Skip to content

Link Copied

Why Conservatives’ Fight Over the Term ‘Based’ Is Important

Social conservatives have accused libertarians of appropriating the slang term “based” for a very un-“based” cause.


The squabble might seem petty, but it reflects a deeper battle for the soul of the right: Does the future belong to free-marketeers or traditionalists?


Libertarian-conservative commentators Brad Polumbo and Hannah Cox last month announced the launch of “BASEDPolitics,” which they described as “a next-generation multimedia hub that fosters community and supports our efforts to produce content that makes liberty go viral.”

In an interview with the Spectator, Polumbo said he and Cox were “redefining what it means to be ‘based,'” a term with convoluted origins that has been adopted by the “new right” as a label for truth-tellers willing who go against politically correct orthodoxy.

  • “The nationalists want to redefine what it means to be conservative so that it resembles big government, socially conservative Elizabeth Warren economics more than Ronald Reagan,” Polumbo told the Specator’s Grayson Quay.
  • “We still believe the future of the Right should be rooted in free markets, individual liberty, the Constitution, limited government.”


Sohrab Ahmari, an editor at the American Conservative, led a new right pile-on of Polumbo and Cox, whom he derided on Twitter as “corporate schmucks.”

For Ahmari and other traditionalists, right-wing politics shouldn’t necessarily be beholden to notions of economic and individual liberty.

  • “Jailing pornographers, seizing the assets of the Ford Foundation, and going to Latin Mass with your nine kids and tradwife are all based,” Quay explained.
  • “On the darker corners of right-wing Twitter, Rhodesia, Mussolini and overt expressions of sexism are also ‘based.'”

The 4PM: A highlight reel of today’s news.
For conservatives.
Every afternoon at 4PM.