November 8, 2022 Editor

The Quiet Part is Very Much Out Loud: Conservative Publication Calls For Embrace of Totalitarianism


November 7, 2022

WN: Christian Nationalism, according to this article, is now in the conservative mainstream. This is profoundly disturbing. This is immensely scary.


White Christian nationalism has been shown by researchers to be strongly connected to authoritarianism and anti-democratic sentiment. “White Christian nationalism is not just in the people who stormed the Capitol but it’s powerfully associated and a leading predictor of whether people affirm authoritarian tactics to control populations they think are problems,” sociologist Sam Perry told The Washington Post. More and more of the Right’s representatives are claiming the mantle of Christian nationalism openly, rather than dismissing it as a left-wing conspiracy theory as they have in the past.

What he imagines is a new founding; a rebirth of what he considers the “true” America, one that is White, conservative, and Christian. He makes it abundantly clear, that there can be no compromise: . . .

Even in the midst of the increasing bombastic and violent rhetoric coming from the Right, however, a recent article in The Federalist managed to reach new heights on the “saying the quiet part out loud” podium. In it, Federalist senior editor John Daniel Davidson openly calls for conservatives to embrace totalitarianism to rebuild society in their image.  Conservatives’ task, he claims, has been to prevent the “ascendant left” from dismantling “our constitutional system and transform America into a woke dystopia.” This is a stunning case of projection, as he then goes on to describe a truly nightmarish, dystopian totalitarian state—but one that conservatives should establish by weaponizing state power to bend society to their will.

But this article was published in The Federalist—an online magazine firmly rooted in American conservatism, not its fringes. It was founded in 2013 by Ben Domenech and Sam Davis. Domenech, who’s married to Meghan McCain, has worked with right-wing think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and The Heartland Institute. To this day, it’s unclear who funds the magazine—although, according to the Center for Media and Democracy’s Alex Kotch, 2019 tax returns reveal that at least some of its money comes from shipping supply billionaire and Republican mega-donor Richard Uihlein, and some from the Koch-linked DonorsTrust, which has been dubbed the “dark money ATM” of the Right.

According to conservative commentator Matt K. Lewis, “sites like The Federalist try to bridge the gap” between more stodgy, traditional conservative outlets like the National Review, and a conservative version of Buzzfeed, “by providing serious commentary that is typically written by young, pop culture–savvy writers.”

You are either with him or against him—on board with fascism or to blame that “Western civilization” withers and dies, wilted and ultimately killed by the corrupting forces of social justice, civil rights, secularism and democracy. His vision for America is a mirror of the dystopia he accuses the left of trying to establish: . . .

So what should conservatives be calling themselves, then? According to Davidson, they need to “start thinking of themselves as radicals, restorationists, and counterrevolutionaries. Indeed, that is what they are, whether they embrace those labels or not.”

As a historical example to aspire to, he quite tellingly offers “the Pilgrims—those iron-willed and audacious Christians who refused to accept the terms set by the mainstream of their time and set out to build something entirely new.” That, in many cases, they tried to establish theocratic enclaves is nothing that deters Davidson, as we will soon discover, so this choice of historical aspiration is on-point for him.

His disdain for his fellow conservatives’ reservations against wielding state power and calls to abandon any libertarian influence make perfect sense: the belief in “small government” that’s been a part of the GOP for so long stands in the way of the totalitarian use of state power to enforce the minority’s will on the majority of Americans. Davidson spells out exactly what he means:

“Put bluntly, if conservatives want to save the country they are going to have to rebuild and in a sense re-found it, and that means getting used to the idea of wielding power, not despising it. Why? Because accommodation or compromise with the left is impossible.”

This is an open threat—and a call to conservatives to use the state power to suppress their political opponents.

This assertion—that the left isn’t just a political opponent, but a fundamentally un-American force that needs to be squashed, is now a mainstream view in American conservatism. Therefore, Davidson claims, conservatives need to embrace government power—and use it to shape the society that they envision—a society where White, conservative Christians rule, and everyone else has to bend to their will, democracy be damned:

“The left will only stop when conservatives stop them, which means conservatives will have to discard outdated and irrelevant notions about ‘small government.’ The government will have to become, in the hands of conservatives, an instrument of renewal in American life—and in some cases, a blunt instrument indeed.”

Keep universities and schools in line that do not toe the White Christian nationalist line. On the state-level, Ron DeSantis has charged forward, using the power of the state legislature to threaten universities with defunding should they not behave to conservatives’ liking. Other conservative influencers like trans-hating Matt Walsh have not made a secret of their disdain for the existence of no-fault divorce. A society where women can leave marriages, simply because they choose to? To them, this is an abomination.

It’s therefore not surprising for Davidson to claim that “marriage as it has been understood for thousands of years” no longer exists or that he remembers fondly “the medieval European traditions of arranged marriage.” If any doubt remains as to what Davidson and his friends have in store, he spells it out bluntly: those who don’t fit into his worldview will be jailed.

“In other contexts, wielding government power will mean a dramatic expansion of the criminal code. It will not be enough, for example, to reach an accommodation with the abortion regime, to agree on ‘reasonable limits’ on when unborn human life can be snuffed out with impunity. (…) The Dobbs decision was in a sense the end of the beginning of the pro-life cause. Now comes the real fight, in state houses across the country, to outlaw completely the barbaric practice of killing the unborn.”

Please click on: Much Out Loud

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.