The Nationalist House Divided – The American Conservative
Republicans are on the rise, and what they’ll do with renewed power is jump ball, with behind-the-scenes intrigue galore.
WEST HOLLYWOOD—There was quite a show going on in Washington to read about it.
“Trump Conservatives” cobbled together an “emergency meeting,” reported my old boss, Jacob Heilbrunn, in Politically. Taken out of the American political context, the maneuver sounded like a panicked, bureaucratic gathering from Mother Russia – given the message, which was certainly our author’s intention. But it turned out that he was telegraphing from none other than the symposium convened by that journal and others.
As this author has moved west, it seems as if the world has incessantly been carried back east, with the blind prospect of the Iraq war on offer for the Democrats. Heilbrunn’s reportage is colorful (on stamp). The American Conservative Co-editor Sohrab Ahmari, Lecturer at Hillsdale College and Claremont Institute Bigwig, Michael Anton, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and others in attendance were “realistic kings” (Romanovs?) “Why didn’t we bring our troops home from Europe ? These are the questions managers should ask themselves.”
Surely, for now, this is nothing more than American headline black ball stuff (harder to come by than ketamine) anyway. Anyone who gets on an Uber on Hollywood Boulevard (or Hagerstown), whose mask requirement still applies due to an unexplained virus from China, only has to believe the “adults” who are now mercifully ruling Washington again.
Of course, when President Biden is at a low ebb and middle-class Joe is now plausibly at the end of the road, actual Americans will disagree. The magicians in the White House cooked up a stinging war fever, but – somehow surprisingly – it wasn’t enough to move the needle. Biden is facing re-election, losing 40.8 percent on Real Clear Politics trackers and “at the lowest point of his presidency,” according to NBC. The best case you can make for Biden’s men is that the Russophobia was a tourniquet hard period during which the bleeding was mostly stopped (those stats look similar enough to Invasion Eve).
So the subtext to any Trump or “Trumpist” Tocqueville treatment is threefold: the writer’s Georgetown set should be scared; the topic is interesting; and these guys might actually be close enough to where “Real Americans” are.
What this piece doesn’t add (and it adds a lot) is that there isn’t one “Trumpist” wing or nationalist wing (that will outlive the man), but three.
They have the “Prime Boxes” – these are hawkish on both Russia and China. Included in this set are former Trump administration officials and plausible future Presidents Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, as well as old-school conservative policy shops like the Heritage Foundation and particularly the Hudson Institute.
But then there are the “prioritizers” – realists on Russia and more combative on China. Examples: Tucker Carlson, defense expert Elbridge Colby, Steve Bannon, and (rhetorically, at least) Donald Trump himself. This was the grounding influence of the Up From Chaos conference hosted by TAC and American Moment.
Attention, however, is focused on the “post-liberals” whose hearts are not really in either struggle, a camp most clearly represented by Ahmari at the conference. Although the post-liberals are now colleagues with prioritizers and primacists against Russia fever, there will be disagreements in the inevitable battle with Beijing.
Orbiting the solar system are the curious libertarians – well represented in the Washington confab – who, it should be said, are rock-solid voices for the nationalist perspective in Congress at the moment when it comes to anything stemming the tide of war. Of course, others in their herd are wondering Who could ever resist a more atomized society? That definitely rules.
For now, however, American nationalism is a divided house when it comes to foreign policy. It looks like it’s also a house that will win again.