March 14, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Genuine Conservatism, the Millennials, and Our Future: Paul Gottfried Writes
Oftentimes I save or bookmark an essay I read online for future use and reference. The authors I find who are currently writing some of the best commentary in the United States include Paul Gottfried, Pat Buchanan, Christopher De Groot, Jack Kerwick, Ilana Mercer, Clyde Wilson, the Kennedy brothers (Ron and Donnie), “The Dissident Mama,” Philip Leigh, Aaron Wolf, and various others. Collectively, they have been called “Old Right.” That nebulous, catch-all term would include a spectrum ranging from defenders of Southern heritage, conservative libertarians, to political and religious traditionalists—all more or less excluded from what can be termed mainstream or “establishment conservatism.”
Unfortunately, the excellent commentaries by these writers often struggle to reach a wider audience. Too often their voices are restricted to smaller online magazines or Web sites, where a few hundred readers is considered a “success.”
None of these authors is what we might call an “establishment conservative,” none of them occupy an exalted podium like, say, vaunted Neoconservative voices Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, Tammy Bruce, or Guy Benson, who appear on Fox and whose columns gain hundreds of thousands of viewers and readers. Indeed, “establishment conservatives” habitually block access for those Old Right writers, whose acute critiques not only of contemporary American society but also of the failures of the modern conservative movement threaten the political position and hegemony of the establishment.
Between Old Right conservatives and the Neoconservatives there are significant differences.
While the dominant Neocons more or less have made their peace with the overall movement away from traditional morality (e.g. same sex marriage is now considered by many of them as “normative”) and generally accept the progressivist narrative about race and sex in American life, the Old Right defends traditional moral laws and standards.
While the Neocon leaders of “establishment conservatism” are zealous globalists and favor American intervention in foreign conflicts in the name of “spreading democracy and equality,” Old Right conservatives are far less inclined to commit American boys in conflicts in Burkina Faso or South Sudan which are not directly related to essential American interests.
While Neoconservatives support the imperatives of international capitalism (including a penchant for immigration), even if that means the destruction of native American industries and the impoverishment of American workers and farmers, the Old Right places American citizens and workers first and demands that “America first” dictate economic policy.
Deeply embedded in the Neoconservative narrative is a view of American history and culture that posits backwards, ahistorically, a vision of this nation based on a progressivist template of evolving and advancing “equality.” All of American history for them is a chronicle of that progress, and, thus, the War Between the States becomes a major conflict to “advance equality” by freeing the slaves; the women’s suffrage movement was an effort to “advance equality” by liberating women and giving them a “right to vote,” foreshadowing modern feminism; the “civil rights” movement of the 1960s (culminating in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts) was one more step in that salutary process to bring full equality to all; and, finally, the embrace of “gender equality” (now accepted by many establishment conservatives—just tune in Fox most any night) is the latest conquest in this struggle to accomplish the original goal which, say the Neocons, the Founders and Framers declared to be the quintessential “proposition” of the new American nation.
That narrative, says the Old Right, is faulty, dangerously so, and based on a tendentious and wrongheaded understanding of American history, reading back into the Founding and in subsequent events an erroneous ideological framework to support present political positions. America--the American republic--was not founded on an "idea," but on the reality of families and individual states, each with its own history and heritage, who came together to form a national government with strictly limited authority, never intended to mount a crusade to remake the world, or, destroy those bonds of community and state sovereignty.
More ominously, the Neoconservative proposition differs only in degree from the egalitarian ideological vision held by those on the farther Left who seek to completely transform the United States; it is, in its eventual effects, only slower and a bit less extreme.
Ask the writers on the Old Right, “How can you truly oppose the forces of Leftist and Marxist revolution, if in fact you accept the same fundamental premises? Is not your supposed ‘opposition’ rendered nugatory and fatally weakened, only enabling the eventual triumph of those you say you oppose?”
Of Old Right authors Dr. Paul Gottfried, in hundreds of essays and more than a dozen books, has done as much as anyone to explore and document in depth what has happened in our contemporary society, the transformation of our culture and politics, and the failure of the modern conservative movement. I have discussed his contributions in previous installments in the MY CORNER series and passed on some of his writings.
One of his recent essays addresses what he terms “the Republicans’ Millenial problem”—the markedly leftward tendencies of Americans in their 20’s and 30’s—and he cogently disentangles that question. Policy and economic gimmicks dangled at thirty-somethings will not work, he declares. The present politics of victimology must be addressed differently. The issue is much broader and more profound; it is both cultural and educational. Until those opposing the advance to the Left actively commit to complete educational reform (and that means fumigating and re-structuring academia) and actually engage in the “culture war” on every level, the “problem” will remain, festering, and continue to hatch unhinged revolutionaries intent on extinguishing not just the American republic, but those of us who inhabit it.
I pass on Paul’s essay:
The Republicans’ Millennial Problem
It's going to take more than policy gimmicks to compete with the growing allure of victimology.
In a recent article at TAC, writer Alex Muresianu the difficulties that lie ahead for the GOP as it seeks to capture a larger chunk of the Millennial vote.
In the 2018 elections, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for Democrats in House races by a margin of 35 points. Tellingly, Millennials who attended college were more likely to vote Democrat than those who didn’t. As a retired professor, I can attest to the immersion in leftist ideas that a college education, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, brings with it. But however we look at the demographic under consideration, the disparity in voting preferences cited by Muresianu remains quite noticeable.
Muresianu proposes that Republicans endeavor to reduce “income inequality” in part by making it easier to live in urban areas. Because of controls on who can build what in certain cities, which are invariably run by Democratic administrations, Millennials, who concentrate in those cities, are paying more for housing and rentals than they otherwise would. If more abundant and cheaper housing were available, those urban residents might reward the Republicans who helped bring this about by changing their party affiliations.
Pardon my skepticism. For one, people tend to make their electoral choices for cultural and sociological—not just material—reasons. Further, it seems unlikely that policies, even ones as popular as affordable urban housing, can shake political loyalties that run so deep.
Let’s look at non-economic factors. Black voters are not rushing to embrace Donald Trump because he improved their employment prospects (unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2006). As a bloc, black voters loathe the president and prefer Democrats who—though they might not be much help financially—still appeal to their view of themselves as an oppressed minority.
Democrats play up race and gender because it works as an electoral magnet. Muresianu and I may not like this situation (personally I detest it). But it is nonetheless a winning strategy. Millennials vote for the Left because they have been conditioned to do so by social media, educational institutions, and their peers. They are not likely to be turned away by a policy gimmick—one that could only be implemented, by the way, if Republicans capture municipal governments, a prize that the GOP will not likely be winning in the near future. (The bane of the GOP, Bill de Blasio of New York City, won in his last mayoral race.)
This doesn’t necessarily hold in Europe, where some young people are more inclined to vote for the Right than they are here. In France, the Rassemblement National [Marine Le Pen] is among Millennials; a similar trend can be seen at work among populist Right parties in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, the favorite political party is the very far Right (I don’t use this term lightly) Jobbik Party. But there are also variables at work in Europe that have helped make the young more conservative: less urbanization in some countries than is the case here, a high degree of ethnic and racial homogeneity, and the persistence of traditional family and gender relations are all factors that counteract the cultural-political radicalization of young adults.
In the U.S., we may have reached a perfect storm for this radicalization, because very few of the countervailing forces that continue to operate in other societies are present here. This is not to even mention the giveaway programs (masquerading as “socialism”) that the Democrats have promised the young. How can Republicans match such largesse?
Moreover, a growing percentage of Millennial voters are multiracial and generally tend toward the Left. indicates that no more than 55 percent of those between 18 and 34 are white. It is hard to imagine that these non-white young voters, who are now solidly on the Left, will embrace Republican politicians because they promise to free up the urban rental and real estate markets.
Political and cultural loyalties may change among some Millennials but not because of the attraction of deregulation (except possibly for marijuana). These loyalties will change as certain groups within the leftist front start fighting each other. Why should straight white males continue to make common cause with black nationalists, feminists, and LGBT activists? Why should poor blacks go on supporting indefinitely the policy of rich leftist elites advocating virtually open borders? Being flooded with unskilled labor from other countries certainly doesn’t help the job situation in black communities.
The politics of victimology does have its limits and at some point may show wear. Hatred of white male Christian heterosexuals cannot keep a coalition going forever, particularly when this alliance of self-described victims reveals sharply competing interests and sensibilities. Of course, the Left’s coalition will not fall apart in the short run. But if some Millennials do eventually move towards the Right, what will draw them will not be the promise of cheaper lodgings. Something more dramatic will have to happen.
Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently .