Identitarian ideology has taken hold of elite establishments, from schools to the media to federal bureaucracies to corporations. Its advocates seek to transform America into something the Founding Fathers wouldn’t recognize. Born in the fevered leftist politics of the late sixties, and now transmitted in insidious pedagogical movements like critical race theory and through countless human resources departments, the ideology at times seems inexorable. Yet, as Christopher F. Rufo argues in “Bring on the Counterrevolution,” it isn’t—in fact, most citizens reject it, even if only instinctively, as his reporting for City Journal has shown repeatedly. The ideology gains ground largely because of government-funded or -enabled race-and-gender initiatives. With a presidential election looming, conservatives need a national agenda that will restore the power of the common citizen and reverse the Left’s march through the institutions.
For some ideas on what that agenda could look like, Rufo says, we can turn to an unexpected source: the presidency of Richard Nixon. Before the Watergate scandal drove him from office, Nixon—aware that the radical forces of 1968 threatened to conquer the culture—had outlined an ambitious plan to keep that from happening, though he didn’t get to carry it out. The next conservative president, updating that plan for the twenty-first century, would work to decentralize much of the federal government, while asserting control over the administrative state; use executive orders to ban racialist programs within the government; and broadly seek to defund the Left.
Accompanying Rufo’s essay: an important symposium on “How to Defeat Left-Wing Racialism” with six leading public-policy experts, proposing achievable steps to restore the American ideal of color blindness.
If right-leaning philanthropists really want to stop the Left’s ongoing cultural revolution, they shouldn’t be gifting condition-free money to places like Harvard University, contends Heather Mac Donald in “Conservative Donors: Wake Up!” As she documents, today’s Harvard, like other Ivy League schools, employs an army of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” administrators, overseeing every aspect of campus life to hunt down purported racism; and the university promotes destructive progressive goals like defunding the police. It’s a force—already vastly rich—for everything that conservatives oppose.
Part of the battle over the nation’s future is playing out online, where progressive elites, working in tandem with federal security agencies, have sought to control the circulation of ideas on social media by getting the platforms to censor views they dislike, deeming them “disinformation”—a disturbing complicity that Martin Gurri anatomizes in “The New Censorship.” Gurri explains how this development runs exactly counter to America’s Jeffersonian tradition that views government, and not free citizens, as the great danger to free speech.
There’s lots on urban policy in this issue. Charles Fain Lehman’s “This Is Your City on Fentanyl” reports on how Oregon’s recent drug decriminalization law has had a devastating impact on Portland’s downtown, with addicted homeless people living there in squalor and dying in large numbers. If Los Angeles closes one of its main jails without replacing it, homelessness, especially among the mentally ill, is likely to get a lot worse in that city, Stephen Eide maintains in “Men’s Central Madness.” Local resistance to change can be fierce, as Steven Malanga documents in “Anti-Gentrifiers Gone Wild.” Activists have even opposed park beautification, fearing that it might raise neighborhood property values and thus displace locals. New York’s Climate Mobilization Act is sure to raise the city’s real-estate costs, argue John Ketcham and Jordan McGillis in “Gotham’s Airheaded Carbon Law”—and it will actually make carbon emissions worse.
—Brian C. Anderson