Conservatism Is Dead

From the Journal of American Greatness:

I’m afraid we were too easy on Kevin Williamson. It’s not just his punditry that’s of low character. Kevin insists in baring his id to the world and it’s not pretty.

He’s so inordinately proud of himself for having risen above his hardscrabble beginnings (or at least environment, since he doesn’t reveal much about his personal circumstances beyond where he grew up) that he dismisses as losers everyone who hasn’t managed to become an NR pundit. “Losers,” hmmm—where have we heard that before? Must be a coincidence.

There is a higher purpose to Williamson’s splenetic garbage, however. Can their now be any doubt that the Republican establishment and its intellectual court jesters despise the people they ostensibly exist to represent and serve? Williamson’s message to the white working class is, literally, you “deserve to die.” That’s a vote-getter for sure!

Lest Williamson accuse us of quoting him out of context, we acknowledge that he qualifies his death wishes with a reference to “communities.” But what’s the difference? A people is at least party defined by where and how they live. Williamson’s glib order to get in a U-Haul and leave behind all they’ve ever known—and presumably still love—takes let-them-eat-cake to a new level. When the Davoisie—with Williamson’s eager assistance—is finally done hollowing out every middle class community in America, to where does Williamson suggest the American people U-Haul?

Aside from Williamson’s sneering contempt—which rises mellifluously from every word and appears to be the only device in his rhetorical bag of tricks—several things are notable about the piece. First, wasn’t it only a month ago that NR’s editor—presumably the same one who approved this disgraceful screed—wrote that the Republican Party needs to reach out to the working class and embrace at least a moderate level of populism? At the time, we found that too little, too late and reminiscent of a deathbed conversion. That initial reaction has now been completely vindicated. As we suspected, it was all a put-on—an ass-covering lie.

Second, Williamson—and by extension NR—unwittingly reveal their core liberalism, which is moreover liberalism of a certain kind: what fired-former-NR-writer John Derbyshire calls “white gentry liberalism.” The policy prescriptions of white gentry libs and their doppelgangers on the “right” may differ. But that hardly matters since to both, policy is secondary to virtue signaling, which appears to be the real point of Williamson’s piece. He seems ashamed of his origins and wants to rub in the faces of those who didn’t—like him—manage to rise above them that he’s their superior. Adding “führer” to the title, which at this point ought to embarrassingly disqualify any piece not actually about an actual Nazi, is dog-whistling to the left that Williamson and NR’s editors have more in common with Central Park West than with the white trash Republican base.

Speaking of Derbyshire, remember the essay that got him fired (published, we note, not in NR but by another magazine)? Whatever one thinks of it, Derb did not say that blacks’ problems were 100% their fault nor that they “deserve to die.” Yet when Williamson says that about whites, not only is he not fired, he gets prime real estate in NR itself plus a plug on the cover.

And speaking of policy, remember Williamson’s piece about Detroit? In that one, he attributed the Motor City’s every pathology to its refusal to embrace Williamson’s own doctrinaire libertarianism. Lack of virtue or even bad habits among the people—could those possibly play a role? Nah. But in this latest, Williamson insists that the problems of the white working class have absolutely nothing to do with policy and are wholly the result of their own failures. Gee, I wonder what the difference could be that causes a lib like Williamson to diagnose causation so differently for what—at least outwardly—seem like similar symptoms? (But only “seem”: compare the crime rate for Beattyville, KY—the poorest town in Appalachia—with Detroit’s).

Williamson recently spent some time in Silicon Valley, where he naturally (finally!) felt at home among so many other übermenchen of his own caliber. Palo Alto sure is a long way from Lubbock! But true to form, he doesn’t understand Northern California at all. The “capitalists” he tongue-bathes are statist, rent-seeking oligarchs who view the likes of him with even greater contempt than he views his old high school classmates and their families.

Williamson did unwittingly make a case for deserved—swift, unmerciful—death. But not for his intended target. It is rather Williamson’s brand of “conservatism,” NR and—if it continues on its current path—the Republican Party that deserve to die. Certainly, they’re well on the way to “conservative” Valhalla (where every night is November 4th, 1980, every keynoter Jack Kemp, and every meal rib-eye and Freedom Fries). If this wretched revelation of the hatred for the American people at the heart of Conservatism, Inc. doesn’t finish them off, we have to wonder what will?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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