Recently on the America Moment podcast, Michael Anton named names regarding Conservatism, Inc. The wide-ranging interview goes on for over an hour and a half, but the best clip is here in which Anton says,
“Now I’ll name names. If you’re at National Review, AEI or Heritage Foundation, your job is to pretend to oppose but really support; your whole business model as staff and management collapses if you don’t do that. It’s an open question why the donors donate to these places. I actually believe they’re deceiving their donors for the most part; that is I’d like to believe most donors to Conservatism, Inc. (NRO, AEI, Heritage) are writing checks because they believe these guys are fighting bad leftists, socialists, Communists, America-haters, critical race theory. They’re standing athwart yelling ‘Stop!’ They really think this. They don’t think, ‘I’m writing this check so that Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnoru, Jonah Goldberg and other fat useless grifters can have six-figure jobs to do nothing but sell out my country and pretend that they’re saving it.’ I don’t think they’re doing that, but to be completely clear, that’s what they’re doing.”
There’s a lot to unpack just in that one 60-second statement, but Anton is absolutely correct: The overwhelming majority of “conservative” donors, knowingly or unknowingly, are getting played by Conservatism, Inc., which is really about 90 percent of the so-called “conservative” think tanks in D.C. but, quite frankly, it happens even in the smaller ones across the country. I’ve been observing this phenomenon for over a decade, wondering what on earth people think they’re investing in because it can’t be effective work. Nice buildings, yes. Six and seven-figure salaries, yes. Self-validating echo chamber meetings? Yes. But work that impacts, truly impacts the direction this country is going in a positive way? Not at all; their work is barely noticeable, like cow flatulence on a windy day. I’ve written about this numerous times, here and here, and even spoken with Tucker Carlson about it as well.
Now these groups like AEI and Heritage will claim they’re fighting to “conserve this great country,” that they’re fighting to “save ‘Merica.” No they’re not. They’re fighting to conserve their sinecures; honestly, they’re like the white washed tombs from Scripture. Bright and shiny on the outside but filled on the inside with the dry and dusty bones of tired, worn out, and ineffective ideas and approaches.