In a video which has amassed over 10.5 million views on Twitter, everybody’s favorite overprivileged, ethnic cleansing-supporting, snot-nosed punk, Ben Shapiro, explains why having to work two jobs to get by is a “you problem.”
For full context, Ben Shapiro was born into a well-connected, wealthy family and went to Harvard. He’s never had to struggle a day in his life. But even he knows that what he’s saying is patently absurd. For tens of millions of Americans, getting a better-paying job simply isn’t possible. Working a job which doesn’t pay nearly enough for food and shelter is virtually their only option. In the richest nation on Earth, tens of millions of Americans live lives of misery and despair, barely making enough to get by, let alone start a family. Ben dismisses this as a “you problem.” It’s important to note that Ben is an ardent defender of immigration, which drives down working-class wages even more, and supports anti-union policies which prevent workers from collectively bargaining. Near the end of the video, he claims that the market knows best and that it isn’t the government’s job to get involved. Rather than run through the million examples which thoroughly disprove this idiotic notion, let’s just take note of the fact that Ben is a strong supporter of American aid to Israel. According to Ben, intervening in the economy to improve working-class wages in an unacceptable intervention, but taking billions of dollars from American taxpayers and sending it to Israel isn’t.
This remark is a perfect representation of why conservatism as we know it is dead.
In his 1981 inaugural speech, Ronald Reagan declared “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” From then on and until very recently, this fundamentally liberal ethos was the defining factor of American “conservatism.” Republicans would occasionally put up meek resistance to the forces of social disintegration, but their real passion was for pleasing corporate interests, destroying unions and cutting funding for government programs. The ideological bases for these policies were an almost LaVeyan worship of the individual, disdain for community (best epitomized by Margaret Thatcher’s declaration that “there’s no such thing as society”) and a tendency to regard the use of state power as immoral. This liberalism was somewhat contradicted by their love of foreign military entanglements, but this found its intellectual justification in appeals to liberal ideology—battling tyranny, spreading enlightenment values and the like.
Naturally, this ideology was never really that popular among ordinary people. Freedom has a nice ring to it, but the freedom to have your labor union destroyed and go bankrupt paying for medical bills doesn’t. The post-Reagan Republican Party had to sprinkle their message with appeals to “family values,” “law and order” and “Judaeo-Christian values” in order to channel the righteous fury of White America into support for corporatism. It was a delicate balancing act; they needed these dog whistles, but relying on them too much risked raising too high expectations and whipping up a frenzy.
This all started falling apart in 2008. After the financial crisis and the election of the first black president, White America was ready to explode. Republican elites attempted to channel this anger into the anti-government, pro-corporate Tea Party movement. In the short term, this effort was somewhat successful. However, the atmosphere was different. The ferocious attacks on Obama, including claims that he was born in Kenya and therefore an illegitimate President, had significant racial undertones. Warnings about the dangers of “socialism” were clearly about something else entirely in the minds of most Republican voters. Opposition to “elites” was growing. FOX News was getting more and more aggressive. You didn’t have to be a genius to see that Glenn Beck’s popularity wasn’t a reflection of the Republican base’s enthusiasm for the free market.
The Obama era saw the rise of an angrier, more radical faction of the right. While the dam didn’t burst until Trump came down the escalator in 2015, the signs were all there. Right-wing, anti-establishment websites began to grow in popularity, particularly in Obama’s second term. Here are a few charts regarding this from Google Trends:
The dispossession of White America, the election of Obama, the financial crisis and the increasingly nihilistic and bizarre nature of 21st century culture (promotion of transgenderism to children, gay marriage, reality television, mass shootings, indie rock, etc.) created a GOP base too angry and radical to control. Attempts to meet them halfway with supposed truth-tellers like Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz only made them more angry and more radical. It should have come as absolutely no surprise when Trump won the Republican nomination on a crypto-fascist platform.
With the possible exceptions of foreign policy and trade, Trump has governed more like a typical libertarian conservative than a nationalist. In fact, despite his occasionally fiery rhetoric, he is to the left of Obama and Bill Clinton on immigration. What Trump has accomplished, however, is a fundamental transformation of the ideology of the American right. While the donor class of the Republican Party might still support free trade, immigration, social liberalism and the like, these positions are increasingly untenable among Republican voters. Among intellectuals, the battle is still raging. Roughly speaking, there are three factions fighting it out: the individualist, globalist, pro-free market, pro-free trade, anti-racist, pro-immigration, Jewish-led libertarian faction, whose public faces are people like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, David French and Dave Rubin, the collectivist, ostensibly nationalist, anti-free market, anti-free trade, anti-racist, anti-immigration, Jewish-led “post-liberal” faction, whose public faces are people like Yoram Hazony, Tucker Carlson, Will Chamberlain and Josh Hawley, and the alt-right. We don’t know who will win this battle in the end, but we do know that the libertarian faction will lose. If the Republican Party fails to respond to this change, it will collapse.