by Ned Ryun
We all should probably acknowledge that we Americans, in many ways, have become an unserious people. No serious civilization and society would allow a fraction of what is taking place here—from the absurdity of our education system to the dominance of big tech monopolies to our current form of elections. A list of our nation’s follies demonstrating our unseriousness would fill pages. But it’s not just about the American people as a whole: conservatism is an unserious movement (if one can even call what exists a movement), and Republicans are deeply, deeply unserious as a political party.
Consider, in the immediate, our election system again. Can we even call such a disjointed mismash a system? Let’s face it: where we are today, with mail-in ballots, questionable voting software systems, no requirement to show photo ID, “dirty data” voting rolls—we have allowed the creation of myriad reasons for distrust to materialize underneath our noses. The Left has not been shy about what they wanted to do and what they were hoping to accomplish with any of this. And what has been our response as a “movement” and a “party”? Pathetic whining and that’s about it.
The powers that be at the RNC were warned well before 2020 that Democrats, led by Marc Elias of Fusion GPS infamy, were on the move to bring us to this point. The response of the RNC? Nothing until it was too late—and even those attempts to respond were half-hearted at best.
We meekly submitted to a mail-in ballot system which nearly all civilized nations, ones even the Left recognizes as among the most advanced, rejected decades ago. In 2020, only a country that is not serious about election integrity (which is of course the entire point in the Left’s lust for power), would allow this to happen.
Not only that, but our neighbors to the north, Canada, will not even allow electronic voting. They have paper ballots and have observers installed in every polling station because faith in the outcome of elections is important there. But not here. Universal mail-in ballots and Dominion software for all!
One has to have a certain amount of admiration for the Left and what they’ve been able to accomplish in “reimagining” our electoral process. They knew what they wanted, invested the time and money, and went for it. One can say many things about the Left, but at least they are committed. Which leads us back to the “conservative movement” and “the party.”
What kind of serious party would elect to keep the same asleep-at-the-wheel leadership (endorsed by Trump, mind you) running the party for the next four years? But that is what the RNC seems poised to do. This is not a serious party. But in a world where a small group of grifters want to continue making obscene amounts of money, it makes perfect sense.
It makes more sense when we look at the “conservative movement” which, every year, has had hundreds of millions of dollars invested in it. For what? We’re talking about wildly stupid places within the “conservative movement” that churn out worthless white papers and hold events to reinforce how effective they are when all empirical evidence tells us nothing could be further from the truth.
You can quibble with me about it all, and no doubt there are some good and well-meaning people mixed up in all of this, but a look at the world around us, from exploding debt to the expansive powers of our massive administrative state to our broken immigration systems to a failed electoral process to Big Tech monopolies crowding out our First Amendment freedoms, should answer all objections. No serious movement would have allowed that to happen or appear to be so full of people who, even now, think all of this is fine. We will just keep pushing on doing the same things that haven’t worked in more than a generation.
Perhaps if we became more sophisticated in our use of 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 funds, we could address some of our problems in a meaningful way. But instead, we insist on funding retreads like the Heritage Foundation at $80-$100 million a year, AEI at $50-$60 million a year, and the mostly worthless state policy think tanks sucking down hundreds of millions of donor dollars every year. To what end? Serious question.
None of that money will be or has been used to address the greatest threats to our democracy, from election integrity to Big Tech. Honestly, you could pile 90 percent of that money in the street, light it on fire, and it would be just as effective.
But instead of thinking about adjusting our priorities, we’re sitting here like programmed robots ready to repeat the same mistakes. Again. And again. We insist on the same entities, the same leaders, the same approach. Why? Because we’re deeply unserious. We are the definition of fools.
If we are really serious about winning (which I question), the movement and party need to look in the mirror. Quite frankly, the majority of the donors(not the self-interested corporatists and vulture capitalists, but the genuinely concerned citizens), need to have a conversation with their mirrors, too. It’s time for them to realize they’ve been taken for fools. While the Left has been fully focused on winning, we haven’t even been in the real game. We need to be really focused now on the things it will actually take to save the republic. And it’s not another white paper or tax cut.
It occurred to me that 2020 has definitively shown (yet again) why American Majority’s work of identifying serious candidates to run at the state and local level matters. Think about all the stupidity of the coronavirus and all the state and local officials who have so much power over our lives. I remember clearly one gatekeeper for a donor telling me the donor wasn’t terribly interested in funding efforts to identify more “dogcatchers.” I wonder how that donor likes them “dogcatchers” now? They are the ones destroying local economies and jobs, making life miserable for tens of millions of Americans, and crushing the American way of life. Don’t you wish you had some more serious and right-wing “dogcatchers” out there?
How about where we’re at with our election integrity and all the various state government entities like the state board of elections, legislators, even elected state supreme courts? Bet you wished you’d paid more attention to them years ago. But nope. It was more glamorous to get fluffed at conferences by semi-celebrity mediocrities who loved them for their money.
We need to stop blaming everyone else for where we’re at right now as a country. Conservatives have only ourselves to blame. Investing ungodly sums of money in the wrong places, people, and ideas for decades has led us to this point.
We have to ask ourselves, are we going to continue to be fools investing in the wrong places or will we actually be serious about this and, moving forward, invest our money in programs and resources at the right times and in the right places? If we continue doing what we’ve been doing, we will have no excuse to give future generations for our lost liberty. It will be entirely our own fault.
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Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.