In my experience, the last thing people will forgive you for is being right while they were wrong. This election result was just narrow enough that it’s clear a reckoning is not going to happen. Instead, conservatives are going to be tempted by the idea that the real ticket to winning is Trumpism without Trump—all the illiberal nationalism, but without the crazy tweeting.

In other words, Josh Hawley.

I think this is an illusion. The crazy tweets, the conspiracy theories, the blustering megalomania—those were the keys to Trump’s political success. His reliance on personal celebrity, combined with a basic indifference toward policy and ideas, is the essence of Trumpism. Nationalist intellectuals are just trying to backfill their ideology into this void.

I doubt it’s going to work, but that is the big ideological question that didn’t get settled in this election.

This indicates the future direction for advocates of liberty: We can expect to spend less time than we might have feared fighting against Biden administration assaults on individual liberty—simply because Democrats won’t be able to do all that much—and more time fighting the intellectual battle for freedom against the nationalist wing of conservatism.