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Freedom Is a Tricky Thing
“The Republican Party is broken,” writes Brandi Love, a self-identified “Conservative PornStar who writes for the Federalist,” according to her Twitter bio. Brandi was an attendee of Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. A conservative gathering for the young, hip, and constitutionally-minded designed to galvanize future conservative leaders. The summit features many of the stars of the conservative movement from the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles to Dr. Ben Carson.
According to the TPUSA website:
Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit is an invite-only event primarily intended for students between the ages of 15 and 26. If you are an adult wishing to attend, we have a limited number of adult tickets available.
Brandi Love was the holder of one of those limited adult tickets.
She publicized that she would be going live from her hotel at the conference on her website onlybrandi.com. She added she would be doing so, “behind the paywall of my OnlyFans (So we don’t offend the low T white nationalist religious zealots.)”
She later had her invitation revoked, and the chasm between what Brandi defines as “conservatives” and “social conservatives” was revealed.
She accused Twitter commenters who disagreed with her of “once again mixing Social Conservatism and Conservatism.”
The question arises, is there a viable conservative movement that precludes social conservatism?
You can spot a TPUSA student from a mile away in their “Big Gov Sucks” masks and hip t-shirts with slogans like “save the bees and the republic.” Self-described, TPUSA is the “community organizers of the right.” The end goal, according to their mission, is the promotion of freedom.
Freedom is a tricky thing. It is seen as both a means and an end. Freedom is a prerequisite for a moral society, and simultaneously it is impossible to maintain freedom without a moral populace.
The question to wrestle with is why be free? If freedom itself is the aim, then it feels disingenuous to exclude Brandi Love from the TPUSA event. In the most basic meaning of the word, shouldn’t she be free to attend? This is the hypocrisy Brandi has taken to Twitter to point out.
Perhaps, we as conservatives have made a mistake in our messaging– inviting more into the fold and expanding the conservative base at the risk of losing the soul of what we set out to do.
What did we set out to do?
Win elections? By all means, bring in as many people as possible. It’s a numbers game and we need them all.
Beat the Democrats? Again, a numbers game. Bring them all on.
Restore human decency, order, and alignment with creation? We have slipped off track.
Freedom itself is not an end; it’s a doorway. There are many things I do not want the freedom to do:
The freedom to take a life.
The freedom to abuse a child.
The freedom to buy and sell my sexuality and the sexuality of others.
As our founders knew, to pursue the highest life, we needed freedom. But what good is freedom if it is used to justify baseness?
The natural end of the libertarian leanings of the conservative movement is virtueless anarchy–a world where we not only allow, but accommodate and support that which we know to be destructive.
There is a balance to strike between supporting the freedom of others, while not allowing what they do with their freedom to define the entire movement. There is the possibility for nuance. That is, as long as we are honest about our aims.
I aim for a high-minded society (that is, a society working to create heaven on earth) full of healthy people working in conjunction with creation and the creator. Freedom is a wonderful vehicle for that aim.
The totalitarian Soviet Union denied their citizens freedom which prevented them from achieving a higher ideal. In that case, freedom was still a doorway, and once it shut, the people were hard-pressed to rise above depravity.
But freedom is a doorway, nonetheless, on the way to something bigger than even freedom itself. There lies the rallying call of the conservative movement. It is a call to restore order–a call to connect to higher ideals.
Perhaps the message isn’t simply “come as you are,” but rather, “come as you are and then get better.” We can ask each other to enter the doorway of freedom and then keep walking. In that way, the movement is not a fold that holds as many sheep as possible, but rather a launching pad to a more meaningful life.
The religious world is also stuck in the doorway, grappling with the same problem as the conservative movement. The youth in the faith have had enough of “coffee house Christianity” and the like. They see through the baseless and easygoing self-help teachings and are begging to move past the elementary — to be pushed, to expand their knowledge, and to aim higher.
The modern church thought it would bring in more people if the church more resembled everywhere else. In doing so, they have destroyed the sanctity of the Holy Spaces and reduced the pursuit of faith to Chicken Soup for the Soul. (A book I loved as a young girl, by the way, but no substitute for in-depth spiritual studies.)
The conservative movement, like the church, has attempted to behave like the audience they want to reach in an effort to grow the base. In doing so, the members they recruit are denied any opportunities for growth, challenge, and pursuit of higher ideals.
Comfort and weak-minded inclusion of all ideas is the best friend who justifies your drinking problem. She expresses friendship but ensures you never overcome your addiction.
This is, of course, a more ideological than political discussion. Many conservatives embrace the big tent philosophy to win elections. But the conservative movement does not end (or even begin) at the ballot box.
This is not an argument to avoid allyship. As the common saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I believe that wholeheartedly. I love to see the unexpected alliances rising to defeat damaging Marxist ideas and their various manifestations. I pursue these allyships, as we all should. But if our movement is unable to be inclusive while simultaneously holding our standards, then what good do we offer the people we are including anyway?
What good is a conservative movement that doesn’t address the whole of a human being–political, spiritual, economic, relational?
If conservatism doesn’t stand for the American family–an institution proven over and over again to benefit us and our neighbors, then why have a movement?
If conservatism can’t stand for the sacredness of human sexuality, then why have a movement?
If the conservative movement is just about electing the right people, or worse, a cloaked and seductive march towards anarchy, then why have a movement?
As we become wrapped up in the game of growth, the game of numbers, we have to stay connected to why we do what we do–to what end?
I argue that freedom alone is not a satisfying end.
Of course, our founders took for granted that freedom would provide the platform for the more important work of maintaining a moral society deserving of that freedom in the first place. The opinions of the faith were so commonplace they were considered self-evident. In fact, the faith of early Americans is what made freedom self-evident.
But freedom is a tricky thing, and what we do with it matters.
Mikayla Goetz is a renegade actress turned conservative storyteller. Since receiving her B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Coastal Carolina University, Mikayla has worked as a story developer, writer, and consultant with armed service members, veterans, and Jewish-Ukrainian refugees. She has led the development of plays, film work, community initiatives, and an audio series. Mikayla is the Host of the SomethingBurger Podcast and a regular voice on AM 950-Orlando.Published in Culture
I had an epiphany one day.
I had the socio-political chain of causality backwards. Liberty as we understand it is the result of things, and not the cause of things. It has to be able to exist.
Its all well and good to talk about spontaneous order but everything as simple as forming a line and waiting ones turn requires deep social conventions that have real authority.
The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy, no more and no less.
–The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.
This is true.
Alternatively, if the goal was to
Then the TPUSA folks missed the opportunity to witness to a sinner. A person desperately in need of a savior.
In either event, I think they choose poorly.
Technology can be smothering or liberating. What it took hundreds of thousands of dollars to do just a few short years ago can now be done relatively cheaply. I have more video power in my cell phone than the first television station I worked at.
Consequently, just about anyone can put out a passable professional product. That means less dependence on monied backers.
Ms. Love (real name Tracey Lynn Livermore) has, according to her Wikipedia page, an entrepreneurial spirit. We may not approve of porn as a business, but being in business makes a lot of people conservative. And at age 48, she’s probably looking more in the rear view at her performing career.
Besides, considering where things seem to be headed in big tech, I’m not sure if ,”Hey everyone, check out the fastest growing conservative podcast over at my only fans,” would even shock me in twelve months.
Nah, there is apparently a strong market for older “performers”.
As I skimmed over this I found myself wanting to use the word “liberty” in most places you used “freedom.” In casual use there may not be a difference but I tend the think of the former as more complex (i.e. includes both freedom and responsibility aspects that I discussed in another exchange with you today). I highly recommend American Individualism and The Challenge to Liberty by Herbert Hoover for a wonderful perspective on this.
[SIDE NOTE: I didn’t track it while reading The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass but, while he used both terms, I was struck by how the word “liberty” stood out much more in his story that centered in a very true sense on basic freedom. (I’m sure someone could provide an accurate count but that is not really the point.)]
The passing of many years has a way of clearing this notion from ones mind. I have the knife wounds in my back (figuratively speaking, of course) from those hard lessons.
One need only look at the occupation of Eastern Europe following world war II to see the lie in the statement.
Patton was right and millions died because he was ignored.
Republicans have heard that before. Starting in 1857. So here we are. Have about half the voters and more than half of state houses. Will a real good chance to get more in the U.S. Capitol next year. Will not waste time on the teeth gnashers like Kristol crying because others think differently. Just beat the leftists.
Ordinarily I would agree, but my understanding is that the problem was not her invitation and attendance, but rather her using the venue to promote her porn site, which would understandably be a sore point for social conservatives, and compromise coalition building to a greater extent than revoking her invitation. That said, they should have tried to come to an understanding with her on this matter before rescinding the invitation (which they may have tried to do, I don’t know). For her part, she certainly shouldn’t have implied that the only people on the Right who might have objected are white nationalists (presumably alluding to the Nick Fuentas* fans that frequently criticize and harass TPUSA).
*I don’t know if he’s actually a white nationalist, but I wasn’t impressed with his ‘joke’ espousing a holocaust denial theory through cookie metaphors.
What the frig is a “white nationalist”? I thought they were in South Africa in 1976. And then went away. Never saw or heard of any in the U.S.
The question arises, is there a viable conservative movement that precludes social conservatism?
It’s the only viable model, if you want to expand the base and win. A lot of would-be allies are reluctant to join up with the bluenose no-fun brigade, as they see it. Let them into the movement for non-social issues, then understand the positions on their own. The left is constantly pressing the issues of social leftism, mandating endless purity tests and codes of behavior – let the right be a haven from the censors and new puritans, and see how many people give it a new look. It’s really an opportunity. The Left is now what they decried: they’re The Man. Rub it in their faces.
Good question, as its a term that is frequently invoked but rarely defined; depending on who is invoking it, it can mean anything from whites who happen to be nationalist or even just traditionalist, all the way to overtly bigoted racial separatists or supremacists. My personal definition would range from people who believe that diverse societies, practically speaking, cannot be free societies, and consequently blame and seek to restrict non-white immigration to alleviate national problems (the second component is more important than the first as far as qualifying for my personal definition of this term), all the way to the aforementioned supremacist/separatists. The first would be the equivalent of people like David French or entry-level critical race theorists, or ‘anti-Zionist’, in that they could charitably be described as useful idiots ‘adjacent’ to outright evil philosophies rather than technical proponents of the same, but which tend to empower and lead to the latter due to a the promotion of a paranoid and resentful mindset in conjunction with a distinct lack of limiting principles within the ‘academic theory’ (once again, the second component tends to be more important, at the aggregate if not the individual level). The far end of the spectrum is of course the equivalent of the militant CRT/BLM proponents.*
*The militant CRT/BLM proponents, in turn, strongly parallel the characteristics and societal role of the 1920s incarnation of the KKK.
Good luck winning without the votes and energy of pro life people. Nice acceptance of the left’s accusation that they’re the bluenose no-fun brigade. The moderates controlled the Illinois Republican Party for most of the three decades I lived there. We had big government Jim Thomson, Jim Edgar and lying George Ryan as governors for 28 years in a row. Conservatives were told to vote for moderates whereas moderates felt no compunction to vote for conservatives. Now the IL GOP is a shell. Perhaps it’s as much demographics as anything else but the Chamber of Commerce Republicans are happy with open borders which result in these changing demographics. VDH describes in detail what has happened in California as a consequence of such policies. Good luck as a political consultant if you think you grow by spitting on 30%-40% of your base.
Funny, Trump won and not through a massive appeal to pro-life voters. Folks who vote on wedge issues are probably going to vote for the party that most closely aligns with the wedge. They may not come out in droves if they don’t feel like their issue is at risk in some way, but they’ll still come out.
Regarding Brandi, I’d rather have more votes than fewer, and she’s not a Nazi. A tiny fringe of the party. I guess we’re closing the tent up good and tight again, to make sure we maintain that airtight losing streak. Little consideration of the fact that the more losses Republicans suffer, the more likely the wedge issue tilts in someone else’s favor.
The winning coalition has always been fiscally liberal and socially conservative.
John Adams foresaw weakness like this. Ronald Reagan showed us how to be Happy Warriors. And that most certainly included a leg of the stool for social conservatism. The tent is not big enough for porn stars who don’t believe in God.
And yes, I agree that the Left is now the Man. Rub it in their faces.
Yeah, that’s the impression I got, too. I’m not sure how else to take her statement (after she’d already taken a swipe at “Low T white nationalist religious zealots”–an odd way to characterize attendees at a conference you’re trying to get into) that her attendance and the story she had to tell about it would happen only behind the OnlyFans paywall. Shameless self-promoter with the freedom to buy a ticket, meet a private organization with the freedom to throw you out.
From “Love’s” bio on the Wikipedia site: Love is a self-described conservative and Republican … who “voted for Bill Clinton back in the day”
Of course she did.
Dishonest conflation of nationalist who happen to be white and white supremacists that occurred in most mainstream conservative publications in 2015-2018.
Trump was far more supportive of pro-life even if he didn’t make it an issue. He had no problems saying he was pro life, was the only elected president to ever show up to a pro life rally, all while insisting the issue be left to the states.
I think we can surmise that social conservatives can be content with their elected officials simply not throwing them under the bus and acknowledging their right to order their states as they like without siccing the DOJ on them for every court challenge.
Except that he did appeal to religious conservatives. Don’t you remember the hubbub around here about evangelicals being hypocritical for supporting Trump? You’re right that he didn’t position himself as a holy roller, but he positioned himself as someone who takes holy rollers and their issues seriously, particularly as folded into the cancel culture and left shift.
And that’s really all it took. I remember lots of people in 2016 saying “I’m voting for the candidate who isn’t threatening to violate my religious liberties.” It’s really as simple as that. If the Republican Party pitches itself as the “we’ll leave you alone” coalition, then they’ll have a huge advantage over the Dems.
And Os Guiness later nailed this most important leg of the Conservative Stool with his Golden Triangle of Freedom:
For this reason, even the Internet Atheist™ benefits from living in a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values. You take that away, and it’s not just the religious who suffer.
Yes, except for the pearl-clutching useful idiots =>
Ironically, I think the fact that he didn’t just dismiss them out of hand or put them up for ridicule was the real appeal to them. Thinking back to the McCain-Palin ticket. She was brought on as the appeal to them and was treated like crap by both parties from the start. One doesn’t have to like her to see that a lot of voters would take that disdain and ridicule personally. I don’t disagree with the idea that a large tent that doesn’t sound like a bunch of SNL church ladies is a good idea, but as much as I like James, it’s a bit ridiculous to think that you can jettison a third or more of your voting base and replace them with…what exactly? People with an Only Fans and those that pay to see them? I’m always surprised to find that many Republicans, especially in the pundit class, didn’t seem to learn anything about a large swath of conservative voters during Trump’s presidency.
Get in a time machine and go back to 2004, and at the Republican national convention tell the crowd that by 2016 Evangelical voters would enthusiastically be voting for Donald J. Trump. What reaction do you think you would get? You’d be laughed out of the building (and then thrown in a psych ward for claiming to be a time traveler). Ok, now jump to 2016 and soak in the Trump rallies, and enthusiasm. What changed, did every single one of those voters decide that none of the things they cared about mattered anymore? Of course not. What happened is that those voter’s spent 8 years being told by their party that they were reason Obama won, all while sending their sons to die in a war that suddenly disappeared from the news. They watched as their own party told them that the “culture war” didn’t matter and to sit down and shut up about it. They then watched the culture devolve before their eyes where now they have to deal with worrying about boys in their daughter’s locker room and the threat in some places of having your kids taken from you if you don’t let your kid take hormone blockers and “transition.” If you want people to vote for you, you have to actually give a crap about their concerns. People aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s absolutely true that facts don’t care about your feelings, but voters do.
– there are a number of ex porn “stars” who gave up the business and written about how bad it is for the women who get in it. TPUSA could have had a forum about the industry between Love and one or more of these women about the harm of those who engage in it.
Yes, I think one of the major flaws in the libertarian way of thinking is it accepts the premise that social conservatives (I might prefer the term American traditionalists) hate the sinner, not just the sin. That because we prefer not to change the (organic, pre-government) definition of marriage and family, we hate homosexuals. That because we’d prefer women not kill their babies in the womb, we hate women who’ve had abortions. That because we’re opposed to the degradation of people making and watching pornography, we hate the pornographers and those who consume their product. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s almost as if people living on the remnants of Judeo-Christian America are unable to connect their heritage of liberty to those self-same religious values.
I’m “conservative” (a Catholic American traditionalist) because I believe those values lead to human flourishing. It’s because I will the good of my fellow man (the definition of love) that I hold these truths to be self-evident and eternal: marriage is in its telos the union of a man and a woman directed toward the unity of the couple and the procreation and formation of children (family); human life begins at conception and is directed toward eternal union with God in heaven — no one has the “right” to intentionally destroy it; human sexuality is sacred and the marital act is reserved for marital, one-flesh unions open to new life.
We should probably define what we mean by “freedom.”
The bolded section above goes far to explain it. It’s not quite the passive “Leave me lone and I’ll leave you alone” thing. It’s more active than that: the culture war needs to be fought and Trump was fighting it in a way I want it fought!
Fiscally conservative and socially liberal is the opposite of that. Socons might still have gone along with that strategy as team players if anyone had ever actually delivered on any of that fiscal conservatism, but no one ever has. At some point all we’re left with is the repeated mantra “this is not the hill to die on”, “once we win back the house…”. Screw that – let’s throw down now… while we still can.