Winning by Losing


We’re in a period of political upheaval, and it’s been brewing for decades. That much is obvious to Americans. It is also a growing global phenomenon.

There are scores of examples that the mainstream media largely ignores. The recent uprising in Sri Lanka was spurred by harsh “green energy” policies that toppled a government. The farmer uprising in The Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of food, over similar green energy policies. In all, dozens of protests from Spain to Canada over various Covid-related and “climate change” diktats continue to fester.

It is a global backlash against elitists’ top-down, punitive, authoritarian impulses. And they’re producing some interesting new leaders. Case in point: the United Kingdom’s current election among Conservatives to elect a new party leader and Prime Minister.

You probably know the backstory. Prime Minister and Conservative leader since 2019, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, self-destructed mostly due to scandals involving personal hypocrisy during punitive Covid-related lockdowns. There’s more to it than that, but suffice to say that no Republican in the U.S. would confuse Boris for an American “conservative.”

Kemi Badenoch, UK Member of Parliament. And a Conservative.

But this isn’t about Boris Johnson. This is about an emerging new star in the UK who typifies many of our own rising GOP stars, Kemi Badenoch.

Badenoch has a fascinating history. Born in Nigeria, she came to the UK as a teenager and worked at McDonald’s. She became a Conservative Party member at age 25 and was a perennial losing candidate until someone slated her for a “safe” Tory (what they call Conservatives in the UK) seat. She has served as the head of various “ministries” (they have scores of “Cabinet” positions in the UK government, as do most parliamentary systems). She impressed the right people.

When most of Johnson’s ministers resigned over his antics, Badenoch seized her opportunity. She tossed her hat in the ring to lead the Conservative Party.

Under the party’s election system, they have a series of votes, with the last-place candidate dropping off after each balloting until a winner emerges. They’re down to two candidates – former “Chancellor of the Exchequer” (Treasury Secretary), Rishi Sunak, and Foreign Minister Liz Truss.

But it’s the third-place candidate who most recently dropped off who Brits are talking about. Kemi Badenoch.

Former New York Times editor Bari Weiss recently featured Badenoch in a Substack post on her excellent blog. The post was written by Zoe Strimpel. It is worth your time. A snippet:

Pundits have described Badenoch as a Tory Barack Obama, with headlines boosting her as Labour’s “worst nightmare” and the “antiwoke crusader” Britain needs. She comfortably deploys the kind of bold and direct speech about complicated ideas that seem impossible for other politicians. In other words, she speaks like a normal person. And like Obama, Badenoch is an outsider: born to Nigerian parents, raised in Lagos, she worked at McDonalds when she arrived as a teenager in the U.K.

Badenoch has garnered a fierce and widespread following, feted, in one prominent commentator’s words, with having “saved the Tories.” Last week, she beat the popular former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, 56 to 34 in a Yougov poll of Tory Party members.

She’s now out of the race for prime minister; the choice is now between Sunak and Liz Truss. But that almost seems secondary to what Kemi Badenoch has accomplished: A woman who doesn’t even hold a cabinet position has become the unequivocal star of the Tory Party.

How this happened began with—what else?—the culture war.

“What we are against is the teaching of contested political ideas as if they are accepted fact,” she thundered in a now-famous October 2020 House of Commons speech about Critical Race Theory in education, the closest thing to arresting oratory the Tory party has seen in the Commons since Margaret Thatcher. “We don’t do this with communism, we don’t do this with socialism, we don’t do it with capitalism,” she said, lambasting the promotion of CRT as “an ideology that sees my blackness as victimhood.”

Badenoch may have lost her bid for Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. But she may rescue her party and ultimately win in the longer term. She had a positive vision for Britain’s economy inspired by no less than 92-year-old American economist and sociologist Thomas Sowell.

Thomas Sowell

During her campaign launch speech, Badenoch proposed a plan to break up the Treasury and to oversee economic growth from the Prime Minister’s office with a new Office for Economic Growth (“a genuinely interesting and important policy idea emerges from the Conservative leadership campaign,” tweeted Stian Westlake, the CEO of the Royal Statistical Society). Such ideas hint at the influence of the MP’s hero, the “amazing” Thomas Sowell, the 92-year-old American economist. “It just goes to show how black conservatives are traduced. He’s one of the great economic thinkers of all times, he’s still alive, and people don’t talk about him, they don’t know him, because there’s too much of a focus on black people talking about race rather than amazing black people.”

All of which is why, in 2019, when Badenoch found herself on stage at an ideas festival in Wales with Kimberlé Crenshaw, the American legal scholar who coined the term “intersectionality,” sparks flew—and not in a romantic way. Badenoch had never heard of her, wasn’t embarrassed about it (to Crenshaw’s surprise), and was unimpressed. “I was struck by how limited her worldview was on race. All she knew was American politics. When I told her that black kids do better than white working-class students in the UK, she didn’t believe it,” she recalled. For people like Crenshaw, Badenoch said, the oppression of black people is the norm. To defy that norm is to betray one’s blackness. “The success of people like me and other black conservatives is basically a denial of their own personal experience,” Badenoch told me. “They don’t want us to exist.”

There is a cost to such wrongthink. “I am very happy to debate with people who disagree with me. But people who disagree with me would rather I just didn’t have a voice,” she said. “There have been so many attempts to cancel me, attempts to portray me as a bigot.” Typical attacks run like this one, a recent tweet from the lawyer-activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu: “Kemi Badenoch is a GIFT for racists & White supremacy—uses her Black identity to delegitimize the systemic oppression she claims UK is falsely accused of & now uses Black minority identity to run for Prime Minister. A Black Racial-Gatekeeping Executioner of Tory racist policies.”

“Being a conservative politician is actually one of the easiest jobs if you don’t want to get canceled, because you’ve been elected by a constituency of people who want you to use your voice to speak,” Badenoch said.

Read the whole thing. You’ll be inspired. Unless you’re a woke Democrat in the US, then you’ll be terrified. Because we have many rising Kemi Badenochs on the ballot in November across the United States, and they’re just getting started.

Mayra Flores, Congresswoman from Texas, is one. Yesli Vega, GOP candidate for Congress in Virginia, is another. There are many like them, with more to come in 2024. They may win or lose this fall, but ultimately, the arc of political history is bending in their direction as the tides of America’s cultural battles have begun to turn back to reality.

Fundamental things are afoot, and it’s global.

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There are 6 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Kelly D Johnston: She had a positive vision for Britain’s economy inspired, no less than by 92-year-old American economist and sociologist Thomas Sowell.

    Can’t go wrong there.

    • #1
  2. The Great Adventure Inactive
    The Great Adventure

    Intriguing post – and the Common Sense article was exceptional as well.  I particularly liked her perspective that adopting CRT and supporting BLM in Britain is even more disingenuous there than it is here (essentially trying to Americanize British history).

    • #2
  3. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald

    Globalism will die unless the elites can force it down our throats.

    • #3
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    Globalism will die unless the elites can force it down our throats.

    Do you think the victims of globalism will ever be willing to give up any of the benefits of globalism? 

    • #4
  5. I Walton Member
    I Walton

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    Globalism will die unless the elites can force it down our throats.

    Globalism is just the talking point.  What they seek is national totalitarian power.   The Soviets were Globalists as well.     They don’t think they have anything in common with the Soviets, but do recognize the Chinese success as top down, but don’t understand that it’ll drift toward the former system.  So will we, but our totalitarians are profoundly ignorant and will destroy us must faster. 

    • #5
  6. TBA Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    Globalism will die unless the elites can force it down our throats.

    Do you think the victims of globalism will ever be willing to give up any of the benefits of globalism?

    Generally, no. 

    As long as costs and benefits are kept far enough apart in people’s consciousness, the dwarfing of the latter by the former doesn’t signify. 

    • #6
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