This last tactic is probably the most common and certainly the way that the Conservative Inc. has evaded the immigration issue in the past. Republican candidates now at least feel the need to pledge rhetorical support for border security when they are up for re-election. But many Conservatism Inc. operatives seem genuinely not to have thought about the immigration issue and certainly don’t consider it very important. For Conservatism Inc.’s institutions and hacks, immigration is only one issue, far behind things like bombing Iran (or allying with them these days) or pushing for capital gains taxes.
What’s worse, some Conservatism Inc. operatives, and almost all the rising libertarians within the conservative movement, feel allowed to attack even rhetorical support for border security.
As an example, despite Brat being an Ayn Rand-loving economics professor, Students for Liberty attacked him with its usual lack of self-awareness, bemoaning his “dogmatism.” SFL says Brat’s victory is “hardly a win for libertarianism” because Brat defends border security, which is “unsympathetic to humanity and illogical to economic processes.” [A Libertarian Response to Eric Cantor’s Defeat, Kelly Barber quoting Suzanne Schaefer, June 12, 2014]
As always nowadays with Establishment libertarians, cultural leftism comes first. But none of this will keep Students for Liberty from having trouble being invited to CPAC, while immigration patriots will be ruthlessly excluded.
What these means: border security’s fate is tied to a host of distracting, unpopular, or even stupid issues. Immigration patriots often have no choice except to vote Republican, meaning that immigration reform is solely associated with the Stupid Party. Immigration patriotism thus ends up reinforcing the Beltway Right, while the Beltway Right either does nothing that actually secures the country or even makes things worse.
But Brat’s victory could be the beginning of a transformation. Ironically, it was the liberal economist Paul Krugman who accurately identified what is happening in the New York Times.
Krugman crudely but effectively caricatures “movement conservatism” as
…an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists.
By rejecting Mr. Cantor, the Republican base showed that it has gotten wise to the electoral bait and switch, and, by his fall, Mr. Cantor showed that the support network can no longer guarantee job security. For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more. .
[The Fix Isn’t In, June 12, 2014. VDARE.com links added]
Of course, Krugman doesn’t actually want the GOP serving the interests of its constituents – he concludes that an “ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.” And he is wrong when he identifies the new focus as “social issues.”
Professional homosexual faux conservative Andrew Sullivan is closer to the mark when he cautions his fellow members of the parasitic chattering class to understand that we are living in a “powerfully populist moment.” He writes,
The economy is failing to help middle- and working-class people make headway, while the wealthiest are living higher on the hog than since the days of robber barons…And the ace card for the populist right, rather than the populist left, is immigration.Again, Sullivan, like Krugman, is more concerned about keeping the rubes in line than actually helping them. However, he does fret that if even a “dorky populist” like David Brat can capitalize on public resentment against K Street, Wall Street, and the Open Borders Establishment, a “gifted demagogue” like Texas Senator Ted Cruz could wreak havoc.
[Don’t Under-Estimate the Power of Right-Wing Populism, The Dish, June 11, 2014. Emphasis added.]
Unlike Sullivan, Krugman, and the rest of the MSM gatekeepers, immigration patriots can be forgiven for thinking that a populist movement is an opportunity to be welcomed, rather than a problem to be managed.
But there is danger as well as opportunity. The Republican Party has mastered the art of fueling patriotic resentment into dead ends. Thus conservative-leaning journalist Ron Fournier, for example, says Cantor’s defeat was about a new “populism” centered around
…a pullback from the rest of the world…a desire to go after big banks and other large financial institutions, elimination of corporate welfare, reducing special deals for the rich, pushing back on the violation of the public’s privacy, and reducing the size of government.Immigration is not even mentioned.
[Elite Beware: Eric Cantor’s Defeat May Signal a Populist Revolution, National Journal, June 11, 2014]
Andrew Sullivan notes one possible Presidential candidate who could take advantage of all of this – Treason Lobby truckler Senator Rand Paul, who has now almost totally erased the memory of his father’s brief glimmer of immigration patriotism. [Don’t Under-Estimate The Power of Right Wing Populism, Ctd., June 12, 2014] If that indeed happens, the result would be predictable – business as usual for the Beltway Right, with the rubes fooled once again by Paul’s libertarian rhetoric, and Leftist reporters reassured that we won’t get “ugly” politics that actually address the interests of the historic American nation.
The importance of political movements is not what they actually say, but what they can lead to. More Tea Party faux populism or Rand Paul PC Libertarianism will just lead to the same dead end. What is needed is a figure who will seize this populist moment – either out of conviction or opportunism – and turn it into a National Conservative movement. This means placing income inequality, hostility to the financial and political establishment, and above all, immigration at the center of a campaign.
Even if a politician like Ted Cruz capitalizes on these issues for cynical reasons, it could break away an entire generation of conservatives from the mindless orthodoxies that have led the Republican Party to disaster. It could lead to a genuine patriotic movement.
Brat has shown the opportunity is there. Leftist reporters are sounding the alarm. The opportunity is there. Will anyone seize it?
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.