New Conservatives a Cause for Optimism: An Interview with Daniel McAdams

by | Mar 29, 2023


In a wide-ranging interview, Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-producer and co-host of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, discussed the Republican takeover of the US House of Representatives, the 2024 US presidential elections and the ‘rivalry’ between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, the many divisions in American society and the Republican Party, the corrosive effects of ‘wokeness’ on the fabric of the American Republic, the significance of the revelations from the ‘Twitter files,’ and the case of Hungary as a positive example for European conservative movements.

In January, Republicans took back the House. We saw what went on with the vote for House speaker. What sort of dealmaking took place to get the vote pushed through after fifteen attempts, and is what happened good for the Republican Party and for conservatives, in your view?

I think the dealmaking stemmed from the fact that the Republican platform to take back the House and Senate was not very well defined. Basically, it was Kevin McCarthy saying “it’s my turn,” and that didn’t sit well with some Republicans who were elected on something very, very different, which was to get back to some of the things that at least the Republicans talked about, which is fiscal conservatism, which is stopping the warfare-welfare state, which both parties agree upon. So that was the issue.

They are a smaller group than we’d hoped for, but there is a small group of younger Republicans elected to the House, a new guard that I think is trying to take this message forward. So I think that overall it was a positive thing, and I think it’s a very good thing for the Republican Party. And I do think that because there is such a tight, tight Republican majority in the US House of Representatives, that means this group of 20, give or take, if they can find a way to be cohesive, could approach a kind of a European multi-party parliamentary system, wherein they can act as sort of a ‘dealmaker’ between the two sides. And I think that gives them an enormous amount of political leverage, if they choose to use it. That’s the big question: if they choose to use it.

How would you evaluate the first few weeks of Republican control of the House?

It’s mixed. Of course, they didn’t run on anything particularly dramatic. Some of your readers may remember back in the early ’90s, when Republicans took over the House on the strength of Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America.’ For all of its faults, that was a very clear vision for leadership and for change, that resonated with people, and it opened the door for radical changes. We haven’t seen that. We’re seeing the fight over the debt ceiling yet again. Republicans will cave yet again. There will be no cuts in military spending yet again. So, there’s plenty to despair about.

However, there are some bright lights, and I think one of the things that came out of the compromise came from a member of Congress that I respect very, very much, who happens to sit on the board of our institute, and that’s Thomas Massie. He was very clever, I think, because he didn’t join the 20 in opposing McCarthy. He voted for McCarthy each time. He probably viewed it as a procedural vote, meaning it’s not the hill to die on, and most likely for that he was given a position and perhaps a leading position on a committee to investigate the role of the FBI and the intelligence community in the social media and in our society. So, I think that could be a very helpful thing. A new Church Committee is definitely needed, so that’s a positive development. For the others, we’re going to have to wait and see. There’s a lot of showboating going on, as usual.

All eyes now are on the 2024 US presidential elections. I think one question that a lot of people have is not just who the candidate will be, but among two of the leading names, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, if there’s a divide between them. The media gives off that impression sometimes.

The media and the elites, of course, have discovered their love for Ron DeSantis, and it’s born out of their visceral hatred of Donald Trump. It’s difficult to imagine in history a character so viscerally hated [as Trump]. I guess you might go back to Richard Nixon, because Nixon was similar. He didn’t come from the East Coast milieu, and he was rejected by the establishment, which of course in the late ‘60s was much stronger than it is today. And I think there is a bit of that there. Trump didn’t play by the rules. He’s very blunt. He had a blunt style of governing. He didn’t defer to his European colleagues, as you’re supposed to do. So, he did a lot of things in this way that upset people, and I think that’s one of the reasons why DeSantis is being pushed.

DeSantis has a history in the House, and he has a history as the Governor of Florida. But he doesn’t have a lot of experience. He’s a young person with not a lot of experience. You could say that about Trump: he doesn’t have a lot of experience governing, and he’s not particularly good at it, if you look at what he did over [his] four years [as president]. But I would say certainly those are the two frontrunners for the nomination. And if that’s the case, then Trump has a very, very wide lead between the two of them.

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