Is the New Right Just the Old Left? (RICHARD M. REINSCH II, NOVEMBER 28, 2023, Religion & Liberty)

The 2014 and 2016 federal elections were the last real successes for the Republican Party. Since then, we’ve had a party increasingly defining itself as a populist/workers’/nationalist party. The GOP traded support in prosperous suburbs in much of the country for lopsided margins in rural areas, whose voter turnout is lower and less certain. It hasn’t been an even electoral trade thus far. Gains with Latino voters in Florida, Texas, and other states have also occurred. The authors of this volume, as is the measure of the New Right generally, refuse to consider what it means that Republicans on a national level have lost or underperformed in every election post 2016, the election that turned the party in favor of the New Right.

Before this the Republicans won and kept control of the House and Senate with regularity since 1994. Charles Cooke observes that “since the Republican takeover of 1994, the party has controlled the House for 20 years out of a possible 28 (that’s 71 percent of the time), and the Senate for 16 years (that’s 57 percent of the time). This was not a party that had trouble winning elections.” So losing elections, at least, is something the New Right does better than what this volume terms the “establishment Right.”

But those former victories, we are told, were the days of moral weakness, cowardice, and establishment sellouts. Milikh informs us that “much of the decay we are experiencing originated in the Right’s own ideas, its failure to grasp the nature of the Left, and to arrest the latter’s growth.” The Republican Party won elections but refused to govern well. It declined to engage progressivism in hand-to-hand combat. The problem wasn’t just “intellectual error” but also “fear of the Left, combined with underlying belief in the Left’s moral superiority.” In short, as New Right initiates and their leaders inform us, they didn’t know what time it is. But as Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot recently retorted, the point is not to know what time it is but rather to determine what time you want it to be.

There is something characteristic of the progressive notion that history constitutes truth in much of the New Right’s thinking. But what really matters is how you’re going to rule now. Or, as Milikh invokes, in tones evocative of a totalized, spiritualized politics, “The New Right must become the party of beauty, vitality, strength, truth, high purpose, and fierceness. It must view itself as the guardian and ruthless defender of a sacred thing: our civilization.” These words, especially the word “ruthless,” suggest something close to the noble New Pagan, situated as it is between denunciations of the Left as the enemy and the establishment Right as its gelded servant. Ruthlessness and fierceness invoke acts that are volatile, violent, without limit in pursuit of their objects. What are we to be “ruthless” about and to what measure? What limits our ruthless actions? What about “fierceness”? Do we really believe that the ends justifies the means? Is this the politics of a constitutional republic, premised on natural right, limited by law, governed through deliberation and the belief that both man and law are under God?

Heck, the New Right is just the Old Right. They’re the same old white male paleoconservatives who were always driven by race.