The conservative intellectual bubble

Most conservative intellectuals rejected Trump long ago. The few that remained are now jumping ship. Here’s Andrew McCarthy of the National Review:

I am as certain as I am writing this that Donald Trump will never again be elected president of these United States.

Understand that, while I could no longer in good conscience vote for Trump, I am not a Trump hater. For eight years, I defended him when I believed he had been wronged (from the 2016 “Russia collusion” nonsense through Alvin Bragg’s recent indictment farce). I’ve been a harsh critic the many times when he has deserved it, but I’ve applauded Trump-administration policies and, in particular, his judicial nominations. I voted for him twice. I wrote a “Trump: Yes” endorsement in National Review’s 2020 election issue (in contrast with Ramesh Ponnuru’s “No” and Charles C. W. Cooke’s “Maybe”), reluctantly concluding that Trump’s incorrigible flaws were worth abiding as the price of maintaining the solid governance of his Republican subordinates rather than enduring a Democratic presidency with Biden as a figurehead and tool of woke progressives.

I can’t do that anymore.

Bad news for Trump? Not really. The conservative intellectual establishment is now almost totally out of sync with rank and file conservatives, who remain highly loyal to Trump. Polls suggest that Trump has not been hurt at all by the antics of January 6th or by his longstanding support for Putin. He trails Biden slightly in the polls, but not by as much as immediately before the 2020 election that he came within a whisker of winning. And these polls are occurring during a period of 3.5% unemployment—what will they look like during the next recession?

It’s not unusual for elites and the rank and file to diverge, even within a given political party. But this degree of divergence is truly unprecedented. I’m not entirely sure why this is occurring, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that intellectuals are less likely to become members of a personality cult.

I’m not a conservative, but something similar seems to be happening within the libertarian movement, where intellectual libertarians have rejected the hard right faction that recently took over the Libertarian Party. Unless things change, in 2024 I’ll be forced to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in my life. Bad news for Biden, as I’ve never supported a winning presidential candidate.



18 Responses to “The conservative intellectual bubble”

  1. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    11. May 2023 at 01:37

    I’d like to remind people that the Trump campaign certainly attempted to collude with the Russian government. Trump Jr., Kushner, and the head of his campaign at the time, Paul Manafort, did meet with someone claiming to be represnting the Russian government who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.

    That should be illegal, if it isn’t.

  2. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    11. May 2023 at 03:32

    1. The first comment has been disproven, after a 30M witch hunt.
    2. The term “elite” is so repugnant. You sound like Klaus Schwab. It’s not even clear what “elite and intellectual means”. The last time I checked my bank account it had more than ever needed; do you know how I know I have more money than you? Because from your point of view, I grew up “elite”. I didn’t work at a tiny, no named school for forty years because I desperately needed a paycheck. I didn’t ever have to work from the day I was born.

    But your definition is wrong. Paper pushers at cocktail parties are not “elites.” They are just rich. There is a difference. You are trying to equate the two, and it’s illogical.

    There is also a clear difference between being bright and having knowledge. As I’ve said before, you cannot even change a tire; you cannot employ anyone; you cannot even tell the difference between someone who is opposed to all vaccines (anti-vaxx) and someone opposed to harmful vaccines). You have no idea that there is even a faction in the scientific community who believes toxins are viruses, and that viruses have never truly been isolated at least not using Kock’s postulates. You are so ignorant about so many things, that’s hard for me to understand how you can throw around the word “elite” and “intellectual” to describe yourself.

    Real intellectuals are not radical partisans. Real intellectuals don’t go around calling themselves intellectuals. They wouldn’t dare. That would be like Socrates calling himself an intellectual; it never happened, because he knew what he didn’t know, which was a lot.

  3. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    11. May 2023 at 04:08

    It’s koch’s postulates Sara, not Kock’s. But yes, your statement is correct; the term anti-vaxx actually started within those circles, because those people don’t believe viruses exist at all; they believe toxins cause illness, and that virologists have yet to isolate; although, that is really just a debate over what isolation actually means.

    RFK jr is not an antivaxxer. You can call him that, but it’s inaccurate.

    He wanted to send me to Ukraine, lol. I’ll never forget that post. “do more” he ranted; “do more”. Meanwhile he’s in pantagonia. I guess these so called “elites” don’t have to fight, only losers like me. Sara can you loan me some money please 🙂

    Trump has a lot of support, not just among the blue collar, but also the white collar class. It’s misleading to say that “intellectuals” if that’s what you want to call yourself don’t support him. Many do. And for good reason. If you are anti-war, anti-establishment, and want to focus on placing America first, which just means rebuilding at home instead of abroad, then he or RFK jr is your guy. If you prefer the status quo, the military industrial complex, the growing IRS, FBI, CIA, WEF, then Biden is your guy.

    But we all know Sumner would vote for the war criminal Bolton if he was running. He’s made it clear in the past that he’s a Bolton war hawk.

  4. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    11. May 2023 at 05:44

    Michael, Even worse, he publicly asked Putin to sabotage Clinton’s campaign. I actually saw him say that on TV. Yet his supporters insist he was just joking. Later, when asked if he was joking, he said “no”.

    But none of this matters, Putin is likely to get his troll back in the White House in 2025.

    Sara, LOL, Do you not realize that the term “intellectual” has nothing to do with “intelligent”? I guess not, as you are an unintelligent intellectual.

    Ricardo, You said:

    “He wanted to send me to Ukraine”

    Of course that’s a lie. But if you are a Russian resident then Putin wants to send you there.

    The fact that you and Sara feel a need to engage in so many lies speaks volumes about your sincerity.

  5. Gravatar of Tyler Tyler
    11. May 2023 at 06:31

    I’m… happy, I guess, that conservative intellectuals are now willing to disassociate from Trump, but let’s see where things are at in summer of 2024. Same with the polls.

    Personally, I still find it disturbing that folks like Andrew McCarthy were willing to pinch their noses and support Trump in the face of his turpitude. Not only that, but I don’t believe his policies were that sound either, be it domestic, foreign, or economic.

  6. Gravatar of Sanchit Sanchit
    11. May 2023 at 16:19

    You once said, I think back in 2012, that both parties deserve to lose in the next election. This entire decade, that feeling has never gone away.

  7. Gravatar of kangaroo kangaroo
    11. May 2023 at 16:51


    I’m personally closer to voting for Trump than I ever have been. While I agree that his policies are “not that great”, “not that great” is a lot better than what Biden is offering, particularly when you consider the people that are being appointed across the government, and when you consider the impact on the judiciary. We can be thankful that the Repubs took back the house in 2022 and stymied the crack-pot agenda

    Probably my main concern with Trump at this point is his impact on Russia / Ukraine policy. If the Ukrainians would kindly demolish what’s left of the Russian army in the next six months or so, crush Putin, and set the stage for disarmament of Russia, that would help me a lot.

    The truth is Trump wasn’t near as bad as I thought he would be, and Democrats have been consistently worse than I ever thought they could be. I voted for Clinton in 2016 because I feared what Trump would do. By 2020, I couldn’t vote for a Democrat, so I left the POTUS box blank. But with a decisive Ukrainian victory and some sort of international arrangement in place, I could well finally check that “Trump” box in ’24 – at least if there’s no one better on the ballot by that time.

  8. Gravatar of Tyler Tyler
    12. May 2023 at 06:04


    It is apparent that you and I see the world in two different ways, as my opinions on 2016 to the present are approximately the inverse of yours. However, I am glad to know that we share the same sentiment regarding supporting Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.

  9. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    12. May 2023 at 07:29

    It’s bizarre to me that Trump trying to gangster a presidential election he lost isn’t crossing a line with millions of people. Not the dumb ones, we don’t expect much from them. Smart people who should know better. That should be the final straw for everyone regardless of party.

    Support DeSantis if you love the Republican agenda. I could be wrong but I don’t think he would try that crap if he lost.

  10. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    12. May 2023 at 16:38

    Democrats are too bad to consider not voting for Trump. I’d prefer someone else but at the end of the day I’ll do my duty and vote Trump. It’s not a vote for Trump it’s a vote against wokism and all that.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. May 2023 at 21:40

    msgkings, All my life I’ve seen these sorts of people in other countries, but never thought it would happen here. I was wrong. Why don’t people see it? Politics does something to people’s minds.

  12. Gravatar of Student Student
    14. May 2023 at 18:51

    Good stuff on the betting markets… not many even in the political commentariat interpret them well.

    Also I must say… wokeism is annoying and stupid… but Trump sent his brown shirts to start a riot at the capital to undermine the constitutional process and fiat himself as president. He tried to pull a Putin. He would make himself President for life without thinking twice. That might be the most anti American thing a person could do… and they are cheering and waving their flags. It’s unbelievable. I think about 30% of conservatives would rather grant Putin dictatorial powers for life than vote for Biden. George Washington and Ronald Reagan are weeping somewhere.

  13. Gravatar of Student Student
    14. May 2023 at 19:04

    The way he has been able to bewitch a substantial portion on the right is truly amazing. This dude never goes to Church, literally hates almost everything about Christianity and a substantial portion of the Christian Right sees him almost as Cyrus type figure. The dude bashes war hero’s and cheats veteran out of charity money, rails against police forces and many flag waiving blue line types fawn over him. It’s truly amazing. A right wing political candidate calling for the end of NATO would be political suicide pre 2016 and writhing 3-4 years, he flipped the script entirely. Again, it’s truly amazing.

  14. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    17. May 2023 at 06:57

    “I’m not a conservative, but something similar seems to be happening within the libertarian movement, where intellectual libertarians have rejected the hard right faction that recently took over the Libertarian Party. Unless things change, in 2024 I’ll be forced to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in my life.”

    It this because of a disagreement with the Mises Caucus et al on policy issues or just because they aren’t culturally left-wing and you’re afraid being associated with them will end your invitations to cocktail parties? The only meaningful criticism I’ve heard from you is that they don’t support arming Ukraine, which is just a continuation of the same non-interventionist foreign policy libertarians have been championing for decades.

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. May 2023 at 18:43

    Anonymous, You said:

    “you’re afraid being associated with them will end your invitations to cocktail parties?”

    If you want to be a troll, at least think up something original.

  16. Gravatar of mpowell mpowell
    19. May 2023 at 07:53

    I’m not sure why McCarthy thinks Democrats want Trump to win the nomination. My impression is that all the prominent intellectuals on the Dem side have pointed out that A) Trump would torpedo a DeSantis candidacy and B) Trump is still more dangerous than DeSantis. Yes you sometimes here people wonder if Trump is less electable, but I think most people have figure this out.

    It’s still better for Republicans if Trump losing the primary as opposed to losing the general. If he loses the primary the party can finally try to move on from Trump and his MAGA movement.

  17. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    21. May 2023 at 20:32

    No one is “forced” to vote at all in the United States. I don’t, because I live in Chicago, where there is approximately 0% chance of my vote being decisive. My recollection is that you moved from Massachusetts to California, neither of which is close to being a swing state either. If you do vote, I hope it’s because you feel good about your decision rather than “forced”.

  18. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    24. May 2023 at 03:09

    I just wanted to share a video of Sumner’s so-called “elites” at University, since it’s pertinent to his anti-populist, anti-democratic, philosopher king approach to politics…AKA the Klaus Schwab approach…which of course, if Sumner’s right about anything, it’s certainly not libertarian.

    Apparently, Sumner’s so-called “elites” now use profanity around their students, and attack NY post journalists with machetes. I’m sure Newton would be so proud.

    It appears any drug user with a gang tattoo (her face screams meth user), is now capable of being a professor. In fact, if you talk like a gangster it seems your chances of getting an academic clown position are quite good these days. I suppose Albert Einstein couldn’t reconcile quantum mechanics with general relativity because he didn’t join a gang, or walk around calling his students views “shit” and “You ain’t shit” and “Fuck this shit”. If he had just reduced his intelligence to the level of barely literate, and made sure to attack his students religious beliefs, and throw their marketing material off the desk he would have not only achieved the status of Sumner’s so-called “elites”, but he would also have found the solution to the greatest puzzle of our time.

    If only we had a time machine; if only we could go back and convince Einstein to be a thug — because that’s what universities really need.

    The left is a ragtag group of gangsters, and they always have been. Just like Fidel’s communist guard. My family left Cuba, and we didn’t come here so that Sumner’s “elites” could turn this country into Fidel’s playground.

    And I don’t think the libertarian party has been hijacked; I think the libertarian party has returned home; your generation tried to steal it from Rose Wilder Lane, Ayn Rand, and Isabel Patterson. These three women were the mothers of libertarianism in the United States, and most of their views were based on the views of the classical thinkers. They were not pro war, like Sumner, who screams “we must do more” in the effort to silence and subjugate Donbas and those horrible Russians trying to protect them. You know what Isabel Patterson would say to that: she’d say, you do more. You go fight in a civil war abroad. If you are so afraid of Russia, by all means, go attack them. Send me a postcard. I’m waiting with bated breath to see you in that war helmet. Send me the financial transactions too. I want to see that you are giving your hard earned money to Ukraine to help the war effort. I want to see that you are “doing more.”

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