Updated: Jul 15, 2020
By Walter Winch
“The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds.” - Richard Hofstadter, historian, 1916-1970
Who is Josh Hawley? Seemingly the thirty-nine year old junior senator from Missouri sees himself as a post-Trumpian conservative leader. Recently, at the National Conservatism Conference, he gave a speech where he spoke of “cosmopolitan elites” an aristocracy that has ignored “middle America,” regardless of political party.
Hawley can sound like a Progressive and economic Populist all at the same time, but of course we’ve become accustomed to listening to President Trump, a barely literate grifter, yapping about nationalism and “real” Americans.
The senator is, however, no Progressive in any sense, nor does he come from some working class background that has allowed him to identify with his middle-America and their struggles. He has a history degree from Stanford and a law degree from Yale. But we might ask, what does any of this have to do with Progressivism in America and voters in the very red state of Missouri in 2019?
The word “cosmopolitan” has a disturbing political and social history, used by Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany, primarily directed at Jews but also including “others,” such as political opponents, artists and assorted intellectuals.
Hawley is fond of talking about the “fate” of our republican government, how badly the elites have abandoned the idea of our republic, and how the desire for the “global” state has cut us off from our history and beliefs and our shared institutions like family, neighborhood and church. The senator has recently introduced legislation entitled “Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act” or simply SMART. He claims he wants to curb our social media addiction.
On the one hand the utterances of Senator Hawley might seem like valid ideas meant to heal the divisions in American society or perhaps even regarded as harmless gibberish, yet, “dog whistles” come in various forms.
Herr Hitler once spoke of the Volk—the people—of which the German people were, of course, the “greatest.” The state existed to serve the Volk, according to Hitler.
What always needs to be done is to call out anyone, especially politicians, who offer vaguely worded proposals, meaningless terms and speak with gravitas about the real Americans. In Hawley’s case we should want to know who these elites are and who exactly constitutes the middle- Americans. Can non-believers be part of our middle America? Can a Muslim couple, originally from Somalia, be included?
We ignore the sweet phrases and simple sounding solutions at our own peril. Now is the time to enroll new voters in rural Missouri.