blake masters
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On Friday, writing for The New Republic, political scientist Graham Gallagher argued that, completely independently of becoming more radicalized and conspiracy-theory minded, GOP elite culture is simply "getting weirder" — and that it "might begin to cost Republicans elections in years to come and undermine their own appeals to American patriotism in a way policy extremism alone could not."

"American voters see the political parties as equally extreme in policy, ignoring evidence that Republicans have moved right much faster than Democrats have moved left," wrote Gallagher. "However, a party fixated on genital sunning, seed oils, Catholic integralism, European aristocracy, and occultism can alienate voters not because of its positions but because of how it presents them — and itself. Among the right’s intellectual avant garde and media elites, there is a growing adoption of habits, aesthetics, and views that are not only out of step with America’s but are deliberately cultivated in opposition to a national majority that the new right holds in contempt."

Among the examples of this, Gallagher noted, is former congressman and Texas Republican Party chair Allen West joining the Knights Templar, the monastic order of soldiers who played a key role in the Medieval Crusades, and failed Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters praising the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber.

"The most outwardly visible element of the extremely online weird right is its often nonsensical lifestyle and consumption habits," wrote Gallagher. "The subculture has not only embraced vaccine hesitancy — once primarily a creature of the left — but also fringe health and dietary practices that recall the wildest excesses of 1960s new age spiritualism. The claims are varied and, to differing degrees, absurd: Real men don’t eat soybeans; seed oils are dangerous; meat substitutes will turn men into women and also are made from bugs (they aren’t); the best diet is all-meat. This is no mere online phenomenon: Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas has stated that if one eats artificially cultured meat, 'you’ll turn into a SOCIALIST DEMOCRAT.'"

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These new beliefs cropping up on the right, Gallagher argued, are a sign of "declining social trust" among conservatives — as is the growing segment of the Right that believes in abolishing women's suffrage and enforcing traditional homemaking among women who are increasingly working outside the home.

A parallel can be drawn to left-wing academics, argued Gallagher, who for years have drawn criticism from both the right and center for creating their own insular political language and pushing concepts that the average American doesn't understand. This is, in part, what some have come to derogatorily refer to as "wokeness." But, he argued, the left appears to be backing down from this subculture for the sake of appealing to normal Americans and maintaining political relevance — whereas "The right is learning the opposite lesson."

"Far-right YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson suggested in 2020 that the right is 'the new punk rock.' But that may not be to the right wing’s electoral advantage," wrote Gallagher. "Subcultures, by their very nature, exclude or look down on the bulk of the public and tend not to win electoral power, a lesson the left learned the hard way. Far-right billionaires can pump money into New York film festivals and sceney parties, but in doing so, they are unlearning the language of American majoritarian values. Even as the left—in fits and starts—relearns normalcy, the right is abandoning it."