Emily and Inez (reluctantly) talk through the latest in the 2024 race and what sort of primary competition mud-slinging could be good vs. bad for the Right. They discuss how the prophetic Christian Right called the slippery slope in advance, and how a new culture war coalition ought to mediate between that faction and newly-arrived moderates who believe there’s a hard break between social liberalism and wokeness. The ladies close the episode by exploring the balance between tolerance and celebration, and discuss whether that’s a balance that can hold over time.


Inez Stepman:

Welcome to High Noon, where we talk about controversial subjects with interesting people. And at the end of each month, we also do these After Dark episodes with Emily Jashinsky. Emily is a fellow with us at IWF. She is also the culture editor over at The Federalist. She does journalism stuff over with Young America’s Foundation. And she has a segment with Ryan Grim every week on Breaking Points, which is called Counterpoints. Did I get it all right this time?

Emily Jashinsky:

You got it all right. And I still always love how when you begin these episodes, you say, “Controversial topics with interesting people, and Emily is on this week,” which means we’re going to be talking only about non-controversial topics. And I will be as uninteresting as is possible.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. That’s the goal. That’s the goal. Well, in the lineup of topics that we have that are totally uninteresting, actually, speaking of uninteresting topics, I will confess to being completely bored about the debt ceiling fight. I do not want to hear any more about it. I know that you actually have important things to say on it.

But the debt ceiling fight and the kickoff to the 2024 primary on the Republican side are both topics that I really don’t want to spend much time on. That being said, there have been some important developments in that race. Ron DeSantis this month has formally entered the race. But I did want to get, especially your perspective, Emily, because, and I know you didn’t sort of go into journalism to focus on this, but you do end up focusing on hyper-novelty, on tech stuff, right?

And I wanted to get your take on the failure to launch of the Twitter spaces thing, not from the perspective of how it’s going to hurt Ron DeSantis, because that may be true, but I’m just not interested in it because it seems like there was all this wind at the sales of Twitter as basically launching itself as a new media company.

It’s obviously what Elon Musk envisions for the platform. And then, we have Tucker all but saying outright that he’s going to bring his show directly to Twitter when he comes back. And then, you have the announcement of a major presidential campaign that’s supposed to be on Twitter. And it goes badly wrong. Well, I mean DeSantis’s campus spinning it as like, “We had so many people that we crashed the servers.” But you should be anticipating that kind of stuff. It looks sort of like amateur hour. Does this hurt the sort of attempt to make Twitter a real competitor in this media ecospace or whatever, ecosystem, versus more legacy outlets versus cable TV, et cetera, et cetera?

Emily Jashinsky:

I think it does because the people who would make those decisions are the ones that paid closest attention to what happened last week as we’re taping this. That was last week. It was last Wednesday. So I think if you’re at another campaign and you’re deciding whether or not to get in this space and you see that Twitter, even knowing for a period of days they were going to be hosting a high-profile conversation just wasn’t prepared to do it yet.

I think from the campaign standpoint, there are a lot of people who are going to say, “We’re not taking that risk.” Now, in the Tucker Daily Wire type space, I think, no. I think actually, people probably learned a lot from this, and Elon Musk probably learned a lot from this as his team is having conversations with folks like Tucker and the Daily Wire about what their launch is going to look like specifically because they have more time, and there’s a lot of money on the line, obviously, that could bring big, big ad dollars back to Twitter. And Twitter needs ad dollars. It needs to increase its user base, et cetera, et cetera.

So I think that’s probably still in the works. I think for the average voter, I think our memories as voters are so short that this is already out of the news cycle. I think we’ve seen that. Maybe, it sunk into some people’s minds that Trump, he got some good dunks in on DeSantis if you’re in it for the memes. Trump got the upper hand there.

But David Sax and Elon Musk are deep pocketed people, and that does matter in the primary. So I understand why Ron DeSantis went in that direction because it brought his relationship with those two folks closer.

And the last thing I would say is just it’s hard to rail against elite incompetence when the platform’s glitching. That is a narrative arc. That is a messaging problem. So if this were to continue, if Ron DeSantis were to do more stuff with Twitter or whatever, I think that would genuinely be a problem. But I think, for now, it’s probably out of the average person’s memory and for good reason because he did more substantive interviews with all kinds of folks in conservative media, Dana Loesch, Mark Levin, Trey Gowdy right afterwards. And I guess at least that was the contingency plan.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about what he said. So Ron DeSantis hit Trump for the first time directly. I mean, there’s been some snide hits back and forth, and there’s certainly been plenty of their surrogates going after each other. And, of course, Trump himself has come up with the nicknames and has directly hit DeSantis over and over and over again. But DeSantis had not hit back until now.

And he gave a pretty, I mean to people like me, very convincing short take about several key policy issues basically hitting Trump from the right and saying, “Why are you criticizing me for my vote against amnesty in Congress? That’s actually supposed to be the position that you took. And to the extent that you’re criticizing me from the left, it doesn’t make any sense on this immigration issue.”

And also the obvious, pointing out that Fauci worked for Trump that many of the decisions on the national level with regard to COVID did not, in retrospect, look like mistakes in comparison to the decisions that DeSantis made in Florida.

It seemed like pretty substantive. And I’m wondering whether you think that actually matters at all, because immigration was one of the key 2016 issues for Trump. And I think it is an issue that really does. If you look at consistently over time, the first big demonstrations from the right were not the tea party of the modern era. It was in 2007 when George W. Bush proposed amnesty.

Immigration has been a subterranean issue in Republican politics, a serious one for the last 30, 40, even longer, years. And Trump very much rode. At least, this was one of the important things that he rode to victory on in 2016. So do you think that issue still has salience? And do you think that it has salience as argued by Ron DeSantis? Do you think that’s actually an attack that’ll land or has basically every attack against Trump, no matter what the substance of it is, is now coded left?

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. That’s an interesting question. I think the answer is definitely that immigration, you’re right, still has really deep resonance because it’s one of those, I think, class fault lines. I think especially in terms of where Trump picked up voters in the Rust Belt, people who belong to unions for a really long time where the unions had left them behind on this issue and where Bernie Sanders would not talk like he used to on this issue, I think it’s very, very important to voters specifically because they see it as that. They see it as a basic question of fairness.

Even the left, all the time, likes to say, “You don’t even live in a border state. Why do you care about immigration?” And it’s like, obviously, every state now deals with issues that border states deal with because the federal government… Ron DeSantis does his trolling. But the federal government actually does that on its own, which is the point that he’s basically making by sending people-

Inez Stepman:

You mean by sending migrants everywhere.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. They help them pay for bus tickets. Yeah. It’s a complete racket from the south of Mexico where there’s UN-funded grants, Catholic charities that are dealing with all of this all the way up to Minnesota where people obviously deal with some of this stuff too. So all that is to say I think immigration is still really important. But I also think I feel like to some extent, there’s never going to be a fatal error politically on a policy from Donald Trump, I should say maybe not on a policy, but on a messaging strategy.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say here other than… I mean, I know what I’m trying to say. I just lack the words like a toddler. But basically, when we start getting into the question about who’s doing politics better, DeSantis or Trump, I feel like any error that Trump makes that a normal politician makes, it doesn’t matter in the same way. He’s able to make up for it with the performance because to people, it’s just that he’s a non-politician and a blunt force object. And that’s all that matters.

And it doesn’t matter if he sounds like he likes Cuomo. I think people really see that stuff for what it is, which is the same opportunistic politicking that Trump is just trying to take down DeSantis by slinging whatever piece of mud he can get his hands on because, first of all, he’s amused by it. And second of all, he’s literally is just trying to take down DeSantis. He doesn’t like the guy. And I feel like people are smart enough to know that and also enjoy the show enough to know that it’s not like we didn’t see this in the primary in 2016.

We absolutely did. Donald Trump sounded like he was to the left of plenty of those guys on plenty of issues and when he said everyone would have healthcare and be taken care of in the election after repeal and replace was the rallying cry of the Republican Party. So all that is to say, I don’t know if Donald Trump can make a normal fatal political error because being Donald Trump sort of compensates for all of the things that would bring a normal candidate down.

Inez Stepman:

So, to play devil’s advocate here for a moment, the issues he’s crossing, sort of, Republican orthodoxy are on. If you go back to 2016, he’s… What is he crossing? Sort of the policy line on. He’s saying, “I want everyone to have healthcare,” which is one issue where Republicans pull really badly. In other words, there are a lot more people in this country that imagine that some kind of socialized healthcare system is a good thing than don’t.

Now, I disagree with that policy. But that’s the reality. Healthcare tends to be an issue where Republicans pull badly over time. Immigration is not that, right?

And so even some of the other things like he got hit for supporting social security and Medicare. Those are issues where Republicans are vastly underwater, even with their own base on polling, pointing out that social security cannot function, continue to function when people live in additional 10 or 15 years than when it was created.

And they have many, many fewer kids that the math doesn’t work on social security. That’s not a popular thing even within the Republican Party, among actual Republican voters versus hitting Ron DeSantis for not being in favor of amnesty.

Emily Jashinsky:

No. That’s true.

Inez Stepman:

Theoretically, I would think that that would land differently with the base than some of the things. So the things that they hit Donald Trump on policy-wise in 2016 and 2015 seemed to me to be, at least in retrospect, things that… Leaving aside whether they’re good or bad for a moment, but just in terms of the politics, things where the Republican Party platform was quite unpopular even with their own base. And so, hitting Trump for failing to stick to that orthodoxy was very unsuccessful versus hitting him for now flipping and being in favor of amnesty. I mean, that was one of his core issues. And it’s an issue that is rightly unpopular with the Republican Party base. No?

Emily Jashinsky:

No. I think that’s right, although I guess it depends on how much of this develops into a pattern with him or if he’s just opportunistically throwing stuff at the wall as it occurs to him. And then, he’s going to go out to his rallies and rail against amnesty.

The interesting thing about Donald Trump is it genuinely doesn’t matter because as long as he’s still… I think your point is a really good one. As long as he’s still broadly seen as being on the right side of the immigration issue and is going to his rallies and is still assuring his supporters that he’s going to be tough on the border, et cetera, et cetera, and build the wall, then, I think that he can throw whatever mud he wants at Ron DeSantis. That’s my expectation. I think that’s my expectation trying to have learned from 2016.

I do think anytime you try to learn from 2016, you also run the risk of potentially over-correcting. And that’s something I’ve definitely seen some people do. But I will say I think he just is able to get away with that stuff so long as he continues to the point you made actually sound. When he’s not in attack mode, he’s on the right side of the issue.

Now, the one big lingering question of all of this is for Donald Trump, he now has the disadvantage of having been president of campaigning for president, having been president. So this crazy fantastical idea of the host of Celebrity Apprentice becoming president and that what if is not on voter’s minds anymore, I think that was really powerful.

And folks know, for instance, that there is no giant wall on our southern border. That I think is a fair counterpoint to what I’m saying because people might be like, “Well, I mean you’re talking about amnesty, and you didn’t build the wall.” That I think is a legitimate counterargument.

Inez Stepman:

So, I don’t know if it’ll work or not, but my sense is that the best case that DeSantis can prosecute against Trump is going to be basically the one he laid out in that interview, which is Donald Trump said a lot of funny things, a lot of true things, a lot of great things.

He did not follow through on some of his most important core promises. And if I were, thank God, I’m not a political consultant, so take this with a grain of salt, but the two most potent issues that I would hit them on would exactly be immigration and failing to build the wall and follow through on that, and crime.

I think the public sentiment on crime, especially in the Republican Party, has shifted so far. Maybe, it was never in line with that sort of libertarian criminal justice reform, whatever first step act like vibe is. But I think it’s a very legitimate. And actually, that’s a good question. I don’t know how Ron DeSantis voted on the First Step Act. Is he still in Congress by that point?

Emily Jashinsky:

That is a great question because I think that was fairly early.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I’m not sure.

Emily Jashinsky:

I can look it up right now.                                                                                                       

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. You look it up, and I’ll keep people entertained while you find that answer because, obviously, Ron DeSantis voted for the First Step Act, and he was still in Congress. That is just a complete. He can’t be the one to throw that missile then.

But I do think it’s a potentially potent line of attack to say, “Look, you let more criminals out of jail.” That is what this First Step Act did. And I would like to see it get… I guess my perspective on the whole primary, how this primary is going to play out, I could see it being very helpful for the Republican Party if it puts to bed a lot of this sort of establishment, old pre-15 Republican Party ideas.

When Nikki Haley fails to top whatever, 6%, when Tim Scott’s messaging doesn’t go very far, I think there could be something positive in the Republican Party if you have Trump and DeSantis essentially trying to outdo each other on this more aggressive agenda and trying to say which one of them will be the best leader for the party. Maybe, that’s based on pure charisma and trust. Maybe, it’s on policy. We have that debate.

I think that could be very positive for the party. If on the other hand, basically, it becomes a primary in which a lot of the very important things that Trump brought in or at least opened up the Overton window on in American politics get shoved back in to the closet because Trump is now using them to hit DeSantis or using those issues to hit DeSantis. I think that could be really bad. So my friend, Dave Reaboi, wrote something that I think is quite true on this. And it’s about the whole vibes versus policy sort of thing.

Emily Jashinsky:

DeSantis voted yes just to-

Inez Stepman:

Well, he can’t make that argument then. No. The larger point I’m making is actually well beyond DeSantis versus Trump. It’s what direction this debate goes in. And Dave Reaboi wrote on his Substack. He said basically these folks seem want to be, quote-unquote, “seen.” They want their rage and anger mirrored back at them. I’m sympathetic to that impulse. But unfortunately, it’s not enough. It doesn’t do anything for your quality of life. And just as importantly, it doesn’t protect you at all from the predations of the left.

I think that’s largely true in that vibe shifts and whatever. Trump being absolutely hilarious, which he is, his nicknames. There is an increasingly hard nature of the left’s power in this country to the point where I think ordinary people really do feel the boot on the neck. They feel like they can’t say obvious things at work. It’s thrown in their face. We have this liturgical calendar event every year called Pride Month.

I think people feel that. I think ordinary people really feel that. And I think they are connecting with Trump initially and now sort of fighting back against that. But if you don’t do anything concrete at the end of the day with that backlash, I don’t see how this kind of politics actually protects us.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. And Reaboi is obviously aggressively team DeSantis.

Inez Stepman:

He’s strongly-

Emily Jashinsky:

And no problem with that. Yeah. He’s, I think, an effective defender of DeSantis. From my perspective, that particular argument is true because Donald Trump’s attacks are… We’ve already seen it happen just in the sort of very online Twitter space, which is obviously different than the average citizen, but actually pretty reflective of where people who are in positions of power spend their virtual time.

We’ve already seen people defending. In the service of defending Trump attacking. For instance, this is what’s mind-boggling. Even Donald Trump championed Ron DeSantis until they started running against each other. And so, to have such a swath of the activist media class actively trying to tear down the most successful Republican governor who has enacted the most successful conservative policy agenda in years, and in a way that is an elevation of where conservative policy used to be in a way that actually really meets the moment, if we are going to go through a primary cycle where you have a significant chunk of the activist and media class attacking that person, it is not good for the conservative movement, period.

Primaries are great because they help suss these things out. And this has always been the problem with Trump, is that he’s definitely Trump before in ideology. He puts Trump before an ideology because he believes the ideology of winning, of Donald Trump winning is the central ideology.

And so yeah, it’s certainly not in the service of advancing the conservative agenda. Donald Trump may say that it’s in the service of advancing a pro-American agenda because Donald Trump will win. And therefore, America will win. But to attack DeSantis from the left is… repeatedly to attack him from the left or to advance spurious arguments, libertarian arguments on Disney, for instance, which are not just from the left but actually have come from the Asa Hutchinson and the business folks on the right, that’s really damaging.

That’s a high profile group of people who are now going to viscerally, emotionally be dragged into defending Trump’s position on those issues. And to the point that we were just talking about, like so long as Trump goes out and slams wokeness, slams border policy, et cetera, et cetera, he’s probably still fine.

He’s covered himself enough to make those attacks. But those attacks I think will do a lot of damage in dividing the activist sort of media class and changing the conversation rather than lifting up a positive example of conservative governorship that Donald Trump gave his stamp of approval. That’s really all he has to say.

Inez Stepman:

Look, I don’t care that Donald Trump wants to attack Ron DeSantis. He can say he’s Meatball Ron. He can say he’s not charismatic, which might be true. There’s all kinds of ways to attack Ron DeSantis, but to the point you just made, if it means we’re going back to 2012 on Disney, there is a problem here where you have Nikki Haley who’s I mean a whole different story, how bizarre it is to have a presidential candidate whose job clearly is to run interference for one of her rivals on the presidential candidate stage is very bizarre.

But clearly, running interference for Donald Trump, so she’s going around saying, “Well, we’ll welcome Disney into South Carolina. That’s more jobs,” as though there’s no conflict, not acknowledging at all that the whole phenomenon of the cultural positions of Disney and what they have done, just not even acknowledging it. Pretending it’s 2012 and just saying it’s just a matter of jobs. I don’t know.

Emily Jashinsky:

It’s like RFRA, right? It’s like Pence North Carolina’s RFRA conversation about trans bathrooms in 2012 and 2014.

Inez Stepman:

It just seems like surrender to me. And I mean there is some polling that would suggest that Republican’s voters actually are quite strongly in the screw Disney camp. And I’m going to put a poll up in a minute, but you can also just look at the success of the boycott. Finally, we’re starting to see some of this successful boycotts of Bud Light into a lesser extent, Target.

So I do think that there’s enormous energy from Republican voters and even independent voters on some of these things that is totally not matched by. And I wonder if any of this rhetoric from the Trump camp is going to land because that’s what I hope, it doesn’t land. If Donald Trump wins the primary, fine, like, whatever. I prefer to say it because I’ve been open about that, but whatever. Nobody cares what I prefer.

I get that. If people dislike Ron DeSantis for any number of reasons. But if, in the course of attacking him, they attack this entire very important update to the Republican agenda, I think we’re going to have a huge problem. I’m going to put this little graphic up because I’m learning how to use graphics on-

Emily Jashinsky:

Inez has pivoted to video.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. No. So this is a poll taken between 2019 and 2022. So it doesn’t even go into 2023. But October, last October, runs through last October. It’s Republican’s view of banks. Large corporations have become much less positive since 2019. And you see the approval for banks and other financial institutions. It’s a straight line down. I mean it was 63% approval.

Now, Republicans, Democrats, and independents are all hovering in the high 30s or low 40s. They’re all basically the same, meaning Republicans today have the same view of banks as Democrats had in 2019. Large corporations, same thing. Actually, you see in large corporations, a little bump from Democrats actually coming up a little bit, not too much, but a little bit. And everybody else’s opinion going way down on large corporations. Technology companies specifically plunged straight down and interestingly a downward line for independence and for Democrats as well after a brief bump in 2021.

But now, Republican opinions of technology companies going way down. In this poll, you do see that this change of agenda that Ron DeSantis is emblematic of in Florida, regardless of whether the guy should be our next president or not, he has been the governor who has implemented a lot of the things surrounding understanding that large corporations in big business should no longer be joined at the hip with the Republican Party, understanding that these cultural issues are tied into corporate power, that those two things aren’t separate, that, in fact, that corporations, large corporations are attempting to stop state voters from deciding whether or not, for example, they want to criminalize transition procedures for minors.

So I think that those polls are quite hopeful in terms of the base. And I’m wondering how the people who answered those polls in 2022 feel. And I genuinely don’t know this. Do they just follow what Trump says or when Trump says something about Disney being okay and the Bud Light boycott being dumb, that was Don Jr., that last part? Do they say, “Well, I like Trump, but he’s wrong on this.”

Emily Jashinsky:

So I was thinking as you were talking about this, I was in a poor white rural area of the country this weekend. And as I was driving, saw a sign that said, “If you aren’t for Trump, you’re trespassing.” And then, a stop sign that somebody had graffiti spray-painted on FJB for F Joe Biden. And immediately, the thought was that’s cultural. That is not economic. That is not about people wanting Joe Biden to…

For instance, Joe Biden had so many… He has done so much welfare through COVID, basically. He has been, in terms of those safety net programs, very generous. And it’s true. His economy sucks and I’m sure that’s part of this, but I bet whoever spray-painted that would be way more pissed about Disney and about any of those sort of Biden cultural agenda than about the economy at that point.

Again, I think those things go hand in hand. I’m not saying there was no economic motivation behind this potential… Behind this vandalism decision in particular. But I do think, yeah, we all know at this point that it’s obvious and that people would say when Trump was saying all the jobs, saying all the jobs that Ron DeSantis is driving away from Florida, I think if you’re having this conversation with a lot of average Americans, they’re going to say, “Well, we have to draw the line somewhere and somewhere should be sexualizing children.”

And that’s probably resonant that this is something the left gets wrong a lot. I think it’s something Bernie Sanders campaign got wrong, is that it’s a very Marxist conception of the working class that what they prioritize will necessarily be their economic needs because those are sort of tied in a Maslow sense to survival, et cetera, et cetera.

I mean, people see culture in the same way. People see culture as sort of fundamental to their ability to survive as an American and to… And it’s also their taxpayer dollars. It’s the money that you’re taking out of their pocket and giving to Disney as a subsidy.

So anyway, all that is to say, I think you’re correct that there is a line that most Republican voters, people who are going to vote in Republican primary, they’re going to draw it at Disney. And that’s a really poor attack on DeSantis. It’s not a powerful attack on DeSantis. But it’s a destructive attack on DeSantis to the extent that it mobilizes people in the conservative movement to defend the attack and go on offense against good policy that most people agree with from Ron DeSantis.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. Let’s keep going with that thread about sort of culture and economics and then the primacy of culture. I’ve said, and I’ve just become my TM line, my trademark, but the culture war is the big tent. And I still think that’s true in the sense that, I mean, can back this in a very real way with polls. The issues that swing suburban female voters, that the GOP seems to have trouble in this current era, seeming to it’s increasingly working class party, but it still very much needs to win key states.

They care about indoctrination in schools. They care about minor transition. They care about a lot of these issues to a lesser extent now like they wanted schools reopened during COVID.

So I think those issues are big tent issues. But now, we’re going to have to adjudicate some things within the tent. And increasingly, I have seen both online and just also in person talking to a lot of what I would call activist moms in this sort of culture war over the kids’ space.

And it’s becoming increasingly clearer that we’re going to have to have a nice little conversation, hopefully, a friendly one. And it goes to the heart of, I think, where we’re at in the culture war, which is are these policies a continuation of liberalism from five, 10, 15 years ago, or do they represent some kind of fundamental break?

And to the extent that I think a lot of people who were previously liberal or at least more libertine or libertarian on a lot of these cultural issues, I do think that this is giving a lot of people pause to think and reflect on their past positions and maybe change them a little bit. But there’s also this corresponding reaction from some of the allies on the center left to redouble down on purity politics and separating themselves from the dumb Christian Hicks. That’s how they think about it. It really seems like that to me. It’s like this cultural… Do you remember the Harper’s letter about free speech?

Emily Jashinsky:


Inez Stepman:

… where they have to spend three paragraphs announcing Trump before they even get to the point of the letter. It’s like this reflexive purity politics thing to dunk on the Christian right and the moral majority.

And the line of argument is basically, yes, I’m against this current iteration of the cultural left. But that’s totally different. I’m very much in favor of everything that came up to, right, five years ago. But then, something crazy happened. And we went off the rails.

One, I don’t think this is a very convincing taxonomy of what actually happened at all. You have to deal with the fact that basically every one of the predictions that were mocked and made by the Christian in the ’90s and 2000s has come true. If anything, they undersold the slipperiness of the slope.

And it just seems to me to be both politically dumb to start this fight with religious conservatives but also just fundamentally, it seems backwards to me, like, you should be the one apologizing to the Christian right because they were right, and you were wrong.

Like you said, that we could do all this sort of sexual libertinism and still believe that we would have the fundamental family unit, that we wouldn’t be completely atomized. You believed we could build a completely secular society without massive consequence. It seems to me that the consequences of mass secularization are more clear now than they were five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago.

That sort of aimlessness and meaninglessness and inability of the West to actually replicate itself, to have children and to advance itself unapologetically as a civilization worth defending, all of these things seem to me to much more clearly be connected now than they were before.

And yet, choosing this time to return to a kind of new atheist, whatever hard line separation about dumping on the Christian right seems one completely passe to me. How many of them are left?

And two, it seems to me like a complete opposite posture. If I’m trying to build a coalition with people who are right about where we are 15 years ago, the way to do that is not to flip the bird to their face and try to play some kind of purity politics where we still pretend that they’re icky.

Emily Jashinsky:

I mean, I think this is the defining question, because I think back to the parents that I talked to out in Loudoun County, and one of the interesting things about that is… And you’ve probably talked to and interacted with these types of parents before too, they’re not your sort of first-in-line Republican primary voter at all.

Some were Democrats. Some were independent. Some were just kind of non-voters. And I would bet that most of them were happy when Obergefell was handed down and generally considered themselves to be accepting and would go to a same-sex wedding, et cetera, et cetera, and are generally consider themselves to be tolerant of the LGBT movement. And what’s interesting about that to me is I agree with most of what you just said because I could see half of those parents going in the direction where it’s like, “Yeah, the rest of the stuff is icky.”

I can’t vote for DeSantis because of the six-week heartbeat ban. But then, I can also see the other half saying, “I had no idea how far this was going to go. I had no idea how deeply support for or defenses of pedophilia were embedded in the progressive movement.”

The person who is reading the Federalist, the person who is listening to High Noon Independent Media and paying attention to those stuff saying, “I had no idea what fetal development looked like at six weeks.” And suddenly, the floodgates are open because the gatekeepers have been disproven to them. And the question is whether there’s any way to make that coalition work.

I think the answer in the short term is, yes. I think you have an example in both Youngkin and DeSantis who were able to just message it themselves in a way that makes sense to people.

I think in the long term, we’re seeing this play out in the arc of Jordan Peterson’s life very, very interestingly. I think somebody who’s came in through a very, very normal gateway that a lot of other people came in just starting question their priors, questioned the left, which was compelled trans pronouns. That’s what really made him famous, is when he spoke up against that in Canada.

And then, it just totally started exploring the world. And he’s exploring Christianity now. I think that’s going to represent some percentage of the population that’s not… you’re not able to reconcile with another percentage of the population in a political party or movement long term.

And I think so many Americans are so deeply influenced by years and years and years of cultural conditioning that it’s going to be basically impossible to get it out of. If that’s your moral compass, you either double down on it or you throw it all out because you realize it’s all fake.

And so, I can see it going in two different directions. But I think no matter what, it will go in two different directions. It’s not like most people are suddenly going to be like, “Oh, what’s the deal with a Obergefell?” So I think that’s probably the most interesting question, period.

And we talked about it on NatCon Squad today because of the James Lindsay stuff and the Yoram Hazony, James Lindsay backlash, or back and forth. But I really think it’s important for people not to hide what the real agenda here is. And just one last thought is that on Breaking Points last week, Krystal Ball and I were having a conversation about Mary Margaret Olohan’s story about News Corp and their corporate handbook.

And Krystal said, “Well, this story shows that it was never just about children.” Conservatives say it’s just about children. But when free adults want to do what makes them happy and have their own autonomy, conservatives are coming for that too. And I think it’s important for conservatives to say, “Yes,” and to say a resounding yes, the compelled speech, the freedom to use single-sex spaces. That stuff is absolutely on the chopping block. So that’s just one example.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. So I have a couple other examples. I think it’s important in the entire trans debate, and I try to turn to this when I have the opportunity to make these kinds of arguments in a more mainstream space. I never thought that the firewall between adults and children was going to hold.

I think it’s absurd to say that we’re going to celebrate this idea in every ad. We’re going to have people come to the White House. We’re going to celebrate. We’re going to light the White House in the trans flag colors or whatever it is. And then to say, “Well, but wait till you’re 18.”

All you’re going to accomplish, which I’m not saying is nothing. All you’re going to accomplish is that there’ll be some percentage of people who change their minds between 15 and 18. But 18 is still a pretty vulnerable age.

There’s going to be a whole lot of people just getting irreversible surgery, which they will regret just as much in 10 years as that they had had it at 16 because the problem is not fundamentally, yes, it’s important. There is an important legal distinction between children and adults in any society.

But the issue here is truth. Can you change your sex? What do these surgeries do? These are issues of facts and truth, not issues of it’s not somehow a positive thing to geld a man because he’s over the age of 18. I think we can’t avoid those kinds of normative statements. And I’ll give you a different example actually related exactly to this issue. The way that we’ve been framing this debate is… And it’s an important framing because it does contain elements of truth that, for example, pediatricians are circumventing parents’ wishes in order to offer a quote-unquote, “gender-affirming care,” to their children.

That is, in fact, a violation of parental authority. But we started violating parental authority in matters like this a long time ago in the ’90s and in the 2000s when we, and by that, I mean liberals, for the most part, and with relatively few objections outside of this moral majority sort of Christian right. We did that about birth control and abortion.

In 2000, I think it was 2008, yeah, I’m pretty sure. I think it was even the same year that voted down gay marriage in California. They also passed the quote-unquote “right” for 15 and 16 year old girls to get an abortion without their parents’ knowledge.

And for a long time, it’s been considered best practices for pediatricians to offer birth control to teenagers even when their parents don’t want them to have that. And this has been all completely accepted.

And my question is, if we’re talking to some of these James Lindsay style, anti-woke centrist or Democrats, the question is if you’re making the parental authority argument with regard to transition, what actually is the difference?

I think I can make a difference because I’ll say, “Okay, one is permanently mutilating.” I mean, we already violated the firewall in cases of provable abuse that parents make the medical decisions for their children. We already violated that in the name of more ’90s or centrist liberalism a long time ago.

So I’m not seeing where the categorical distinction is between prescribing birth control pills or sending a kid to Planned Parenthood for abortion at age 16 without their parents’ knowledge and transitioning them. We already accepted this framework. We’ve just added transition because it’s the latest thing. Go ahead.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. No. I was going to say, I actually think the same sex marriage and same sex norms question is really central to this because when I think about someone like Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying and Joe Rogan and people who are very much travelers of the left, but have come around on some of these really common sense cultural questions because they believe in actual science.

My camera just cut out for some reason, but I’ll start it again. Because they believe in actual the real non-Fauci version of science. And what they believe in is having a public policy and a culture that supports the body and lets the body be in tuned with what’s natural.

That is a promising, I think, group and a promising direction for a Republican Party. I shouldn’t say the conservative movement, but the Republican Party. And what it gets to an impasse there is really, I think, same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage, same-sex cultural norms. And I have never been able to get that Disney example out of my head.

I already referenced it here, but I think about it all the time when you have people saying, “What’s wrong with Disney having a same-sex kiss in a movie?” I think this is fundamentally such an interesting question. And I think we’ve talked about it before. You have some parents who say it sexualizes the movie.

Well, then the other parents will say, “There are straight kisses in Disney films all the time. So what is the difference if you are pro-Obergefell or pro same-sex marriage? What is the difference between the straight kiss and the same-sex kiss?”

And I would just actually be really interested to hear the Joe Rogans, the sort of IDW folks, and maybe even you, Inez. Explain that, because I think what that shows is something that it’s fundamentally a question of if we’re not just hyper-novel, but are the norms out of whack with what drag used to be? The interesting part of drag used to be that it was subversive, and it was sort of shady, and it was in the club that was open till four in the morning and happened after dark.

The contemporary version of drag is not that, and it sort of takes the wind out of the sails. And you’ve actually heard that argument being made from some on the left. And some drag performers have made that argument. But then, if you see the negative effects and you see the slippery slope, how far are you willing to pull back? That’s fundamentally one of the big questions because I think when push comes to shove, people are not fundamentally willing to pull back to a point that actually makes sense.

Inez Stepman:

Well, I think you were right a couple answers ago when you said that the Overton window, or the… I think people’s minds are more open about this stuff than they were three years ago or five years ago, not less. I think you’ll probably start to see reflected, maybe not in gay marriage, because I think that’s very ossified debate, but a couple points. but on some of these issues, I guess, I should say.

I think people, for example, the backlash against Pride Month is not exclusively about trans, right? There is this sense that that the rainbow flag has been stuffed down our throats long enough and that we’re sick of seeing this particular constituency catered to in every aspect of life over and over again. I think that that backlash is somewhat broader than the specific point, especially about kids and trans.

So I think you’re actually alluding to the way that I think about this. You’re alluding to the distinction between the mainstream and counterculture. And I think that’s really, to my mind, that’s where I balance some of these things. I know this sounds so fake and gay, but my desire for some genuine tolerance for sexual minorities, for a certain kind of sexual expression that may lead to, for example, good art. And so, that’s not exclusively about homosexual sexual minorities. It could just be that-

Emily Jashinsky:

What you just supported was dunking a crucifix in urine.

Inez Stepman:

Yes. Absolutely. Actually, I had Justin Lee on this podcast, and we were talking through what would happen if you put… I almost want to do it, but I know that I shouldn’t do it, but I almost want to see what would happen if you put the pride flag in urine just like duplicated exactly the art and see what happens and what the response is-

Emily Jashinsky:

And make the government pay for it.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. So I think it could be very interesting experiment, perhaps itself, performance art. Anyway, I do think that there is a certain role in society. And if you look backwards into ancient societies, for example, or for a certain amount of steaminess and sort of erotic underbelly of society, the question is whether it should be asserted as normal, as mainstream, and as an example for what people quote-unquote “ought to do” when they grow up.

And I think that goes to the question you had about the gay kisses and Disney movies and stuff like that. I think there is a difference between seeing two 16-year old characters, a boy and a girl kissing, and two boys kissing. I actually think there is a difference. And there are a lot of conservatives who are not willing to admit that. And the difference is because most children will not be gay. They will not grow up to be gay, that it’s important to assert a sense of normalcy and mainstream sensibility about these things.

And if they are gay, they can find it later. It’s not like it doesn’t exist. I think the answer here and the balance between some kind of tolerance and not wanting to live in Uganda and putting it in mainstream Disney movies for children, I think, actually that is a perfectly tenable argument to make, that it should exist, but it should be somewhat relegated to the fringe of society. It should be allowed, but not endorsed.

Emily Jashinsky:

This is the third way. You may have just convinced me that there is a cultural third way, because that is a great answer to the question from, I think, a secular perspective, is what is a norm and what isn’t a norm, is entirely different from what should be tolerated and what shouldn’t be tolerated.

And I, as a Christian, would still say that gets you into a sticky situation when trying to say, “But we don’t have to have that debate here.” But that would be the response that a Christian would have is… And I could see maybe somebody like Patrick Deneen or Adrian Vermeule having, which is fundamentally, well, if we don’t believe that it’s healthy, why would it be state sanctioned?

But all of that aside, if people from a secular vantage point, a pro-LGBT vantage point, are willing to say that something shouldn’t be normalized, that I think actually means you can have common cause even if you don’t roll it all the way back or go full Christian nationalist.

Inez Stepman:

Look. This goes back to the definition of what liberalism actually is because it seems like under the definition of a lot of the people who are attacking quote-unquote “Christian nationalism” like James Lindsay, there’s no part of American history where we’ve been a liberal republic until 1968, even going back to the founding where you had laws that were superficially like what you’ve gone to pass now, the death penalty for homosexuality exceedingly rarely enforced.

We were not chopping people’s heads off for engaging in private homosexual activity in America for the most part. Heads off, never. But I don’t think there were almost no actual executions. And actually, a nice throwback to-

Emily Jashinsky:

You’ll have to ask Naomi Wolf that.

Inez Stepman:


Emily Jashinsky:

Oh, where are we going …

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. That was in the UK system, which she found out that sentence executed didn’t actually mean that they executed people. It just meant that the case was closed.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. It’s bad.

Inez Stepman:

There are various levels of sanction for sort of non-normative activity, starting from the mere cultural sanction of not putting it in children’s movies or not teaching it to third-graders and going all the way to enacting laws and then going all the way to actually enforcing, tyrannically enforcing these kinds of laws with the death penalty or whatever. There’s a huge swath of politics in the middle there that I think is worth exploring. And again, I also am back and forth on this. I don’t really want to live in a society that ruthlessly enforces sort of Christian moral norms bylaw.

That being said, I do want to live in a society that enforces and normatively enforces certain, I guess, you can call them Christian. I think that they’re broader than Christian, but that actually, I don’t think you can get away from asserting a normative vision of the common good.

And I think with regard to these matters, I think it’s totally fair to say, “Well, the version of the common good that we’re asserting is that it’s good to be straight, to grow up, get married, have children in the context of marriage.” The fact that people live their lives in different ways than this, we don’t need to throw them in jail for doing so. But we should normatively discourage it by saying this is the ideal, right?

I don’t think those two things are in contention. I think it’s completely possible to live in a small L liberal society, but you need something more. You do need some kind of normative assertion about what the good life is. That doesn’t mean that you are intolerant and completely, or that you throw everyone in jail from deviating from the good life by one foot off the path. You can imagine in obsessively tyrannical societies that would do that, but it’s not inherently tyrannical.

And then, this is a side point, but I just want to get this off my chest. I’m really tired of being told that drag is not sexual. Of course, drag is sexual. It has always been sexual. And if you call it not sexual, what you’re telling me is that your notion of the sexual is exclusively pornographic. Unless it raises to the level of pornography, it’s not sexual, because that’s basically what people are saying, “Oh, because they don’t actually show their junk, it’s not sexual.” Okay, that’s not the definition of sexual. That’s the definition of pornographic.

Emily Jashinsky:

That’s super interesting because there’s so many different directions to go off of there. It’s interesting because I think I can see this again going in a couple of different ways where I actually wonder if your average Obama Trump voter, or maybe even Obama Biden voter, who really doesn’t like the cultural stuff but puts up with it for various different reasons, or… I don’t know, your average American. It’s like can you have a version of the United States that is… Without bringing back sodomy laws, can the evolution of the country in some ways devolve without also necessarily bringing sodomy laws into the package?

I mean, I think that’s a fascinating question, and I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t think we can go back, period, because I think the average voter is so saturated with cultural conditioning that anything that is anti-gay is fundamentally going to be a roadblock for them.

But maybe, I’m wrong on that. I could be totally wrong on that. And based on everything, the argument that you just laid out, I very well may be wrong on that, but-

Inez Stepman:

I think you’re definitely right about where that voter that you’re describing is. I think there is exactly zero political energy behind bringing back sodomy laws in the United States. There’s barely any energy around putting age restrictions on pornography in the United States.

So sincerely, I’m not sitting around worried about whether or not the states are going to tomorrow start passing sodomy laws again. That being said, sodomy laws were on the books for most of American history. They weren’t ruthlessly enforced for the most part. And in the case, Lawrence in 2005 that struck down the constitutionality of those laws, they actually had to arrange for enforcement basically with a friendly prosecutor.

So prosecutor agreed to prosecute Lawrence for sodomy so they could bring the case to the Supreme Court because there was no functional prosecution of sodomy in 2003 in Texas. And people tell you that there was. They’re lying. There was no hellscape where they were chasing down the gays in Texas.

Emily Jashinsky:

It wasn’t modern Florida.

Inez Stepman:

That being said, the last serious enforcement of those kinds of laws that I can think of in our history was probably in the 1960s or early 1960s and ’50s more in public gay bars. And again, this is not where I am. I’m totally fine with having gay bars, public gay bars. But to say that a state that has a statute like that on the books is quote-unquote “illiberal” is to exclude the entire history of the United States and most of the world from ever being liberal.

We’ve basically never had a liberal state until the last 20 years. And I think that’s too narrow a definition of liberalism. You can have a liberalism and a certain kind of tolerance that still coexist with this power, especially in the United States, mostly granted on the state level, which I think is important to regulate on behalf of public morals.

This was totally non-controversial, both constitutionally and culturally in the United States until the late ’60s and the ’70s. Totally not controversial for the states to pass. Now, you can debate, “Okay. Should that authority be used to shut down gay bars?” No, I don’t think so. But that authority exists. And it’s not illiberal to live in… That’s not the purpose of, for example, the Bill of Rights of America, is not to protect gay bars. It isn’t. They’re only incidentally protecting gay bars.

Emily Jashinsky:

No, it’s a blessing of liberty.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. No. And this is a mistake that I disagree with the sort of trad right on as well, because they also, I think, accept too much the premise that what we’ve lived under since the late ’60s is synonymous with small L liberalism or what a liberal state looks like.

And so therefore, they have to place an excess going all the way back to Thomas Jefferson. Even though Thomas Jefferson wrote plenty about how it was necessary to have laws against homosexuality, he was actually very insistent on that point, exactly because he thought too many people would be homosexuals if they didn’t enforce it. So he thought it was a relatively popular inclination. And therefore, that’s why the public laws against it were necessary in his view.

Emily Jashinsky:

Okay. So are you okay with that?

Inez Stepman:

Do I think it’s illiberal? No. Would I vote for it? Would I use the moral authority that is requisite in citizenship to vote for such a law? No. But I don’t think it’s a tyranny.

Emily Jashinsky:

I think this is the tension between priorities. It’s not necessarily a tension in ideology, whereas like you said, you don’t think it’s illiberal. And the six-week abortion question is a really good one on this. If it’s a priority, if prioritizing it turns you off as a voter, not you, but as a secular voter or a maybe post-Christian voter, I think that does legitimately turn people off to Ron DeSantis.

Inez Stepman:

I think that might be true in the general election. I think we’re just really on abortion. We’re still developing our ability to talk about moral issues in a political way. It’s been thrown back into politics after a long hiatus.

I think, I’ve clarified a little bit. You’ve helped me clarify what I wanted to say about this moral. I think the problem is that even the right has largely forgotten that this moral power of the state voter actually exists. It’s like presumed, inherently illegitimate to use. It’s illiberal and illegitimate to use when the reality is that this moral power to regulate existed in the state level. The phrase is for health, the state has the power to regulate for health, safety, and morals that it was used in the United States in a thousand different ways. We’re talking about sodomy laws. But we can just easily have a conversation about obscenity and pornography.

That was a totally accepted power that, in fact, the tyranny would’ve been to take that power to make declarative statements, normative statements. As a people in our system, we do this democratically on the state level to make moral statements through law. That is now presumed, inherently illegitimate to do in a liberal society.

And I think we’ve seen what the result is. And that is there’s always some kind of normative declaration of culture and law. What has happened is the left has filled it. The left is the one that has made the declarative moral statement, for example, about homosexuality, about obscenity, about any one of these things.

It’s no longer considered legitimate for the citizens to get together, vote and decide what they want these moral laws to be. It’s that if the right passes this, it’s considered an imposition. And if the left by default advances their moral propositions, which are not neutral and have content that that’s illegitimate, when in reality, the way we should be hashing these things out is with our neighbors.

It is that process exactly that makes up politics. It’s when me and my neighbors get together and decide, “Okay, well, do we want to have a gay bar on the corner? Is that going to be publicly acceptable?”

Okay, well how about pornography? You can say yes or no to any of these questions, but it’s not an illegitimate discussion. And that’s what bothers me. It’s been placed out. And abortion has suddenly been thrown back into the quote-unquote “legitimate discussion.” And I think what’s happening now where Americans are actually starting to have to decide for the first time in 30 plus years, 40 years where they stand on this question, whether they think it should be six weeks or 15 weeks or zero weeks or all the way post-birth. They’re actually exercising their moral faculties as citizens in concert with their neighbors to make these decisions. To steal a phrase from the left, that is what democracy looks like.

Emily Jashinsky:

No. I mean I think that’s completely accurate and sort of a white pill, Inez, is kind of unusual for you. There’s something very-

Inez Stepman:

The backhand is that I don’t know if we’ll be allowed to exercise that faculty, but-

Emily Jashinsky:

You’re right. No. And yeah. Okay. So I read the new Patrick Deneen book today. And it’s under embargo, so I can’t go too deep into it. But he deals with basically all of the questions that we’ve dealt with in this conversation, and I think in a very, very helpful way.

To me, there’s a real question about whether we can get back to a place where in all of the country where neighbor can talk to neighbor, because I think that absolutely does happen in some places of the country. But look, typically, we have powerful intolerant elites that are shutting down that discussion. But look what I just said about the Trump sign where it said, “If you aren’t for Trump, you’re trespassing,” which means if you don’t support Trump, I don’t even want you on my property or in my house.

And people have good reasons for feeling that way. But I guess the optimism to see us… I should say it’s an open question to me whether we can get to a point where you can hash these issues out. And if the pendulum swings far enough back with enough people that there’s critical mass and the country just can take a deep breath and talk about these things.

And the best ideas can win out as is the stated goal of classical liberalism and Mill-type classical liberalism in the Mill sense that the best ideas in the competition of ideas, the best ones will win out in the marketplace of ideas. And I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to that question yet. Some people will say it’s definitively no. Some people will say it’s definitively yes, of course. This is all just growing pains. I actually just don’t think we know. And I think the American experiment is in part an answer to that question.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. No. I very much agree with the last part, you said. I’m actually going to have a friend of mine, Alexis Carré, Alexis Carré. He’s French, which is why his name is hard for me to pronounce. No. But he wrote a really good… I’m going to have him on to talk about this piece. He wrote a really good essay about Schmittian politics and the distinction between friend and enemy, which is sort of popular, very online lingo for the right now.

And he’s responding to an essay that’s sort of lamenting the Schmittian dissent of politics that you’re hinting at, right? That neighbor can’t talk to neighbor. And he has a very smart take on it that really I thought about and now really agree with him. We aren’t polarized enough. We’re not too polarized. We aren’t polarized enough because our politics don’t have high enough stakes.

Our politics have been low stakes and avoiding some of these central questions of actually what is the good? What is bad? These are the essential pieces of politics, and we have avoided them. And at the end of the day, all politics, whether it’s democratic or authoritarian or monarchic, whatever, all politics is about settling those questions.

And it forces you to imagine, “Okay, which normative assertions am I willing to fight and die for at the end of the day,” because that is the result of what happens when politics break down. When politics and political systems break down, we only have resort to force.

And so, what Alexis is saying is we have abandoned even that possibility of thinking about what politics is in that deeper sense where it is the avoidance. And this was very high on the founder’s mind coming from the 30 years’ war context on religious matters where you have two normative decision assertions, which from the modern secular perspectives seem not that far apart from each other.

They’re both Christian assertions. But where you have people dying by the hundreds of thousands and more in very bloody ways over it because one person thinks that this is the good and the other one thinks that this is the good, and they’re going to fight over it.

And so our system, our democratic system and the multiple levels of our system, the federalism of our system, multiple parts of Congress, all of these moving parts is supposed to provide a mechanism so that we do not have to resort to violence while we argue about with each other about what the good is, right?

Emily Jashinsky:


Inez Stepman:

And I think we’ve kind of completely forgotten that. And in that sense, our politics are sort of very bombastic, and we say lots of rude things to each other. But in that sense, they are fundamentally low stakes in that people are not thinking about what assertions of the good they can live alongside their neighbors asserting and which ones they can’t. They don’t think about politics that way.

We’re too far removed from that fundamental reality that if negotiations break down, and we can’t agree on the system and the way that we resolve these questions, the alternative in this state of nature is by violence. And I think we don’t think enough about that. So in that sense, our politics is not political enough.

Emily Jashinsky:

So to that point, we don’t think about this as science and nature, capital S and capital N. But we’re so completely out of touch with actual human nature by virtue of modernity and all of the comforts that come along with it. We think in the words of an actual reverend that the moral arc of the universe is long and bends towards justice, which is fundamentally opposed to Christian doctrine. But we think that humans, how often do you hear people say, “I believe humans are inherently good. I believe humans are good.”

Tell that to somebody in medieval times or the rest of history and see how they agree with you. That’s, I think, a very much a symptom of comfortable times. And what gives me pessimism about all of this and where I just fundamentally can’t get over it. There have been nihilistic ideological movements.

There have been countries that dealt with decadence and empires that dealt with decadence in the past. But I do believe there’s something fundamentally different about high-tech postmodernism that has given way to this sort of almost accidental nihilism that’s really just hedonism. That’s like sanctioned hedonism or explicit hedonism, but it’s actually just ultimately nihilism.

And that I really worry. And mass is so appealing to base human instincts to the lizard brain that you can’t claw back from it. And some people would say, “Well, you can’t crawl back from it, with a Republican system of government with a small R Republican system of government or with a classical liberal system of government.”

But you can if you increase central state powers and apply them for the good. As you’re saying, Inez, that might be some people’s argument. I don’t think that would be a moral step. But I do fundamentally doubt whether or not when you’re in the post-truth world, I feel like it’s a Rubicon, or I should say I feel like it might be a Rubicon. I don’t think we have the answer to this yet. But I think it might be a Rubicon that we can’t claw our way back out of because it’s so self-defeating because once humans are that comfortable and not diluted, they will go willingly into the Matrix pods.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I don’t think even changing systems gets you away from this problem. There must be at some level a normative assertion, not to be trite, but of the common good. And there can be disagreement. Maybe, there’s a tolerance around the edges for disagreement with that central sort of capital G good that’s declared by a society and its government.

But I’m not sure even changing system gets you away. You can say, “Oh, if you have a monarch, the monarch declares what’s good. And the rest of us just have to live with it.” But I don’t think that works the same way in the modern world for all the same reasons that democracy is not adjudicating these questions because the veil has been pulled back, because we have this secularized and quote-unquote “scientific society.” I struggle to think that, for example, an absolute monarchy would actually work in the kind of technological radical world.

I mean, what would they say on Twitter about the good that the monarch produces? In some fundamental state of modernity, there is no veil enough on anything. I mean, this is the Nietzschean sort of conclusion. But there’s not enough of a veil on anything. There’s nobody with enough authority to declare this or that the good.

And I don’t think pretending that a monarch would have that sort of authority in the modern age, I don’t think that solves the problem. The problem would be how to create the authority of a monarch to begin with in a sense. But Emily, thank you so much. This has been a darker and more philosophical-

Emily Jashinsky:

So dark.

Inez Stepman:

Session. Next time, we’ll do one of those ones where we just insult each other for an hour, and people get to be amused by that.

Emily Jashinsky:

There was some of that.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I’m always here for you, Emily, as the butt of your jokes.

Emily Jashinsky:

Thank you. It’s a public service.

Inez Stepman:

And thank you to our listeners. High Noon with Inez Stepman including After Dark, it’s a production of the Independent Women’s Forum. As always, you can send comments and questions to [email protected]. Please help us out by hitting the subscribe button and leaving us a comment or review on Apple Podcast, Acast, Google Play, YouTube, or iwf.org. Be brave, and we’ll see you next time on High Noon.