Who, then, are the “MAGA patriots” that Wax wants to see prevail? It’s Texas GOP chairman Allen West, who, Wax notes with apparent approval, “talks of secession.” Nothing says love of country quite like suggesting that it be torn asunder. It’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman from QAnon, whom Wax characterizes as merely “the bane of neocon warmongers.” It’s also celebrities such as Dave Portnoy, Kanye West, and Matthew McConaughey, for reasons he does not disclose. As much as I enjoy Portnoy’s pizza reviews, Kanye’s music, and would enjoy a McConaughey Lincoln car commercial–style political ad campaign, I don’t believe they would make more effective operators than Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney.
There are two different axes upon which the battle for the GOP’s soul is presently and perpetually being fought. One is over policy, and pits traditional Buckleyite fusionism against a more, populist, nationalist conservatism. On this axis, there is room for compromise, and for the development of an updated fusionist party that leaves the Right’s myriad constituencies mostly though not wholly satisfied. The other axis pits constitutionalism, restraint, and procedural conservatism against a visceral, power-addicted, paranoid style — one that talks proudly of secession and that takes its cues on democratic norms from former California senator Barbara Boxer and would-be Georgia governor Stacey Abrams.
Wax would likely agree with me that there is far less room for compromise in this latter fight, but would disagree with my side of allegiance, which is the first. Perhaps this is because he sees the role of institutions such as the Young Republicans Club differently. To Wax, Trump’s popularity mandates adherence to his exact policy agenda and to an unquestioning belief in whatever conspiracy theory he might push: Might makes right. To me, it is the responsibility of conservative writers, thinkers, pundits, and politicians to speak the truth. Right now, that means accepting that Trump lost the election, acknowledging that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Allen West are not assets to the party, and unequivocally denouncing the president for asking elections officials to “find” the exact number of votes needed to flip a state into his column — an act that is not only unpatriotic, but impeachable.