The new face of conservatism

my Trade Tripper column in this weekend issue of BusinessWorld:

Conservatism has had a bad rap. The cartoon stereotype made by mainstream or social media is of a humorless old man or spinsterish woman, angry at others’ happiness -- misogynistic, homophobic haters more concerned with lecturing people about rules than about people themselves, sitting alone in a darkened room. But times change.
Michelle Malkin / Katherine Timpf / Matt Walsh / Greg Gutfeld
Poll results released last September by the Pew Forum indicated possible changes in US citizens’ beliefs about religion and the role it plays in politics. But as described by Maggie Gallagher (for National Review), “the poll was also remarkable for showing a rather dramatic drop in support for gay marriage in one year, after years of uninterrupted rises. Do you favor ‘allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally’ is an imperfect question, but it does allow tracking across time. Overall support for gay marriage dropped from 54% to 49%.”

Also, “white Evangelical support for gay marriage dropped 4 percentage points, from 22% to 18%; Catholic support dropped 9 percentage points, from 61% to 52%. (White mainline Protestant opinion was virtually unchanged, rising from 56% support to 57% support.)”

Reasons have been given for this perceptible shift in attitudes. Whatever it may be, it is also undeniable that the conservative movement is gaining a lot from the coming into prominence of younger and brasher conservatives, giving a fresh, funny, articulate, intelligent, even sexier approach to political discourse. And while their conservatism may vary on social or economic issues, nevertheless it still boils down to personal freedom and self-responsibility.

We start with one of Filipino roots: 43-year-old Michelle Malkin. Born in Philadelphia after her parents immigrated from the Philippines, Malkin (originally Maglalang until she married Jesse Malkin in 1993) got started in her career while studying in Oberlin, a college known for strong progressive views. It was when she got exposed to the viciousness of liberal response to her personal conservative views that she realized her true calling. As she recalled in one interview: “It was seeing the violent paroxysms it caused on the Left that really put me on my way to a career in opinion journalism. I really just came into being as a political journalist toward the end of my campus experience, and it was really after I had left and started, you know, writing on my own. It was really more social conservatism than economic conservatism that I started with for my column-writing.”

She appears on the Fox News Channel, particularly for Hannity and Fox and Friends. But it is her founding of Hot Air, an internet broadcast network, and Twitchy.com, “a ground-breaking Twitter curation site powered by a kinetic staff of social media junkies,” that made her a major player in the conservative movement.

Then there is 25-year-old writer, commentator and comedian Katherine Timpf. Currently working for the National Review, she has also guested on the popular Red Eye.

Known for her witty, sometimes sarcastic Facebook rants, her articles on the National Review sparkles with humor, self-deprecation and insight on the recent comedies (or tragedies) of the Left. A recent profile on her had a former teacher saying of Timpf: “Kat is genius. Certainly, she’s the leading wit of her generation. But I also think she’s one of those unique folks America produces only every once in a while.”

Characteristically, it is Timpf who explains her appeal best: “I feel like I’m able to explain things in a different way, especially in the conservative movement, because so many of the voices -- even the young ones -- sound like they’re 50 and cautious. It needs some spice. The message of freedom should be cool, and that’s what I want to do.”

Cool may not be the adjective normally given to 27-year-old Matt Walsh. But he's certainly fast becoming a leading voice in the conservative movement. Intense, direct, articulate and incredibly frighteningly smart, Walsh writes about everything: same-sex marriage, suicide, dating and family, plus a marvelous extended rant on why the saying “if you can’t accept me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best” is one of the most idiotic things ever said. Although he said the same about “don’t judge.” But rightly so.

Walsh has a blog (which gets around 2 million hits a month) but his conservative writings can also be found in TheBlaze.com. Joel Cheatwood, president and chief content officer of TheBlaze, says it this way: “Matt Walsh stands out from other voices online in that he has cracked the code to writing unique content that people want to share with their friends.”

Finally, today’s leader of the pack: cigarette-smoking, alcohol-drinking, heavy-metal-listening Greg Gutfeld. Catch him on Red Eye or The Five. Or read his books Joy of Hate and Not cool. I am running out of space so I’ll just say this: he’s better, smarter, funnier than Jon Stewart. ‘Nuff said.