Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Interview: Bill Mitchell says America is "moving past the whole ‘conservative-liberal-libertarian’" divide

Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 30, 2017.

Story by Joseph Ford Cotto

There are a great many talk radio hosts, and all of them are clamoring to be heard. Just how many, though, really offer something which deserves your time and consideration?

While the number is far too small for my liking, Bill Mitchell certainly makes the cut.

He has not been a force in the chattering class for long. Before Donald Trump's candidacy took off, Mitchell could best be described as a talent recruiter for various businesses who just happened to dabble in politics via the Internet. Today, he is a bona fide on-line celebrity. Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named him the foremost average fellow impacting election season.

Among all those influencing the race -- including Barack Obama, CNN, and Harry Reid -- Mitchell came up twenty-sixth. He beat Paul Ryan, The Associated Press, and Michael Moore, to mention a few.

What makes Mitchell so popular is not strategic positioning in FM markets -- his program is Internet-only -- or access to the most powerful names on the District of Columbia-New York City-Boston/Los Angeles-San Francisco-Seattle culture corridors -- he lives in Charlotte. Rather, Mitchell knows how to handle Twitter, focus on pertinent data, and explain complex, contentious matters in a down-to-earth yet coherent fashion.

Despite being in his late fifties, Mitchell is one of American conservatism's rising stars. His star is powered at a time when 'conservatism' is in rapid flux; changing from its family values, pro-free trade, immigration-friendly Reagan-Bush incarnation to a model built around national sovereignty, economic protectionism, and cultural cohesion. 

Essentially, 'American' conservatism is becoming Europeanized. 

Mitchell and I had a candid discussion regarding right-leaning politics and their relation to American life. Some if it is included below.


Joseph Ford Cotto: few years ago, certain political forecasters claimed that the future of America's center-right belongs to libertarians. Since the 2012 presidential election, protectionism has surged in both major parties. Now, in the age of Trump, libertarianism's once-ascendant nature seems a distant memory. Would you say that libertarian Republican politics have any serious potential under Trump?

Bill Mitchell: I said during the campaign that “America is 20 percent far-right, 20 percent far-left, and 60 percent that just wants America to be great again.” 

I think that we’re entering really a post-ideological, purity test age in America. You know, we always used to have these purity tests like, ‘Okay, what keyhole will our ideas fit through? Are they conservative, are they libertarian, are they liberal, you know, which ones do we get to squeeze all of our ideas into before they can even be considered and debated?’

Now, under Trump, he doesn’t have an ideological starting point, he has a resultist end point in mind. He’s a consummate strategist. He doesn’t limit his inputs by a strict set of rules, he limits his inputs by that which is going to get the result he wants at the end.

I think we’re moving past the whole ‘conservative-liberal-libertarian’ – I think we’re moving past all that. In fact, it’s fascinating that if you watch the gap between people who call themselves ‘conservative’ and people who call themselves ‘liberal,’ it’s actually smaller now than it has been in years.

Now you say, “Why is that true?” because Trump won the election. You would think that would be bigger. No, because people are abandoning those labels because they just got tired of those labels not delivering results. You know, they just seem to be limiting. So this is, I think, what we’re going to be looking at going forward – a president who has created a cabinet and is going to propose policies and legislation that’s most likely to get the results that he wants.

He’ll sit down and he’ll talk with Democrats, he’ll talk with Libertarians, he’ll talk with Republicans. He’ll talk with anybody and listen to their ideas, and even if their ideas are 90 percent crap, there may be that 10 percent that he can use and be like “Okay, well I hate most of what you said, but we can use this piece.”

So that’s, I think, his standpoint, and that’s why after the election he was meeting with guys like Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz who were so viciously opposed to him during the election. Some of the Trump base was like, "What are you doing? You’re meeting with the enemy! Huh?" That’s because he wants everybody’s idea so he can create that gourmet meal that he wants at the end. He can pick the puzzle pieces that he wants, put them together, come up with the result that he wants.


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