It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times for the liberty movement. The political system is in utter chaos, and a vast realignment is taking place. Some liberty activists are finding themselves in good graces because of this realignment, while others are down in the dumps. We are going to examine the biggest winners within the liberty movement due to this year’s the political realignment, and what they did correctly to shine so brightly. Conversely, we will look at the people who blew it big time in 2016 and let destiny slip through their fingertips.
Imperious, provocative, hilarious and profane, Milo Yiannopoulos was born for the internet era. Gaining initial infamy during the GamerGate controversy when feminists declared a witch hunt against video games, Milo is a social media savant who knows how to generate controversy and clicks on that medium like few others. A fully-out-the-closet homosexual who boasts about his dalliances with black men, Milo was an unlikely choice for conservative icon. With the help of former Breitbart editor-in-chief Steve Bannon, Milo (as well as Bannon himself) used Trump as a stepping stone for his own stardom. Over the course of the Trump campaign, he went from a relatively obscure figure to arguably the most influential figure in the conservative movement moving forward. The kids love this guy!
Although Milo is far from a doctrinaire libertarian, he will happily ally with libertarians. He co-hosts his podcast with a libertarian, Allum Bokhari, who Milo brought on to Breitbart Tech as his right-hand man. Milo is also colleagues with unmatched libertarian stalwart, Tom Woods, appearing on his podcast frequently. Milo is also a major thorn in the side of neocons, regressive elements of the Christian right, and the entrenched GOP country club elites. The way Milo took it to Ben Shapiro, an ultra pro-war and pro-police state Neocon, should have had libertarians smiling ear-to-ear the world over. Because of Milo’s antics, Shapiro went from a rising star to an afterthought crying about memes on a Youtube channel that nobody watches.
Milo is a more ferocious and effective threat against the Democrats and modern leftism than any libertarian in the world today. Social justice warriors (SJWs) practically spontaneously combust by Milo’s mere presence, while most libertarians prefer cowardly appeasement over confrontation. There are some seriously principled enemies to leftism within the libertarian movement, to be sure, but they lack the dynamic and unique talents of a Milo. No disrespect to the man, but Hans Hermann-Hoppe doesn’t have Milo’s pizazz and flair. Gary North will not be strutting into a room of college-aged kids in drag anytime soon to hammer home the ridiculousness of transgenderism. Thus, Milo serves his role quite nicely.
It should go without saying that libertarians should seek to emulate Milo, and not the do-nothing crybabies in academia or little philosophy clubs accomplishing nothing but flagellating their own egos. Although Milo doesn’t adhere to libertarian dogma down to the letter, he is more of a force for liberty through his colorful antics than he could ever be reciting textbook economics. Milo’s courageous strikes against the bow of the leftist threat beat hot air from irrelevant libertarians on the sidelines any day.
During this election cycle, libertarians were forced to show what was inside themselves. All that high and mighty rhetoric was put to the test, and what was uncovered wasn’t pretty. A great deal of libertarians showed their true colors under the slightest bit of the pressure. When the going got tough, they retreated into their turtle shells or fell on the sword out of desperation. However, cowardice and surrender wasn’t on the agenda of every liberty-minded individual out there. Case in point: Alex Jones, who took his global information war to the next level in 2016.
This year, Jones showed an incredible ability to roll with the punches and make his information appealing to the masses on a grand scale. He really cemented his legacy as the preeminent force of this generation who is shaping the body politic, whether anyone likes it or not. If there was a Mount Rushmore for the cause of liberty, his round face would certainly be amongst the first to carve upon it. His histrionics, his conspiracy-mongering, his frenzied thought-process, or his deranged screams of anguish may turn some people off, but his approach is undeniably effective. Alex Jones’ detractors would be well-served to eat a slice of humble pie, and perhaps wash it down with a cold glass of Tangy Tangerine.
Jones scored major victories in the Infowar throughout the year, especially at the RNC’s Trump coronation in Cleveland this past summer. Jones’ confrontation of Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks with political dirty trickster Roger Stone went viral. After being embarrassed on the big stage by Jones, Uygur suffered a mental breakdown that concluded with a full-blown display of psychosis when Hillary finally lost. In addition to savaging his competition, Jones has become the new Rush Limbaugh for the new age of the Trumpian GOP, with a news website in a back pocket that is more influential than the New York Times in the digital age. He more-or-less doubled his number of followers in the build up to Trump’s Presidential victory. Throughout the unprecedented mayhem, Jones sold enough “Hillary for Prison” t-shirts to put his kids through college. Not bad for a years work of a humble water filter salesman, eh?
Jones has proven his critics to be decisively wrong. It was said that his third rail fringe beliefs were electoral poison. It was said that Jones needed to be avoided like the plague by any political candidate. As anyone who has been around the liberty movement for awhile can attest, Infowars was the original launching pad for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in 2008. Jones was one of Ron Paul’s biggest backers in 2008 and 2012, even as pious libertarians attempted to marginalize and disavow him. Jones was already among the most influential Republican pundits during those election cycles, but never received the credit he deserved.
Rand Paul bought into this trap at his own peril. During his Presidential campaign, Rand stopped publishing regularly in Breitbart, and moved his regular editorials to Time Magazine – a sign of things to come. Rand could have easily used Infowars as his base of operations, but treated Alex Jones as if he was a leper instead. He misjudged the political state of affairs, and what was needed to win. Rand severely misread the new political landscape, and paid the price. Meanwhile, Trump hit it off with Jones from the get-go. Before long, Trump began plagiarizing Infowars in his campaign speeches, which was followed by gleeful approval from Jones. Although the naysayers hooted and hollered, Trump won anyway. Jones’ fingerprints are all over the victory too, and even detractors can no longer deny his massive influence. Alex Jones is now winning the information war he has been waging for decades.
This year, we have experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos mastered the tumultuous political arena, and turned it into their oyster throughout the year. However, not every personality in the liberty movement is blessed to possess their vision and genius. Some of these individuals saw 2016 as their waterloo, and are likely to never recover from the election cycle from hell that hit them like a swarm of locusts.
Jack Hunter got his start as a blogger and radio shock jock who issued political commentary from a nationalist perspective. Known as the “Southern Avenger”, Hunter put forth an unabashedly pro-Confederate point of view in his writings and video postings. After he was discovered by Rand Paul and gained some stardom, he almost immediately disavowed his former persona and beliefs. As Rand’s top media surrogate, he actively tried to marginalize the presence of conspiracy theorists within the liberty movement – before getting thrown under the bus for his own fringe beliefs a short time later. Sadly, this railroading caused Hunter to become even more acquiescent to the mainstream media and political class who shunned him.
As I mentioned previously, Jack and Rand Paul are very close and have been since his early days in the Senate. At the same time, Steve Bannon, now Trump’s chief strategist, was on the rise. He was nestling up to Sarah Palin and other rising stars trying to find his golden ticket to the forefront of conservative politics during the early days of the tea party movement. At that point, Rand was considered to be the next big thing for right wingers. Rand could have probably scooped up Bannon as his primary media surrogate and campaign strategist at that point rather easily. Instead, Rand chose a man who wore confederate-themed wrestling masks in public at the age of 35. It has been said that Donald Trump hires the best people, but nobody would dare say the same thing about Rand Paul. Jack Hunter is proof positive of that assertion.
Jack was either the architect or chief henchman of Rand Paul’s politically correct, minority-pandering, big tent strategy to grow the GOP and win the Presidency for him. Here is how the plan was supposed to work: Rand would meet with the Al Sharpton’s of the world. He would go to black colleges and talk about issues that matter to them, but not to GOP primary voters. Rand would therefore get amazing press in the New York Times and the mainstream media outlets, and finally distance himself from the embarrassing rabble of the tea party movement and Ron Paul revolution. This would create the new, stronger, larger, better Republican Party – where every race, color, creed is appropriately represented and live together with gumdrop smiles!
This asinine rhetoric may have sounded good to political hacks who haven’t left their bubble in years. Back in reality, the public was extremely pissed. They were fighting mad, and were appalled by the appeasement and half-measures that Jack and Rand were selling. For being a billionaire jet-setter, Trump was sure far more in tune with the will of the conservative grassroots than “liberty” organizers like Jack were in their Beltway cocoons. Trump knew what buttons to press to win over GOP voters. Trump didn’t throw his base in the trash because it was the trendy thing to do like Rand did at Jack’s behest. Because of these campaign choices, Trump was rewarded with success by the voters while Rand was punished with failure.
If Jack stepped down from any serious role of influence within the liberty movement after failing so abysmally, he would be worthy of respect. He tried and his method blew up in his face, so stepping aside in recognition of his own tremendous malfeasance would have been an honorable gesture. However, Jack took the opposite approach. Like the weasel that he is, Jack doubled-down on his failed strategy. He spun Rand’s dismal showing on anything he could think of – Trump, ISIS, etc. – rather than looking in the mirror at himself. From there, Jack started writing for the Daily Beast, the corporate propaganda operation that consumed Newsweek Magazine several years back. It is hard to tell the difference between Jack’s writing and Hillary’s talking points nowadays. A sad shell of his former self, Jack constantly bemoans the alt right out of sheer jealousy for their growing success and influence.
It’s a interesting question to ponder at this point: Is Jack Hunter a has-been or is he simply a never-was? He was the kind of guy who grasped upon Ron Paul’s coattails from the early going, mistook Ron Paul’s success for his own because of his own arrogance, and blundered it up non-stop from there. Jack Hunter is not the liberty movement’s own Bill Buckley that he fashioned himself out to be, but is rather a man of very little clout and stature who belongs playing dress up, not in the political big leagues. The success went to his head, and now he has nobody to blame but himself for blowing it big time.
The rift-raft that Jack wanted to usher out of the liberty movement ascends politically while Jack is washed out of the populist right to total irrelevance. This is sweet poetic justice for the liberty lovers who Jack spit on. Jack’s only enduring legacy will be to serve as a textbook example for how NOT to effectively promote the cause of liberty. In case Jack himself may be reading this himself, I will put it into terminology that he will be sure to understand: pro wrestling lingo.
Jack, you thought you were a main eventer, but all you ever were was a ham and egger. Pull those curtains at the bottom of the card where you belong, and get to putting the alt right over. Know your role, jabroni.
Glenn Beck’s fall from grace, along with his false idol Lyin’ Cheatin’ Ted Cruz, torpedoed the evangelical’s last best chance at political relevance. Donald J. Trump, the foul-mouthed philandering playboy, won over most Christian conservatives. He was their favored candidate by-and-large, and rewarded their support with a huge win. The era of the religious politically-motivated charlatan is now officially over. The Jerry Falwell’s of the world have been put out to pasture, and not a minute too soon. This much-needed shift has hurt nobody more than Glenn Beck.
The entirety of the Presidential campaign saw Beck degrade himself in a variety of hilarious ways. First, he embarrassed Ted Cruz on the campaign trail by parading him around as if he was the messiah in a series of bizarre displays that put even Obama worship to shame. After his efforts were noticeably failing, Beck crushed his face into Cheetos. This was done to make fun of Trump, I suppose. Instead of making Trump look like a fool, he made it impossible for all except his most deranged cultists to pay attention anymore. They flocked to competitors Infowars and Breitbart, leaving his media venture, The Blaze to languish in mediocrity.
Of course, anyone paying attention over a long period knew what kind of guy Beck always was. He was the type of fellow who would act ultra-libertarian for years… until it came time to rally around the GOP establishment’s scumbag of choice come election time. That is why Beck rejected Ron Paul for Rick Santorum in 2012, when Beck’s full-throated support could have easily pushed the good doctor over the finish line. Similarly, he backed “Goldman” Ted Cruz over Rand Paul in 2016 and worked his damnedest to corral libertarian support behind his phony of a candidate.
Beck learned this year that his act has worn thin. A man with a better shtick than his own showed up on the scene: Donald Trump. Trump is the polar opposite of everything that Beck is. While Beck is a pathetic weak alcoholic, Trump never touched a drop of the stuff in his life. Beck cries and doubts himself all the time, while Trump projects nothing but confidence and brilliance. Beck washed out of multiple television opportunities, while Trump’s reality TV show was a knockout hit for 20 seasons. In the context of the political sphere, the contrasts are just as deep between the two men as well.
Beck probably had the chance to become a Trump-esque leader back in 2010, at the height of the tea party movement. After stealing Alex Jones’ persona, Beck became a reviled figure in the eyes of the media. He was the tip-top bad guy, the boogityman, the Klansman, the White Nationalist, the Hitler of the moment. He was under a lot of pressure, to be sure, and he buckled under it. Instead of leading, Beck always kept his followers in a perpetual state of panic and limbo. Beck would send them down one wild goose chase after the next, always with promises of salvation, and never could deliver. Eventually, his followers got tired of Beck’s act and were picked up by a man who could actually deliver the goods.
Trump came, he saw, he conquered, and then he kicked more liberal ass than anyone has since Reagan. He made the Glenn Beck’s of the world obsolete in a flash, and deserves a great deal of credit for doing so. Beck is in such dire straits that he is now down on his knees, in full fealty, ready to serve uber-leftist technophile Mark Zuckerberg and his Orwellian Facebook device. After kissing Zuck’s rings, Beck has sided with Black Lives Matter, made Trump and the alt right his Public Enemy #1, and even groveled beneath two-bit nobody Samantha Bee in a cringe-inducing segment on her cable show that must be seen to be believed.
At this point, Beck has fallen so hard that he likely will be on suicide watch in no time. If he does find some courage and pull the trigger, nothing of value will be lost. Beck is a perfect emblem of what conservatism used to be: feckless, pathetic, controlled, moss-covered, and always an easily-defeated token foil for the left. We could always count on Beck putting his foot in his mouth at an opportune time, making conservatives and libertarians look like clowns, and greasing the skid toward the next inevitable conservative failure. Those days have passed. We should all thank our lucky stars that Beck no longer has a perch to continuously disgrace himself and the liberty movement by proxy. He is never going to recover from 2016, and that should have every liberty-minded individual jumping for joy.
THE LESSONS OF 2016
To be fair, Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos are not the most libertarian guys under the sun. Milo calls himself a “cultural libertarian,” but that is a more of a token distinction than anything else. He is probably more of a persona than an authentic human being. Jones is more of a nationalist these days, although ranting conspiracy theories about the new world order has remained a permanent staple of his operation. Both of these men could have certainly spent more time droning on dogmatically about libertarian economics throughout the year, but they were smart not to do so. They looked at the situation at hand and figured out how to achieve success. Regardless of what deluded libertarians may have to tell themselves, losing is no virtue.
A new generation of leaders is taking hold within the new populist right wing, and libertarians have an opportunity to be an integral part of that. This is an impressive movement that is taking shape. The new populist right wing is bold, brash, fearless, and are taking the fight to the left like never before. They have seething hatred for the conservative old guard that failed America and sold their souls to the globalists. These new leaders have the gumption to take on the powers-that-be full throttle, and actually win. 2016 was a watershed year. The new path forward has been uncovered. Libertarians must be wise to follow this new path, rather than listening to proven losers and failures who wish to hold them back.