Andrew Tate and the crack-up of the conservative movement

One need look no further than its acceptance of thugs like mega influencer Andrew Tate to see how thoroughly the “moral majority” has collapsed in this country.

In Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler says something to Scarlett as the Confederacy is falling that has always stuck with me. 

“I told you once before that there were two times for making big money, one in the up-building of a country and the other in its destruction. Slow money on the up-building, fast money in the crack-up. Remember my words. Perhaps they may be of use to you someday.”

It would be hard not to notice that the US is in the midst of a crack-up—one that is not on par with the devastation the country experienced during and after the Civil War—but a crack-up nonetheless. And as such, there are more than a few grifters seeking fast money on the way down.

Economic uncertainty still lingers around every corner. Polarization is higher than it’s been in decades. A whopping 76% of Americans have no faith in the political wisdom of their fellow citizens and faith in key institutions is much lower than that.

But the crack-up seems to be affecting the right-wing half of the country more than the Left, and that’s for one core reason. The Left has been seeking a breakdown of our society for many decades because they want to remake it. They’ve long hated our founders, our Constitution, our economic system, and our core principles of individualism and limited government. The Right, on the other hand, has at least purported to exist to uphold these ideals and foundations.

The Obama years did something to the Right, though. Conservatives felt they’d thoroughly lost. They looked around and saw the iron-fisted grip the Left had on our bureaucracies, schools, entertainment industry, media, and culture, and they went into despair. They stopped fighting for something, and instead began to pour all of their energy into one mission and one mission alone: to “win.”

What did winning mean? That was pretty vague. 

“Owning the libs” became the battle cry, and it seemed many were willing to sacrifice the ideals they once clung to in order to do it. You can’t effectively pummel your political opponents with a limited government, now can you? People who uphold individual liberty can’t very well lump everyone that disagrees with them into a collectivist camp, so that too was out the window.

As a result, in 2023 we’re left with a shell of a conservative movement—one that is totally unmoored from any cohesive ideology or ethical lens through which it views the world. Instead, the core audience thrashes about like wheat grains in the wind, bending in whichever direction the hot air blows from.

Such people have always been easy to take advantage of. In fact, they are a requirement for the rise of despots, dictators, and grifters alike. People who feel weak look for strong people to fight their battles for them, and lacking any standards by which to evaluate their candidates, they often fall prey to bravado, bullies, and bounders who use their desperation for their own gain.

The evidence of this is everywhere on the Right. Donald Trump is surely the easiest example to point to. He captivated the conservative base with a dominance that hadn’t been seen since Reagan while espousing few of its views and with a lifestyle that had been in complete opposition to most traditions his base held dear. 

But it didn’t matter. They weren’t looking for someone to enforce the Constitution, they wanted someone who’d bully the people who had looked down on them, mocked them, and attempted to force their way of life on them. If he needed to infringe on the free market or trample some things in the Bill of Rights to do that, so be it.

Trump is far from the only example of the Right’s rot, though. One need look no further than its acceptance of thugs like mega influencer Andrew Tate to see how thoroughly the “moral majority” has collapsed in this country.

After all, few issues have captured the Right’s attention in recent years as much as human trafficking. The frenzy is part of a larger right-wing backlash against what the movement views as a culture overrun with sexual promiscuity, and it’s leading many to call for a return to traditional family structures and relationships and a backlash against feminism. But while these are the values the new Right claims to espouse, the leaders it looks to live in direct opposition to them—in fact, Tate himself may be a sex trafficker

He stands credibly accused of multiple counts of sex trafficking in Romania. Meanwhile, Tate also faces credible accusations of sexual assault from multiple women in the UK who have contemporaneous voicemails and texts from him that bolster their accusations. 

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Tate denies these charges, yet, in my opinion, it is clear that he is a sexual predator who has profited off and preached the exploitation of women. These aren’t just allegations: Tate himself has openly bragged about how he coerced women into pornographic “camming” work through the “lover boy” method of manipulation. And he did it on camera.

And yet, as was the case with Trump, when presented with a person who is undoubtedly mistreating women, living promiscuously and unethically, and whose lifestyle is antithetical to the values they claim, many—although certainly not all—on the Right have somehow fallen under his spell. (Not least among them conservative media star Tucker Carlson.)

Tate has amassed an audience of lost boys who have been manipulated into thinking he’s a strong man who can help them overcome the “victimhood” they’re currently facing—that victimhood of course being the Left’s demonization of masculinity and the fact most women don’t want to date them. And what’s even weirder, is that until very recently, few leaders on the Right have spoken out against him. (Thankfully, some are finally starting to do so). 

Tate’s message of masochism and misogyny stands a less than 0% chance of helping such men in any way improve their lives, but the ease at which they are manipulated has made him a multi-millionaire. 

Tate is a loser, through and through. He presents as the cheap pimp he is, with suits that look like they came from the mall all the flagship stores have left, and cheesy chains and sunglasses straight out of a 1990s hip hop video. He’s a poor man’s idea of a success, and his fame is a testament to the lack of male role models society currently provides young men to emulate. 

But he’s making a lot of money in the crack-up of the conservative movement, and he’s only one of many examples we could provide of people similarly playing conservatives like a fiddle.

This will, unfortunately, continue to happen until the Right decides to stand for something other than retribution. 

A conservative movement that stands for individualism could not abide by an abuser preying on women and encouraging others to as well. A pro-life movement that was actually serious would condemn Tate’s rhetoric as swiftly as it condemns abortion procedures. A movement made up of true “alpha males” would have immediately risen up to protect women from Tate’s abuses and dissuade young men from following his message. And to the extent true Christianity is tied to conservatism, real Jesus followers would view Tate as the true threat to children and traditional values rather than obsessing with LGBT people.

Until there is a return to some actual guiding philosophy though, there will always be a lot of money to be made in the crack-up of a movement. And Andrew Tate certainly won’t be the last to capitalize on that. 

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.