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The rise of Rittenhouse Republicans A new breed of politicians wants working-class votes

Trump Round Two? (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


December 3, 2021   6 mins

There was a telling moment, for the American Right, in Tucker Carlson’s interview with Kyle Rittenhouse. The 18-year-old had just been acquitted of murder charges for shooting three people, killing two, during riots last summer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Carlson asked Rittenhouse whether he believed the government would protect him from threats he was receiving. “I hope so,” he said, “but we all know how the FBI works.”

You would expect that kind of statement from a “defund the police” advocate, but Rittenhouse is a former youth police cadet whose support for “Blue Lives Matter” was used to try and paint him as a racist and far-Right extremist. His world-weary cynicism about the FBI, expressed as Carlson nodded along approvingly, signals a major shift in a central axis of American politics.

Distrust of federal law enforcement was, until quite recently, a markedly Left-wing attitude, but it now represents a baseline among Republican voters. In February 2015, a Reuters poll found that almost 84% of Republicans reported a “favorable” view of the FBI. By February 2018, only two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, a different Reuters poll showed 73% of Republicans agreeing that “members of the FBI and Department of Justice are working to delegitimise Trump through politically motivated investigations.” Imagine how those same people feel now, after Special Counsel John Durham’s indictments have exposed the FBI’s role in perpetrating the Trump-Russia dossier fraud.

What does it mean when America’s law-and-order party comes to see law enforcement, along with much of the federal government, as fundamentally illegitimate? The answer is being worked out by a crop of Republicans whose project is to extend the politics of Trumpism beyond Trump. Blake Masters, a close business partner of tech investor Peter Thiel who’s running for a Senate seat in Arizona, has called for “standing up to the bureaucratic national-security state.” In a campaign ad, Masters describes a nation under siege from within, “up against a media that lies to us, schools that teach our kids to hate our country, and corporations that have gotten so big, they think they’re bigger than America.”

There are clear echoes in that message of Steve Bannon, Trump’s original campaign manager and another Thiel associate, who championed a war against the administrative state on behalf of American workers. Bannon lasted less than a year in the White House, but he now runs one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes, War Room, which has more than 100 million total downloads. In an appearance on the podcast this week, Masters told Bannon: “I consider that you simply don’t negotiate with terrorists. And I believe the Democratic Party, Schumer, Pelosi and Biden are holding us hostage.”

Masters, along with two other Thiel-backed political candidates — Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, who’s running for the Senate in Ohio, and Army Special Forces veteran Joe Kent, a self-described “Trump endorsed America 1st Congressional candidate,” who’s running for a House seat in Washington state — distinguished themselves from other Republicans by offering early and vocal support for Rittenhouse.

It’s easy to see why, since the Rittenhouse trial seemed tailor-made to illustrate the premises of their brand of populist nationalism. A young, working-class, white Trump supporter, Rittenhouse was subjected to a public smear campaign in which President Biden himself impugned him as a white supremacist in a campaign video. Meanwhile, the state prosecution deflected attention away from the evidence supporting Rittenhouse’s self-defence claims and onto his motives by suggesting that he had come to Kenosha looking for trouble — despite the fact that Rittenhouse could be seen on video, shortly before the shooting, offering medical aid to Black Lives Matter protesters.

As the prosecution bumbled its way through the trial and got publicly scolded by the judge, it only further proved the point of those who see an American regime spanning the upper layers of government, media, and business that is not only illegitimate but incompetent, run by emissaries of a “clown world,” as a popular phrase on the Right has it.

“Think about what this says about our disgusting elite leadership in this country,” Vance said in a video message recorded days before the Rittenhouse verdict. “If we don’t defend this young boy who defended his community when no one else was, it may very well be your baby boy that they come for.” The day Rittenhouse’s acquittal was announced, Masters tweeted: “This case reminded us that our justice system, like every other institution our ancestors built, is under siege, and that the besiegers are very close to victory.”

The rallying cry of the “Rittenhouse Republicans,” which at times approaches the rhetoric of revolution, is that the ruling class has become parasitic on the lives of ordinary Americans. “We despise our government & corporations benefiting from the security & labor of our working class solely for the benefit of elites who have no loyalty to our nation, rather they despise us & are using the wealth they generate to fund our decline,” Kent recently tweeted. Both Masters and Kent say they think Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

Aside from the specifics and symbolism of the Rittenhouse case, publicly supporting him makes sense in terms of the demographic changes in the makeup of the major political parties. While Wall Street business executives and upper middle class professionals now overwhelmingly back the Democrats, the Republicans have, by default as much as by choice, increasingly courted the working class. Over the past decade, the party’s biggest gains have been among white voters without a college degree, and in the 2020 election, it made some inroads with voters of all races without a college degree.

Trump’s conception of a power struggle with the U.S. “Deep State” saw a contest between the voters’ elected representative and the shadowy forces controlling the levers of government behind the scenes. But for Kent, Masters, Vance, and the other aspiring heirs of Trumpism, the state itself is the enemy. Their efforts, like Trump’s, are directed as much against Republican orthodoxies and the Beltway establishment as against Democratic policies. Gone is the old conservative divide between “good” institutions like the military and the corporate boardroom and “bad” ones like the media and teacher’s unions. “Our military leadership is totally incompetent,” Masters said recently in the wake of the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan. “Our top generals have turned into woke corporate bozos,” he tweeted, “and our troops deserve better.”

But where Trump’s approach was visceral and inseparable from his singular personality, his would-be successors are more sober and more ideological. They are also supported by the kind of political infrastructure that was conspicuously lacking in the chaotic and chronically understaffed Trump administration.

Masters, Vance, and Kent are all political newcomers between the ages of 35-41, and all three are backed by funding from Thiel. The Vance and Masters campaigns both received $10 million through super PACs, while Kent got $5,800, the legal limit in his race. Their vision for America, broadly aligned with the post-libertarian ideas Thiel has espoused over the past decade, calls for a secular, nationalist politics of the common good. The greatest threat to the American people, they say, is the unchecked power of the Democrat-dominated administrative state and the transnational corporations operating under its auspices.

The conventional script for beltway Republicans in the pre-Trump era called for limiting the power of government and letting social policy be set by individual choice and market mechanisms. But for the national populists and conservatives of the new post-Trump Right, that laissez faire approach simply cedes power to woke corporations and lobbying interests. The only way to reform the state is to take control of it and replace current ruling class functionaries with a new elite that will serve the interests of working and middle-class Americans.

“The end goal is human flourishing,” Masters recently told the journalist Peter Savodnik. “You want a strong middle class in America. There’s a whole set of values and a whole lifestyle attendant to that. I think that’s a goal, and I think too many conventional, you know, business Republicans they’re agnostic on that. They don’t care what the consequences of their policies are.”

It now remains to be seen whether Masters and the others can win. In Ohio, Vance is battling it out in a tight primary race against the state treasurer, Josh Mandel, another Trump supporter from the party’s increasingly crowded populist wing. In Arizona, Masters was trailing behind the state’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich 27% to 9% in a recent poll. But Trump, who previously called Brnovich “lackluster” for refusing to order an audit of Arizona’s 2020 election result, only entered the race a few weeks ago, with a scheduled appearance at a fundraiser for Masters. In Washington state, a poll from early November shows Joe Kent leading both the Democrat, Brent Hennrich, and the six-term incumbent Republican, Jaime Herrera Beutler, who broke with her party and voted to impeach Trump, in his House race.

With poll numbers for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at historic lows, the Democrats are looking exceptionally vulnerable going into the 2022 midterm elections. The crucial question for the Rittenhouse Republicans is how far voters want to go in rejecting the current system. So far, the most visible repudiation of the Democrats has come from the Virginia governor’s race, which was won by Glenn Youngkin, a classic C-suite Republican. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the firebrands of the new Right isn’t from Democrats but from the push by the leaders of their own party to restore the Beltway consensus.

Yet there are signs that the old version of bipartisan centrism in DC may be unsustainable. A recent Harvard poll of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 found that 39% overall believe American democracy is in trouble. That’s a significant segment of young voters, but what’s notable is that the disillusionment was far more pronounced on the Right. More than half of young Trump voters think America is a “democracy in trouble”. Nearly a quarter, 22%, believe it has already “failed”.


Jacob Siegel is Senior Writer at Tablet Magazine

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

“We despise our government & corporations benefiting from the security & labor of our working class solely for the benefit of elites who have no loyalty to our nation, rather they despise us & are using the wealth they generate to fund our decline,”
I’m a moderate and former Democrat supporter. My parents were traditional blue collar workers. I never thought I’d agree with a statement like the quotation above, but that’s where I am in 2021. I believe that statement is true and is, perhaps, even an understatement.
The fate of the “Rittenhouse Republicans” will, imo, largely depend on their ability to clearly articulate these types of painful truths while not appearing to be stereotypical right-wing crazies. There’s a fine line to walk between justified indignation and irresponsible rhetoric. Here’s an example of what I consider to be a plain statement of fact and not in any sense hyperbole:
 We are “up against a media that lies to us, schools that teach our kids to hate our country, and corporations that have gotten so big, they think they’re bigger than America.”
I was encouraged to read that,
But where Trump’s approach was visceral and inseparable from his singular personality, his would-be successors are more sober and more ideological. They are also supported by the kind of political infrastructure that was conspicuously lacking in the chaotic and chronically understaffed Trump administration.
Trump was a man of the hour. He shook up the political establishment and that was a good thing, imo. But I feel his moment has passed and we need people with better organizational skills and a better understanding of how to get things done in DC to speak for ordinary people.
A boring, ordinary guy like me is now cheering for the firebrands. Strange times indeed.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Welcome to the conservative movement. Your opening quote has been the rallying cry for conservatives for many decades now. The cycles of American History continue.

Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

The opening quote could easily have come from Robert Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, at the time a must read for the far left. As J Bryant says, strange times indeed.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The insulated, transnational elites, it might be said, quoting an earlier Republican, are “wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Ray Zacek
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

But I feel his moment has passed and we need people with better organizational skills and a better understanding of how to get things done in DC to speak for ordinary people.

I quite like the look of Ron DeSantis. Long way to go but he seems to have a lot of Trump’s virtues with fewer of his vices.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Couldn’t agree more. He has charisma, integrity, dignity and, something very rare these days, bravery.

He is from a Latino heritage, but doesn’t play on it, and he gave the Surgeon General job in Florida to a black man; not because of his skin colour (ie. meeting some BAME quota) but because Joseph Ladapo was clearly the best person for the job.

And that’s not to even mention his amazing CV and blue collar background.

Best of all, he has not bowed down to Biden’s demands, and is clearly doing what he thinks is besst for Florida and not for his own political standing.

I respect Trump for shaking up politics and for his amazing ability to put up with dirty tactics, lies and non-stop media smeers, but it would be nice to see him now take a step back and let someone like DeSantis become POTUS.

I wish we had anyone even half as good in the UK.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

…in fairness, and whatever has happened since…”Getting Brexit Done” was a pretty major way to shake things up in both UK and EU, and the chain of events it will initiate has barely started yet. Bigger than Thatcher, I’d wager…and worth bearing in mind that she was being written off as a flash-in-the pan within a couple of years of her 1979 victory…but she more than tripled her majority in 1983…

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  R S Foster

The Falklands War helped (and a very good thing too).

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Boris got Brexit through. Anyone else would have got us back in bed with the EU.
For that I’ll be eternally grateful. The beneficial impact of Brexit will benefit the U.K. long after Boris and the rest of us are gone.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes, provided it’s neither squandered by stupid decisions nor subverted by those who now seem to have usurped all unelected positions of power and influence.

Thomas Bartlett
Thomas Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Yes, whether “Rule, Britannia” or “Rue, Britannia,” remains to be seen.

Last edited 2 years ago by Thomas Bartlett
Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I’m with you, he’s great.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Don’t disagree. But as you guys fight like cats in a sack for the next 10 years the Chinese will throw y’all in the river. They’re unified.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree with much that you say about US politics, but in my opinion Donal John is still very much a part of the new America……To guard against the “crazies” taking over the asylum, someone with Trumps hold over the ordinary not very political voter is very important. Despite the perceived wisdom that DJ is a bumbling fool, I do not accept that for an instant. He is hardworking and understands how to connect with the great leaders and the ordinary Joe’s. I found it amazing that any politician could be loved by his supporters…unconditionally, but Trump is loved by those for whom he is voice sight and hearing and his power is respected and feared by his enemies in media and government.
DJ’s time is not over and he can be the inspiration needed to forge a new US and a final victory over the hard Left.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Tickell

I agree but the base alone cannot get him over the line. Independents have to get on board and they despise him.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

I’ve been watching the Yougov polls on Rittenhouse. The evidence and outcome of the case should have got some on the Democrat side to reconsider their opinions, and to question their media. But nope. Nothing has moved at all – not a jot – still 42% in the US believe he should have been found guilty – 74% of Democrats.
And looking around today’s articles on growing authoritarianism in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, within our universities, and of course in Russia, the only one that gets called out is Russia (with the first beats of drums towards possible war with Russia playing in the background).
How are educated, thinking individuals being so easily herded towards viewpoints and behaviours they would condemn if carried out by their enemies?

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Because they don’t read Unherd 😉 Well, actually, Unherd didn’t carry much about direct analysis of the case either, just post-case social prognostication.
There is a serious lack of news sources that report factual news. Sites like Unherd are good for social trends stuff and commentary you might not find elsewhere, but it’s not the sort of organization that covers a trial.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

You are quite right about the lack of factual news sources. The main news media are full of journalists who report a superficial and selective view of the facts heavily overlaid by their opinion if only by the selection of adjectives.
Unherd contains opinion pieces which are of a much higher quality than the main MSM usually and so it is understandable that the journalists provide their spin on events, but it is still irritating that any politician who does not tow the liberal agenda often gets to be labelled “far right” when all they are are conservative nationalists who have no desire to invade neighbouring countries or establish concentration camps. I want the facts and the opportunity to make up my own mind and chose my own label for what they propose. This is particularly prevalent among journalists with a Guardian or Independent background for whom spinning the news comes as second nature.
Where can one get detailed news unmixed with commentary?

Steven Campbell
Steven Campbell
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Won’t say that Legal Insurrection is unbiased but in most legal questions they report the trials as they happen, with the evidence as presented. They may present an opinion on the cases they cover but I always think that I am free to read the evidence for myself and come to my own conclusions.

Sarah H
Sarah H
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Newspapers to viewspapers.

Thomas Bartlett
Thomas Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Rachel Maddow reports factual news.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh!

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Educated yes, thinking no. I know a good number of left leaning individuals who when confronted with evidence that conflicts with the carefully narrated worldview they are fed by all MSM sources (such as Rittenhouse case details that were hidden for so long) their reasoning shuts down, they change the topic to minors with guns or why was Kyle there, never asking themselves why do they form their worldview from MSM sources that continually lie to them.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

I have many theoretically intelligent girl-friends who hold important jobs – one is a journalist at a left-leaning newspaper (not that that helps much in identifying it as they are all left-leaning these days) -and i am constantly in awe about how stupid they can be.

Last edited 2 years ago by D Ward
Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
2 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

I’ve found many on the left to be both stupid and arrogant too. Often in direct proportion.

Thomas Bartlett
Thomas Bartlett
2 years ago

So watch media of both left and right orientation and make up your own mind. There will never be a single public media whose pronouncements can come from your own mind, though it may dominate your mind if your mind is lazy.

Last edited 2 years ago by Thomas Bartlett
Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

The answer is social media and MSM. Just watch the movie, “The Social Dilemma”. Each side is being shown a different picture based on algorithms. It’s like one half of the people are shown a picture of an elephant and the other is shown a picture of a Zebra. Then we argue about what the animal really is. Each side thinks the other is insane, of course.

Last edited 2 years ago by Warren T
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Educated !! Orwell in his essay ” Why I write ” At fourteen I write a whole rhyming play in imitation of Aristophanes “As a King’s Scholar at Eton, Orwell would have read Aristophanes in Greek. C Northcote Parkinson the historian said the average don in mid 19th Britain would have had a degree in Classics and usually maths as well plus would have spoken 3 to 4 European Languages and if a divine would have known Hebrew. Politicians such as Gladstone and Peel had double firsts in Greats and Maths. Prior to 1920, one had to pass papers in Greek to enter Oxford.
I would suggest people can pass through schools and universities, even become academics and remain untouched by scholarship. Education has largely become a form of employment for the middle classes; not the dissemination of knowledge and wisdom in order to benefit civilisation.

Thomas Bartlett
Thomas Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Sad but very true.

Colin M
Colin M
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

They are ‘educated’ but uninformed. My sibling and her spouse read the Scotsman paper (local), Independent (national) and watch the BBC and truly believe themselves to be well read and broadly informed. Ask them about gain of function, Fusion GPS, or Biden family corruption and their lack of knowledge is astonishing.

Richard Goodall
Richard Goodall
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin M

I read the Scotsman as a young man until it become a parochial rag. Both occured thirty years ago.

Thomas Bartlett
Thomas Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin M

Please enlighten me a bit more about “Biden family corruption,” since that phrase has circulated so much lately. How does it compare with Trump family corruption?
DJT, Jr, when asked 20 years ago how they fund the business when respectable banks would not lend to them after he bankrupted 4 casinos and stiff-armed creditors, replied, “We get all the money we need from Russia.” Yes, they get it through Deutschebank, which has been convicted in Europe of laundering Russian oligarchs’ money through a Danish bank. Wonder why? And does anyone seriously think Putin was not taking active steps to cash in on that debt to Russia’s financing? When Trump said to the world, “Russia, if you’re listening, …” many thousand hacked DNC emails were released overnight. Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica had a programmer from St Petersburg who designed algorithms that micro-targetted voters. Mueller indicted over a dozen Russian cyber agents; US counter-intel guys hacked their lab’s surveillance cameras and got their images and keyboard stroke combinations.
So, how does Biden family “corruption” compare with that?

Last edited 2 years ago by Thomas Bartlett
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I suppose it’ll be like Lewinsky. Castigated by all Democrat women and men (before metoo) as a tart for nearly 20 years, and only now being perceived as exploited by a very powerful man, partly because of recent media activity and the Impeachment tv series.
When they do an accurate account on TV about the Rittenhouse story, then reasonable people will realise they misjudged him. We only have to wait 20 years.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

‘How are educated, thinking individuals being so easily herded towards viewpoints and behaviours they would condemn if carried out by their enemies?’
Could it be that for the past 20years universities have been indoctrinating students with ‘acceptable’ opinions rather than educating them and encouraging the development of critical thinking and the ability to debate issues?

Last edited 2 years ago by Glyn Reed
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

The left believes its violence is speech, and your speech is violence.
ï»żRittenhouse was on trial not for what he did but for what he thought.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Had Rittenhouse shot three people while protecting a Planned Parenthood from Southern Baptist Terrorists (use your imagination) he would be dining at the White House by now.

Philip LeBoit
Philip LeBoit
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

An interesting counterfactual. But I doubt it. People on the left often justify violence as understandable (looting as a reaction to skewed distribution of wealth), but seldom lionize individual perpetrators, or encourage emulation. There are some on the right who are warming up for the equivalent of the SA in the Weimar Republic or the death squads of El Salvador, c. 1980.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip LeBoit

Posters of Lenin and Che Guevara suggest otherwise.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip LeBoit

You’re totally wrong. You’re welcome.

Last edited 2 years ago by L Walker
Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip LeBoit

There are some on the right who are warming up for the equivalent of the SA in the Weimar Republic or the death squads of El Salvador, c. 1980.

There are some who are warming up to fulfill your nutty caricature of crazed killers from the other tribe. Sounds imminent.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Brexit and the Red Wall going Tory show clear parallels between our 2 countries. France isn’t far behind. The public, the silent majority, is starting to make its feelings known and the elites don’t like it one bit, hence the phenomena commonly known as Brexit and Trump Derangement Syndrome giving us a clear idea of the contempt with which they view the public, and how far they will go to silence us.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

True, but it is disappointing in this context that the recent by-election saw the government candidate returned, albeit on low turn out with a slashed majority, and the insurgent, properly conservative forces – Reform and, to a much lesser extent, UKIP – divided and languishing in third place and below. Just as disappointing was the swing to the even worse Labour party. Clearly, the MSM blackout on anything which seriously contradicts “the narrative” – a posture backed by “postmodern” notions of truth (a propensity for lying) – has the desired effect of neutering, intimidating and confusing opposition. FPTP meanwhile strengthens the threadbare argument that you’d better vote Tory to stop the others. There is a deeper consideration at work, too. People set their private moral compasses by the attitudes endorsed by traditional elites and established institutions. If these are themselves the creatures of the left, which is clear to any objective observer, then the taboos and restrictions they impose will be accepted and obeyed. Think of occupied Europe: Marshal Petain, the King of the Belgians, the ministers and burgomeisters of old Habsburg territory, all fell in with the iniquitous regime of their conqueror; and their publics – with rare exceptions – followed them. True, they were terrified; but they were also hypnotised – by means of “elite capture”. De Tocqueville identified the same process – much more benignly – at work in British India, whereby some hundred and fifty thousand Britons could control and organise the entire sub-continent. Finally, the Reformation shows how “elite capture” could turn whole countries protestant against popular displeasure. This is the situation in which we who have held aloof from “the great awokening” now find ourselves.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

“The public, the silent majority, is starting to make its feelings known and the elites don’t like it one bit, hence the phenomena commonly known as Brexit and Trump Derangement Syndrome”
Could the unseemly shutting down of basic civil liberties we all once took for granted in the name of keeping us “Covid safe” along with the push to get everyone onto a global biometric information data base via mandatory vaccinations also be added to Brexit and Trump Derangement syndrome? Did these elites suddenly fear the tide was turning against them and the time had come ditch the sheeps clothing they had been hiding behind? Or is that a conspiracy theory?

Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
2 years ago

For many years I didn’t think my views on major institutions had soured. But Rittenhouse was treated like dirt by powerful people who should have known better and behaved better. That has affected my view.
It’s likely to be a long and bloody fight to clean out the rot that has taken hold. And I’m unlikely to live long enough to see most major institutions successfully detox.
In many ways this isn’t the 1960s; rather, much more like the late 1850s. Rittenhouse is a symbol to those on the right. His Tucker Carlson interview was so powerful, the left is likely to regret making him an icon. After taking time to heal, Rittenhouse may be at the forefront of necessary change. For his well-being I hope he thinks carefully before picking up the mantel.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

The Right always liked Police, and still do. They work for their communities, and are from similar communities. They also like the soldiers who are citizen Soldiers openly For America.

The Right has always had a distrust of the FED Law organizations. No one knows who they are really for. ‘Black Helicopters’ ‘Men in Black’. Back during the Ruby Ridge days, Waco, and other cases they gave off a feel of something not quite right, and in my years of living in the remote North parts of USA there is a deep distrust of Feds – Federal Cops. Even Forest Service cops, they have something about them which seems dangerous and partisan, I suspect it comes down from the top, being ultimately DC Swamp led. Just look how partisan they were in trying to unseat President Trump, and in how they are Biden’s tools.

Tom Cotton (Senator) questioning Garland – the top Fed cop in USA, the one who set the FBI on parents as domestic terrorists if they protest their children having to wear masks and be taught CTR and Gender weirdness… Here it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WljuJkLYgnQ This is an excellent, and important video to watch – here is the Top of USA Secret Policeman, Garland, and he personifies the darkness in the secret police –

– In 2001 the USA, by The Patriot Act’ VASTLY increased the USA FED security agencies, and vastly increased the powers they have to act without oversight and mandates to spy and data harvest on a scale unbelievable. They were enlarged post Cold War, instead of shrunken, and then 2001 – and they became bigger than is believable – but like Post Cold War – Now is Post Islamic Terrorist, – again they are useless mostly – But that does NOT mean they will be decreased, that is not how it goes – and so they are re-purposed…. and as Biden says, ‘the greatest danger to USA is’…… so who is that the responsibility of??? The Police and Military can march in parades to cheering crowds – but one wonders how it would look seeing a mass marching of the secret cops in a parade… Would any one cheer?

As Biden said “White supremacist terrorism is the deadliest threat to the United States, President Joe Biden told lawmakers Wednesday night as he aimed to pivot from the country’s post-9/11 foreign fights to one at home.”
Biden Told us he is turning this million strong undercover army loose on the Right Wing citizens – every one knows this, Rittenhouse, after what they did to him, most of all.
“Carlson asked Rittenhouse whether he believed the government would protect him from threats he was receiving. “I hope so,” he said, “but we all know how the FBI works.””

I guess the writer is not American really, if he does not know how the Right mistrusts the Deep State Police. From the Dulls Brothers (Mosaddegh and Bay of Pigs and Vietnam and so much more) to CIA, Air America in Laos and Cambodia, and Iran-Contra, – just that they are creepy and scary, and if things get bad and they become full blown Political Police, it would be terrible.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The FBI has become a political police force several times throughout their history. In the past they would abuse their authority against small groups such as communists, black civil rights activists and militants, militia members, Muslims, and hippies. Point is, they are the arm of the federal government used to go after whoever the powers that be do not like at the moment. Getting off track, the abuses and corruption of Hoover could fill an entire book. What is different now is the FBI is basically leveraged against half of the whole country and they are open about it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

The crazy thing is that many people think bad behavior from the FBI only started after the War on Terror began. I can think of several prominent examples of the occurring since the early 1920’s. See every once in a while, Mr. American Federal Government needs to throw his authority around, lock up some innocent people, pretend that he saved the country, and pose for the photo op. Then the legal system usually gets involved and releases the people whose lives they ruined, but not always.
1. 1920’s labor disputes? (actually they were just the Bureau of Investigation then)
Feds: “We just saved the country from Bolsheviks!” Judge: “Half of these people don’t even know what Communism is! You violated their Constitutional rights! Release them immediately!” Feds: “So hypothetically, what happens if we already shipped some of them back to Eastern Europe?”
2. 1960’s hippies?
Feds: “We just saved the country from dangerous degenerates!” Judge: “Look the only thing these people are a danger to is personal hygiene. I’m letting them go.” Feds: (sad face)
3. 1960’s black militants?
Feds: “These negros pose a danger to this country!” Judge: “You are absolutely right!” (Hey, it was a different time.) Feds: (happy face)
4. 1990’s Ruby Ridge?
Feds: “This man is a dangerous white supremacist who murdered federal agents!” Jury: “…and you are free to go.” Feds: (sad face)
5. 1990’s Waco?
Feds: “Uh, whoops? That photo op could have gone better.”
6. 2000’s War on Terror?
Feds: “This young Jihadist was planning on murdering Americans! No, we were not involved in the planning, recruiting, or financing for this plot. Why do you ask?”
7. 2010’s Bundy Standoff?
Feds: “These men are dangerous paranoid militia members who are crazy enough to believe that we have them under 24-hour sniper coverage!” Judge: “These documents show that they actually were under 24-hour sniper coverage. Anyway, I am dismissing the case with prejudice.” Feds: (sad face)
8. 2020’s Governor Whitmer Kidnapping Plot?
Feds: “These crazy right wing nut jobs were planning on kidnapping the governor! No, we were not involved in the planning, recruiting, or financing for this plot. Why do you ask?”
There is nothing new about illegal and unconstitutional behavior from federal law enforcement.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago

From 1983 to 2001 I always voted Labour or Lib Dem / Alliance in elections. I did vote for Blair in 1997. At the start of the 2000s I was a member of the Lib Dems for a period. New Labour’s incessant initiatives and meddling (in all things really but especially in education) was a major factor in eventually driving me from teaching. I did move towards a more libertarian stance and amongst other things. Cameron’s hostility to ID cards induced me to vote Conservative for the first time in 2010. I approved, on the whole, of the coalition despite reservations and I saw the need to tackle the deficit, which I totally accepted was not all the fault of Labour by any means. I stayed Tory in 2015 and 2017, largely through sheer horror at Corbyn.I also voted remain in 2016, albeit after much thought and I was, I suppose, a “reluctant remainer” who thought we would be better off – on the whole – within a large trading bloc. With all that in mind, in 2019 I spoiled my ballot paper.
In terms of American politics, which I have always taken a great interest in, I confess I have always wanted the Democratic candidate to win presidential elections. Many of my social values were at odds with the influence of the religious right within the Republicans. In retrospect though, I did develop a respect for the achievements of Reagan and indeed GHWB. I had scant respect for Obama, thinking him an overhyped political neophyte and felt Hillary Clinton was the more qualified candidate in 2016. I detested Trump from the outset and loathed his presidency, despising his crudeness and ad hominem attacks on opponents. To that extent I wanted Biden to win in 2020 even though I have never held him in very high regard. My feeling was Trump had to go. I thought his behaviour during and after the election disgraceful and still do.
Like many, I feel as if many of my assumptions and attitudes have been altered by the pandemic, or at least the response to it. I have come to re-evaluate many of the attitudes I have held. I have been and continue to be utterly horrified at the way governments everywhere, including my own, have trampled on the concept of liberal democracy and have shown casual disregard for the relationship between the state and the individual. There has been an overreaction of breathtaking proportions based on an inflated safetyism, stemming from a creeping averseness to risk. The outcome has been a despotism predicated on “public health” in an entirely narrow definition of the concept.
Liberal democracy is now under assault from within, not only from the draconian application of “restrictions” but also from an evangelical fanaticism that even denies basic biology. This is doing the work of Xi, Putin and others for them. How they must be laughing as our elected leaders kick away the foundations of our system with as little thought as they would to breaking a coffee mug.
The performance of the EU, both collectively and in terms of its constituent parts has turned my thinking and I now think we are well shot of them. For me to have said that even two years ago would have been unthinkable.
In terms of UK politics, I genuinely cannot see myself voting again. The Tories are venal, corrupt and led by a frivolous chancer. The idea of voting Labour is unconscionable, They would have us in restrictions forever. Under our FPTP system, which gives us a duopoly they are nonetheless (as many have observed) to being a zombie party, gifting power to the Tories and rendering us a one party state.
As for America, the Republicans could be on to something if they move on from Trump whose flaws made for a chaotic administration that could only lead to instability. Trump is too vain and erratic for the office, even if many of his ideas and policies were not necessarily wrong. He may have been right but it was for the wrong reasons. Democratic blue states have instituted appalling tyranny and I have found myself comparing them unfavourably with red states. If the Republicans can indeed leave Trump behind them (whilst not throwing it all away) and construct a secular, libertarian, diverse but also pragmatic alternative they would carve out a durable voting coalition comparable to the FDR or Reagan ones. The Democrats are there for the taking and deservedly so.
The way the MSM has abetted the shitfest of the last 21 months is also worthy of the highest opprobrium. I was always a bit cynical of it but now I find myself – and again this would not have been unthinkable at one time as I try to resist hyperbole – thinking of them as positively evil.
This is my longest ever post on here and no doubt many will demur with much of what I have written but it has been an honest attempt to chronicle my…well I can think of no other word for it – journey.

Last edited 2 years ago by andrew harman
james goater
james goater
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Greatly enjoyed your essay and applaud your finding both the time and energy necessary to compose it. Many personal insights to ponder, thanks for a very worthwhile contribution.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Echoes my journey in many respects. Congratulations on summarising so succinctly.

“If the republicans can indeed leave Trump behind them (whilst not throwing it all away) and construct a secular, libertarian, diverse but also pragmatic alternative they would carve out a durable voting coalition comparable to the FDR or Reagan ones. The Democrats are there for the taking and deservedly so.”

That is the key. The Democrats are increasingly so far from joe public they can be reduced to a Zombie party if the right puts up credible candidates.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Wow. You must be seriously brave to admit to voting for not only Bliar but also the Non-Lib Non-Dems. But well done for admitting it in public.

Edit. PS. My voting record is not inscrutable but i never voted Bliar, through lucky chance as i was out of the country for the 2 years prior to the 1997 election and a) was not aware of quite how bad Major’s lot were and b) wasn’t registered for a vote anyway. My dad voted Bliar first time round (in protest against Major) and rues it consistently and constantly to this day.

Last edited 2 years ago by D Ward
Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Your post resonated with me as I have followed much the same trajectory. I still have friends and family members who are loyal Labour voters – though they are not uncritical – and am constantly shocked by how ready they are to make light of the evil ideas that the Left everywhere is peddling. So great is their loathing for Trump and his “fascist supporters” in America and for “Tory scum” in the UK that they will happily condone the most preposterous policies even while acknowledging the fallaciousness – or even outright dishonesty – of the arguments underpinning them (“systemic racism”, “gender identity” etc.).
I suppose we all vote based on where we perceive the greater risk to lie and not so long ago it seemed to me that the Republicans and the Tories were the ones to be kept in check. Since 2015, however, when Corbyn took over as Labour leader and the BBC finally outed itself with its disgusting defamation of Tim Hunt, it has become apparent to me that the Left’s infiltration of the media, healthcare, higher education, publishing and pretty much every aspect of public life has been so successful and so complete that unless we vote consistently and in very large numbers against them – by which I mean whichever parties are pushing the Woke agenda (including the Greens in Germany) – we are heading for a very dark place indeed. 

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Excellent post. Sir Alan Brooke said about the British generals in N Africa in in 1941 to 1942″ Half the divisional and corp commanders are not good enough but there are none better to replace them “. I think the same can be said of all political parties.
Working and commuting take up so much time and taxes are so high which prevents accumulation of capital Consequently, financially independent experienced people of the World no longer enter politcs in their late 30s or early 40s.
Labour MPs are supported by unions and too many Conservative MPs earn money through lobbying. Earning money from one’s company as an MP selling one’s professional expertise say in law, jounalism, writing, or engineering are fine but lobbying whether for a union, charity or company should be banned.
Too many people in politcal parties exist in a bubble cut off from the experiences of the vast majority of the people which is why they only promote the views of the groups which lobby them, including state employees. The vast majority of people do not have the time to write endless letters and attend many meetings with MPs and members of politcal parties; lobbyists are paid to do this work.

Sue Blanchard
Sue Blanchard
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Great post!

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

I don’t see Rittenhouse Republicans so much as self defense Republicans.

Antifa/BLM riots all had the same banana republic pattern. Democrat controlled governments withdrew police protection and allowed the riots. In some cases, Democrats defended their right to allow riots when Trump threatened to use federal resources to restore order. The riots were intentional political violence, for the purpose of intimidating Republicans and making Trump look impotent or authoritarian, whether he did nothing or tried to do something.

I think Rittenhouse had every right to be there, armed. Just as nobody has to take a beating, nobody has to allow their property to be destroyed. Rittenhouse had family, friends and a job in Kenosha. His gun was purchased and stored in Kenosha. His friends were protecting a used car business from arsonists. Rittenhouse was on his way to an arson fire with a fire extinguisher when rioters attacked him. I don’t see any part of Rittenhouse’s behavior that was improper.

John Locke (1632-1704) wrote governments are established to protect life, liberty and property. When they fail to do that, men are reduced to a state of anarchy. Defending property is just as justified as self defense, once government’s protection is withdrawn.

Democrats demand that once they withdraw government’s protection of property, everyone should should stand still and be fleeced. They hate Rittenhouse because he helped defend property, and he defended himself. Democrats think Antifa/BLM rioters are justified in destroying or looting any properties they see. Resistance offends the woke. Republicans think Rittenhouse’s attackers got what they deserved.

James Stangl
James Stangl
2 years ago

Excellent comments!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I watched the Tucker Carlson interview of Kyle Rittenhouse, because I knew very little about the man and the case. I’m fairly sure he wasn’t a Trump supporter, in fact he said he wasn’t particularly political but admired Andrew? Yang, who is Democrat. I’m happy for anyone to correct me on this.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

It appears the media and the Democrats automatically label you a far right Nazi Trump supporter if you do something they don’t like i.e kill paedophile BLM supporters who attack you, can handle a gun.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

You are right. I had noticed that error by the author but didn’t think about it. It’s kind of ironic that in an article talking about the transformation of the Republican party the author just assumes someone supporting police and law and order is a Republican, ignoring the fact that Kyle’s family and social group likely were Democrats a few decades back (and maybe still are).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Charles Northcote Parkinson pointed out the dangers of over large state in four books, Parkinsons Law, The Law and Profits, In-Laws and Out-Laws and East West.
In Parkinsons Law p11 CNP notes the RN had 62 capital ships in 1914 and 2000 Whitehall officials and in 1928, 20 capital ships and 3569 official in Whitehall. The Colonial Office has 372 official in Whitehall and 1661 in 1954 running a fraction of the area. CPN warned about the growth of officials leading to over taxation and collapse of civilisations, namesly, Roman, Mughul and Chinese
What I think ought to be emphasized is that Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate that money cannot make up for a lack of ability. Both in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, one person who spoke the languages and knew the peoples and countries who could have predicted and prevented the problems but too many careers and pensions depended on the course of actions which were taken. No numbers of mediocrities , no matter how well paid, equals one T E Lawrence !
The State Employees will never admit to not knowing, making mistakes and wasting money. It is better to have small incompetent government than a large incompetent one . It was said that a 1000 officials ran India. A British SAS Squadron Sergeant Major said the massive expansion of American SF drastically reduced standards which prevented the creation of SF soldiers who could learn the languages, live in the jungles and befriend the people, which led to the many problems in Vietnam.
Is it that only a very few numbers can ever be excellent but it is these small numbers which expand civilisations. If the USA and UK returned to the entry standards of universities and subjects taught of pre 1920, then what would be the reduction in numbers? Maj Gen Sir John Glubb has said increase in numbers of universities shows decline in standards of civilisation.
It was the entry exams to East India Company College and the rigours of the training they received which led to the creation of the modern British Civil Service. Subjects studied included Asiatic languages, Law, economics, Mathematics, Science, Classical Languages.
Imagine if we insisted on the same standards as required to be a member of the ICS for all state employees . We would greatly reduce numbers, increase quality but create an elite who could be controlled because it would be easy to perceive what they were doing. It is the sheer numbers of military and civilian state employees plus acdemics which makes it very difficult to assess what they do and therefore control them.

Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I am constantly bemused by the rise of our own latter day public and provate sector “apparatchiks”.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
2 years ago

The Rittenhaus case is a bell weather event because the “narrative” embraced by Kenosha democratic prosecutors and amplified by the overwhelming Dem leaning MSM proved completely unsupported by evidence at trial. Of course, the democratic governor and Mayor had previously let Kenosha be torched. Biden asserted that the defendant was a  white supremacist with zero evidence. It is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to comment on an ongoing criminal trial. He was recently  â€œshocked and angry” when Rittenhouse was not convicted of murder despite clear video evidence of self defense. Is he angry because his “justice” is based on a higher order “narrative truth” than applicable state laws? No one asked. This infuriated a lot of Americans and not all are Trumps supporters.
The Virginia governors race reflected push back against a school board that lied about a school sexual assault. The perpetrator was and released to commit another one at a different school. The FBI was then activated to investigate domestic terrorism against school boards – apparently because parents were angry. 
Back in Wisconsin 8 were killed and 43 injured by a violent criminal released on a $1000 bond after running over his girlfriend with the same car he mowed down a Xmas parade a few days later. MSM has gone dark of late on this event while ignoring evidence the perpetrator had supremacist tendencies of a quite different genre than those it happily fabricated for Rittenhouse. 
These local US events run close in sequence and each clearly demonstrated the transparently false narratives of an arrogant political class and complicit gaslighting media. It is not surprising that people are connecting the dots because these are not complicated examples. They are linked to public safety, public order and the failure of elected officials in hometown US. Biden’s support is tanking and it has more to do with these incidents than anyone acknowledges.

Last edited 2 years ago by rick stubbs
Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

They are battling for the future of Britain as well. The amount of institutions, elites, not to mention the would-be jihadists helped along with free benefits and ridiculously ineffective programmes like ‘Prevent’, and the self-censorship in the culture that will not talk sensibly and openly about the threat of thousands of illegal Muslim immigrants, etc etc that hate this culture and seek to undermine it is mind-boggling to me since returning to the UK three years ago from the US.

Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
2 years ago

“Rittenhouse Republicans” This attempt to coin a phrase falls flat. It’s the same MAGA movement that made Trump president, that’s all.

H D
H D
2 years ago

I think it’s what you might get if you take Trump out of MAGA.

andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago

Thanks to all who replied to my long winded post and it is interesting to see how many have been on a similar trajectory.

John Lee
John Lee
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Most of us!!

Sarah H
Sarah H
2 years ago

Why have you selected an unflattering picture showing a snapshot passing contortion on the face. And is that a pinched finger and thumb? Come on, Unherd. I expect better.

Julie Kemp
Julie Kemp
2 years ago

It strikes me that i like something about this. I’m Australian and a well-aged female and i fear police states. I fear easy access to guns. I fear young males of any dermal colour with guns. I fear children of any age with guns. I’m relieved in part that this young man got off lightly legally speaking. Under the circumstances he did what he thought and felt was self-defense. Well fair-enough. So much rotten-ness has been rife in America which has been shocking to me. So i am relieved by the sterling efforts of conservatives and moderate left-wing personalities coming together to remedy the schisms that pervade the American nation state. Sounds like the good old Homeostasis at work – such is only possible with a strong middle-class. History from all eras, show how the ‘middle path’ is the only sustainable if not virtuous way to go. Youth needs to now its Wisdom does not come via a gun alone.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago

2024 can only have two outcomes: the first would mean the irreversible destruction of the American federation, the second would give Americans a fighting chance to make America free again.
The election of a Democrat president, or Donald Trump, will destroy the Unites States of America.
A Republican resident with with proven governing record may give America a chance but only if he or she is strong enough to cleanse and rebuild, with any level of brutality that would be necessary, the US malignant security apparatus.
The Rittenhouse republicans will form a natural base for such a president.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

We are facing ecological collapse, people are panicking, this type of reliance on authoritarianism can be anticipated to rise. The UK are in the process of introducing draconian laws to silence those protestors who would like to see a change from business-as-usual. The Sixth Mass Extinction is caused by escalating ecological collapse. The COVID pandemic is a symptom and the economic growth paradigm is the cause. We need to fix the cause with rapid, ethical #IPAT_Degrowth, until then eco-damage will continue to escalate.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/humans-are-doomed-to-go-extinct/?

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams