Pro-Trump intellectuals think voters are 'too far gone' — and they must discard democracy to save America: analyst
Donald Trump / Gage Skidmore

On Tuesday, writing for Vox, Zack Beauchamp outlined how a specific class of far-right, theocratic, pro-Trump intellectuals have concluded from Republicans' 2022 midterm performance that democracy must be discarded in order to save the country.

Former President Donald Trump and most of his inner circle at least ostensibly claim to love American democracy, and simply challenge its legitimacy when they lose. But, wrote Beauchamp, even that is no longer the case for some on the right.

"A minority of New Right thinkers responded to defeat by suggesting the electorate is too far gone for conservatives to ever triumph — and even questioning the value of democracy itself," wrote Beauchamp. "'Democracy did not end slavery, and democracy will not end abortion,' declared Chad Pecknold, a self-described 'postliberal' theologian at Catholic University. What we’re seeing, through all these arguments, are the fissures splitting the right’s most vibrant intellectual movement — fault lines that could divide conservatism in the coming years."

This view is exemplified by Declan Leary, managing editor of The American Conservative, who argued that Republicans simply didn't go far enough in pushing a platform of illiberalism.

"Leary hails from a particular element of the New Right: the so-called 'integralists,' Catholic arch-conservatives who believe that the United States government should be replaced with a religious Catholic state," wrote Beauchamp. "Integralists are a part of a broader 'postliberal' trend among right-wing intellectuals that traces the cultural decay of American society back to its ruling liberal political philosophy: the doctrine that government should liberate people to pursue their own visions of the good life. Liberalism, they argue, promotes licentiousness and a corrosive individualism: It is the root cause of social ills like drug addiction, 'deaths of despair,' and family breakdown."

"Postliberals believe that instead of protecting individual freedom, government should aim to promote the 'common good' or 'highest good': to create a citizenry where people live good lives as defined by scripture and religious doctrine. This leads them to support an even more active role for the state than even the national conservatives, endorsing not only aggressive efforts to legislate morality but also expansions of the welfare state," wrote Beauchamp.

"From this point of view, the 2022 elections are a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Abandoning pro-life absolutism is not an option for them like it is for some national conservatives," he continued. "For those integralists unwilling to engage in Leary’s denialism, the dominant reaction to 2022 has been to blame the electorate — and even democracy itself."

"If thinking like this continues to spread on the right’s young cadres, the debates over the future of American conservatism could become even more bitter — and more grim — than they already are," concluded Beauchamp ominously.

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