Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
Nowadays, it can be hard to figure out just what it means to be a 'conservative.'
Does it mean the promotion of limited government ideals such as free markets, minimal immigration restrictions, and wide-ranging privatization? This is what untold millions have believed since the early 1980s, when the modern conservative movement crystallized under the influence of Ronald Reagan and his key backers.
The roots of their philosophy -- though some might say 'ideology' is a better term -- stretch back to what California was in the post-World War II age; a land of industry, a magnet for new residents, and fertile ground for diverse ideas. Amid this constant cultural change, pro-commerce voices competed with labor activists for the loudest bullhorn. Anything seemed possible, though a uniquely Californian brand of optimism, palpable as San Diego sunshine, ruled the day.
Nobody ever imagined the good times would come to an end. Who had the gall to think that Reaganism might give way to the New Left superstructure now entrenched in Sacramento?
That Reagan conservatism proved a flash in the pan, rather than a long-term trajectory, is a bitter pill to swallow for most center-right Americans. None too few movers and shakers still speak the late president's name in an almost deistic context. Nonetheless, his beliefs' lack of societal staying power and the hugely unpopular neoconservative ideology that succeeded them have placed a damper on the Gipper's legacy; especially for the under-40 crowd.
Presently, one must ask if conservatism means something different from what Reagan championed. Does it pertain to the preservation of America's Anglocentric culture, the defense of its borders, and the protection of its economic power from emerging foreign markets?
The new conservatism is actually quite old -- a throwback to what the Taft family, Calvin Coolidge, and Teddy Roosevelt stood for. Its resurgence comes against the odds; internationalism was trumpeted as the Washington Consensus until less than a year ago and there seemed little chance of changing this.
Now, a fierce battle of ideas unfolds over not just which variant of conservatism should triumph, but something far deeper: What matters more -- the transcendent ideals of Reagan or the kith-and-soil campaign of the Tafts, Coolidge, Roosevelt, and Donald Trump?
Paul Nehlen has proved himself one of the emerging right's most vocal and enthusiastic proponents.
Earlier this year, Breitbart described him as "not another lifelong politician, but a business executive and inventor. Nehlen started out on the factory floor, and through God's grace, grit, and determination rose to lead Fortune 500 manufacturing businesses around the world. Nehlen challenged Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 2016 First Congressional District to stop Trans-Pacific Partnership and secure America’s border. Today he is waging the battle against the refugee resettlement racket and leading the cause to fight for America’s values."
Nehlen's run against Ryan attracted international attention and, though there was no upset victory, a serious, well-funded campaign against the Speaker sent shock waves far and wide. Nehlen continues to remain relevant by advocating for, more or less, the America First philosophy of Donald Trump -- though with a distinctly Midwestern, homespun approach. With a large following and contemporary-right message, it seems likely that Nehlen will remain in the news for some time.
While two weeks are an eternity in politics, I would not be surprised to see Nehlen holding some substantial office in two years. Either that or some serious leadership role in the ever-more-nationalistic conservative movement.
Nehlen recently spoke with me about many topics relative to American politics. Some of our conversation is included below.
Joseph Ford Cotto: Before Trump, center-right American politicos faced a severe deficit in the utilization of social media and, more generally, the Internet itself. Leftish politicians and their advocates routinely steamrolled adversarial efforts in cyberspace, even if a Republican wound up winning the race. Trump has totally reset the situation. Do you believe that a new group of center-right activists and public servants will be just as tech-savvy as the left, or was 2016 more about Trump's own on-line skills?
Paul Nehlen: I firmly believe the center-right had every bit of the skills, probably more than the left as evidenced in this last election, but were working day jobs and simply not activated as a political force. Who activated the center-right? It was the UniParty I mentioned earlier. The splinter strategy developed by the so-called conservatives to bring forth Jeb! combined with the DNC/media collusion exposed by Wikileaks and James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas as but just a few examples of activating events.
President Trump’s trolling skills online are expert class. I look forward to 8 years of his communicating directly with the world, straight from the heart.
Cotto: What do you anticipate the primary legacy of Trump's election will be; specifically as far as American conservatism is concerned?
Nehlen: My sincere desire is that ushered in with President Trump is an era of massive American job creation, security, prosperity, and optimism for the future of all Americans, not just for conservatives. I won’t paint Wall Street with a broad brush of rueful disdain, there’s much good that comes from Wall Street. However, I expect President Trump’s legacy effects on American conservatism will tilt decidedly towards the Main Street economy as opposed to the Wall Street economy.
American citizens: children, workers, veterans, retirees, everyone up to and including Wall Street, will benefit from President Trump's America First effects on conservatism.