The Midterm Lesson: Unserious People Can't Stop the Left
This year’s midterms came at a time when most Americans are poorer than they were two years ago, violent crime is on the rise, and exit polls seemed to unanimously point to voters prioritizing these basic facts over abortion rights and “democracy.” Everything was primed for a Republican red wave to set the table for a potential sixty-seat Senate majority in 2024.
Instead, Republicans underperformed historical midterm trends. The only “red tsunami” was in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis won with the largest margin since 1868.
The aftermath has reopened wounds that were inflicted when Donald Trump mounted his hostile takeover of the Republican Party. Beltway Republicans, who had largely remained disciplined in holding fire on Trump since his victory in 2016, have unleashed their pent-up rage, trying to scapegoat him for all of the Grand Old Party’s electoral woes.
No one is helping their case more than the former president. DeSantis’s dominating victory has further elevated the one political figure who presents a sincere risk to Trump’s position as a de facto political leader. What started as some public jabs against the governor before the midterms have now evolved into a full-on attack calling into question DeSantis’s “class” for refusing to pledge that he won’t run for president in 2024.
Unfortunately for Americans sincerely concerned about the rising threats presented by the modern Left, Trump’s in-character tantrums distract from a much larger problem: the political institutions of the American Right are led by unserious, inadequate individuals. If Republicans cannot recognize and properly respond to this, the Democrat Party will continue to enjoy the privilege of being the political equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, again dunking on the Washington Generals.
The greatest blame for the red trickle should be directed at Republican McLeadership: Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, and Ronna Romney McDaniels of the Republican National Committee (RNC).
McCarthy has spent his time as Republican House leader largely stumbling through inner-party politics, such as propping up the sinister Liz Cheney in House leadership before ousting her for refusing to follow his very stern warnings not to antagonize the party base. His attempt at crafting a vision for what Republicans do with power includes such vapid statements as “A Future Built on Freedom.” As party leader, he prioritized dedicating millions of dollars to attacking Republicans he feared wouldn’t follow his lead, such as Florida’s Anthony Sabatini and Washington’s Joe Kent, in primaries.
McCarthy’s performance can only be defended by contrasting it with McConnell’s. With the ancient turtle of the Senate facing his own budding rivalry with DeSantis’s successor turned senator, Rick Scott, McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund was responsible for reallocating almost $10 million dollars away from Arizona’s tight senate race and to Alaska, propping up loyal swamp creature Lisa Murkowski against another Republican competing in the state’s jungle election. McConnell also enjoys the distinction of being the single most hated Republican in Washington, with an approval rating over twice as low as Donald Trump’s.
Hating Mitch McConnell is one of the few issues that can unite an increasingly polarized America.
Of course, many Republicans voted for Trump in 2016 in large part to remove the McCarthys, McConnells, and Romneys from power. Instead, Donald Trump let them back in, making Paul Ryan speaker in 2017, bringing McConnell’s wife onto his cabinet, endorsing Mitt Romney for Senate, and making his niece leader of the RNC. Additionally, Trumpworld raised over $100 million this election cycle for the Save America PAC to help finance Trump-style candidates. Less than $15 million was spent.
At a time when so many Americans wanted Donald Trump to lead the Republican Party, he outsourced that responsibility to his enemies that now want him purged.
While Trump’s brand of populist politics was never perfect, his instincts were always better than traditional Washington’s: a folk opposition to “stupid wars,” an emphasis on revitalizing the American economy, spicy rhetoric lambasting the worst of the Beltway’s political class, attacks on the corporate press, and a recognition that the regime security state was a threat to his liberty (and by extension, ours). As a right-wing populist leader, he thus embodied many of the characteristics that drew Murray Rothbard to Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign.
Unfortunately, populism is a political strategy, not an end in itself. To his credit, Trump’s disruption of neoconservative hegemony over the GOP has manifested itself in the intriguing National Conservativism project, which could yet still provide the sort of intellectual artifice needed to reverse American decline. That requires, however, leadership capable of wielding power in a way that truly threatens the regime.
The problems America faces currently, however, are issues that politics alone are inadequate to address.
The current inflationary struggles undermining American quality of life result from the bipartisan empowerment of a Federal Reserve that—along with central banks worldwide—has engaged in decades-long monetary hedonism. Policies that have been disastrous for real America have been a boon for financial institutions and large corporations that have been happy to serve as an extension of the federal regime and to finance campaigns in return.
The third rail of American politics, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and various other social welfare programs, suffers from a basic math program. The size of unfunded liabilities continues to grow as America itself becomes older. Young Americans are getting married later and less often, resulting in fewer children and creating new economic stress that many seek to address with increased immigration. The social costs of declining birth rates and changing migration patterns have additional consequences that economics alone can’t analyze.
Additionally, the Democrats’ overperformance in the midterms has identified major cultural concerns. Many voters have demonstrated they are more offended by the idea of a fifteen-week limit on abortion than by tyrannical covid lockdowns. Maybe there is a connection between an election that elevated a mentally damaged man to the Senate and a voter base that refused to punish governors whose policies are responsible for damaging the intellectual development of children.
These issues aren’t solved with elections but with a profound change in America’s economic, spiritual, and cultural realities.
The question now is what comes next.
As I noted after Biden’s inauguration, Trump’s moment has been one of the most exciting political developments in modern American electoral history. This remains true, even if the man responsible for its creation seems increasingly ill-prepared to lead it. Trumpers are still better than Trump.
This is why the brightest spot for Republicans in 2022 appears to be the best hope for American politics: Ron DeSantis. The question now is, Can he hold up in the face of a category 5 Trump storm after so many others have not?
Several points indicate DeSantis may be different. 1) He himself is a product of Trump, as the former president has noted. DeSantis went from afterthought to Republican nominee only after Trump’s endorsement, and his primary campaign was dedicated to reminding people just how dedicated he was to the MAGA brand. 2) He’s an executive with an unparalleled record of covid-era competency, effectively resisting both federal and corporate tyranny, genuinely increasing the quality of life of his population, and 3) now he's an electoral powerhouse reshaping the politics of his state.
For the first time, Trump’s attacks on a rival seem to be coming from a place of weakness, not from a place of New York swagger.
DeSantis has also demonstrated qualities unique in modern American politics. For one, he has been able to surround himself with truly talented people, such as his communications general, Christina Pushaw, who successfully pivot a media-created narrative about a “Don’t Say Gay” bill into a conservative war on “groomers.” DeSantis is also, well, intelligent. As Dr. Jay Bhattacharya told Tom Woods last year, he found it “remarkable” that the governor “knew all of the details” when discussing scientific studies on covid that did not fit the regime’s narrative.
He was even able to rebuild a bridge faster than several states count ballots.
America’s issues, however, are bigger than covid. Will DeSantis be able to apply similar distrust of “policy experts” in other areas of deeply ingrained Washington corruption, such as foreign policy, monetary policy, and the national security state? Skepticism of any politician is always warranted.
Ultimately, though, this year’s midterm disappointment for Americans hoping the lunacy of the Left would fundamentally weaken the Democrat Party highlights that the very real problems we face will not fall under their own weight. The antihuman threat of progressivism continues to rise, no matter how visually absurdly it manifests itself.
For those with a sincere interest in protecting themselves, their families, and future generations from the horror, now is the time to start formulating real solutions and strategies to engage it.
We can no longer afford unserious people.