Can conservative journalism survive populism?
“Outside the ring road,” Buskirk continued, referring to areas where Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes, “ordinary Americans had learned the lessons taught by these same conservatives in their newspapers and magazines… respect for the Declaration and of the Constitution, love of the country and its people, a reasoned dedication to understanding the basic principles of self-government. As it turned out, the average Michigan Republican voter understood constitutional government better than the average Washington Conservative intellectual.
But Michigan’s Republican primary ended with Trump showing no particular understanding of the Declaration or the Constitution winning just 37 percent of the vote, while Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio combined to win 59 %.
More plausibly, Buskirk argued that Trump supporters are causing a generational upheaval in the conservative media, “because they are tired of the failed policies of the dying conservative establishment in DC, and they are looking for someone to speak up. for them, for someone who can articulate and define what they know in their bones. “
But “the legacy of the conservative media had become indigenous,” he said with more doubts. “They were just as dismissive of voters and just as out of touch with the rest of the country as the leftists and progressives they had long insulted each other against. Despite all of Buckley’s quotes and superstitious invocations of Reagan’s name, it was all a cover for a movement exhausted and short of ideas, and whose standard-bearers and media advocates had widely accepted the premises of the progressive left.
What about all employees of National review and The weekly standard who explicitly reject the premises of the progressive left and object that they opposed Trump to honor conservative principles? “Calls to stand up in principle are unlike anything like buggy whip makers explaining that the automobile is just a fad,” Buskirk said, as if political history had a linear trajectory , and opposing morally heavy changes is as pointless as opposing amoral. changes in consumer technology.
Buskirk’s formulation is populist in the most anti-conservative way. In her account, being “out of touch” with something popular is itself a mark against someone, a philosophy that many Claremonters would ridicule if uttered by a leftist. “We are past the inflection point,” Buskirk insisted. “The fact that new journals have been created tells us that the time has already passed and that we are now in a new era.”
Then, having evaded an argument on principles by switching to an argument about popularity, he reverted to an argument about self-conception:
To what extent does the traditional conservative media not think it is part of the traditional media? They have a well-known role in choreography of news and commentary. In a famous line published in the Flight 93 essay, it’s the Washington generals and the main left-wing media are the Harlem Globetrotters. It was not and should not be so. Voters want to support conservative ideas and they do so when they have the chance. Why else would we have 34 Republican governors?
It’s action, reaction, endless repetition.
The New York Times prints a story, it starts a story, and we just react right, we don’t drive our own stories or our own stories. Why is the right so determined to fight the leftist media rather than setting the agenda?
How strange for a man allied with Trump and his coalition, people obsessed with fighting “failure New York TimesTo complain that the conservative dissidents of their #MAGA movement are obsessed with The New York Times. And were not National review, The weekly standard, and the rest of the legacy of the conservative media those who shed much of the intellectual work during the period that produced those 34 Republican governors and state legislative majorities in abundance? I find it unlikely that the generals in Washington have ever won a series of contests in 34 states.