“In a way,” Mr. Ahmari said, his critics — “the people who say, ‘Yeah, sure, you’re just a couple of guys: you, Oren, and a few others at magazines and think tanks’” — are “not wrong institutionally,” as there is little donor support for their efforts.
“But they are wrong in terms of voters,” he added.
Ms. Stepman of the Claremont Institute says she is personally “more traditional right” than thinkers like Mr. Ahmari but agrees they are tapping into something real. “There is a very underserved part of the political spectrum that is genuinely left of center on economic issues, right of center on cultural issues,” she said, pointing to issues including immigration, gun laws, education, gender norms and more.
Gabe Guidarini is one of them.
Growing up in Lake Bluff, Ill., in a working-class household where MSNBC often played in the background at night, Mr. Guidarini felt his view that “the status quo in this country is corrupt” was validated by the “anti-establishment” voices of both Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump. But he came to the view that “you can’t get away with” social views that stray from progressive orthodoxy and still be accepted by Democrats. Now, at 19, he is the president of the University of Dayton College Republicans.
In 2022, he worked as a campaign intern for J.D. Vance — the author of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” who aligned himself with Trumpism after his 2016 book was credited for providing a “reference guide” for Mr. Trump’s electoral success. Mr. Vance, an Ohio Republican, was elected to the U.S. Senate.
In line with Tucker Carlson and some other conservatives, Mr. Guidarini thinks the party “should be taking policy samples from Viktor Orban in Hungary, and what he’s doing with family policies that aim to increase family creation, increase childbirth and make it easier to live a decent life as a working or middle-class taxpayer,” he said. “That’s what’s going to return the American dream for so many people, because to young people — and I feel like a lot of other people in America today — the American dream feels dead.”