Milwaukee talk radio host Charlie Sykes was once a prominent conservative media personality. But then the 2016 election happened and now he’s aiming to be the foremost old-school Republican Resistance Member.
Sykes publicly burned his bridges with Donald Trump, his supporters and the new right-wing populism by writing op-eds for the New York Times about how he thinks the blind wound up leading the blindsided.
Now he’s written a book called How the Right Lost Its Mind. We’ve read it and he ain’t done with Trump.
Predictably Sykes wails over the state of conservatism: “For years we ignored the birthers, racists, the truthers and other conspiracy theorists who indulged fantasies of Obama’s secret Muslim plot to subvert Christendom, or who peddled tales of Hillary Clinton’s murder victims…they were merely postcards from the fringe, right?
“The hope was that the center would always hold, things would not fall apart, and principled conservatives would rise to the occasion. Except they didn’t. That proved to be a moral failure that lies at the heart of the conservative moment, even in its moment of apparent electoral triumph.”
In addition to Trump and Alex Jones (who he says “peddles weapons-grade nut jobbery”) Tomi Lahren is also in Sykes’ sights. He writes: “Tomi Lahren seemed to embody the unapologetic anti-intellectualism of the new generation of conservative media “thought leaders”…her attitude towards reading was, unfortunately, shared by the forty-fifth president of the United States, who has admitted that he has not read any biographies of former presidents.”
The crux of his argument is: “The reality is that a genuinely ‘conservative’ party would never have nominated a Donald Trump.”
He adds: “Trump’s targets were unusual because none of them were politicians or office holders. But all of them were heirs to the conservative intellectual tradition and a culture that had once placed a value on thoughtfulness, experience, intelligence, and a coherent philosophy of man and his relationship to the state. What we were seeing was, in effect, a repudiation of the conservative mind.”
Sykes asks: “How did a movement that was defined by its belief in individual liberty, respect for the constitution, free markets, personal responsibility, traditional values, and civility find itself embracing a stew of nativism, populism, and nationalism? How did the thought leaders of the movement find themselves tossed aside as “cuckservatives”?
Don’t expect any prescriptions. As “the GOP became the party of Trump,” he admits, “I found myself in the political wilderness, with more questions than answers.”
The book is due out in October.