The New Age of Right Wing Populism
The Final Farewell of Small Government Conservatives from American Politics
“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
What happened to the fiscally conservative, small government Republican Party of old? Growing up in the 90’s (yes, I’m only 33, I know I look older) I was taught the merits of small government approaches, and had my afternoon lectures from talk radio in my step-father’s jeep. Laura Ingram, Rush Limbaugh, Jay Severin- they served as the foundational voices that first got me interested in politics even as a child. At home I’d spend my evenings wrapped up in the fantastic stories of authors such as Terry Goodkind, Robert Heinlein, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Aldous Huxley. To this day I maintain a disdain for Ayn Rand, not because of her ideas, but for her inability to communicate them as artfully in works of fiction like Terry Goodkind was able to. My molding into first an objectivist, then a libertarian, and eventually an anarchist started from a young age for sure. Between the themes of the novels I read, and the voices of talk radio I was made to listen to, I developed a strong sense that the Government was a dangerous and overbearing entity that needed to be restrained in order to preserve the freedoms of human liberty.
Growing up, I was taught that the Republican Party represented the ideals of being fiscally conservative, respecting the rights of individuals, and restraining the government from overreach. I was taught the virtue of self reliance, and to disdain the notion of welfare and becoming a burden on society. I was taught that every dollar taken from me in taxes, would be wasted at the behest of bureaucrats who thought they new better. I was taught to never ask the government for help, because any government powerful enough to give the people all that they want is also powerful enough to take from the people all that they have.
I was taught that the proper role of government is simply to defend its people, to protect their rights from encroachment by others, and to be wary of the growth of an establishment that could become reminiscent of the horror of communism that the world had seen in Russia, China, Cambodia, and North Korea. When tyrants would seek power, they would do so with the promise of caring for those who could not care for themselves.
But sometime after 9/11, with a world newly at war, the Republican Party started to become the enemy it claimed to oppose. Never ending war. Massive domestic surveillance. Secret courts. Advertised patriotism. All in the name of protecting Americans from an intangible foreign threat that we never knew of, but were constantly taught to fear as children in the post 9/11 world.
In 2016, Politics divided the nation in a way it had never done so before. The rise of social media and the internet helped bring people together in a way never before imaginable. Yet that ease in communication led to a predictable increase in conflict. The extremes of society became amplified, as people were disowned, attacked, belittled, and demonized for disagreement on political issues. And Donald Trump was elected president in a stunning upset that showed the people of the country were tired of the status quo of establishment politics, and ready to embrace demagogues and populists to lead the nation as celebrities as opposed to policy managers.
And as we wade into the 2024 election cycle, two prominent republicans have emerged from the field of potential to seek the nomination for the GOP in the next presidential contest. In one corner we have former President Donald Trump, who’s cult of personality has little substance or policy holding it together as a cohesive movement, but rather is centered around the eccentric former president himself, and his open contempt for the political establishment, and willingness to buck the norms of civility when confronting who they see as the enemy. In the other corner, is Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, and seen by many. on the right as the current hero of the fight against the left. He’s lauded for his resistance to the COVID Lockdowns, that most conveniently forget were pushed for and happened under former President Trump’s management. He has also been a vocal and active opponent of the “woke” left in the state of Florida, leading the charge using executive authority to leverage the power of the state against his political enemies in the Disney Corporation, and propping up a new social movement reminiscent of the satanic panic of the 90’s calling for the censorship of books, and regulation of speech in academic settings.
What Trump and DeSantis have in common, is that they have both showed a willingness to expand government authority and power, and use it against their cultural and political enemies, in order to secure the victories they desire. And what the republican voter base has shown, is that this path is the way they are choosing to move forward in the new age of political conflict.
Gone are the days of republicans who would oppose the growth of government for any reason, and now is the time where right wing authoritarianism will. be given every opportunity to rise, under the guise of protecting children from a “woke” agenda. The enemy is no longer communists overseas, but gender ideologists right here at home. The enemy is the media, academia, corporations, and the political establishment. And as the pendulum swings from the left back to the right, it is the fundamental liberties of Americans that will suffer, as they trade one brand of tyranny for another.
I haven’t identified as a Republican since 2013. I registered as a Libertarian for the first time in 2016. But now, even within libertarian circles I see Ann eagerness for people to find a leader they can back, and they will often ignore all the worst parts of their chosen tyrant’s record in order to justify to themselves that they are supporting liberty by choosing a champion in the race. Whether Trump, DeSantis, Kennedy, or even Dave Smith, the reality is, that populism is winning the day, and principles no longer account for anything of meaning in federal politics.
DeSantis and Elon Musk hold a Space!
Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy the other day in a twitter space, joined by Twitter owner, and eccentric internetarian Elon Musk.
My ow takeaway from the event was the any substance, policy, or principle that DeSantis attempted to display, was overcast by his audience’s enthusiasm for a single minded focus on fighting the culture war, and holding him up as a champion to oppose the left, even if it means growing the state, and trampling not he rights of others to do so.
But, My opinions and perceptions are my own, and I did record the entire space, and have published it on YouTube unedited for you to listen to and form your own opinions about.
Note: The first 15 minutes of the space are full of technical failures, and dead air, as Elon Musk was unable to accommodate the massive interest from the denizens of the internet, and the platform kept crashing as he tried to reallocate more server capacity to the event. Skip to the 15 minute mark of this video in order to catch the town hall as it starts.
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