April 16, 2024

The Right’s Intelligence Problem

It has become increasingly clear that the Right has a problem. We must reflect and chart a new path forward.

A typical person’s reaction when a natural disaster makes the news is grief and sympathy. When a rare astronomical phenomenon occurs, we stand in awe and admiration of how complex our world is. But when Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) hears of an earthquake or a solar eclipse, she believes it is a sign from God that we need to repent.

While Greene’s reaction was a shock to some of her X (formerly known as Twitter) followers, to the condescending educated liberal, her “scientifically illiterate” reaction is to be expected and confirms the chattering classes’ preexisting beliefs about conservatives being stupid.

As much as it pains me to say it, the pundits at CNN and MSNBC may be on to something. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that the Right has a stupidity problem.

The GOP’s problem is visible on online forums, such as X, where a signifier of one’s conservative bona fides is no longer dedication to the intellectual foundations of the movement but one’s ability to make “based” statements.

The fame of Candace Owens, who recently departed from The Daily Wire, also reveals how it pays for right-wing commentators to make unsubstantiated claims. Leading up to her departure from The Daily Wire, Candace was not using her show to highlight the impacts of mass immigration on The Great American Nation or to highlight the budget crisis we face. Rather, she had more important issues to address — like whether or not Brigitte Macron was actually a man.

Such moronic, unprincipled behavior has not just been limited to the commentator class or Marjorie Taylor Greene. Last year, Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was caught fondling her date in public at the theater. This past election cycle, the Georgia GOP nominated Herschel Walker, a football player who was only marginally better than Kamala Harris at stringing together sentences, for the U.S. Senate. And now it appears that Senate candidate Kari Lake, whose only talent is playing the sore loser, is set to lose another race in Arizona.

So, what is facilitating the rise of low-IQ grifters on the Right? While these two explanations are far from complete, I will humbly offer them to help my patriotic readers understand the crisis of competence and classlessness that conservatives face.

Firstly, Donald Trump’s ascent through the Republican Party has created a climate that rewards slogans and opportunism over accomplishment. When Trump fortunately won the Republican nomination in 2016 and went on to win the presidential race against Hillary Clinton, he did so on an agenda that highlighted establishment politicians’ inability to hear working-class concerns over immigration, trade, and foreign wars. With a platform almost identical to that of one of my intellectual heroes, Patrick J. Buchanan, Trump’s populist agenda infused with a conservative bent was destined to take the country by storm.

But, Trump was unable to ensure lasting change via the agenda that got him elected, though he only had one term. Ann Coulter, who was a strong advocate for Trump, predicted that his voters would turn their back on him to punish him for failing to follow through. However, if Coulter were a betting woman, she would be down what Fani Willis would call “a couple Gs.” Trump’s base support remains rock solid.

This ironclad support has forced me to reevaluate why I assumed Trump was elected.

Originally, I thought it was because he provided voters with a menu of policies that they wanted but had not been offered. Rather, it seems his success in today’s political climate has more to do with voters who feel stifled by political correctness and the white-collar corporate professionalism that had long characterized politicians on the Right.

Now, some Trump voters wrongfully associate his type of rhetoric with that of someone who is going to fight for their values, regardless of one’s record on the most existential issues facing the nation. This misguided association has led voters to reward pundits and politicians for embodying Trump-like behavior without expecting principles or demanding delivery on their promises, respectively.

The second factor explaining a rise in some unintelligent voices on the Right is the electoral shift the country has witnessed over the past three decades. In 1994, Republicans had a lead of more than 10 points among college-educated voters. Now, Democrats enjoy a similar lead among the same demographic.

While there is no shame in not having a college degree, and having one increasingly means the recipient has been sufficiently indoctrinated, the implication of this shift for the Republican base is profound. Now, I say this not to cast aspersions on my fellow conservatives but to assert the devolution of discourse on the Right. We need to be a party that is moved far beyond soundbites and slogans.

If the average voter were only reading work like that of The Patriot Post’s Mark Alexander, National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty, or The American Conservative’s Helen Andrews, the electoral shift I have described would have only a trivial effect on the type of politicians and pundits the Right promotes.

Bill Buckley died 16 years ago, and despite any mistakes he made, he crafted a conservatism that was intellectually stimulating to even the most humble observer. As other conservative scholars like Thomas Sowell and libertarian ones like Charles Murray become even older, one looks around and hopes that someone will come and pick up the baton where these giants left off. Until then, conservatives must reflect on what led the movement to this lowly point and chart a new path forward.


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