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Boomers, Meet the Based
There’s a generation gap on the Right, and it’s hurting us.
“Divide and conquer” is the guiding strategy of the woke oligarchy. The regime is trying to marginalize Red America as illegitimate, to separate us from “the mainstream,” and thus declare us undeserving of the rights and privileges of citizenship. But beyond that, the woke regime is also exploiting a generation gap on the right (which is partly but not wholly a factor of age), through double-speak and mixed messages.
Contrary to some prejudices among the younger Right, not every self-identified conservative over 50 is deluded and useless. Likewise, older conservatives need to know that not every young, right-wing provocateur on Twitter is a racist anarchist. But a lot of people on either side see each other that way, largely because the regime’s vast propaganda machine is able to re-enforce both of these prejudices.
It’s hard to know whether this multi-pronged media campaign by the Left is a carefully planned psy-ops strategy, or just the net effect of simultaneously asserting contradictory arguments depending on whatever seems expedient. Either way, a generation gap on the right is being exacerbated, in part because each side is reacting to the Blue regime’s propaganda.
The older generation grew up in an America where, on the surface, institutions were trustworthy, or at the very least, not actively at war with the people. That façade crumbled for those who grew up after 9/11. Decades of pointless war in the Middle East, the financial crisis in which not a single banker on Wall Street went to jail, and the ever-skyrocketing cost of living, soured the generation that grew up under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The promise of racial reconciliation never materialized and the constant screams of crisis (climate change! COVID!) have further radicalized a growing youth faction on the right.
Young people get almost all their news online, which gives them a broad array of information sources and makes them far less likely to accept any “official” narratives. At times, they may almost be too skeptical, embracing odd and outlandish theories simply because they are outside the mainstream. Insisting that the sky is pink just because Ibram X. Kendi says it is blue is not a sign of independent thinking.
Americans over 50 tend to be less active on social media, less frequent consumers of alternative news sites, and more dependent on the legacy media of newspapers and television networks. Of course, many older conservatives know that the establishment media is heavily skewed to the left, yet the publications they turn to correct this imbalance are, let us say, rather tame and conventional. As far as the younger dissident right is concerned, most old-line “conservative” publications are part of the same corrupt media establishment.
The more staid and authoritative style of the New York Times and the network news (which the Times heavily influences) tends to reinforce the Boomers’ inclination to believe that our institutions are still functioning normally and the system is working. Our political gerontocracy contributes to this problem: nothing makes a Boomer feel young like seeing Congress run by people in their 80s.
News stories that create enormous controversy online often get much less attention in the legacy media. Thus, conservatives among the older generation may have little familiarity with the details of events and scandals that lead millennials to be alarmed and cynical. The treatment of those arrested in connection with January 6 is a good example. Right-wingers under 40 tend to know much more about the mistreatment of these prisoners, and thus tend to be more sympathetic, compared to conservatives over 50, who were alarmed and repelled by the events of January 6, and thus are usually much less concerned with or attentive to those who have been arrested.
When a clear case of left-wing excess does leak into the mainstream news—about Critical Race Theory being taught in schools, for example—the legacy media will quickly offer an authoritative source to deny or downplay the revelations. This tactic works, up to a point, for those with more limited access to alternative news sources, but it only hardens the disgust and skepticism of those who are mostly online, who quickly learn about the dishonesty and hypocrisy of such denials.
What the Boomers Need to Know about the Based
Let’s clear up a few of the most common questions or suspicions older conservatives have about the so-called dissident Right:
Do you hate America and want it to fail?
A lot of younger right-wingers will say yes… in a certain sense, they do. And they have reasons for saying that. What young man with any sense wants to die for the Joe Biden regime in the Ukraine? Who wants to pay taxes so Kamala Harris can shower money on illegal immigrants and left-wing shock troops?
That’s a hard message to hear for anyone who lived through the 1960s and the Cold War. For a long time, to be on the right—to defend liberty and morality and decency—meant to be a patriot and to love America. And it still does. But the enemies of freedom and decency who hate America are no longer godless communists abroad, they are the godless leftists at home who are currently in power. If America means transgender rights and suffocating biomedical security measures, then those who love freedom will come to hate America—or, to be more specific, the current regime that has taken control of what used to be America.
Young people on the Right don’t hate liberty and morality and decency; they despise woke ideology. The older idea of “America” that the Boomers love is gone, as far as the younger generation is concerned. Most Boomers will never share this antipathy, but they must learn to distinguish between America the nation and America the state. The American state—as the COVID lockdowns, Russiagate hoax, and the political prosecution of the January 6 protestors show—is at war with the American people. (Many older conservatives recognized this distinction and gave Rush Limbaugh a pass when he famously remarked on air that he hoped Barack Obama would fail.)
What’s with all the vulgar humor and symbolism?
Young men full of spirit and life don’t want to be screeched at by the shamans and witches of the ruling class. The authoritative piety of our time—anti-racism—reeks of the worst excesses of cultish fanaticism. The young men of the right can’t help but mock these mindless dogmatists. A schoolmarmish concern with “civility,” feelings, and “hateful rhetoric” will never convince young men to abandon a life of freedom in thought and action. Political correctness about race and ethnicity smacks of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Younger people were born into an America that has no racist laws, that offers racial preferences in hiring and education, and which has elevated figures from the civil rights movement to the level of secular saints. The idea that the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party are a major threat to anyone today is rightly seen as hysterical nonsense. Today’s youth mock the shibboleths of the regime as a provocation, and they see the growth of the biomedical security state, suppressing dissent in the name of “health,” as a far more pressing threat to liberty.
What’s the weird obsession with weightlifting, aesthetics, “physiognomy,” etc.?
That the body and the mind are connected is a radical statement in a world where a man can claim to be a woman because his spirit is “actually” female. The body reveals the soul. The youth movement on the right has turned toward self-overcoming and a love of beauty and physical improvement to spite the left-wing despisers of the body. America’s left-wing corporations and culture want people to be fat, slow, and stupid. The youth on the right are therefore zagging, where the left wants them to zig. The instincts are more important than the ideas. The youth movement, at least in this regard, is Nietzschean—turning against what they regard as the Socratic word factory of “facts and logic.” In the spiritual war against ugliness and decline, they see mockery and fighting spirit as much better weapons.
Why are you so angry?
The youth movement on the right has watched for years as the Boomers let the country collapse around them. Unrestricted immigration has unmoored traditional happy communities. Stagnant wages and skyrocketing home prices have made family formation economically difficult. Divorce law and feminist hectoring have undercut traditional, long-term marriages. A generation of young men—especially young and talented white men from the middle class—find themselves denied access to the institutions of power (they’re too privileged) but are still expected to hitch themselves to the plow of economic productivity and keep the regime functioning. More and more of these young men are checking out. They don’t want to die for Joe Biden and gay rights in the Ukraine. They aren’t interested in sacrificing for a regime that hates them.
Moreover, they suspect that many older conservatives, with their comparative financial security, are too insulated from the current crisis. Boomers have “made it” and will likely not live long enough to suffer the consequences of a financial or political collapse; they have seized the lifeboats and left the young to fend for themselves.
What the Based Need to Know about the Boomers
Why are you so complacent?
Well, the older generation doesn’t see itself as complacent, of course. The young are correct to despise clown world; but Boomers see them as petulant and self-pitying when they insist that the United States today is worse in every possible way compared to anything that has ever existed. That’s melodramatic and unhelpful.
And Boomers aren’t, in fact, complacent. Walk into any county Republican party meeting and it will be filled with high-energy members of the 65-and-up crowd eager to save their country. The problem for the young is their focus. Boomers still believe in the institutions they grew up with. Many believe that if only we pass a balanced budget amendment and term limits, or hold an Article V constitutional convention, the nation’s problems can be solved. They don’t seem to appreciate fully how the Left has dramatically transformed the country in their lifetimes. Many of these changes have been so dramatic, even shocking, that the older generation simply cannot process what has been done to the land that they love. Mass immigration, in particular, has radically altered our national character and given the Left an enormous electoral advantage. Each year, the nation’s cities become more and more alienated from its suburbs and rural heartland. That’s not the kind of political problem that can be solved with a few pieces of legislation and imploring calls to treat each other with respect and decency.
The Boomers point out that as bad as the riots of 2020 were—and they clearly were not the “peaceful protests” described by the state media—Americans who lived through the 1960s witnessed far more, and far more violent, radicalism than anything that has (yet) happened in contemporary America. The 60s included widespread fires and bombings on campuses, occupations by armed radicals, gun battles erupting in courtrooms, political kidnappings, and assassinations.
As if that were not enough, the next decade was even worse in some ways, with its urban decay, crime, filth, and stagflation of the 1970’s—not to mention the self-humiliation of Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy. What’s happening today is, in certain ways, not new for the Boomers. Yet, America came through all that, and even won the Cold War! (And living through the Cold War itself, especially at its height, is another experience that the Based can’t quite relate to, which makes today’s crisis seem less like an existential threat.)
So simply on the basis of their experience, older conservatives are far more likely to have a certain faith that America can turn things around, can rescue herself, yet again. That opinion may be wrong or misguided, but it’s not automatic proof of moral cowardice or bad faith.
Why did you fail so miserably to strangle the infant Wokism in its crib, and hand us this crappy society we have today?
If Boomers are going to be accused of living forever in the 1980s, they might respond to this charge with a line from the classic 80s movie Stripes: “Lighten up, Francis.”
More seriously, the older generation can say with much validity that they didn’t create this mess we are in. Its intellectual origins can be traced back to the importation of German political science in the late 1800s. Ronald Reagan, and even Richard Nixon, campaigned against a liberal establishment that was already well-entrenched; so the failures of the conservative resistance to stop encroaching Leftism can’t be pinned entirely on George Will or anyone else alive today. Long before Reagan and William F. Buckley waged their own (unsuccessful) battle against political correctness, conservatives like Robert Taft and Albert Jay Nock failed to overturn FDR’s New Deal. Going back even farther, Elihu Root and Henry Cabot Lodge were unable to stop the Progressive Movement. There’s plenty of blame to go around for our present predicament. What all these old fogies—living and dead—can legitimately say is that absent the resistance that was mounted, America’s decline would have happened even faster.
Of course, a failure to solve problems is one thing. And the Boomers may have a reasonable defense there. A failure to see problems, however, is less excusable. The inability or unwillingness to acknowledge how radically the country has changed, and to accept (however hard this may be) that no simple remedies or accommodation within the current system seem possible, is the source of the younger generation’s greatest impatience and frustration.
Combining Experience and Energy
There are plenty of lost Boomers clinging to the dream of a dying past and far too many cynical young radicals too “black-pilled” to take useful action. But the solution isn’t intergenerational finger-pointing. What is needed is a return to a united front politics that merges Boomer resources with youthful talent and energy. And for that, the Right needs another leader like Trump, or perhaps even Trump himself to return to the potent politics of national renewal that won in 2016.
This right-wing youth movement has skepticism of the regime in spades. What it needs is a way to focus this energy toward accomplishing some great end. Trump was the flash of lightning that gave a jolt of energy and life to the moribund conservative movement. Young men who were drowning in cynicism and boredom found in Trump a leader who could inspire them. The “meme war” waged on Trump’s behalf by his mischievous and youthful followers made an enormous difference in the election. Here, we see a model of the kind of alliance between the Boomers and the “based” that the Right needs as it struggles against the schoolmarm dictatorship.
The youth movement on the right shouldn’t jettison the Boomers as out-of-touch losers. It is imperative that the members and pranksters that make up the vanguard of the new right find a way to connect their searing cultural commentary and humor to older Americans. It has been done before, especially in 2015, and it can be done again.
Our message to the young: Stay away from intergenerational blame games. Many older Americans simply didn’t understand what was happening to their country as they grew up. Their 401k’s were growing, they could still grill in peace. Life was good! That things have deteriorated so quickly in almost every way is still very difficult for this generation to process.
To the Boomers: Understand that the youthful right-wing provocateurs have a place. If you want a better country for you and your children, you need those who can use humor and mockery to disarm the Left. Facts and logic will not save America, but a spiritual war against the high priests of wokeness can. For that, conservatives need to do more than just throw policy papers at their enemies. If winning policy debates was enough, then Washington would not be the leftist Leviathan it is now. Older Americans should embrace or at least learn to appreciate the joys of trolling the ever-living daylights out of woke communists and liberals. These digital ju-jitsu maneuvers can effectively leverage Big Tech’s massive weight against its sanctimonious overlords and undermine their ideological pretensions. Both older and younger citizens on the Right agree on the alarming power of Silicon Valley, and the way it distorts our political life and public discourse.
The old and the young must join forces for the good of the country. Experience and energy, the Boomers and the Based, must stand together in defense of freedom and against our degenerate ruling class.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.