OXON HILL, Md.—The conservative movement needs to focus on defending the family, preserving parents’ rights and protecting children, by going on the offensive against the woke Left, Newsweek Opinion Editor Josh Hammer told The Daily Signal at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on Friday.
Hammer said “the focal point of the new Republican coalition,” the “more blue-collar … Rust Belt-Sun Belt coalition” should be “a prioritization of parents and children, and above all, the family.”
He predicted that the future of that coalition—from what he sees at “the more populist ends of the American political spectrum,” from banning drag queen story hours to protecting kids from experimental transgender interventions—involves a focus on the common good over the “old-school Republican mentality to statesmanship.”
“That has to include protecting vulnerable children above all, preserving the sanctity of the family,” he said.
Hammer said conservatives should “very strongly” push back against the woke culture, and they should follow a national conservatism to combat the Left.
“They’re coming after us literally every step of the way, whether it is government collusion with Big Tech, [or] whether it is this collapse of the public-private distinction that I’ve written about in the past,” he said, referring to the way Big Tech companies act more like public engines of the state rather than private companies.
Hammer noted “the pernicious excesses of the woke ideology,” from drag queens performing in front of children to obsessing over race, to transgender activism, and the kind of ideological takeover of schools that Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Chris Rufo—who routinely publishes whistleblower documents showing the infiltration of race and gender ideology—has exposed. “We have no choice but to fight back,” Hammer said.
The Newsweek journalist argued that combating this ideology will “necessarily” involve “a more kind of muscular hands-on approach to matters of political economy,” because “corporate America, in so many respects, has now become just an extension of the state. They are in tandem pushing this woke ideology.”
“I genuinely think that anti-wokeism can and should be kind of the glue that holds together all of this, the conservative movement,” Hammer added.
Hammer, a religiously traditional Jew from a Jewish background whose fiancée is Israeli, also chided President Joe Biden’s foray into the politics of the Holy Land.
Biden weighed in on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reforms, urging him to build “consensus for fundamental changes” and emphasizing that America and Israel “are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary.”
Hammer, who graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law and clerked on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, told The Daily Signal that Israel’s judicial system is fundamentally different from that of the United States, which he called “superior.”
“We have very clear rules,” he explained. “So, for example, in the United States, in order to get your day in federal court, you need standing. You need to show that you have an injury, and it is relatable to the harm that the court can redress it. Israel has no concept of standing. Anyone can bring any suit for any reason. Furthermore, there is no written constitution over there. They have basic laws, which have achieved quasi-constitutional status.”
He said the court has “arrogated to itself” the power to overturn the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. He also argued that “sitting justices on the Judicial Selection Committee effectively choose their own successors” from “the same pool of typically liberal, secular Tel Aviv elites,” which is not nearly as representative as the government at large.
He said the left-leaning court has the power to block anything from the right-of-center government, just as the administrative state or the bureaucracy in the United States sought to block then-President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Hammer said it was “stupid” for Biden to weigh in. “This is an internal dispute to Israel. Let them figure it out themselves.” For his part, Hammer recommended Israel get a written constitution, although he admitted that it would be “difficult” for them to do so now due to the divisions in society.
He also addressed Newsweek’s approach to opinion journalism. He called the outlet “a rare place as far as mainstream media is concerned.” He noted that “even the left-of-center higher-ups at Newsweek are liberal—old-school liberals” who prize the “freedom to disagree … not like this woke progressive nonsense.”
“Newsweek exists to air the full diversity of political views. We are trying to air the full discourse,” Hammer said. “We’re trying to give a voice to opinions that may not be platformed in other mainstream media outlets.”
“I am obviously conservative, but we are publishing a lot of stuff that I do not necessarily personally agree with,” he noted.
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