Culture Wars/Current Controversies

‘The New Conservative Theory of American Politics,’ by Jonathan Chait

These are turbulent political times and a lot has changed in the Republican Party, and the conservative moment more broadly, in the eight years since Jeb(!) Bush looked like a lock to win the 2016 nomination. That has included an evolving political theory within conservative ranks of what, exactly, the GOP should be doing right now and why. Political columnist Jonathan Chait finds a blueprint of the American right’s new big idea of itself in two recent books — one a collection of essays on the theme of “revitalizing the right” and the other by the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo called America’s Cultural Revolution. Jonathan lays out an argument that this new vision is built around two convictions. The first is that the left has been conducting a multi-decade project to take control of formerly nonpartisan organizations like universities, large corporations, and bureaucracies — a “long march through the institutions.” The second is that this “fact” demands a specific response from the right: namely, the use of directly elected political officials to counter it. (Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s war on Disney being an example of what that might look like.) The left’s long march is not totally imaginary, Jonathan notes — even if the right’s version of it is vastly overblown — but what these conservative thinkers fail to see is that their proposed response will only throw gasoline on the phenomenon that they are concerned about.

—Jebediah Reed, editor, Intelligencer

Conservatives Have a New Master Theory of American Politics “The long march through the institutions” is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Photo: Corbis via Getty Images/Corbis via Getty Images

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