Last month’s third annual National Conservative Conference—the now yearly convention of the academics and public intellectuals trying to build an ideological structure inside the MAGA movement—was notable, at first blush, for two things. First, its relocation from Orlando to Miami, the New Right mecca for crypto-friendly, vax-skeptical, post-Trump futurists. And second, its bewildering fusion of isolationists and neocons, evangelicals, homosexuals, and, yes, a few monarchists, all united against a common enemy: the libs.
The future of Trumpism, after all, begins with coalition-building to articulate an agenda that can survive Trump, himself. So far, it’s more dark vibes than uplifting policy. A video promo for the NatCon event, which opened with footage of cars on fire and protesters tearing down Confederate statues, declared “woke neo-Marxism is destroying the values and principles America, Britain, and other Western nations have held dear for centuries.” Not exactly “Morning in America.”
But the most important, and least-covered, element behind NatCon 3 may have been its sponsorship list. While mainstream headlines zeroed in on the high-profile keynotes from Peter Thiel, Josh Hawley, and Ron DeSantis (“Florida is a Model for America”), the attendees I spoke to afterward couldn’t help but notice that the event’s patrons included not just the far-right Claremont Institute and American Conservative, but also Washington’s most old-school and patrician conservative think tank: the Heritage Foundation, the historically buttoned-up, Reagan-era sinecure. “There might have been a time that the people in the movement would have been inclined to fight Heritage,” explained Will Chamberlain, the editor-in-chief of Human Events and a panelist at this year’s NatCon, rather than to fight alongside them.