Paleoconservatism and the War for the Soul of the Republican Party | Will Rivera

Conservatism in the USA currently sits at an ideological and philosophical crossroad marked by growing friction between it’s two most prominent factions. On one side is the party’s social conservative wing, sometimes styling themselves as “paleoconservatives” while on the other is the small-gov Republican old guard of the Reagan era. Whilst representing an older and more traditional form of conservatism, social conservatism has seen surprising success among young, tech-savvy Gen Z. Such a movement represents a growing threat to a Republican establishment that is frankly out of energy and out of ideas. The GOP is struggling to drum up support for low taxes and trade globalisation in an era of wealth inequality and identitarian tension. Contrastingly, the insurgent paleocons are seeing nightly viewing figures in the tens of thousands, despite being pushed onto obscure platforms. Some of these insurgents have come to lead American political discourse, such as Tucker Carlson. While not personally and explicitly associating himself with any particular ideology, he certainly represents conservative opposition to the GOP and has been identified alongside the paleoconservative cause by commentators. His show draws the attention of millions including, reportedly, the President himself.

The US is losing faith in neoconservative politicians who seem to act only in the interests of their donors. Working class Americans are left in the grip of the opioid crisis while their manufacturing jobs are exported to sweatshops. Similarly, the neocon establishment appears to be doing nothing to tackle the rising tide of immigration that is poised to, if not sink the ship, then certainly rock the boat. Mass immigration has strangled wage growth and is mutating American culture into something that is close to no longer being able to claim descent from the America of the past. 

Paleoconservatives warn their detractors in the Republican party of the coming Electoral Winter if mass immigration continues. This is an inconvenient truth for the Republican party, but the truth it remains. Community voting patterns reveal that Democrat control will be brought about by demographic change and possibly entrenched for generations if nothing is done. The America that will result from this will be a shadow of its former self, with minimal ancestral or cultural links to its past traditions and customs. The USA will be transformed into something unrecognisable to the Lockean vision of liberty and equity envisioned by the founding fathers over 200 years ago. These inconvenient truths on immigration, foreign policy, social policy (including morality) and crime have seen them chased from conventional online platforms to alternative but growing streaming services, which they now dominate. Despite all attempts to see them ground into obscurity, paleoconservatism endures, offering clear and unapologetic answers to the problems of today. At its heart are the principles of Christianity, nationalism, paternalism and anti-interventionism. Each one of these principles in some way provides an outlet to address the concerns of traditionally-minded Americans across all wealth and age brackets. 

The most prominent paleoconservatives are young and well read, with lots of their support coming from ‘zoomers’ (Gen Z). Being well versed in technology has meant that the large news networks have less of a hold over the minds of zoomers then perhaps they had with generations in the past. In addition, Donald Trump has waged a bloody information war with cable news, referring to them as the “mainstream media”. The mainstream media appears to have retaliated with a campaign of poor late-night comedy shows, shoddy hit pieces, as well as obsessive and misleading coverage, a strategy which has done them no favours with the general public. This plays into the hands of the rising paleocons, who are ahead of the game in their exploration of alternative media platforms. They set themselves apart through satire and a rejection of self-censorship while still maintaining a serious and (mostly!) professional veneer that can only be performed on alternative media platforms, due to the platforms’ ardent support for free speech. 

The zoomer support enjoyed by paleocons extends across the internet thanks to their decision to inhabit the spaces that are used by young people and the tech savvy. Many run gaming streams on sites with large user bases of young men. This strategy has been so successful it has reached the point that on all of the alternative platforms that these ideological insurgents operate on, they dominate and top the charts for subscribers. Widespread use of the internet has been something largely neglected by centralised political movements save for Momentum in the UK. While the right claims supremacy over ‘meme culture’ on 4chan and Reddit, there was no organisation until the advent of paleocon channels outside of youtube. This offers fresh opportunities for reaching interested minds that the GOP has made little effort to reach. 

So, who are the key figures of this new conservative insurgency today? Currently there are two key figures that many will point to as the pillars of modern American paleoconservatism. These are Tucker Carlson and Nicholas J. Fuentes. Both of these figures have highly effective core messages but first I shall discuss Mr Fuentes, as he falls within the archetype that I discussed above. His modus operandi is both highly controversial but also ruthlessly effective. One of, if not the biggest streamer on DLive, his streams often garner higher numbers than MSM programmes, such as his coverage of the recent Democrat National Convention, while he also runs a popular podcast called America First. Some estimates placed his viewer count for the DNC at double that of ABC and NBC news’ own streams. The support Mr Fuentes enjoys is palpable, and put Mr Kirk on the spot, calling out areas he compromised in his ideology and where permitted the overton window to shift towards the left – ceding political ground to progressives. This, in Mr Fuentes’ eyes is the opposite of conservatism, as Mr Kirk allowed crucial areas of his ideology to be diluted to seem more palatable to leftists, who Mr Fuentes believes do not care for compromise and hate Mr Kirk nonetheless. As such, paleoconservatives expressed their satisfaction and vindication when Mr Kirk and many other of his Turning Point USA (TPUSA) allies shifted right in their rhetoric following the widespread riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd. 

The continued growth of the paleocon movement across the internet that has spilled into real world activism suggests that the conflict between neocons and paleocons is set to come into motion this decade, between the increasingly socially liberal GOP and the unapologetically nationalist, socially conservative and offensive paleocons. The failures of the Republican old guard are telling and they are unable to notice the time bomb that is the demographics in the USA, which the paleocons are eager to capitalise upon and bring to the fore of discussions. Many Republicans, such as Ben Shapiro live in denial about the threat that is demographics in the USA. Make no mistake, I do not mean to say that foreign peoples should not exist and live within the USA, more so that their numbers must be regulated in order to protect the culture and institutions that the USA has meticulously cared for, for so long. The American people fundamentally yearn for paleocon policies, particularly on immigration, this can be seen in President Donald Trump’s campaign where his most successful policies including the border wall, mass deportations of criminal illegals, control of political correctness and the return of blue collar jobs to the USA caught the fantasy and adoration of the forgotten voter bases in the Midwest, Rust Belt and South. With participation in American democracy so low, these voters gave Trump an unexpected voter injection that carried him to victory in November 2016. Despite this, Mr Trump has failed to adequately provide on many of these campaign promises. These failures are often blamed on the neocons in his cabinet such as Jared Kushner who has pacified and moderated much of Mr Trump’s policy making.

Mr Trump has failed to adequately deliver on the border wall and wasted his chance to capitalise on the surge of support at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. This was compounded by his flimsy response to the BLM riots and violence, while many Republicans who supposedly take great pride in ‘owning the libs’ sat by as statues and monuments were defaced and destroyed. Little has been done to combat social media censorship either, Mr Trump’s reelection stressed dealing with so-called Big Tech less than some Democrat Primary campaigns, most notably that of Senator Elizabeth Warren who aimed to break up these disproportionately powerful corporations. The entirely lackluster and feeble response has instead catapulted another paleoconservative into the forefront of American politics, Tucker Carlson. 

Amid the panicked GOP and establishment response to the BLM riots, Mr Carlson offered a welcome bulwark against the crazed progressive rhetoric. Advocating for a move towards law and order, while criticising the insufficient action taken by Mr Trump and aiming to expose the true goals of BLM, which he believes go further than racial justice, Mr Carlson’s show has become the highest rated and most watched show in American cable news. The numbers don’t lie, the American people crave stability and order that paleoconservatism can provide. This is a winning formula, as proven by President Richard Nixon’s 1972 landslide amid race riots. Had Mr Trump adopted the paleoconservative rhetoric and policies, whilst jettisoning the neoconservatives, he would likely be in a stronger position by now. Such is Mr Carlson’s popularity, charisma and debating acumen, that there are murmurings he would make a perfect candidate for 2024.

Similarly, the Republicans must pivot on immigration. This issue is at the forefront of the peoples’ mind according to a poll taken by Gallup while there was also strong support for Trump’s temporary immigration moratorium. Without decisive action on unfettered immigration soon, the USA is set to become majority minority by the middle of the century which spells certain death for American conservatism; support for the Republican party in its present neocon manifestation is low enough already with minority groups, even despite Mr Trump’s numerous platitudes to black and minority voters that he has done “much more for minorities” than President Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the stats don’t reciprocate the GOP’s desire to be recognised by minorities. Even with unprecedented support among minorities for Mr Trump (which is certainly to be welcomed), the Republicans will not have enough support for them to maintain social conservatism at a competitive standard in presidential elections as the Hispanic proportion of the population is set to explode and eclipse the white proportion. Only paleoconservatism’s bold and assertive immigration plans can reverse this and preserve the traditional American culture and therefore the Republican Party’s voter base, as the establishment conservatives have proven they are unwilling to vote against reducing immigration. The failures in the establishment’s immigrations plans are made all the more apparent when one realises that they in fact often take measures to actively support it, from TPUSA’s endorsement of green cards with degrees to the endorsement of massive immigration programmes such as the H-1B, notably supported by Congressman Dan Crenshaw. The GOP’s establishment also lacks nerve and does not recognise the progressives and radical leftists for the threat that they are. With progressives dominating the media, they have been able to whip up riots and outrage while the right sits by and tries to debate their arguments, even while operating within the grand narrative of the left’s theories of racial injustice. These narratives make it impossible for conservatives to deal with the ideological threat that the left represents, so the tidal wave of ‘facts and logic’ that the Alt-Light was so fond of no longer cuts it when dealing with progressives. Paleoconservatives ignore the need to virtue signal and genuflect before minority groups, instead they focus on the pressing matters felt by the working class and traditionally minded Americans which still composes a significant enough voter block for them to win elections. With support from minority groups so low and their image constantly vilified by the media, the empty words of establishment conservatives, epitomised in some of the 2020 RNC speeches fall on deaf ears, while those speeches by ordinary people resonate across America.

Looking at the ideological enemies of conservatism; progressives and BLM, one can see that they do not act in the interest of the groups they claim to represent. If they did, they would have called for a stop to the violent protests when they began to burn cities and destroy honest, black owned businesses. Instead they are malicious, anti-capitalist and anti-American groups whose aim is to undermine the fabric of the US. These include the nuclear family, Anglo-Saxon individualism, capitalism, the Constitution and the integrity of the participating States. The GOP has failed to grasp this at every level while they take no action to prevent the shift of the overton window or stop the progressive agenda from being spread through the education system. The latest Call Of Duty trailer could not have come at a better time, as the voice of Yuri Bezmenov chillingly reminds us – ‘you are in a state of war’. This is an ideological war that the GOP cannot win without the fervent and enthusiastic support of paleocons, who are unafraid to lead the charge and openly resist the machinations and narratives of the progressives. 

Mr Fuentes, Mr Carlson, the other paleoconservatives and social conservative movements in the USA have a growing brand that may not be palatable to many in the political climate and current mode of discourse but they buck the trend of operating within the left’s narrative. They refuse to participate within the language games of the left and the accusation of racism bears no power against them, as they recognise it as the tool of suppression it has become. Avoiding this narrative makes the paleoconservative immune to the web that otherwise strangles the mainstream conservatives and offers a dynamic, fresh take on a time tested ideology that developed the most powerful nation in history.

Picture Credit.

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