Ben Shapiro and the future of American conservatism
.. the person who appeared to be doing the most to shape the thinking of the new generation of Republican leaders was not the president of the United States—but Ben Shapiro, a 34-year-old anti-Trump conservative pundit who came up unprompted in more than a third of my conversations.”
.. More important, though, is what Shapiro’s celebrity tells us about the changing nature of media, the emerging sensibility of conservative youth, and indeed the future of American conservatism itself.
Shapiro owes a lot to social media. His appearances on Fox News Channel are not the cause but the consequence of his fame. It is by searching YouTube that teenagers come across his debates with campus lefties, his speeches, his appearances on like-minded podcasts, and his extended interviews with friends and other members of the so-called intellectual dark web.
.. Shapiro is a conservative pundit for a dis-intermediated age.
.. They are more interested in debating social and cultural issues than the problems of government or the midterm elections. They have a snarky sense of humor that appreciates the irony in trolling the Left or “owning the libs.”
.. Nor is their consumption of media limited to conservative sources. They are well aware of the critiques of the right from the mainstream media and comedy hosts, and even laugh at some of the jokes on SNL and John Oliver.
.. The issue that motivates these young people is political correctness:
- its denial of differences between the sexes, its
- reduction of identity to ethnic and racial ancestry, its
- stultifying effect on intellectual inquiry and free speech.
For them, President Trump and the constellation of social and political problems with which he is associated are secondary to larger questions of cultural and academic freedom... Ben Shapiro resembles no one so much as the young William F. Buckley Jr.