Manliness & conservatism
Speeches at the National Conservatism Conference
For a long time, we have let sleeping dogs lie. Now, however, we have a complete breach between what honest sociologists say about American society & what decent conservatives say, especially what the politicians & opinion writers they favor say. Sociologists are now authorized by events to talk of the first post-marriage generation in American history, of the sort of behavior previously associated with a natural or political catastrophe so great that it scares people out of marrying & mating, because they see destruction too clearly & cannot forget it, because its consequences injure them daily. That’s not supposed to happen in prosperous peace time & yet, the society conservatives wished to conserve is no longer there to conserve. Americans under 30 have broken with the past both in failing to marry & in being vastly ignorant about the lives of their grandparents or the opinions that were considered common sense or authoritative at that time. This generational separation now drives politics. In America, the married people vote Republican rather than Democrat; single women vote Democrat by a majority so vast, it is no longer possible to treat it as one of the strange chance events of democracy. It is a social fact so massive that it cannot be fixed &, accordingly, it is ignored. But politics, of course, is decisive even in face of silence. This is America now: Democrats depend on divorce & refusing to marry for their electoral victories—Republicans depend on getting people married for their prospects. Young people mostly don’t vote, but the ones who do vote Democrat, of course. For the first time in American history, young people & young voters are quite urgently of political interest.
Accordingly, we now have men talk about manliness as the future of conservatism, even if the theme is not developed with any ambition, perhaps because the speakers don’t wish to scare their audience. At the recent National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, two speeches were especially dedicated to addressing this problem. Columnist Josh Hammer spoke about the principles of a fighting, manly conservatism.
Sen. Josh Hawley talked about the agony of working class men & their claim in justice on the nation. It would be prudent for conservatives to lead & help men to—or back to—a decent, secure way of life.
There will be a lot more of this in the future. I expect by 2024, the identification of conservatism with manliness to be a foregone conclusion, whether that means victory or defeat. What remains to be seen is whether the speeches & the deeds are going to measure up to the necessities of our times. I remind you, two young men are running for the Senate next year, J.D.Vance in Ohio & Blake Masters in Arizona, who also make much of this same combination of fighting political battles & proposing that policy should be oriented to making a one-income family possible, to encourage marriage & family life. So far, these are the means & this is the end sought by conservatives talking manliness.