Reason Podcast

George Will Is Worried About 'The Big Flinch'—And You Should Be Too!: Podcast

Americans are recoiling "against the churning of an open society, against the spontaneous order that is the alternative to statism." That ain't gonna end well.


The Pulitzer-winning columnist George Will has been in Washington, D.C., since the 1970s and he's basically seen it all. But at a special Reason Podcast recorded at FreedomFest, the annual gathering of libertarians held every July in Las Vegas, he admits to be being frightened of what he's calling "the Big Flinch" or "a recoil against the churning of an open society, against the spontaneous order that is the alternative to statism, against the frictions of economic growth that becomes more necessary as the entitlement state becomes more rickety. Meanwhile, the fatal conceit—the abandonment of [Friedrich] Hayek's epistemic humility—is everywhere, particularly in the Republican Party's embrace of protectionism."

I talk with baseball fanatic Will about the causes and consequences of the Big Flinch, what it's like to be completely let down by the GOP's leadership, the unquestionably positive dimensions of Donald Trump's presidency (think federal judiciary), and the really odd am-I-having-a-stroke-or-not experience not just of the Chicago Cubs finally winning a World Series but the Houston Astros snagging a world championship too…but for the American League.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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NEXT: Trump's Border Wall Is Destroying Land, Livelihoods, and Butterflies in the Rio Grande

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  1. Stop trying to make George Will happen

    1. “Vote Libertarian, George Will is on board with presidential candidate Bill Weld!”

      Kill it with fire

      1. I think we’re seeing a rush to Libertarianism due to it being the closest thing to a sympathetic party. Many of these older Conservative types are fleeing from Trump and this has become their shelter.

        I question the value of this over time.

        1. Given that most of them seem upset that Trump is “rude”, they aren’t of much use. He is doing more of what they proclaimed to want than Bush ever did…but Bush was so gosh darned nice and all…

        2. If George Will and Bill Weld are the face of the new Libertarian Party then it’s a pretty garbage party and it’s not going to last very long

          1. Also, BUCS, I blame your leadership for this

            1. You’re going to be really upset to find that I reached out to Tucson, and the University of Arizona, and have recruited Noam Chomsky to by the Weld’s Vice-Presidential candidate.

              1. Ok, that got a chuckle.

              2. Center/Left Fusion ticket!

        3. Look at the bright side. At least the influx of aging cucks will offset the influx of blue-haired progs who are slowly coming to realize the Democratic Party no longer has any use for white people, no matter how woke.

    2. Told ya this was coming.

      Kinder, gentler statism.

  2. I like George Will’s writing.

    He has suffering from TDS though. I think it is an incurable retrovirus. It makes his gift of elegant writing arrive at stupid conclusions.

    1. Every old-school conservative in town is against Trump and many have abandoned the Republican party because of him. In fact it’s hard to find any opinion maker who does support him who isn’t part of the Breitbart-Alex Jones network of abject stupidity. You are the one with TDS for believing he’s a good president in any way.

      1. The GOP has shown itself to be a party of liars.

        Again, they campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare. They get their chance and…woops, they had nothing in mind.

        And Will wasn’t all that perturbed by that. It was only years and years of lying.

        1. I agree Will is suffering from TDS. Trump is the most libertarian president since Reagan, and Will complains about Trump speaking plainly? It seems the establishment circles are all against Trump, because he threatens their political gravy trains. With most of the GOP abandoning free markets (note the lying about repealing Obamacare, the huge Bush budgets, etc.), they’re no longer fiscally conservative, or do they believe in personal liberties given their support of bigger government and spying on citizens without a warrant.

          As for “the fatal conceit … is everywhere, particularly in the Republican Party’s embrace of protectionism.” Trump plainly said his objective is to eliminate tariffs, and is only applying them to pressure our trading partners to lower theirs, via tariffs on their products. Will is plainly misstating the truth. Yet, he’s right about the RINOs in charge of the GOP; they prefer the protectionism and crony capitalism of Obamacare and government control of markets (but of course, they don’t campaign on it, but that’s how they vote).

      2. Will is an aging 50’s, east coast, ivy league globalist Rockefeller republican and he’s butt hurt over Trump like he was butt hurt over the Tea Party. Will truly considers himself our better, scoffs at any common man, and to see him in this influential decline is delicious. Most conservatives have waited a lifetime for a candidate who speaks his mind, doesn’t parse words or sentences, and keeps his promises. Trump, although crude, will be rewarded for all these with another four years. Fuck Will.

  3. Everything can and must be regulated “for the butterflies”. Hah.

  4. “a recoil against the churning of an open society, against the spontaneous order that is the alternative to statism, against the frictions of economic growth that becomes more necessary as the entitlement state becomes more rickety. Meanwhile, the fatal conceit?the abandonment of [Friedrich] Hayek’s epistemic humility?is everywhere, particularly in the Republican Party’s embrace of protectionism.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the correct current slang to respond to this is ‘Da fuq?’

    1. He’s saying “We’re all socialists now”. We all worship in different temples, but we all worship Top Men. Top Men gonna fix things, gonna make things all right, Top Men gonna save us if only we have faith strong enough.

      1. I read that as *they* are all socialists. And George Will is afraid they will run scared from the uncertainty of freedom.

        He’s not wrong.

    2. It’s some pretty pretentious bullshit writing. Never have like people who like to write flowery bullshit like this, makes you look like a tool.

      1. Orwell would probably tell Will to stop writing like a jackass.

  5. The Republican party isn’t libertarian but an increasingly insular right-wing reactionary movement more concerned with collective racial purity than any economic principles, story at 1980.

    1. Says the Democrat whose party is pushing the failed ideology of socialism as if it’s a new idea rather than a disastrous statist concept

      1. If you can’t tell the difference between Stalinism and a the only form of government that exists in any modern country you’d want to set foot in, you might be a moron.

        1. Pretty sure that the people pimping socialism are the morons

          1. If you’re referring to the Bernies, agreed. But I think they have more in common socially with libertarians than they do Democrats. Mom’s basement and such.

        2. You mean the same “modern countries” that give zero shits about rights like free speech?

          Tell me more.

          1. We can keep free speech.

            1. Dems campaign against free speech.

                  1. The president of the United States just attacked Twitter for not giving equal time to right-wing bullshit. I’ll comfortably disavow both efforts.

                    1. So one attacked a private company for allowing speech and the other attacked a private company for censoring it. Yes, it’s easy to see the moral equivalence.

                1. Almost the entire caucus of the Senate Democrats voted to amend the constitution to weaken freedom of speech and press protections a few years ago.

    2. Leftists and progressives are so obsessed with racism because it thrives the most in their own midst:

      Bernie Sanders’ Own Black Press Secretary Was Profiled and Stereotyped By His Staff, Event Hosts

      There were multiple instances. There were places where I literally I couldn’t get in. I would go to the door, the staff entrance, and people would say, “This is staff only.” I’d have to explain to them that I was staff, and they would question me. I would have to say, “I’m the national press secretary. Did you watch me on the news the other day?”

      1. I know the Bernies were racist. And very misogynistic. And they threw chairs. They are not my people.

        1. They are most definitely your party.

          1. They tried to split my party up and in doing so abetted the presidency of Trump. They are my problem.

            1. They’re your problem because they’re your party.

              1. It’s a big tent. At least the religious nuts and cousinfucking rednecks aren’t under it.

                1. Mother gaia would disagree. Every time you plant a GMO seed a puppy dies.

                2. At least the religious nuts and cousinfucking rednecks

                  Since most Arabs vote Democrat, you have a two-fer.

            2. Oh, so you’re all about Hillary?


              Why do the biggest idols of the Democrat Party tend to have an issue with dead bodies caused by them? Hillary, Ted Kennedy…

              1. Because the Republican bullshit factory likes to churn out mostly on the big names for obvious reasons.

            3. Oh yeah, your party are the crooks.

  6. “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels?upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

    – George Will Savio

  7. Meh. Its not so much that he’s wrong, its that he lacks perspective about our real choices and trade offs. As bad as Trump is, one need only cast a gaze D-ward to see even more crazy…in fact X 10 crazy.

    So when he says “Meanwhile, the fatal conceit?the abandonment of Hayek’s epistemic humility?is everywhere, particularly in the Republican Party’s embrace of protectionism”, its a little rich seeing as Sanders came close to the nomination, D party leaders have slavery reparations in their sights, and “socialist” isn’t a dirty word any more.

    I mean dude, COME ON !

    1. And he wants people to vote Democrat. Because they are BETTER on his professed issues than Republicans?


      Shouldn’t you want a party to actually court you a bit before you bend over and ask them to make it hurt?

      1. They can’t do much because our system of government is paralyzed. He’s desperate, and Democrats are the only remaining party that isn’t completely insane.

        1. Not according to the latest polling. Americans think democrats have gone off the deep end. Wonder why they would think that.

  8. Honest question: If Will didn’t loathe Trump, is there even the tiniest sliver of a chance in Hell Reason would interview him?

    1. They might be suffering from insomnia.

  9. Wasn’t it Will who penned the column about how the *real* purpose of those crazy-named meats in Italian delis (mortadella, capocollo, etc) is so that the working class can’t even order a sandwich without the elites rubbing their nose in their unsophistication? Or was that David Brooks? Doesn’t matter, both of them are the same brand of “sex out of wedlock is what’s causing the demise of our society” social-conservative lunacy. Whenever a columnist opines that teen sex (or any other form of moral laxity) is the lynchpin to our societal ills, I’ve heard all I’ll ever need to from them.

    1. Wasn’t it Will who penned the column about how the *real* purpose of those crazy-named meats in Italian delis (mortadella, capocollo, etc) is so that the working class can’t even order a sandwich without the elites rubbing their nose in their unsophistication?

      That was David Brooks, but that is a mischaracterization of what he said. It was more an example of how regional elite put a lot of emphasis on these details in order to weed out outsiders more effectively.

      1. Sounds like the same thing.

      2. “Have you seen the price of arugula lately?” – Obama

        “No one is going to take your Berettas.” – Biden

        1. “No one is going to take your silver-inlaid Holland and Holland over/unders to keep you from shooting them blindly off your balcony.”

      3. I don’t understand this. Since when are Italian deli sandwich cold cuts an example of the sort of exotica that the working class is commonly considered to be unfamiliar with? You couldn’t have picked a worse cultural shibboleth that I could imagine.

        What’s next for Brooks? “As the nattily dressed fellow next to me at Ralph Wilson Stadium made a point of ordering not an ordinary proletarian hot dog but a Central European kielbasa, I realized that class in America is enforced not merely by wealth or even the display thereof, but by an elaborate suite of far less accessible social signals…”

    2. Well, on the sex out of wedlock stuff, they aren’t wrong. IIRC statistically speaking if you get married, don’t have kids out of wedlock, etc etc your odds of succeeding are pretty high. Boys raised without a father figure and kids generally raised in broken homes tend to have more problems, criminal activity etc. Not saying there aren’t heroic individual stories, but on average, as a group, this is true.

      Do whatever you want, of course, but we sure as shit shouldn’t be subsidizing this behavior, which through various programs we do.

      1. No, no, no. We can’t admit these hate-facts because that would go against the whole Crowley “Do what thou wilt” stupidity gospel that libertarians hold dear.

  10. The only thing that worries George Will is that members of his social caste — Ivy-League educated Washington insiders — are no longer running the government.

    Trump is “not one of them”, so anything he does is automatically suspect.

    1. It’s all visceral “ick”, “he’s not one of us”.

      Same thing with Charles Murray.

      No President in our lifetimes, including Reagan, has produced policies more in line with what Charles Murray wants. But the hoi polloi like Trump, so the Bow Tied Class of Conservatives who Conserve Nothing have to hate him.

      That’s probably why they hate him too – he succeeds where they failed.

  11. Fuck the democrat progressive socialist communists

    Fuck the war mongers of the deep state.

    Fuck you injustice Roberts for saying Obamacare is fine to put on the fucking tax return and Fuck you to all the injustices that voted ok for Obamacare

    And fuck you obama and Pelosi

    May a pox fall upon all of you ass hat ass hole fuckers !!!

  12. “particularly in the Republican Party’s embrace of protectionism.”

    Funny how it’s looking like Trump’s “protectionism” is *reducing* trade barriers with the EU. Why is the only protectionism Will is willing to fight that which protects American jobs?

    The Cucked Right can never quite fathom that you have to rock the boat to improve a relationship. They let the Left take a dump on the constitution while they played by the rules for a century because “muh principles”.

  13. George talks about how Paul Ryan really wanted to cut government spending. Guess he didn’t read Nikhil Shridar’s article, which bears the perfectly accurate headline “House Republicans want permanent tax cuts they can’t pay for” and includes the perfectly accurate paragraph reprinted below:

    The expiration date for the personal income tax cuts was widely regarded as a gimmick that was included in the tax cut bill to game the CBO analysis. Without that gimmick, the CBO projections would have shown a much larger increase in the national debt. But Republicans never intended to let the tax cuts lapse. “Those are sunsets that will never occur, we don’t believe will ever occur, we don’t intend to ever occur,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said last year as the bill was being debated.

    Will talks about the “magic asterisks” used in fake congressional budgets. Paul Ryan invented the magic asterisk. Paulie will, I suspect, take over as head of the American Enterprise Institute after retiring this year from the House, where he will be paid a million or two a year to warn about out of control spending, which he voted for whenever a Republican was in the White House.

  14. George Will thinks the answer is voting for She Guevera

    No thanks. He is a TDS zombie at this point

  15. The best website in case someone need Instagram followers

  16. I gave up on GW long ago: have a nice life, dude.

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