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Josh Hammer / January 22, 2021

The Conservative Path Forward in the Biden-Harris Era

Conservatives’ time and energy would be better spent thinking ahead and plotting a future.

The presidency of Joseph R. Biden Jr., a thoroughly mediocre and gaffe-prone career politician in the throes of debilitating senescence, has commenced. It has done so with disingenuous paeans to unity, thinly veiled swipes at his “deplorable” political foes and an immediate executive action-driven assault on his predecessor’s legacy — from the environment to immigration to religious liberty — that is simply breathtaking in its scope. Worse, the Biden-Harris regime has taken power as America’s myriad corporate bastions, led by Big Tech, dutifully promise to punish dissenters to the regime’s enforced monolithic orthodoxy.

For conservatives, it could get ugly out there as we spend our near-term future in political exile. And this is before even considering the possibility that the U.S. Senate, now under de facto Democratic leadership, may well ditch the legislative filibuster, opening up a Pandora’s box of power-grab possibilities that could irrevocably transform the republic — chiefly, “packing” the Supreme Court and lower courts, and statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

At first blush, it is difficult to sugarcoat such a would-be dystopia. There is, it seems, no limit to what a Democratic controlled House-Senate-White House trifecta might be able to accomplish. But the reality, once we step back and soberly assess our predicament, is more nuanced; there is a path forward for a conservative revival by the time of either the 2022 midterm elections or the 2024 presidential election.

In terms of the federal government, conservatives still nominally control the Supreme Court and, post-Trump, the majority of the crucial circuit courts of appeals. Democrats may try to “pack” these courts if they nuke the filibuster, but unless and until they do so, the judiciary — however unreliable Republican-nominated judges often are — will still often redound to conservatives’ interests and forestall much of the Biden administration’s worst impulses. It is thus incumbent upon well-positioned bastions of conservative legal clout, centered around Texas’s Office of the Solicitor General, to aggressively litigate and seek recourse in the courts.

In terms of state governments, Republicans still retain a majority (30) of unified state legislatures. Indeed, nearly half of all states (23) have both a Republican governor and a unified Republican state legislature. These red states can and ought to serve as hubs for conservatives’ own quasi-“resistance” over the next four years. While the supremacy clause of Article 6 of the Constitution clearly precludes states from directly contravening the federal government’s lawful actions, there are endless possibilities for constitutional pushback — “correspondence” and “plans of resistance,” James Madison called it in The Federalist No. 46 — against federal overreach. It is easy to envision such showdowns if, for example, the Biden administration tries to jam the Marxist, gobbledygook of “critical race theory” educational pedagogy down the throat of every protesting state.

Next, conservatives must do the hard work of actually building up the digital and corporate infrastructure to push back in earnest against Big Tech, “woke” capital and the broader “cancel culture” threat to the American way of life. The recent collusive efforts by Amazon, Apple and Google to systematically black out Parler, the pro-free speech Twitter alternative, reveal the short-sightedness of those liberals and libertarians who, for years, merely told conservatives concerned about online censorship to “build your own Google.” But while we must use any remaining levers of state power to rein in unaccountable Silicon Valley oligarchs, conservative programmers and coders ought to begin laying the foundation for an entirely new, rivalrous digital domain — a rival internet dedicated to viewpoint nondiscrimination, soup to nuts. Similarly, conservative financiers and entrepreneurs must begin the long, slow process of funding and building out rival institutions affecting every area of life — banks, medical practices, universities and so forth. It is profoundly sad that we have gotten to this point, but there is no virtue in failing to confront reality.

Finally, exiled conservatives must continue to build a constructive, substantive conservative agenda that is politically appealing and can actually win at the ballot box. We know the path forward: an unabashed defense of traditional American bourgeois values; opposition to the excesses of neo-Marxist “woke”-ism; a political economics that is unafraid to use government to channel productive market activity and support those in true need; unapologetic moral prioritization of the rule of law; temperance in foreign policy; and sobriety about the limits of immigration assimilation. That is a winning political platform.

There is plenty to lament right now. But conservatives’ time and energy would be better spent thinking ahead and plotting a future — one that, in all likelihood, can still be salvaged.

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