I’m a pessimist and consequently never disappointed. But I am also hopeful — not optimistic, but I do see the possibility of good things.
Yesterday, I figured I should start back from vacation by telling you what has been building up inside. Roughly twenty-four people canceled their subscriptions as a result and almost to a person they were upset by my views on the President — views I have not wavered from even if I might vote for him, though I’m pretty sure the GOP is sunk unless something dramatic changes soon.
Some people only what to hear the things that they already believe and cannot confront other possibilities. I get it. In 2015, when I uninvited Trump from my RedState Gathering after his statement about Megyn Kelly, not only did I largely spent the rest of my time at Fox off-screen, but within 48 hours of standing up to Trump I saw about 75,000 people unsubscribe from the daily email I was then sending.
I am familiar with people who cannot tolerate disagreement and who define their friendships not by common ground, but by the uniformity of opinion.
But I am hopeful for conservativism and the GOP. You should be too. Consider who looms on the horizon for 2024 and beyond.
Tom Cotton — one of the most articulate spokesmen for a robust American military and foreign policy, Cotton was out front warning about China and the virus. In fact, the media mischaracterized and maligned Cotton for pointing out the Wuhan virus could have originated in a Chinese lab. Cotton never claimed it was manufactured or intentional, but the press claimed he said as much. Since then, the consensus has moved to Cotton’s position and to Cotton’s vocal opposition to Chinese human rights abuses. He has been a staunch opponent of immigration expansion and decriminalization. Libertarians are not fans of his, but his law and order approach seems smart in the current climate. He’s also a really good guy who is positioning himself as a foreign policy leader on the right.
Ron DeSantis — more people have died from COVID-19 in New York than in Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, and Georgia combined, but you’d never know that the way the media is singularly fixated on Ron DeSantis. But DeSantis has largely been a competent leader and was one of the first governors in the nation to recognize the threat to nursing homes from the virus. While Cuomo in New York was complicit in the mass killing of senior citizens, DeSantis was proactively shutting down all access to nursing homes to protect the elderly. He ran as the Trump guy, but has been a decidedly more nuanced and business-friendly governor.
Doug Ducey — like with DeSantis, if Ducey had a “D” next to his name, he’d be less hated in the press over the virus. The fact is, Ducey is one of the best governors in America. He is exceedingly pro-business, but also very much in favor of ending license monopolies that have restricted people from occupational licenses and careers. A lot of formerly poor people in Arizona are making good money thanks to Ducey’s efforts at deregulation.
Nikki Haley — she’s a friend and I’m a fan. She helped her state heal after the mass murder in Charleston and she built a Republican coalition to take down the confederate flag. In the Trump Administration, she stayed in New York, served as a strong and aggressive UN Ambassador, and never caused embarrassment for the President. Since leaving her post, she has worked quietly behind the scenes on a host of issues and it has been interesting not just watching her acquire talent to help her political group, but also cultivating new voices and talent for the future of the GOP. Also, she actually has a record of caring about debt, deficits, and spending.
Josh Hawley — I am personally very intrigued by Josh Hawley. We don’t agree on everything. He’s taken a shot at me on Twitter. But I think this guy is one of the deep thinkers on the right at the moment and I’ve moved in his direction on social media issues. Missouri has a habit of fusing populism to ideology, most notably Dick Gephardt’s populist-progressive mix. But the GOP has always been more effective at it when blending populism with conservatism. See e.g. Ronald Reagan. Hawley seems to be thinking deeply about how to blend them with a Missouri sensibility and he, like Cotton, is getting really vocal on China, which is good.
Mike Pence — again, I’m a friend and fan. He has been loyal to the President and suffered all sorts of criticism for daring to be loyal. But in an age of personal aggrandizement, the man has to be the most dependable and capable Vice President we have seen in some time. He’s got a great heart and he philosophically understands conservativism. When I was first starting out at RedState, I got a package in the mail. It was a copy of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Inside was a note from then-Congressman Pence — “If you’re going to be a conservative leader, be sure what you believe.” The man is absolutely grounded.
David Perdue — Perdue is older than the others, but is one of the loudest voices on the national stage right now about the debt and deficit. He also has a background as a CEO of major companies while having some middle Georgia grounding as the son of public school teachers. Like Hawley, Perdue has a populist streak, and should he win re-election in Georgia he is going to be someone to contend with on a host of issues.
Tim Scott — the man is leaving the Senate when his term ends, but I’m with this guy. He gets it. Tim Scott’s vision of America is the one every Republican should embrace. If I were him, I think I’d get tired of being the conscience of the party of race issues. But Scott has owned the role and provides a wonderful, passionate voice on opportunity and fairness. I want to be on this guy’s team. He’s one of the few people who actually almost drags me over to optimism.
Then there are the others. I did not list those who ran for President in 2016. But they’re still there. Cruz, Jindal, Rubio, etc. combined with Mike Lee, Ben Sasse, and others. I don’t agree with all of them, but consider many of them friends. I know there are others I’m forgetting and this list is not intended to be comprehensive, just encouraging. There’s hope.
These people, like you and I, are wading through the current times as best they can and we should grant some level of grace to each as they all figure it out like ourselves. That they are there with more up and coming voices on the right within state legislatures and elsewhere does give me hope.
Conservativism, not just the GOP, has a bench that can withstand whatever happens in 2020.
You now know my absolutely candid and brutal thoughts about this year. You also now know why I still have hope for the future of an intellectual movement that has, contrary to those who claim otherwise, provided the muscle and mind to defend the founding of our nation, our (mostly) free market system, and our families. A lot of people these days like to ask what conservatism has conserved. This nation, that’s what it has conserved. Conservatism doesn’t mean nothing ever changes. But it does mean we hold fast to things that count. Progressives may seem set to sweep over the nation, but the people of the country will react badly to that. They always do.
If President Trump does lose in November (and it seems likely unless something happens to shake up his campaign and give it focus) it will be a brutal wandering in the wilderness and a lot of people will squabble and pick through the rubble. But there are some bright lights out there.