David Horowitz at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Mark Taylor / CC 2.0)

President Trump’s ascension to the White House represented a shift in party ideals for many conservatives. While many Republicans have denounced Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and increasingly totalitarian ways, others have latched on to Trump and his administration as the proud future of the conservative movement.

In a new piece for The Daily Beast, conservative writer Sol Stern focuses on his friend David Horowitz to examine how some conservative intellectuals have become fervent Trump supporters.

Horowitz, Stern writes, the “one-time stalwart of the 1960’s New Left,” is “raising his hand to retroactively claim credit as a founding father of the Trump revolution” in his new book, “Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America.”

Stern explains:

Among [the book’s] singular contributions to our current political culture is that a prominent conservative intellectual now proposes Republicans take lessons in electoral strategy from Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a game plan until you punch them in the mouth.” From this bon mot Horowitz concludes that in order to win the struggle for America’s future, “conservatives must begin every confrontation by punching progressives in the mouth.” Elsewhere in the book, Horowitz writes: “Republicans must adhere to a strategy that begins with a punch in the mouth.”

Stern quickly acknowledges that Horowitz is “a gentle soul, a man of the mind without any personal lust for violence” but whose “fighting words serve his overall narrative.”

But how did Horowitz get to this point? Stern delves into his own history of writing for a student New Left magazine, Root & Branch, and later for Ramparts (alongside Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer).

“The emergence of Donald Trump has given this political lesson from the 20th century an altogether contemporary dimension,” Stern summarizes. “In Horowitz’s blind celebration of all things Trump, a gifted writer has been led to produce a truly deplorable book, a mélange of agitprop and false accusations against both Democrats and moderate, conscientious Republicans.”

Horowitz exemplifies how a faction of conservative intellectuals has been conned by Trump and his totalitarian rhetoric, Stern concludes.

In his 1953 anti-totalitarian classic, The Captive Mind, the Czech writer Czeslaw Milosz described how European intellectuals betrayed their commitment to thought and truth for the illusion that their utopian hopes for change might be satisfied by real communism in power. In the early days of the New Left, Horowitz recognized that this age-old dream of a better world could easily be corrupted when it was attached to state power and a demagogic party leader using the big lie technique. A half century later, in the strange case of Donald Trump, Horowitz has fallen for the same illusion he once warned against.

I am convinced this will end badly for our country, but it’s almost as disturbing that it will end badly for the once idealistic conservative movement in America.

Read the entire piece here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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