We have entered a new era that is redrawing political battle lines. The widespread use of new communication technology has changed how Americans interact with one another and what they interact about. This can be seen most clearly in the fight between social justice progressives and free speech advocates on online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. This fighting has cracked the traditional left-right political spectrum.
The sustained efforts of “social justice warriors” (progressives who use identity politics to gain moral and social power) have ruined the reputations of many who identify as progressive due to their social and economic policy preferences. Gone are the days in which supporting unions, free speech, welfare programs, and the Civil Rights Act are enough to call yourself a progressive. The social justice progressives now decide if you are worthy depending on a long list of requirements, based on what part of the intersectional hierarchy you fall under. This hierarchy dictates what beliefs you are allowed to think and whether you can voice dissent.
If you speak out against the intersectional hierarchy or the radicals who use it as a political weapon, you risk being forced out of your community, fired, or shut down. Many victims of the ever-expanding “social justice” ideology have been fortunate enough that the new online media is open enough to allow a wide audience to hear their counterarguments.
However, it seems that even this space is soon to be attacked by the progressive crusade to destroy “hate speech.” The evidence for this can be seen in the increasing use of sanctions, such as “de-platforming,” defunding, or being fined for a private joke between friends. The new political divide of our future will lie between those who want to maintain or expand our liberties as free people, and those who wish to curb ever more of our rights under the fake mantras of “diversity” and “social justice.”
The Intersectional categories. Above the domination line is considered “privileged,” and therefore part of the “oppressor class.” Image source.
The old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and it still runs true. While many traditional progressives think the cultural battle is being fought to improve the lives of disadvantaged Americans, the social justice radicals are using these arguments to shield their true intentions: using authoritarian methods of beating their enemies and gaining power. The rise of groups that fetishize violence, such as Black Lives Matter, BAMN, and Antifa, have demonstrated that progressives who care about opportunities for minorities and women will not be spared once they cross the radicals.
Political Refugees and Building a New Movement
Where are liberals, moderates, and traditional progressives to go? The answer, as shown by the “Intellectual Dark Web,” is to band together and fight for issues such as free speech, civility, and the search for truth.
Civil libertarianism isn’t new, but it is becoming increasingly important in our political climate. Not everyone who is part of this growing movement is a free-market libertarian, nor must he be. At this moment, the free speech versus hate speech debate is the magnet pulling us together; but we must forge a new alliance based on adherence to civil liberties, civil debate, and our democratic-republican form of government.
There are three areas where we can focus on forging this alliance practically: building the narrative of our movement, creating a new policy platform, and campaigning for our vision.
Building the Narrative
American history is filled with two types of social-political movements: single-issue movements and large-scale movements. Single-issue movements, such as prohibition, die out once the issue is resolved. Large-scale movements often start as a single issue, but manage to transcend the bounds of a single phenomenon, and develop into a more coherent philosophy. For example, the American Revolution started primarily related to taxation and trade restrictions, but grew into a full scale fight for self-government, classical liberal economics, and republican ideals.
Now is the time to transcend the issue of free speech. We must build a philosophy in which liberty is the overall solution. Our philosophy could serve as the building block of a renewed and re-inspired conservative-libertarian movement, which combines conservative traditionalism and libertarian volunteerism to revitalize the American experiment of self-governance.
Our movement can push for practical solutions based on voluntary action, instead of government mandates. This could also provide a space for classical liberals and liberty-leaning progressives to work with us. Liberals desire more equitable outcomes in society, and through our movement they could be convinced to do so as a civil society through charity, non-profits, and individual action.
Creating the New Policy Platform
There are some areas in which conservatives or libertarians will not be able to align with our new allies, such as gun control or abortion. To give an extreme example of the underlying principle we need to adopt here: It was also distasteful for Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt to work with Joseph Stalin during World War II, but also necessary. Some conservatives and libertarians may hesitate to work with progressives, but to a certain degree, this will also be necessary to cooperate in defeating the bigger threat of authoritarian radicals.
Plus, there are many policy areas in which we can work together. The conservative position of federalism and the left’s call for localism could produce positive results, such as a renewed commitment to devolved spending and regulatory power to the states. According to 2018 Pew surveys, there is a 32 percent gap between those who have a favorable opinion of the federal government (35%), versus their local government (67%).
These surveys also show that 76 percent of people agree that “it would be too risky to give presidents more power to deal directly with the nation’s problems.” Let the citizens of each state decide what is best for themselves, and avoid the one-size-fits-all nature of the federal government.
Criminal justice reform can also address the conservative value of limited government, as well as liberals’ concern over social inequality. Congress has already recently passed a criminal justice reform bill. However, there is still room for expanding this effort further nationally and at the state level.
A third policy area for cooperation is government accountability. Radio host Mark Levin outlines the case for congressional and Supreme Court term limits in his book, “The Liberty Amendments.” Levin recognizes that term limits would serve us well in dismantling the political elite that swarms around Washington DC, which has enabled the unending growth of power and size of the federal government. Term limits are also a talking point for many liberals and progressives.
As we work on policy with the sensible progressives, we will build camaraderie and open up opportunities to sway more people. The media’s portrayal of us conservative libertarians as heartless and greedy racists has been a challenge. However, now that the radical progressives have begun to sacrifice their own, we have the opportunity to fight back against this propaganda.
Campaigning for our Vision
Electoral politics has an elephant in the room: Demographics. According to Pew’s survey data on opinions about the Republican Party, conservative libertarians should be concerned about three voter groups on the left side of the aisle: “Devout and Diverse” (working class, religious minorities), “Opportunity Democrats” (center-left, middle-class suburbanites), and “Bystanders” (millennials).
The “Opportunity Democrats,” of whom 73 percent disapprove of the GOP, seemed very offput by the Republican Party during the 2018 midterm elections. We will need to sway these people if conservatives hope to gain significant ground as a movement. A renewed conservatism must tackle our alienation from the “Devout and Diverse” group (58% disapproval) and the youthful “Bystanders” (48% disapproval).
We must find new ways to market our philosophy and policy successes. When we are able to convince these Americans that voluntary civic virtue, wide access to market participation through small business, and decentralized governance are the key to economic success and personal freedom, we will win their support.
The upcoming battles will force conservatives to work with odd bedfellows, as it already has in the Intellectual Dark Web. However, as long as the social justice progressives continue their war against free speech and dissent, we conservatives must both continue to accept partisan refugees like political commentator Dave Rubin and “professor in exile” Brett Weinstein. We must forge a movement based on respect for our republican values: free speech and free people.