Avik Roy is a Republican’s Republican. A health care wonk and editor at Forbes, he has worked for three Republican presidential hopefuls — Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio.
.. “I don’t think the Republican Party and the conservative movement are capable of reforming themselves in an incremental and gradual way,” he said. “There’s going to be a disruption.”
.. He believes it means the Democrats will dominate national American politics for some time. But he also believes the Republican Party has lost its right to govern, because it is driven by white nationalism rather than a true commitment to equality for all Americans.
.. “I think the conservative movement is fundamentally broken,” Roy tells me. “Trump is not a random act. This election is not a random act.”
.. “Goldwater’s nomination in 1964 was a historical disaster for the conservative movement,” Roy tells me, “because for the ensuing decades, it identified Democrats as the party of civil rights and Republicans as the party opposed to civil rights.”
.. Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He himself was not especially racist — he believed it was wrong, on free market grounds, for the federal government to force private businesses to desegregate.
- .. First, it forced black voters out of the GOP.
- Second, it invited in white racists who had previously been Democrats.
Even though many Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act in Congress, the post-Goldwater party became the party of aggrieved whites.
.. the Republican coalition has inherited the people who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the Southern Democrats who are now Republicans,” Roy says. “Conservatives and Republicans have not come to terms with that problem.”
.. This revisionism, according to Roy, points to a much bigger conservative delusion: They cannot admit that their party’s voters are motivated far more by white identity politics than by conservative ideals... they deny that to this day, Republican voters are driven more by white resentment than by a principled commitment to the free market and individual liberty... conservatism has become, and has been for some time, much more about white identity politics than it has been about conservative political philosophy. I think today, even now, a lot of conservatives have not come to terms with that problem.”.. By refusing to admit the truth about their own party, they were powerless to stop the forces that led to Donald Trump’s rise. They told themselves, over and over again, that Goldwater’s victory was a triumph... Trump’s politics of aggrieved white nationalism — labeling black people criminals, Latinos rapists, and Muslims terrorists — succeeded because the party’s voting base was made up of the people who once opposed civil rights.
.. “Either the disruption will come from the Republican Party representing cranky old white people and a new right-of-center party emerging in its place, or a third party will emerge, à la the Republicans emerging from the Whigs in the [1850s],” Roy says.
The work of conservative intellectuals today, he argues, is to devise a new conservatism — a political vision that adheres to limited government principles but genuinely appeals to a more diverse America.
“I think it’s incredibly important to take stock,” he says, “and build a new conservative movement that is genuinely about individual liberty.”
.. For the entire history of modern conservatism, its ideals have been wedded to and marred by white supremacism. That’s Roy’s own diagnosis, and I think it’s correct. As a result, we have literally no experience in America of a politically viable conservative movement unmoored from white supremacy.
.. what actual political constituency could bring about this pure conservatism in practice. The fact is that limited government conservatism is not especially appealing to nonwhite Americans, whereas liberalism and social democracy are. The only ones for whom conservatism is a natural fit are Roy’s “cranky old white people” — and they’re dying off.
the Memorial to the Victims of the German Occupation. From the moment its construction was announced, following an opaque artistic competition lacking public consultation, it had been the subject of heated dispute. Beginning with its very title, which labels the tempted movement of German soldiers onto friendly territory an “occupation” the memorial absolves Hungarians’ complicity in the Holocaust. Depicting the Archangel Gabriel (described in the plans as the man of God, symbol of Hungary) under attack from a sharp-clawed German Imperial Eagle, it portrays the Hungarian nation as a collective victim of Nazi predation. BLOCK This distortion of history obscures both the specifically anti-Jewish nature of the Holocaust and the Hungarian state’s active collaboration in mass murder.
.. By obscuring Jewish victimhood entirely and ascribing total innocence to Hungarians and total evil to Germans, the memorial is actually as exploitative as any Stalinist icon.
… [Prime Minister Viktor] Orban’s defense of the occupation memorial was also notable for studiously dodging the fact that the main victims of the Nazis in Hungary, as everywhere else in Europe, were Jews. “The victims,” he wrote, “whether Orthodox, Christian, or without faith, became the victims of a dictatorship that embodied an anti-Christian school of thought” — essentially claiming that Christians were as much victims of the Nazis as Jews, a word his letter does not use even once.
.. Second to Russia, no European country is manipulating its history for political purposes more egregiously than Hungary. In both places, rewriting the past is done with an eye to the future, as governments inculcate their citizenries with nationalism, irredentism, and intolerance and then marshal these attitudes in service of the state.
.. As Hungary creeps further into authoritarianism, its revisionism has worrisome implications for Europe’s future.
.. I’m sure there are some U.S. conservatives who conclude that because Orban heads up the party of the Right in that country’s politics, he must be the good guy. Eh, don’t be so sure. Back in 2014, he declared, “Hungarians welcomed illiberal democracy… ‘Checks and balances’ is a U.S. invention that for some reason of intellectual mediocrity Europe decided to adopt and use in European politics.”
The Republican candidate refuses to apologize for his mistakes—and that may be key to his success.
Being Donald Trump means never having to say you’re sorry.
That, he explained to Jimmy Fallon last September, is among the advantages of never being wrong. “I fully think apologizing is a great thing, but you have to be wrong … I will absolutely apologize sometime in the distant future if I’m ever wrong.”
Instead of apologizing swiftly, assuming responsibility, and putting controversies behind him, Trump prefers to deny potential problems, disclaim responsibility, and move on to some fresh controversy. It flies in the face of decades of accrued wisdom about how to handle political crises. And it appears to be working for him.
.. When social-media users quickly objected that the conjunction of the star and the cash seemed to traffic in anti-Semitic tropes, Trump took the rare step of deleting and replacing it:
.. He offered no apology, no admission of error, and no explanation.
.. It’s a minor classic of its genre. There’s the arms-length distancing from the problem. The introduction of irrelevant information—Sheriffs! Microsoft!—to cloud the issue. And the concluding sorry-if-you-were-offended half apology.
.. Trump has a genius for repurposing images and slogans, drawing them from an eclectic array of sources. Ronald Reagan urged, “Let’s make America great again!” America First has been a slogan used by politicians from Woodrow Wilson to William Randolph Hearst. It’s not always clear that Trump knows, or cares, about their origins.
.. many find overconfidence and a willingness to discard rules attractive. Trump appears willing to put that to the test, gambling that he can win by projecting certainty and confidence, that voters would rather have a self-assured leader than one willing to acknowledge missteps.