employees about how Diversity makes their company more profitable. Nothing is more adorable than leftists pretending to oppose the system when in reality they are the system.
But then Wise says something interesting,
You will have gone all in as a white nationalist movement -- hell you’ve all but done that now -- thus guaranteeing that the folks of color, and even a decent size minority of us white folks will be able to crush you, election after election, from the Presidency on down to the 8th grade student council.
Here’s hoping. He might actually be right here, as the Republican base is increasingly radical and the grassroots organizations are increasingly uncontrolled. Of course, if that WN transformation actually happened, why would such a movement respect or even care about those elections? Ultimately, the only thing that safeguards Wise’s vision is the conservative movement itself, the original Great White Hope, the idea that we can vote our country back and never have to leave the open bar.
I was at that bar the other night too. I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t fun or that I didn’t enjoy it. That said, it was a weekend with a girl you know is leaving next week, or one last party with your fraternity before you graduate college. The conservative movement’s promise of meaningful victory will look less likely with each election cycle. Luckily, that turning point will come when there is still a large and cohesive group that is capable of doing something about it, unless the conservative movement manages to convince them to win yet another one for the Gipper.
One more bender. Then it’s time to grow up.