Back in February 2014, I penned a piece warning about the rise of the nativist alt-right in Republican politics . By stating clearly that Republican values were big enough to embrace people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, one might have thought that I was advancing an argument that most Americans embraced.
The Republican Party has a duty to preserve what is ennobling about the American experiment. A modern day version of Operation Wetback with jackboots and checkpoints designed to boxcar 8-20 million people back “their point of origin” (read: Mexico) is obtuse at best and horribly violent to our civil liberties at worse. Conservatives are smarter than this, and America deserve better than nativist hate.
Drive ’em out, ladies and gentlemen. Generations are watching.
…and I was wrong.
The Republican Party of Virginia — founded by a collection of blacks and poor whites fighting to reboot Virginia’s public education system and rebalance the state debt, the party that stood up to Massive Resistance and the politics of ethnic sectarianism — has descended into a parody of itself, finally lifting from the dust the battle standard of Massive Resistance and waving it proudly in the hands of one man: Corey Stewart.
Let us be clear where things stand. Our chairman, John Whitbeck, is best known for his jokes about Jewish people at party gatherings. For an unprecedented 11 times, Whitbeck defended Fredy Burgos, a man whose anti-Semtism and fondness for Augusto Pinochet were abundantly clear, but never worthy of countenance until this publication forced his hand. Yet while removed by State Central Committee by a margin so close as to be an embarrassment unto itself, Burgos was in fact rewarded for his troubles, earning a role as vice chairman of the Fairfax GOP, a full 1/8th of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The litany of stupid and the obtuse only becomes worse. The current executive director proudly boasts of how Governor Northam has betrayed his “heritage” on social media and openly shares material from known alt-right operatives. Former Delegate David Ramadan — the sole Muslim Republican in the House of Delegates for many years — finds himself banned by RPV’s social media feeds. The Bull Elephant — long a mouthpiece for alt-right sentiment — feeds this execrable alt-right cancer with an appetite bordering on the voracious. Former SCC members and activists have abandoned the party in droves.
It gets worse. Proudly, the alt-right brags about electing two Republican congressmen (Brat and Garrett), proudly they take photos next to our candidates pledging themselves to their cause (Stewart), and the mewling from erstwhile conservatives in protest is barely audible — protecting access to power over their own conscience, excusing weakness for prudence.
I first received my taste of political combat as a volunteer with George Allen in 1993 nearly 25 years ago. Back then, the Republican Party was the party of free minds, free ideas, and a free society. Free speech was sacrosanct; free trade was the pillar that destroyed Soviet communism. Around it all was a wholesale commitment to family and the American entrepreneurial spirit — that equality of outcome could never be guaranteed, but equality of opportunity was our first and foremost responsibility as a polity.
What have we traded this for? Instead of the New Deal vs. Reaganism, we now have nationalism vs. pluralism. Equality of outcome, some Republicans argue, can now be engineered through tariffs and a rejection of free trade. Identity politics — the heritage of Willie Horton ads and a post-9/11 fear of Muslims — were spun back on us by the progressive left and unleashed a reaction of Antifa mobs and an identity politics that questioned our entire social and moral order.
Our response? More identity politics … and instead of the melting pot with which we were all raised while repeating the embarrassment of Lee-Jackson-King Day as children, we are now presented with a horrifying new display of (gasp!) multiculturalism. Or rather, identitarianism in the mold of Corey Stewart and Richard Spencer. Or of the likes of Jason Kessler née Gentry who fawns himself as a white supremacist while enjoying the invitation of congressmen and prospective gubernatorial candidates to press conferences and rallies alike.
So when is it enough?
Was it enough when in 2014 Dave Brat abased himself before the likes of Breitbart.com — the self-declared mouthpiece of the alt-right? Was it enough when the alt-right spiked the football in 2016 with cries of “Hail Trump!” as they celebrated their election night win? Was it enough when in 2017 they earned invitations to town halls in Charlottesville? Was it enough when three people — two of whom were Virginia State Troopers — died during the August 2017 alt-right rallies in Charlottesville?
Is it enough now when their groomed and chosen candidate — financed by the likes of Chris Ekstrom and run by Rick Shaftan — rides the wave of white nationalism? To a party nomination contest? And wins?
Let’s be clear about what happened. The future of the Republican Party of Virginia fought the past, and lost. Richmond had already chosen a winner and tilted the scales, as they had done twice before in the 6th and 5th District nomination contests, respectively (and nearly did in 2017 when Gillespie narrowly won over Stewart for the gubernatorial nod).
For one, I am tired of being a Roman among Greeks.
I am tired of warning about the rise of nativism within our ranks only to be called a supporter of amnesty (I am not). Of watching overpaid and under-qualified “consultants” push candidates into the public square only to bleed them for cash and laugh as they lose. Tired of observing quietly as our party apparatus is slowly paralyzed by those in power in order to control outcomes. Tired of being told to hold the line 10 years against a massive budget busting tax increase only to cave “on principle” the moment the fight becomes difficult. Of watching the fringe demand we turn our backs on an economic system of global and free trade — a system that destroyed the Soviet Union and preserved a post-Second World War peace — in favor of protectionism, nationalism, and a Fortress America mentality.
I refuse to live in fear of my fellow Americans.
I refuse to believe that tariffs are more favorable than free trade.
I refuse to trade American pluralism for European-style nationalism.
I refuse to sell out the promise of opportunity for the mediocrity of the state.
… and I refuse to support a man, a party, and an institution too weak to fight for its own principles.
For 25 years, I have believed — perhaps erroneously — that the Republican Party was the best home for my beliefs as a conservative, as a Virginian, and as a Catholic.
With the nomination of Corey Stewart? That is now an impossibility.
Americans have already made the historic decision that in a fight between nationalists and socialists, we choose the socialists … at least, for a time. Are we truly too timid to defend our freedom against its usurpers? Our grandfathers made this decision with a free conscience. Why in God’s name are we submitting to the rhetoric of fear when we are quite literally living in a golden age?
For one, I am fearfully concerned that we are submitting; openly kneeling to race-hustlers and fearmongers rather than engaging in an adult policy debate — all fueled by a media that loves to spin folks up and keep them watching commercials.
Yet rather than finding among us a Cincinnatus to save our republic, we are bordering on finding Sulla, Cataline, Pompey and Caesar.
Others may choose this course, but conscience demands that I cannot. In vain, I have looked for like-minded allies in this fight. Most of us either do not see the stakes clearly or are complicit in the rise, hoping we can tame the tiger while riding it to victory against a political left that has its own problems indeed.
Obedience to the RPV Party Plan in the hopes that we can change the system from within is what keeps most folks in line (let’s be honest). Is it worth our conscience? Is it worth our souls?
Yet whatever those problems are, whatever the threat political socialism presents to the American republic, the answer cannot, is not, and never will be white nationalism. My children deserve a better future than this; their children deserve a better future. If the great story of America is to be abruptly ended in a syrup of debt and moral relativism, I would much rather go down standing athwart history yelling STOP! rather than participate in the moral contagion of a once great party.
Perhaps there is no Republican Party to save? One would like to think there are lamps of freedom here or there, but for survival’s sake they seem to be hiding under baskets. Self-preservation rather than heroism seems to be the order of the day. So at the moment, we are watching in real time as the party of freedom descends into a party of rank and bitter nationalism.
So unless you stand up and do something now?
Get used to this sound and become comfortable with its grip. It will have you and the people you love by the throat soon enough.