It’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means another episode of High Noon: After Dark with Inez Stepman and The Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky.

From the Federalist studio, Jashinsky and Stepman chat about how the GOP could blow the chance voters are giving them and consign us to a continued decline under incompetent and woke institutions. They also discuss a key moment in the shifting coalitions of left and right, predatory universities, and finally, meaning and identity in a postmodern, hypernovel world and how self-definition makes us insane.

High Noon is an intellectual download featuring conversations that make possible a free society. The podcast features interesting thinkers from all parts of the political spectrum to discuss the most controversial subjects of the day in a way that hopes to advance our common American future. Hosted by Inez Stepman of Independent Women’s Forum.


TRANSCRIPT

Inez Stepman:

[Welcome to High Noon,] where we discuss controversial subjects with interesting people. And as always once a month, we do these After Dark episodes with Emily Jashinsky, who wears many hats but is primarily the culture editor over at the Federalist, whose studio we’re so kindly using, and she’s also training up the next generation of conservative, intrepid journalists over at the Young America’s Foundation, and she’s just a cultural commentator generally. As I said last time, I primarily go to her for Real Housewives takes, but she’s got other takes on broader subjects than the Real Housewives, so I hope you tune in for these After Dark episodes where we also imbibe prosecco while talking about the future of the country.

The first subject I really wanted to get into with you, Emily, was there’s been a divorce of sorts in social conservatism. It’s one of the few divorces that I’ve ever thought was a really great thing, but it seems that the GOP is-

Emily Jashinsky:

Who’s fault is it? Is it a no-fault?

Inez Stepman:

I mean, it’s like a both-fault divorce between the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce. So could you just lay out why we think there is a divorce, just briefly the facts of the matter, and then also what you think about this because this, I think, is a very significant development in terms of the trajectory of the right and the left in this country.

Emily Jashinsky:

Absolutely. This week as we’re taping, Kevin McCarthy, who’s the House Minority leader, gave an interview to Breitbart in which he said the Chamber left the party a long time ago. He sort of fingered wokeness as the culprit for this divorce and laid into the Chamber of Commerce and talked about how they were endorsing people against obviously free market people. And then I checked in with a source connected to Republican leadership, who said they intentionally implemented a strategy, intentionally, to elect Democrats, that the Chamber of Commerce was intentionally seeking to elect Democrats they had endorsed in 2020. What the source described to me as “margin makers.” And that means that they were endorsing people who, without them, Democrats may not have kept the House or may not have won the House. And so that’s a huge source of frustration for Republicans. But at the same time, they’re like, good riddance because there’s these new small-dollar fundraising mechanisms.

It’s not the old sort of fundraising days, but if you go back and you look at open secrets, Republicans have gotten a lot of money from the Chamber of Commerce, a lot of endorsements from the Chamber of Commerce. And there’s basically just been this understanding that the Republican Party is the party of the Chamber of Commerce. You might have a couple business-friendly Democrats in particular areas in particular states, but by and large, it was as Ryan Grimm described it in the Intercept in 2020, an appendage of the GOP basically. So this is a divorce that is not only symbolic, but substantively an indicator of corporate America’s divorce from the Republican Party, and that actually really does liberate the Republican Party to do all kinds of things, and then may, of course, entrap Democrats in the sort of chamber mindset.

Inez Stepman:

It’s funny because if I had heard this several years ago, I would’ve been like, why would the Chamber of Commerce do something like this just because, right? It was so obvious that Republicans were in favor of … They were the ones who were in favor of limited government. They were the ones in favor of a pro-business climate, right? They were the ones that, all this traditional sort of 2012 Mitt Romney asked the Republican Party stuff. And this would make absolutely no sense. Why would the Chamber of Commerce elect Democrats? But we hear it now and it makes complete sense, in the days of woke capitalism, right? In the days where corporations are a major player against basically every conservative or even moderate cultural battle. Here, I’m thinking of, for example, state voting legislation where famously, corporations threatened to boycott states, they’ve threatened to boycott the All-Star Game.

Emily Jashinsky:

The All-Star game. OSHA, the OSHA mandate, the vaccine mandate by OSHA, the Chamber of Commerce endorsed it, Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Inez Stepman:

They endorsed, along with basically every recognizable corporate entity in America, they endorsed the Equality Act as well.

Emily Jashinsky:

That’s a really good one.

Inez Stepman:

This is not surprising, but I feel like it’s still very significant because what we’ve seen, I think, is that the establishments of both parties cling to the sort of forms of the previous coalitions and are not very quick to respond to those tectonic plates moving of where the actual bases of both parties and the different kind of coalition groups in America on the ground of actual voters are moving. And this shows that in fact, there is some of this that’s trickling up to the actual structure of the parties. But I think some of the influences on the Republican Party will be pretty obvious, but how is this going to influence the Democratic Party? Do you think that this is going to spell the death knell for sort of the Senator Sanders wing of the Democratic Party?

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. I mean, that’s the big question because this is something that the far-left kind of struggles with too. When they talk about media bias and when they talk about the Democratic establishment, it’s completely true that the Democratic establishment sort of hates them and loathes them. But in it’s absolutely important to understand that’s primarily on economic issues. But even on economic issues, the center has been dragged so far-left by the Bernie Sanders wing and by the fact that voters were so hungry for Bernie Sanders. I mean, he trounced Hillary Clinton in a state like Wisconsin, lest the Nancy Pelosies of the world forget, and that’s a big deal.

And so it’s sort of the same on the right and the left. They have these populist strains. And the question is who’s going to win this tug of war. But on the left those cultural issues, the entire Democratic establishment is completely on board with the cultural agenda of the radical far-left, the Equality Act, which you are literally an expert on, is a great example of a piece of legislation that is so radical it would’ve been laughed out of the mainstream by everybody what, 10 years ago, if not less.

Inez Stepman:

Two years ago.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. Right, right, right. But the fact that you have literally the Chamber of Commerce, the entire infrastructure of corporate America says that it’s necessary and a matter of human rights to pass this ridiculous piece of legislation, it tells you how far of the Democratic establishment has come culturally on these issues. So yes, the Democratic establishment is still sort of pro-business, pro-corporate media, but they have gone pretty far to the left on certain things. They are in favor of student loan debt forgiveness. They are in favor, in many cases, of Medicare For All, or some fairly radical version of healthcare reform. Yeah. So it’s true, I get the left’s frustration on this, but on cultural issues, they’re so radically far-left, it explains why something like the Chamber of Commerce would end up distancing itself from Republicans.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I mean, at this point, and I never thought I’d hear myself say this, at this point, I regard any corporate influence, and I am totally in favor of Citizens United still, I still think that it’s the correct decision under the First Amendment and if we want to change that, I think we have to amend the Constitution. But I was always somebody who was skeptical of the narrative that corporate money really drives a lot of politics, especially, generally, donors in politics, I feel like more often than people think are following … Donors are lining up with institutions and parties that they already agree with and so they are backing with dollars and making more successful the sort of positions that are already in existence, rather than sort of manipulating behind the scenes to change different positions.

But I really feel differently now about corporate influence when they’re willing to wield it so far, as Vivek Ramaswamy argues so well, I think. A previous podcast guest. But he really convincingly argues that we need to find some kind of separation where you keep corporate power in its lane of the financial bottom line because they’re wielding it to affect so many other issues. And really, like we were discussing, just more recently, the NCAA changed the course of women’s sports in South Dakota. Now they’ve reversed that. They reversed that about a week ago or a couple weeks ago. They are going to advance some kind of bill on this. But, but the fact that the NCAA has … Is it double-A? I don’t know anything about the sports ball.

Emily Jashinsky:

Oh my gosh. It’s the NC double-A.

Inez Stepman:

It’s not NCAA?

Emily Jashinsky:

Well, you could say it that way.

Inez Stepman:

No, I was just like what do people use, double-A or AA? I am the worst sports ball person on the planet.

Emily Jashinsky:

And it’s AA. Something you might want to … We have the red Solo cups here.

Inez Stepman:

Cheers. No, but I really do think this is significant in terms of the agenda that can be then advanced politically in the Republican Party. And probably, I mean, as somebody who still does cling to ideas of limited government and individual liberty and such outdated notions, the Constitution, this could be kind of the best of all worlds, right? If corporate influence moves from the Republican Party into the Democratic Party, it’s going to make a lot of folks that I actually find insightful on these issues, but sort of anti-woke Marxists, it’s going to make them really mad and even more disillusioned from the Democratic Party. But from my perspective, I think it’s going to cause the reality that we’ve already seen peak socialism, and it’s going to moderate eventually where the Democratic Party is going on economics while freeing the Republican Party from their pernicious influence on culture. So as somebody who’s socially and fiscally conservative, I feel like this may be the best of all worlds.

Emily Jashinsky:

That’s really interesting because … That’s really interesting. So the NCAA issue is a good one because the fact that Governor Noem caved on it, although she’s taking a totally BS victory lap right now, speaks to the power of the populist right, which prioritizes cultural issues in the same way the populist left prioritizes economic issues, even though the populist left also has a problem with being radically and rabidly culturally leftist. But that’s such a good example because she caved on that after caving to the Chamber. And so it really speaks to what a tug of war we’re in. And the Democratic Party has been similar to the Republican Party. We have kind of this Uniparty of the ruling class being corporate-friendly. If you look at the trade policies of Bill Clinton, for example, the trade policies of George W. Bush, of Barack Obama, I mean, you can really see that … And that’s the sense that I always go back to Charles Murray and I feel like I always end up talking about Charles Murray on this podcast and then pretty much every conversation I have.

But there’s this mind-meld between people that sort of swim in the same waters in New York and DC and Los Angeles, people who just … It almost doesn’t matter. Citizens United is a good example that something Republicans supported and people like Hillary Clinton decried, but Sacha Baron Cohen made that Borat movie and specifically came out and said he did it to influence the election. He released it on Amazon, one of the most major corporate platforms in the world specifically to influence the election. Well, thank you for Citizens United, Sacha Baron Cohen. And these are the things that Amazon would never release a movie and put a ton … They made that movie. That was an Amazon Studios project. They would never put their money behind something that was intentionally hoping to elect Donald Trump.

And so I think it’s this sort of tug of war in the Uniparty. And you predicted what, like two years ago that we’d seen peak socialism. And I said, Inez, you’re crazy. But despite what we’ve just said, I do think there’s a good argument for that, but I think it’s because the Uniparty is above all absolutely obsessed with power. And the Republican Party has been on top of this and they recognize how poorly socialism polls specifically with those suburban women in swing states that Democrats got from Trump, and they don’t like socialism, so that’s where you might see the far-left having a real hard time persuading the establishment to really go gung ho and to continue going pedal to the metal on some obviously socialist policies.

Inez Stepman:

The only thing I have to add to that analysis is that the Uniparty that you’re talking about would not be, which I would roughly define as sort of extreme culturally left, fiscally, let’s say sane to moderate and specifically, very technocratic, right?

Emily Jashinsky:

Yes.

Inez Stepman:

Very bureaucratic. And that’s what I would kind of add to this analysis. You’re talking about New York and DC and sort of the Uniparty there. And I totally agree with you, there’s an Acela corridor effect, right?

Emily Jashinsky:

Aren’t you literally about to get on an Acela?

Inez Stepman:

I am literally about to. No, I’m not taking Acela. I don’t like Acela anyway.

Emily Jashinsky:

That’s right, you’re …

Inez Stepman:

Not for populist reasons anyway. No, but I think that effect is real. But that is actually less important increasingly because all the institutions are so bought in, that even if you’re from Ohio or you’re from Texas and you want to join pretty much any credentialing or stamping institution, you have to go through essentially the same indoctrination and cultural melding into this class. It’s like a managerial class that’s stamped by the universities, stamped by going to the right schools. And those schools are all teaching the same things. And even once you get out, you’re supposed to increasingly profess those views, those cultural views and that kind of cultural monopoly as you go about … Whether you’re working in an agency, or whether you’re working in academia, or whether you’re working in an HR department in Nike, right? So I think it’s much broader than the geographic focus now because they’ve taken over all of those institutions.

Emily Jashinsky:

You’re right.

Inez Stepman:

I do agree, that’s where it kind of started, but I think it’s much more powerful than that now.

Emily Jashinsky:

It’s the top-down enforcement of it. It’s from those places specifically, but yeah, and I will just add this quickly. I think Republicans and conservatives are very unwise to underestimate the extent to which this conditioning is deeply embedded in the minds of our generation, but especially people younger than us who have grown up-

Inez Stepman:

Well, younger than you. I’m old.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yes, all right. And she said it, not me. Who have grown up with every single institution, including especially popular culture, telling them that every interaction they have with somebody of a different race is infected with systemic racism and that every institution in this country is infected with systemic racism, et cetera, et cetera. And it’s not just isolated to the Acela corridor.

Inez Stepman:

So in terms of optimism about the GOP and maybe figuring out a little bit about how the world actually works, the Republican National Committee has issued an edict saying to their potential candidates saying that they will not be participating in certain corporate media debates. And in the past, this has been a big internal issue in the Republican Party. And I promise this podcast will not be about Republican Party back channels, the rest of it. But I only picked these issues because I think that they are actually, they have consequences beyond this. I mean, do you think that the actual establishment organs of the Republican Party and correspondingly the Democratic Party are starting to understand the landscape in which they reside, or do you think that this is merely a sort of fundraising level move, i.e., they know their base hates the media and so they’re going to make a grandstanding position on this, or does this reflect an actual deeper understanding that they know they cannot continue to play what is essentially a rigged game, that they pretend is sort of fairly decided?

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. And that’s the … So there were a lot of good signs this week. McCarthy’s comments about the Chamber is one. McCarthy again actually came out against the January 6th Committee and said this is hyperpartisan and we will not legitimize it with our participation basically. And then you have this debate point, and these are all really good signs, but they are style over substance. Although I would argue not participating in the January 6th Committee is pretty substantive. And the RNC, if they keep holding fast to this, that will be, I think, remarkable because it would be really substantive if Republicans refused to be moderated by, as you just described, I think excellently, and as people who are culturally radical liberals now. I mean, this is not as though it’s … This is not Walter Cronkite. These are not people who just sort of are center-left. If you believe the Equality Act is a matter of human rights, you’re a radical leftist, this is not the sort of mainstream or center-left anymore.

Inez Stepman:

I feel like I should jump here and do what we should have done initially, which is to say that the Equality Act is something that redefined sex under the law and included civil rights protections on the basis of self-identified gender identity, right? So this would be every institution or every female-only space, whether that’s female prisons or women’s sports, for example, would be affected by this.

Emily Jashinsky:

Women’s shelters.

Inez Stepman:

It’s incredibly radical. And obviously, we’re dealing with all of those issues in all the states. And on the federal level, they found other ways to redefine sex, whether that’s issuing regulations or dear colleague letters through the sort of technocratic and bureaucratic process. So they’re trying to skin this cat in many different ways. But this was national civil rights legislation which would’ve enshrined the idea that you cannot distinguish between a biological man and woman. So it’s very radical.

Emily Jashinsky:

It is extremely radical. And I pretty much guarantee you every presidential debate moderator when pressed in public would say, yes, absolutely, I support this important piece of legislation. And I remember actually when Mary Katharine Ham moderated a CNN debate in, what was that, 2016, it was fantastic. It was absolutely fantastic. In the same way, it’s great when Rachel Maddow moderates a Democratic debate. I mean, it just makes way more sense. And it is absolutely absurd to have people who are just by nature of perceiving themselves as neutral, anti-conservative, moderate these debates because to be neutral in the beltway, and I’m speaking to somebody who lives here and has lived here for a while, to be neutral is to be center-left at best. But to be sort of far-left on cultural issues and center-left on business issues or on economic issues, it makes absolutely no sense to continue subjecting this important process of vetting nominees to people who hate you, essentially think that you’re a bigot. And in this environment, I mean, the test will be whether the RNC follows through on this, but it’s at least great signaling.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, I guess that’s my worry is that there is a space between the establishment of the party figuring out that talking about these issues is a good way to get the base out and excited and donating and voting, which I mean, I do think is an improvement over the previous strategy, which is ignore the cultural issues and completely ignore sort of the systemic march through the institutions of the left.

Emily Jashinsky:

And denigrate people who are trying to fight that.

Inez Stepman:

Right. I think that’s an improvement, but it’s not the improvement we need at this moment in time, I think in the country when we really do need to convert that energy into actual, I’ll use the word, systemic change in a lot of these institutions, and that’s going to require smart policy thinking, but it’s also going to require a sustained legislative effort from the party that opposes it, which right now is the Republican Party. And I guess, so the election in Virginia is really a key thing for me in this regard, what Glenn Youngkin in Virginia actually ends up doing on the issue of education, which it’s really hard to deny that that issue was key in getting him elected. And this is the thing that I always repeat and you always repeat, and we understand this, that in fact, a lot of those voters that are not attached, they’re not base-voting Republicans. They haven’t voted Republican for five out of five in the last elections, right? They are independents. In many cases, they are even Democrats.

The way to get those people and convince them is not by fiscal issues, it’s through culture, war issues. Those are the big 10 issues, where we actually, those of us on the right, actually agree with moderates, agree with the not insubstantial number of Democrats, so those are the opportunities. And that’s what happened in Virginia is those voters decided on the basis of some of those cultural issues like school closures, like what was actually being taught with regard to race and gender ideology in schools. Those issues are why they voted Republican and elected Glenn Youngkin.

And what I’m terrified is going to happen is one, the Republican Party will find a way to screw this up like they always do. They’re not going to convert that into actual measurable change for these parents. And then those parents are just going to give up on the GOP because they’re not there for the rest of the conservative agenda. They’re there for these specific issues because they’re really scared of where the left is going on them. And so what I’m really hoping doesn’t happen is that the GOP messages on all the quote-unquote right stuff from our perspective, yours and mine, but then goes right back to the same agenda when they actually get power. And I just don’t think we can afford that.

Emily Jashinsky:

I share that concern completely, and I think you have even more insight to this than I do, especially on the education beat. The only thing I would say, the only note of optimism I would sound for you is that it actually depends on how much the Democrats drop the ball as well. So both parties are going to fail voters broadly, they always do, always, almost always, at least from a 30,000-foot view. But the question then becomes whether Republicans screw up worse than Democrats do. And I just don’t think it’s possible at this point to be worse than Democrats on some of these culture issues because they’re in such a bubble, they allow in zero criticism, there is no free exchange of ideas, which lets these bad ideas metastasize in a way that continues making them worse and worse and worse because there’s no fresh air, there’s no debate. And they just keep getting more and more radical in a way that is very, very harmful to normal Americans.

And so to the extent that Republicans don’t translate it into policy, yeah, I share those concerns absolutely a hundred percent. Kevin McCarthy, while we’re praising him, he deserves criticism. This week, he released a tweet that sort of summarized his plank if Republicans take back the House and his campaign platforms if Republicans take back the House. And one of them was reform Section 230, I think. But one of them was energy independence and one of them was a parental bill of rights. And it’s like, yes, I’ve got you on the parental bill of rights. But whatever that is is just toothless and meaningless, you need to do way more than that. This is systemic neo-racism embedded in our system through public schools.

And great, I’m glad that you have this idea of a parents bill of rights and I think energy independence is great, but the way you’re talking about this feels like 2014 and it indicates to me that if you get power again, we’re going to get another round of tax cuts, which I do think helped the middle class, but I don’t think were as high of a priority as some of the cultural issues are. They never want to pass legislation on abortion. They never want to pass legislation on things that matter to social conservatives, which by that, we now have to include a huge swath of people in the middle because conservatism is now anything slightly to the left of whatever Lena Dunham is thinking at the moment. So I would not underestimate the ability of Democrats to drop the ball even harder than Republicans.

Inez Stepman:

So here’s why I’m not encouraged by that analysis. I think it’s all true, but it’s a kind of house always wins situation. Whichever team holds the institutions, which is overwhelmingly team left, they can afford to drop the ball. That might be a political solution about who gets elected. Republicans may be able to drop the ball and still get elected. Although I think it’ll be harder for them. But time is not on our side, right?

Emily Jashinsky:

No, I agree. I agree.

Inez Stepman:

Every year that we don’t do something about this, a new year of cultural revolutionaries are graduating into every private institution and every institution or every holdout in the country. And so they don’t really need to get their agenda through right now. They literally can just wait. And it’ll get worse. And I think a lot of people in the country feel that way. That’s kind of why it feels so inexorable. It feels that every year things get worse with regard to the cultural issues. And it’s very rare that we actually feel like we got a victory or that we actually pushed back effectively on any of this stuff because that’s the default motion now. The default motion is left culturally. And it’s just a matter if it’s going to go a little slower or a little faster without … The Republicans need to act in order to stop that dynamic. So if they don’t act, but even if the Democratic Party doesn’t act, that dynamic continues.

But that’s what makes me worried. I really do think, and again, I’m not saying things about the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, because I’m particularly partisan or care so much about that, but those are the vehicles through which … The Republican Party is the only hope right now for any of the culturally important sort of vehicles because as we discussed earlier, the Democratic Party, all the influences, and then you see this, they can’t turn around. They can’t U-turn even though there are important voices in the party that are like, oh, hey, guys, this is really unpopular and it’s losing us races. There’s so much institutional power behind this far-left cultural perspective that it’s impossible for the party to actually slam on the breaks even as many of the members are like, hold up, hold up, this is really bad for our election chances.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. And the only thing I’ll add to that is just, I think it’s, and I did a piece on this week, I think it’s very hard to have these conversations about politics without recognizing the context of the sort of hyper-novel world that we live in, as Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying have talked about. When Betty White died, I discovered that she was on an experimental broadcast. Her first experience on television was a freaking experimental broadcast in 1939. That is the year the Wizard of Oz came out. It’s the year Gone With the Wind came out. She was 17. She was 17 years old in 1939 when she was on an experimental broadcast of TV. She died in the age of streaming. That’s how new some of these technologies are.

And I was having a conversation with somebody yesterday and they were like, well, hyper-novelty can’t just be the explanation for all of this because we saw postmodernity start to eat away at the cultural fabric before TV was really popularized. And it’s like, well, actually hyper-novelty goes back way further than TV. It’s the blink of an eye in the scope of human history. And our bodies aren’t meant to live like this. This is making me sound like really Maryanne Williamson. But our bodies aren’t meant to live like this. We are certainly not meant to communicate in this way. We are not meant to litigate our politics in this way. We’re not meant to litigate our culture in this way. And I think when we talk about the institutions being all owned by the left and the fact that there’s now sub-stacks creeping into the discourse, and there are competitive institutions being built up, I do see it as a race against the clock. Exactly what you just said, Inez. And I’ve written that before.

It feels like a race against the clock because so much of this tech is anti-human. It’s the metaverse, profoundly anti-human. But one of the most powerful companies in the world will profit more and more, the more and more of our lives we live in virtual reality. And that sounds like science fiction, but it’s imminent. They changed their name to Meta. Facebook did just a couple months ago. And so I do see this as a race against the clock, but in ways that are more than politics, in ways that are just sort of about our humanity. And if we can sort of use our system, which is the best system that’s ever been created, I think in the history of the world for such a multiethnic massive geographic swath of the world, maybe things can be adjusted and balanced out. But it’s scary.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. There’s another aspect, another way in which I feel this is a race against the clock, and that’s all of what you just said plus the ideology is creating more people who are mentally on the edge, plus isolation from the pandemic, we’re creating more mentally unhealthy people than he ever have, I feel like. Maybe that’s, I don’t know.

Emily Jashinsky:

No, that’s true.

Inez Stepman:

I don’t know what the mental frame was like in Roman times, so I can’t make that overwhelming statement. But at least in more modern history, and Mary Eversat, another podcast guest, I think writes really convincingly about this, where she points out that we’ve lost all the normal ways to define ourselves or think about ourselves. God is dead, so we can’t define ourselves that way, as children of God. Families are broken down and each individual instance of that is a tragedy, but it may be the best situation for an individual family.

But on the societal level to have this high level of family breakdown means that we lose the ability to define ourselves in the second most natural way, right? Religion. And I’m a wife. For people with kids, it’s defining themselves as a mother or a father or a daughter or a son to their parents, that’s another very natural human source of meaning and identity. And as those things strip away, I feel like people. they’re so vulnerable to thinking that … I was thinking about it the other day, people think that there is something deeply wrong with them because they’re suffering. And we have this whole, which every human being in the history of time does, but we have, one, we’ve stripped away any access to other people’s deep wisdom on dealing with the human condition, and we’ve taken away those bases of natural identity that actually makes sense in a biological sense for us. And what we’re left with is this sort of crazy-making free-floating self-definition that literally makes us insane. I actually believe that.

Emily Jashinsky:

Anti-human.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. There is a way in which that is very deeply anti-human. But we’d be amiss if we didn’t cover another issue that cropped up in the last couple weeks, which is SCOTUS striking down the vaccine mandate. And my initial take was like, okay, good, I’m glad we have a Supreme Court that takes the Constitution seriously. But it almost matters less than I would’ve thought it does, one, because the bat-signal already went out to all the corporations. Do you think that major corporations aren’t going to reverse their internal vaccine mandates now that it’s been struck down by the Supreme Court or do you think they’re just going to continue? They’re going to take that ball from government, the Supreme Court is going to say, government, you can’t do this, and they’re going to just run with the same thing privately, which seems like how so many issues are ending up being framed these days.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. I think it’s a matter of how effective that was. I think the Biden administration intentionally implemented that mandate sort of symbolically by citing the authority of OSHA in order to really intimidate businesses into implementing something and to intimidate people into getting vaccinated and boosted for fear of not being allowed into various different businesses. So if Goldman or whatever it is, whatever, it’s Amazon, whatever major corporate institution it is that really set the tone for others if they find that there are a lot of people who just don’t want to comply with this, I could see it sort of melting away gradually over the next couple of months. If it turned out that most people did it, then maybe not. But I feel like that’s one of those things that’s just up in the air depending on the next few weeks, few months.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I was telling you right before we went on-air that on a personal level, I really hope that New York doesn’t update its mandates to include the boosters because I was vaccinated and then had COVID, and that was my booster. Going through COVID was my booster. Omicron was my booster.

Emily Jashinsky:

For many, many people.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, who are going to get natural immunity from it. But on another level, on a kind of political level, I kind of almost hope that New York does update it because it’ll go from 80% in a lot of places where they’re enforcing it strictly like in Manhattan approaching 90% of people who do qualify, which makes it really easy to sort of shun the unbeliever because it doesn’t actually affect them versus overnight if they require a booster, the vast majority of people are not going to qualify. I’m sure some of them are going to then go ahead and get their booster. Which, by the way, I’m not at all against. I think it’s probably wise for many people to get a booster. I know my parents got boosters and I’m glad that they did. So it’s not the vaccine itself that I’m concerned about.

But I wonder if the only way we are going to roll back any of this stuff is if there’s a critical mass of people who don’t qualify and therefore can’t sort of imagine that it’s the icky deplorables. I think that becomes much harder when you have 60, 70% of people who don’t qualify for that kind of mandate.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. I think we’re making the same argument, actually. I don’t know what these corporations’ numbers are across the country outside places like Manhattan or DC, which is about to implement a very stringent requirement, if they didn’t have a lot of people that got boosted or got the second shot or got the first shot, then I think that changes it. But Omicron is really an incredible stress test for this. And we’re not going to know for the next couple weeks, two to three weeks, what the total effect of it was. But I think so many people are in your shoes. They got Omicron and they don’t want to get boosted. In fact, some of the medical advice is not to get boosted. And so I think in the next few weeks, this will become increasingly clear.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I just wonder which way this going to go. Although selfishly, I don’t want them to do that because I like going to restaurants in New York. But that’s probably not a good enough reason to oppose them.

Emily Jashinsky:

Probably not, Inez.

Inez Stepman:

I don’t know. I really like restaurants. No. I just wanted to hit one last subject before we do the wrap-up and talk about our undercover things for the week.

Emily Jashinsky:

You got a train to catch.

Inez Stepman:

Well, you call me the Acela dweller, so it’s not actually the Acela. It’s a different train. But yes, I have to catch a train.

Emily Jashinsky:

Northeast Regional?

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, I actually didn’t look which one, but I have a whole rant about Acela and the reasons I don’t like the Acela, but that is not a topic of general interest to the country. That is the most bubble topic that’s ever been conceived. The Charles Murray quiz, the bubble quiz should have had a question, do you know what the Acela is?

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah, it actually might have.

Inez Stepman:

I don’t remember. I took the quiz and I don’t remember there being an Acela question. But I did want to hit one last thing, which was there was a decision today, so there’s a private lending company, Navient, that took on a lot of the student loans when those student loans were still quasi-private. So what happened is a long time ago there was a private lending market for student loans, that hasn’t been the case for a long time. So companies like Navient were really much more akin, for those of us who are old enough to remember, more akin to Fanny and Freddie in the late 2000s meltdown and recession. They’re more akin to kind of private arms that are super heavily regulated and interact with the Department of Education.

But under Obama, all of those loans got bought up by the Department of Education itself. So 93 or 94% of student loans are now actively held by the Department of Education instead of any company, including Navient. But Navient was labeled a predatory lending organization and is going to have to pay, I think, 1.6 billion or something like that of a large settlement to people who it preyed on with its loans. Now, it’s not that I don’t think those loans … Actually, I think there is a reasonable case that they are predatory. But it’s the entire system that is predatory.

Emily Jashinsky:

Oh gosh.

Inez Stepman:

And I just see this as such a terrible scapegoating. It’s the same thing that we tried to do with for-profit universities, right? Both the Obama and Biden administrations, they try to find that one actor that fits in with their worldview when in reality, what they really need to understand, not that they will because they have an interest in the opposite direction, is that the real predatory institutions here are the universities themselves and not just for-profit universities, four-year nonprofit universities. They are engaged in making money hand over fist on the basis of taxpayer-funded student loans that then screw everybody but the universities, right?

The students come out with higher and higher debt because the student loans push up the price of tuition. So I think the left is right when they make arguments like student loan debt has prevented millennials from buying houses and forming families. I think that’s a real thing. But the question is how do we solve that problem? And they are clinging to this idea, which they advance almost with sort of lower socioeconomic status lenders as the shield where they are always talking about that. When in reality, any of these solutions are just handing huge gobs of cash essentially to the children of the upper-middle-class.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yes.

Inez Stepman:

That’s literally what it is.

Emily Jashinsky:

I don’t have much to add to that at all because you, again, you’re way more well-versed in this issue than I am.

Inez Stepman:

It’s a wonky episode.

Emily Jashinsky:

But it reminds me of the student debt forgiveness argument the left makes and that they have rehashed in light of President Biden’s decision whether not to extend this moratorium on student debt repayment forgiveness. It’s incredible because it’s being in bed with a special interest. It’s pro-higher education, our corrupt system of higher education in this country. It’s basically a bailout for them because they don’t need to reform jack. If you do, it’s a transfer to the upper-middle class, absolutely. But it’s also just giving this industry license to continue preying on the entire industry. All of higher ed is predatory because the average student is graduating with some $30,000 in debt for degrees that don’t actually meaningfully impact their career trajectory or the earning potential. And it’s a lie. It is corrupt. It’s a lie. And the Democrats are beholden to the special interest of higher education. And that’s all this is. It’s just a handout to them.

Inez Stepman:

It’s even worse than that because what’s happening as the number of degrees expand is we’ve put everyone on a credentialing treadmill, right?

Emily Jashinsky:

Oh, yeah.

Inez Stepman:

So the exact same job that would’ve given somebody who had a high school diploma that first start on the ladder up to the great American dream, not to mix too many cliches in one sitting here, but that job now requires a degree and therefore requires that you go into sometimes six-figure debt. And the salaries do not keep up with it, so we’re on this treadmill of making it harder and harder to succeed. But again, we are focused on the problems of essentially upper-middle class people. Look, I definitely talk a lot more about class than I once did. It seems more and more relevant every day. But the numbers on this are undeniable.

For example, student loan forgiveness is going to shovel $7 to the top quintile for every single dollar that goes to anybody in the bottom quintile. The fact is that overwhelmingly it is the children of the upper-middle class who are getting the degrees and going into debt. And actually, a lot of that debt is from law school and medical school. You are literally charging mechanics to bail out lawyers.

Emily Jashinsky:

Earning potential is what matters. The left has a lot of misleading studies on this.

Inez Stepman:

So what they’ll do is count the lawyers straight out of law school who perhaps clerks for a year or works for a nonprofit, who’s making, for example, the ACLU. The ACLU, famously, pay is really low. Some of the folks who are straight out of law school work for ACLU, they’re getting paid 45 or $50,000, but their earning potential is much, much higher, so it’s not a fair accounting in a way.

But let’s wrap it up on this one. Every month I ask you and I give my own view on what hasn’t really broken into the mainstream or something that deserves a different angle or more coverage than it’s gotten. Am I stumping you on this? Because I totally can do mine first if you want to think about it.

Emily Jashinsky:

You do yours first because I’m going back and forth between two. I’m going between two. You go first.

Inez Stepman:

This is the advantage of doing this in person, not only can we cheers in person, I can see it on your face.

Emily Jashinsky:

It’s really beautiful.

Inez Stepman:

But so mine is something that I really enjoyed the analysis of this piece because it’s something like we just talked about with student loans. I understand very well in other contexts and kind of understand in the media context, like so much today really does reward, and I am now a total Burnham stan, and I’m going to use the word managerial class to describe it because I think it’s the best way to describe the kind of trifecta of academia, agencies, and bureaucracy, and then kind of a compliant sort of HR bureaucracies that exist in private corporations as well. I think these folks, oftentimes they’re the same people who rotate between those three poles throughout the course of their career. But I think that’s probably the most valuable way to describe them is managerial class, as opposed to the 1%, which I’m worried enough about the 1%, but I’m worried less about the 1% than I am about the 20% because they’re the ones who actually make a lot of the policy decisions in this country and they’re the ones who are increasingly self-dealing to themselves and their kids.

So I was really interested in and pleased to read this article and I learned a ton from it over at Current Affairs. And the title of the article is Who Actually Gets to Create Black Pop Culture? And the author is Bertrand Cooper. And what he points out is in the same way that what I just said, that student loans, they use your atypical borrower who comes, like the very small percentage of borrowers who actually come from an impoverished background, and actually are trying to pay off, they’re usually very small loans, and actually, that have a quite sympathetic situation that in absence of anything else, I would be sympathetic to thinking about how this predatory industry has really screwed them and how we might be able to rectify some of that. But they’re really being used as a shield for the vast beneficiaries who do not face those problems. That’s kind of the thesis of this article, but with regard to Black pop culture, which is super interesting.

So he talks about how all of the statistics that are trotted out by Black Lives Matter or by other groups, or woke groups about disparities between, and for example, Blacks and Whites in the country, relating to poverty, interactions with the police, incarceration, right? The solutions that are being advanced are, and not just in a sort of rote policy way, but in a very literal way, the jobs that are created are going again, not to anyone who’s actually impacted by any of those social ills. So when a Hollywood, for example, decides that they’re going to make the Oscars not #sowhite and they’re going to award more Black directors, for example, that has absolutely no impact on … So that sort of woke solution has no interaction with the lives of the people who are actually, for example, getting locked up at higher rates or interacting with the police at higher rates. These are totally different class-based issues.

And it’s not to say that every issue is a class issue instead of a race issue or whatever else. But I just thought it was a really interesting analysis. And it reminds me so much about, I just think that dynamic is way broader than the pop culture or the Black American context. But it’s interesting to see it applied in that context. So highly recommend this essay in Current Affairs by Bertrand Cooper, who actually gets to create Black pop culture. So that’s my undercover thing for the week.

Emily Jashinsky:

I love it. And I can’t wait to read the essay. It’s been on my list for a while because Inez sent it to me. Mine is this-

Inez Stepman:

Way to announce that you don’t take my recommendations seriously.

Emily Jashinsky:

I do. It’s on my reading list, which Inez doesn’t have a reading list, but I do as a responsible consumer of media. Thank you, Apple, a shout out to Apple, a shout out to the workers of Xinxiang. I’m kidding. Obviously, Apple is a bad company in so very many ways, and it’s always worth remembering that.

Inez Stepman:

But do rate this podcast on Apple.

Emily Jashinsky:

Do this podcast on Apple. [crosstalk 00:50:58]. Yes. And all I’ll say is Aaron Renn has a great essay in American Affairs about, just sort of analyzing why Indiana, deeper Indiana, despite this history of fiscal conservative policies, he has very kind words, I think reasonably so for Mitch Daniels, is not right now an enclave of personal prosperity. He crunches the numbers. It’s a great reckoning. It’s a great invitation for conservatives to reckon with whether those policies of fiscal conservatism or the dogma of fiscal conservatism is still nakedly fiscal, if the best policies are still naked fiscal conservative policies in this era of deindustrialization and cultural chaos, which has hit a place like Indiana particularly hard. So I highly recommend you all go check that out. And I’m going to let you get to your train, Inez.

Inez Stepman:

Well, I got to transverse the Acela corridor like the bubble denizen that I am. But thanks for tuning in to this After Dark episode. And like all episodes of High Noon, this is a production of the Independent Women’s Forum. And as always, you can send comments and questions to [email protected] Please help us out by hitting the subscribe button, leaving us a comment or review on Apple Podcast, Acast, Google Play, YouTube, or iwf.org. That last one is the only one that isn’t an evil company, but we need them to survive, and so we can use them to get out our message. But until next time, be brave, and we’ll see you next time on High Noon.