Wage Rage

(Picture via Getty Images)

Polemics are not exclusive to any side of politics. But if anything characterizes a fair cross-section of the American New Right today, it is the seething anger that permeates its rhetoric. 

It is not just the left whom the New Right targets. At times, its anger seems more directed at those conservatives and classical liberals who are not on board with key parts of the New Right’s agenda.

Those who insist, for example, that free market principles remain the best economic way forward for America, or who question the wisdom of using the full might of the administrative state—bequeathed by progressives—to achieve conservative goals are viewed by many New Right figures with mild disdain at best, or even as somewhat un-American. Expressions like “neoliberal,” “libertarian ideologue,” “anti-worker,” and “market fundamentalist” litter the New Right’s lingo.

The problem with polemics is that they undermine reasoned reflection about complicated questions. Sometimes that is the point of such rhetoric. On other occasions, the point is to stir up fury and muffle perfectly reasonable critiques of the ends pursued by the New Right or the means by which they propose to realize them. The cost this has on developing sound policy, corroding limits on state power, marginalizing the moral norms upon which constitutionalism relies, and bolstering demagogues is high. 

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