At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher explains a new enthusiasm he is feeling for Republican politics. It stems, in part, from the recent speech delivered by J.D. Vance at a gala held by TAC recently. Dreher is also heartened by the emergence of Senator Josh Hawley as a force in Washington. Hawley’s recent maiden speech on the Senate floor was a defense of the sort of Main Street conservative values America was founded on. Dreher notes Hawley’s repudiation of Silicon Valley’s surveillance power, and the tech industry’s nearly unquestioned Washington lobbying apparatus. Dreher writes (abridged):
Longtime readers know that I’ve been down on the Republican Party for years. I left it formally in 2008, disgusted over the Iraq War and cronyism (specifically, the fact that despite 9/11, the Republican president put a provincial GOP deadhead in charge of FEMA, which was not ready for Katrina). I almost always vote Republican in national elections, not with any enthusiasm, but because on the issues I care about most — abortion, religious liberty, and various “social” concerns — the Republicans are better than the Democrats. I was no fan of Donald Trump, considering him to be a vulgar, crooked, unstable and unprincipled politician whose chief virtue was that he wrecked the Republican Party establishment. That, and the possibility that he would appoint good judges. Well, he has generally appointed good judges. But I remain Not A Fan, and the GOP has not distinguished itself by forging a new kind of conservatism out of the rubble demolished by Trump.
However! In the past month or so, I’ve become interested in, and even excited by, the possibility of Republican politics in a way I haven’t been in over a decade. First there was this speech J.D. Vance delivered at the TAC gala a few weeks ago. Excerpt:
I have been criticized from the Right for writing a book that if taken to its logical conclusions, would lead to a lot of big government programs, and I’ve been criticized from the Left for writing a libertarian small-government manifesto. And I don’t totally know what that means, maybe I’m just not a very good writer.
But what I think it means is that I was and continue to struggle with this idea of where does personal responsibility interact with the responsibility of politics in the broader society?
Read it all. Seriously, do. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get to the end of it and wonder when this guy is going to run for office. If there were a hundred Republicans like him, we could have a very different party.
It turns out that there is already a Republican like him sitting in the US Senate: first-term Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. I was traveling overseas when he gave his first-ever Senate floor speech, and so I missed commenting on it at the time. Here’s a link to the whole thing — and it is remarkable. It’s a speech about dignity, and its sources. Excerpts:
Now we must stand together to renew the promise of our enduring revolution.
We must put aside the tired orthodoxies of years past, and forge a new politics of national renewal.
We must begin by acknowledging that GDP growth alone cannot be the measure of this nation’s greatness. And so, it cannot be the only aim of this nation’s policy. Because our purpose is not to make a few people wealthy, but to sustain a great democracy.
And so, we need not just a bigger economy, but a better society.
We need a society that offers rewarding work for every worker who wants it, wherever she is from, whatever degree he might have, whether their ambition is to start a business or to start a family.
We need a society that will allow towns and neighborhoods to flourish across the great heartland of this country, not just in the mega-cities of the coasts.
We need a society that puts American workers first, that prioritizes them over cheap goods from abroad, and offers them the chance to better their station.
All this we must fight for and more.
We need to repair the torn fabric of our common life. We need a politics that prioritizes strong marriages and encourages strong families, where children can know their parents and be nurtured by their love.
We need strong schools and churches and co-ops.
Because these are the things that make liberty possible.
Read the whole thing. One thing that struck me about Hawley’s speech is how he identified Silicon Valley as an antagonist, and as one source of decay and decline. I commend to all of you Shoshana Zuboff’s book The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism. This is not a right-wing book, but it is a political book, in that the former Harvard Business School professor discusses in great depth the control that Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook have over our lives, via the personal data they mine, and how supine Washington is in the face of their lobbying.
If you are an ordinary Christian who holds standard orthodox Christian beliefs about sexuality, and you think for one second that your religious institutions will be left alone after having been tarred by attorneys representing the state, as well as the agents of popular culture, with the Klan smear, then you are dreaming.
Sen. Josh Hawley gets it, and is not willing to see Christians and their institutions destroyed for the sake of observing legal proprieties. Do any other Republicans? Many of the kinds of civil society institutions that both J.D. Vance and Sen. Josh Hawley recognize are necessary to reknit a badly fraying social fabric will be ripped to shreds by the Klan smear, both in law and in culture. Few if any Republicans have the backbone to make that explicit. Josh Hawley does.
Read more here.