Feature 06.15.2023 20 minutes

The Constitution, Citizenship, and the New Right

American Flag—USA Old Glory Fourth of July Stars, Stripes

Conservatives must reassert the mores and moral virtues of self-government.

Editors’ Note

What follows is a modified excerpt from Kevin Slack’s new book, War on the American Republic.

In the face of a powerful American kleptocracy, conservatives should not conclude in discouragement or despair but in ruthless, radical analysis and questioning—smashing the old idols—followed by hope. Increasingly young Americans mock the incompetent, corrupt, and degenerate cosmopolitan ruling class. And they no longer believe in the conservative lies that sold their birthright. They should openly disdain the propaganda designed to convince them that resistance is hopeless, that nothing can stop the shadows of tyranny creeping over the West. Moreover, they must awaken to the truth that they are the West, not a mere idea in musty books but their own flesh and blood, which they can restore when they themselves flourish. Their salvation is the salvation of the West. While it will be no easy task, if they stand up and assert themselves, then they will begin a renaissance, recovering their long-lost religious and political traditions.

The Constitution

The New Right both exposes the false priests of the kleptocracy and smashes conservative political idols as it reassesses appeals to the U.S. Constitution and our supposedly sacred political ideals. The idea of “democracy” in its current usage is a farce. Michael Bloomberg praises China as a “democracy” even as U.S. public intellectuals and financiers openly praise Chinese despotic state control. According to Di Dongsheng, professor at Renmin University and a CCP member, the U.S. political system is governed by “the Establishment” or “Deep State,” which “refers to the U.S. military, intelligence, State Department, Treasury Department, Commerce Department, Office of the United States Trade Representatives, and the judiciary”—unaccountable bureaucrats in collusion with Wall Street.

For the Deep State, democracy means importing a new populace to vote for a welfare state run by rich overlords. Legitimacy is claimed by lawless mail-in elections where a “designated third party” harvests the ballots of an “underrepresented” dependent class with no stake in society. In 2018 the Democratic Party in California cast 250,000 ballots (one-half of its total) in Orange County, taking every seat. But in today’s parlance, democracy does not mean majority rule. When the majority sides against the rulers, the state overturns its will on gay marriage, transgenderism, immigration, trade, and foreign wars. Under democracy, the kleptocracy plans to reduce rural Americans to serf-like status. National elections thus become sham forums to remove natural and civil rights, such as the right to free speech, assembly, association, and self-defense. The Democratic Party pushes race reparations, the Green New Deal, registering AR-15s, and federal management of shareholder equity but not private equity, which secures the wealth of the top 1 percent. It promises amnesty, naturalization for 22 million immigrants to secure future elections and permanent Democratic rule. Finally, democracy means violence at the hands of the health police or BLM mobs, forcing whites to kneel in submission and abjectly confess their privilege.

Today’s references to the republic are also often a farce. Because its decaying institutions still promise resistance, Democratic candidates put forward the most radical proposals: to pack the Supreme Court, abolish the Electoral College, scrap the filibuster, and add new states to the union. While institutional reforms could check the unaccountable bureaucracy, the efficacy of those institutions depends on the strength of republican mores that Republican Party elites have traded for monopolies, outsourcing, and open borders—more kleptocracy and managed national decline.

Prerogative has replaced the rule of law. Elected congressmembers do not read thousand-page bills filled with corporate exemptions and written by staffers who cash out for jobs as lobbyists and compliance consultants. Congress delegates lawmaking authority to administrative agencies, whose unelected bureaucrats make, enforce, and adjudicate their own rules—James Madison’s definition of tyranny. This creeping ooze of bureaucracy is a faction with no institutional check on behalf of the people—and it even celebrates its power to lie to and resist the orders of elected officials.

Government now means administrative fiat with myriad exemptions; enforcement is selective and inconsistent, intrusive and violent, dependent on political connections, and often an outright shakedown. A network of unaccountable intelligence agencies spies on U.S. citizens, while a praetorian guard of warrior cops and SWAT teams kicks in doors and throws in flash grenades for online gambling, selling raw milk, copyright infringement, or perjury.

With an absentee Congress, conservatives often look to the judiciary, citing precedent and case law. And at the local level in criminal and civil law, U.S. citizens still have one of the best legal justice systems in the world. But at the federal level, the Constitution and documents like The Federalist no longer explain how government actually works. Indeed they expose its illegitimacy. Thus legal appeals to the Constitution and precedent are often a farce.

The Constitution aimed to protect natural rights; now it is used to subvert them. In the 1980s, “Constitutional originalism” justified monopolies; in the 1990s it justified affirmative action. Today’s “judicial engagement,” using the courts to constrain the other branches, is a halfway house, protecting rights under exemptions to regulations. Courts now uphold agencies’ alterations of the wording of laws. While the progressive wing of the Supreme Court makes up rulings from whatever provisions it can find, the opinions of “conservative” Chief Justice John Roberts or “textualist” Neil Gorsuch are often unprincipled concessions: Gorsuch ruled that the word “sex” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act refers to transgender identity, and Roberts refused to hear Christians’ petition for their right to worship. The Court’s politicking shows the limitations of the conservative strategy of entrusting sacred rights to unprincipled lawyers.

COVID-19 and the BLM riots revealed the breakdown of the rule of law, and leftists openly call organized violence an effective strategy. Professor Daniel Gillion has argued that “violent protest has a positive impact on political and policy change.” It brings urgency, while nonviolent protest only brings awareness. NPR featured Vicky Osterweil’s In Defense of Looting, which presents the “strategy of looting” as a way to attack “whiteness and white supremacy.” The riots, funded by corporations and abetted by Republican silence, defunded, demoralized, and overwhelmed local police. The Left seeks to monopolize the state’s agents of force, purging the military and creating a national police force while passing emergency decrees to create spaces for its use.

Many conservatives have now become convinced that, unless they are willing to allow their churches to be desecrated, their sacred services cancelled, their property and liberty taken away, and their children indoctrinated or chemically castrated, they must be willing to engage in violence of their own. One now hears the question asked, albeit still quietly: “Where’s the New Right’s Antifa or BLM?”; “Who is threatening corporations that have sided against us in the culture war?”; “Should their windows and properties be safe from our bats and bullets?”; “If conservatives are harassed in the cities, why are Democrats not harassed in our towns and fired from their jobs?”; “Would not our natural rights to life, liberty, and property—for all races—be better protected by a strongman than a kleptocracy?”


Considering the future of the American nation, there are two alternatives. The first is a return to the founders’ citizenship revolution, a shared national identity against cosmopolitanism, with colorblind law, absolute free association, and America First economic policies. Most importantly, it requires a border wall and an immigration freeze so that Americans can assimilate and become one people. It would end dual citizenship for the wealthy who refuse patriotic commitment. It would use long-standing antitrust laws to dissolve monopolies that threaten freedom. It would boost the middle class with a return of living-wage jobs in industry and technology. It would end both the stream of millions of illegal immigrants who compete for American jobs and homes and H-1B visas that allow companies like Disney to fire their workforce after making them train cheap replacements. It would be a return to national self-sufficiency: protecting industries and scrapping 1,200-page “free trade” deals that benefit special interests. And it would promote an America First foreign policy. The adoption of imperialism has meant the violation of American principles both abroad and at home.

This first alternative, economic nationalism, is unlikely without changes that amount to revolution. Returning to the principles of the nation-state would require the rule of law—universal and enforced. It would mean not just the end of rule by arbitrary regulation but reclaiming sovereignty from the bureaucracy. Nor are kleptocrats and their priests confused about what America is—they hate it. Stoking violent mobs, they erase its history, destroying or removing statues of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, and Lincoln. Conservatives own American symbols. The kleptocrats openly proclaim their shame of them; they love the U.S. only insofar as it immolates itself in service to a global order—they call illegal immigrants “more American” than citizens.

They are intent on shaming whites whose ancestors settled here and on eradicating the Western tradition, both its natural law Christianity and the republican institutions that preserve freedom. The Smithsonian openly ridicules “Whiteness,” the morals of the old middle class: individualism, hard work, justice, time management, delayed gratification, the scientific method, and Judeo-Christianity. Minorities who embrace these morals are called “white supremacists.” Public figures openly celebrate the decline and replacement of the white population. Biden demanded “an unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop”: “Folks like me who are Caucasian, of European descent, for the first time in 2017 we’ll be in an absolute minority in the United States of America, absolute minority…. That’s not a bad thing, that’s a source of our strength.” Biden never would make such a statement about another race.

The alternative, civil conflict, has already begun. This fact only reflects the nation’s spiritual war. Asked about the American Revolution, John Adams wrote that, properly speaking, it was not the war but a revolution “in the minds and hearts of the people, a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.” It occurred when the colonists realized that the British Crown was “a cruel beldam, willing, like Lady Macbeth, to ‘dash their brains out.’” That revolution is occurring as elites rage against those who challenge their absolute authority even if it destroys the society itself.

Declaring a COVID emergency, they mandated vaccines even when it decimated the labor force and supply chains while taxing small business. Declaring a climate change emergency, they reduced oil production to drive up gas prices. Declaring an emergency of white supremacy, they defunded police to bring record crime spikes and opened the borders to millions of illegal immigrants that lower the standard of living. Declaring a mass shooting emergency, they promise to disarm rural Americans with low crime rates. And they remove their political opponents’ civil liberties and make them the objects of open ridicule, contempt, even hatred. Hollywood stokes bloodlust by romanticizing the genocide of bigoted rural whites.

The only force that can oppose this servitude is an armed citizenry with a stake in society, angry about its managed decline, and insistent upon its rights. Thus the kleptocrats’ fear is an armed citizenry above all, and they seek to register, then confiscate, AR-15s to render the people defenseless against state coercion. Such tyranny could trigger open conflict—Americans own some 500 million firearms. And while the Left celebrates revolution, its marchers have never seen the systematic ordering force of conservatism when prodded to destruction. The Left can claim control of the bureaucracy and military command, but of actual fighting forces it holds few—it has alienated local police and the 3.3 million veterans who have returned from recent imperial wars. The Right, after such a long train of abuses, must confront whether it would be willing to leap into the revolutionary abyss. This willingness and preparedness for war may be the way to prevent open conflict, to force a common recognition of some table of values, of inalienable rights not subject to negotiation.

The New Right

If those in authority continue to tread on the people’s remaining liberties and customs, then conservatives must consider the possible outcomes of our current crisis. Sitting around our campfire, our backs turned to those who might listen in, we must discuss a theory of political action. Conservative intellectuals must reconnect with their republican communities and reconsider questions concerning justice and the human good. They have too long regurgitated abstract systems of positive law or the Constitution without connecting their underlying principles to contemporary politics. Even worse, they have equated culture with aestheticism removed from the economic and political lifeblood of a community. Cultural conservatives who move to rural areas because they want to be around some of the older traditions bring with them the cosmopolitan habits that subvert them. Given the promise of tyranny, conservative intellectuals must openly ally with the AR-15 crowd.

While 2020-21 exposed the despotic kleptocracy, it also showed the crucial role of state and local republican institutions. At school board meetings, parents denounced the teachers who forced COVID policies, transgenderism, and Critical Race Theory on their children. Citizens attended library board meetings to pressure the removal of sexually explicit books and partisan employees their taxes had paid for. They signed up as school board members, precinct committee members, and election inspectors. Young conservatives went to their state capitals to learn how to change their laws.

Republican legislatures in 26 states weakened the powers of their state boards of health. Sixteen states either limited the power of health officials to order mask mandates and quarantines or restored to themselves the authority to prevent the spread of disease. Seventeen states banned or rendered ineffective COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Seventeen states restricted the teaching of Critical Race Theory. Fourteen states barred transgender athletes from competing in single-sex sports opposite their biological sex. Responding to the 2020 election by mail-in ballots, 14 states passed laws to increase their management over elections and introduce stiffer penalties for election law violations. Twenty-five states passed new voter identification laws. Their next task should be to remove the legislative term limits that effectively turn political power over to unelected Democratic Party members in the bureaucracy.

There are still many jurisdictions where the rule of civil and criminal law prevails, but our current state of affairs has moved us closer to a state of nature. In chaotic cities, mayors and governors have refused to protect life, liberty, and property, and the president fails to protect the nation’s borders. But the kleptocracy can never take away natural rights.

In these moments the New Right must remember its own superior and more ancient philosophy of revolution: an “Appeal to Heaven,” for which there is no arbiter on earth. They must conserve our founders’ radical claim to republicanism, defending our inalienable natural rights under the laws of nature and nature’s God.

We have already, during the COVID coup, led one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in American history. Under pressure, and even all alone, millions of ordinary citizens refused to wear masks, receive experimental COVID vaccines, or cover their children’s faces, forcing stores, restaurants, and educators to uncomfortably become minions of the state. Against the threat of violence, by the police or by the mob, we attended church and met in our homes. Despite the tired, poor, masked masses huddling in urban apartments, life continued on as normal outside the cities and suburbs. Americans learned how to inconvenience and shame every bureaucrat sent to tyrannize them. In the end, someone has to execute those orders, and only a few prostituted souls are willing to do so. In its inability to crush civil disobedience in the provinces, the empire, an order of degenerate schoolmarms rarely capable of concerted and direct conflict, showed how weak it truly is.

But American citizens were not alone. Some red state governors ignored or openly resisted federal mandates, and local mayors, city councils, attorneys general, and police refused to enforce or prosecute state violations. Any governor can rise to the fore of the Republican Party for a few acts of defiance against federal tyranny. What arose was a model to empower red states—a union of red state governors could collectively make business respond to decency, to control transnational corporations and regulatory agencies within their borders. It could punish Big Tech and woke corporations for their censorship; it could fire state employees for teaching identity politics. The greatest test is whether red states will strengthen their national guards and protect their borders from the current invasion of illegal immigrants and laborers subsidized by the kleptocracy. While it seems impossible, someday state leaders may prioritize their citizens’ freedoms over greed. The leadership of the Republican Party rests with those brave enough to force a constitutional crisis in a system that refuses to protect its citizens’ rights. Leftist judges can enforce their own edicts.

Individuals only leave a state of nature by looking to ties of trust, blood, faith, and honor to form voluntary associations for the protection of life, liberty, and property. The New Right is beginning to return to education in its highest sense—reviving family and localism to form habits for a different way of life. It is either dropping out of the system or forming its own parallel systems with their own rules—charter and home-schooling cooperatives, media outlets, homesteads, farmers’ markets, and independent businesses. Able-bodied men, no longer isolated, are returning to republican manliness in a culture of physical fitness and responsible weaponry. They are buying AR-15s and Glock 17s and training with their friends, not FBI-infiltrated militias or online strangers but trustworthy lifelong friends to build a community alongside. Rural Christian women are questioning the corporate, cosmopolitan harem, its cats substituting for children, and are once again becoming the centers of their societies, guiding their own children’s health and morals. Only when Christians remember their long tradition of just war will mobs reconsider destroying their churches and schools.

At the core of every political regime is faith. The New Right must reflect on the Christian theology that has informed the West for 2,000 years. The awakening from the soporific myths of secular priests and the failure of Christian leaders to stoke the flames of faith has forced all Western peoples to see the demonic presence before them: the vilification of whites, the open celebration of pedophilia, the puberty blockers and surgeries that irreversibly dwarf and deform young girls, the castration of young men for a new class of imperial eunuchs, the sterilization of young women and the selling of their bodies as disposable temple prostitutes, the parasitism upon the opioid addictions of broken people, the scientific experiments on human babies, and the praise of Chinese depots who harvest the organs of caged slaves.

Christianity is not a mere idea but a way of life and a community in which the absolute God reveals Himself and administers His grace. It must once again become a fighting faith, the inheritance of the battles of Edington, Tours, and Lepanto. Nor is the community of saints a mere analogue but the living spirits who war against the wickedness and snares of the devil and who again urge us to battle slavery. The Christian is “bound by the law of nature and revelation,” preached Simeon Howard to Boston’s Artillery Company in 1773, to resist both spiritual and physical despotism, to defend his natural rights and those of his posterity. “Heaven has made us their guardians, and intrusted to our care their liberty, honour, and happiness…. If the present inhabitants of a country submit to slavery, slavery is the inheritance which they will leave their children.”

The first lesson for conservatives is the construction of a militant language necessary for a return to politics, meaning, literally, the education in beautiful speeches, and honor and shame, rather than the education in pleasure and pain. The first word we must resurrect is evil. It is almost impossible to overstate the evil of the globalist American empire, which trades social media for real communities, verbal vomit for communication, and virtual shopping for local business. The second word is degenerate, noting the global empire’s deformation of souls and its education in weakness and servitude. The most degenerate are the broken souls of its priesthood who traffic in others’ children and revel in their bodily mutilation.

Unsurprisingly, the New Right has a monopoly on beauty, praising masculine men and beautiful women instead of the unnerved, deformed, ugly, corpulent, gender-fluid cosmopolitans. Conservatives’ reclamation of their traditional monopoly on poetic beauty includes not only preserving and celebrating great works of Western art, music, and literature, but also discovering and encouraging the creation of new works. More than the failed attempt to infiltrate Hollywood and entertainment media, this means uniting the language of honor and shame with powerful and beautiful images that denounce lies, evil, and degeneracy and celebrate truth, goodness, and beauty. Such a poetic renaissance is already bristling beneath the surface and, if fostered, will flourish, bursting upon the scene with vengeance and glory.

The second lesson is that all morality is aggression. Morality is inseparable from demands placed upon others, by those confident they are right, upon consequence of shame. Moral aggression undergirds not just the law of fashion but all civil and criminal law, which requires the confidence to execute by force. Conservatives’ past failure to practice moral shaming reflected their lack of belief. Their tolerance for degeneracy led not to tolerance by degenerates but to intolerance for decency. The Left has hitherto possessed the moral high ground, confidently shaming the Right. But the only safeguard for one’s natural rights is belief that bestows confidence. The New Right must seize the moral high ground by renewing its faith. A newfound indignation will give the confidence to shame the huckster financiers who have bled our country, the incompetent Ivy Leaguers who direct clownish bureaucracies, and the cosmopolitan perverts who peddle transgenderism, pornography, and pedophilia.

The third lesson is that the Right must exercise its moral confidence in and over local and state officials by singling out and holding accountable individuals in the bureaucracy who demand compliance. There must no longer be plausible deniability. Conservatives must learn to name the culpable public health officials who abet mask or vaccination mandates, choosing to aid in destroying the livelihood of decent people, or the school officials who indoctrinate their children with perversion and anti-white racism. Those officials must be pressured to look the other way, stall, or deceive their superiors rather than to deprive citizens of their rights. Bureaucrats guilty of harassment and police officers carrying out tyrannical edicts must be made to feel lonely and vulnerable in their use of violence.

Small republican communities may have little power against an insulated national bureaucracy, but perhaps the New Right’s own cultural revolution is the fertile soil for political revolution, either as autonomous islands of republican civilization in an increasingly fragmenting order or the bulwark for a Caesar. At some point in the decline of every empire, with its dissolute senators, it finally dawns on a truly great leader, one born of the family of the lion or the tribe of the eagle, “Hey, I could run this thing.” The New Right now often discusses a Red Caesar, by which it means a leader whose post-constitutional rule will restore the strength of his people. Viewing the government as a series of industrial complexes, the ambitious man who desires glory need only figure out how to pull strings in a few of them, and he will have the keys to the Washington, D.C. castle. The kleptocrats have already set the precedent of purges in the bureaucracy and military. They use the state to arrest political dissidents even as they refuse to indict their own minions for federal crimes. What they do not truly consider is that the public arrests, trials, humiliations, subjugations, and terminations they have created may be reserved for them; the deportations and mass dislocations they promise for their own enemies may be used on themselves; the corporations they use for despotism may be nationalized, redistributed, or smashed. The lengthier stalks of kleptocratic wheat may be the harvest of righteous fury.

Finally, the use of actual violence, which underlies the enforcement of all laws, including the natural law, has quickly become part of our machinations. And while I sympathize with any defense of natural right, I also fear it. Our first civil war was between states, but this new terrible war would be city against country, neighbor against neighbor, in the aisles of grocery stores, restaurants, and churches. I would not choose to live in this world, but America is fast becoming no country for old men. I still hope that we can appeal to genuine nationalism, celebrating America’s principles and its remarkable achievements, rejecting a false patriotism and tribalism. But I also remind the New Right, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” I conclude with the words that one of our founding republican mothers, Abigail Adams, wrote to her son:

These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orator if he had not been roused, kindled, and inflamed by the tyranny of Catiline, Verres, and Mark Anthony? The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities, which would otherwise lie dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman. War, tyranny, and desolation are the scourges of the Almighty, and ought no doubt to be deprecated. Yet it is your lot, my son, to be an eyewitness of these calamities in your own native land, and, at the same time, to owe your existence among a people who have made a glorious defence of their invaded liberties, and who, aided by a generous and powerful ally, with the blessing of Heaven, will transmit this inheritance to ages yet unborn.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Also in this feature

to the newsletter