A few weeks ago, I went to a Donald Trump rally in Nashville and waited in line for five hours only to get to the door the moment the rally ended. There were well over 10,000 people in line. Populism certainly is exciting when you’re there in the moment. Along with the mass of people exiting behind me, I walked out into the street right past the protestors.
“NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!” they chanted at me.
So I yelled back, “Nobody wants the KKK! Nobody likes fascism!”
Immediately after, all I could think was, “Dang it. I should’ve said, ‘KKK? Ever heard of Robert Byrd?’”
But now that I think about it, what I really should’ve said—what every single one of us should’ve said—was, “I support your free speech!”
I stormed off, angrily muttering to myself and thinking, “I want nothing more than for them to be free from tyranny, yet I’m the fascist.” So naturally, I bought a Make America Great Again hat and proudly wore it down the street only to have someone flick me off.
Anyone who knows me knows I am no Donald Trump fan. But having someone who doesn’t even support free speech scream at you that you’re a fascist only makes you want to bolt in the opposite direction and buy the first bright red MAGA hat you see.
In last night’s episode of Louder with Crowder, Steven Crowder said something that was especially thought-provoking.
Sure, it might be fun to trigger leftists and wear your MAGA hat around town purely to make them flick you off and scream and cry in fury. But as Crowder said, “You have to remember that people are watching you and that you are planting seeds.”
Everything we do now matters to future generations. A recent study found that Generation Z is the most conservative generation in 70 years. But we could still lose them, just as Barack Obama lost them to us.
“If there’s no principle, if there are no values to instill in someone else, you cannot plant seeds,” Crowder said.
If you have no actual principle to back up the message you’re sending, you’re going to lose people in the long run. If you’re fighting the Left, but you’re only fighting the Left for the sake of fighting the Left, then you’re going to eventually lose the next generation…to the Left.
If you hate socialized medicine for no other reason other than because the Left likes socialized medicine, then you know what will happen when someone within in your own party, someone you love and praise ceaselessly, starts warming up to the idea? You’ll go along with it. Because it’s not the idea you oppose; it’s the person. It’s not the principle you stand for; it’s the party.
Anti-establishment populism isn’t always about freedom. It isn’t always about free markets and individualism. It isn’t always about limited government. It isn’t even always about being against the establishment. Sometimes, it’s just about wanting a different establishment.
“It’s not really a belief,” Crowder said, “It’s not really a deeply held value.” He was right. Populism isn’t a value. It’s a way of having a value.
This is the conservative message: Take the power out of the hands of government and return it to the individual.
If you stand for this principle, you have to be willing to criticize your political god-kings when they don’t live up to it…because odds are they won’t.
Populism can turn on you on a dime. Power can always be used against you, because it won’t always be you who wields it.
For my fellow nerds out there, here are two metaphors I always use for power and government: There’s a reason Gandalf refused to take the Ring. There’s a reason Dumbledore refused to be Minister for Magic.
Trump supporters, if you’re with me on this principle, then I am also with you.
Here is my message to you: If you want to keep Generation Z and those to follow it on your side, you have to fight for actual principles, actual values, or else you risk the day when a populist hero on the Left comes along and scoops them all up for his own. You have to stand for something, not just against something.
You want to truly fight the Left? Great. Then fight what they stand for. When Orwellian “antifascists” scream at you that you’re the fascist, join me in saying in response, “I support your free speech!”
Louder with Crowder full episode:
Listen to Mark Levin discuss Richard Nixon and the big-government, progressive wing of the Republican Party: