In a post on “The Hill We Climb,” the poem so eloquently delivered by 22-year-old Amanda Gorman at Joe Biden’s inaugural ceremony, David Marcus of The Federalist argues “Hers were the most honest remarks of the day in terms of what the American left actually believes.” Yet, Marcus doesn’t make it completely clear which beliefs he has in mind. Commenting on Gorman’s line “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” Marcus wonders if this applies only to the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6 or to Donald Trump supporters in general. Later on, he voices his concern is that progressives think “large numbers of Americans are basically racist…are deplorable and must be deprogrammed.”
In contrast, Marcus insists that many conservatives are “increasingly disturbed by what their kids learn in school, by their daughters competing against boys in athletics…”
Interestingly, he sees one of Trump’s achievements as reducing the stigma of racism:
On some level, Donald Trump’s presidency took the sting out of accusations of racism or bigotry against those who do not hold progressive moral and social values. Republicans should not be shy about these issues. Rather they should face them directly as Trump did.
Much is undecided and unknown as we embark on the administration of President Joe Biden. One thing is not. Conservatives will not return to a prone, defensive position on issues of race and culture, nor should they. The post-Trump conservative movement will be culture warriors who look a lot more like Andrew Breitbart than Mitt Romney. That is progress, and it must be maintained.
I mention all this to provide context for Marcus’s latest offering, which is a call for Mitch McConnell to step down or be ousted as the leader of the Senate Republicans.
Marcus, a Manhattanite with experience in theatre who has written for The Federalist since 2013, praises McConnell’s prior service, and especially his decision to deny Merrick Garland a place on the Supreme Court. Yet, McConnell “seems completely opposed to” letting “the conservative movement grow into its new form.”
Whereas McConnell represents “the pro-war, pro-corporate party he came up in” and is “willing to lose everything as long as big business does well,” the future is “a new working-class, diverse party…not McConnell’s white guys at the Rotary Club.”
Yet, in this piece, Marcus doesn’t explain what the working-class wants that distinguishes it from the big business types. In fact, the only sin McConnell seems to have committed is “playing a ridiculous game of footsie with the idea of convicting Donald Trump in his absurd impeachment.”
Marcus argues this move by McConnell “is nothing short of a betrayal of Republican voters” because “It is obvious that conservative voters have not abandoned Trump, even if he has.”
Republican voters won’t have it anymore. They know we are in a culture war that [McConnell] has no interest in fighting. We need Republican leaders who will.
Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton will fight this fight. These are the leaders we need. McConnell’s GOP was destroyed by Trump, but McConnell still doesn’t know it. He’d rather throw in with those who prefer losing to fighting. No. We aren’t going back to McConnell’s losing coalition. Trump lost, but he brought a new group of people to the GOP… It’s time for us to take up Trump’s call for a populist conservatism.
It’s only in Marcus’s piece on Amanda Gorman that he explains the important elements of the “culture war” that Hawley, Cruz, Rubio and Cotton will fight, and McConnell won’t. Chief among them is the insistence that conservatives “not return to a prone, defensive position on issues of race…”
This is precisely why I wrote on Thursday that the (second) impeachment battle is less about Trump than the future of white supremacy in American politics.
Marcus never questions McConnell’s commitment to small government or a strong national defense. He doesn’t talk about religion or abortion and, other than a complaint about girls and boys playing sports together, Marcus has nothing to say about gender roles or sexual preference.
Insofar that Marcus cares about these traditional conservative concerns, he knows that McConnell fought ably for them by stacking the federal courts with right-wing judges.
And, while it’s true that Marcus criticizes McConnell for being pro-war and pro-corporate, that didn’t warrant his removal from power until he expressed possible support for Trump’s conviction.
It’s clear that McConnell’s sin is not that he’s a Rotary Club Republican but that he won’t defend the Confederacy of Dunces who stormed the Capitol. The vote on Trump’s impeachment is really just a proxy for whether the party belongs to the racist insurrectionists or not.
After all, Trump is in retirement now. Marcus says, “The post-Trump conservative movement will be culture warriors who look a lot more like Andrew Breitbart than Mitt Romney.”
No one can seriously argue that McConnell hasn’t been a warrior for the Conservative Movement, but he’s now confronted with a conundrum. The post-Trump conservatives want a race war, and if he’s not on board with that then he has a more formidable enemy than Harry Reid or Chuck Schumer to contend with. If he thinks he can preserve his power by siding with people like Marcus, he’s sadly mistaken. The Breitbarters want his head, so his only option is to side with Mitt Romney and the Democrats, and put a stake in Trump’s future political prospects.