This piece was originally published in American Greatness on December 11, 2020.
By: Joseph MacKinnon
Conservative populism in America is thriving. What started in earnest back in 2010 with the Tea Party revolt within and against a rapacious and detached Republican Party has since spread coast to coast and into all levels of government, with serious implications for America’s political future.
Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions, both of whom were instrumental in this populist movement and its acceleration to national recognition, were vindicated a second time on the evening of November 3, 2020. If the 2020 election was anything besides unfair and unfree, it was a referendum on conservative populism (a.k.a. “Trumpism” or “post-fusionism”).
An additional 11 million people voted for Donald Trump this time around, providing him with the most votes any incumbent president has ever won. The GOP, under the Trump banner, made gains in the House and wasn’t reduced to a minority in the Senate.
Why? Because more than 74 million Americans recognized that the GOP is no longer the party of Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush, or Paul Ryan, and is certainly not the party of the mental-dwarves helming the Lincoln Project. It is no longer the claw to the single-party state’s hammer. The populists have radically transformed the Republican Party into the party of the American working class, the party of economic nationalism, the anti-globalist party, the party antipathetic to fruitless Middle East wars, the party protective of life, and a party that celebrates liberty contra comfort.
The populist movement has successfully and dramatically shifted the public consciousness. Old norms and presumptions challenged only by a handful of resolute patriots just 10 years ago are now universally held in doubt. On the other hand, opportunities and futures previously thought unfeasible are now widely regarded as seizable.
Anyone on the Right or the Left who thinks reversion is possible isn’t thinking clearly, and anyone who understands where we go from here is at an advantage.
In 2015, New York sent a fighter to Washington who changed the game. In 2019, it offered up another who will help conservative populists win that game: Vish Burra.
Who Is Vish?
Son of Indian immigrants and disciple of M. Taylor and Steve K. Bannon, Burra is a name you’ll grow familiar with over the next several years. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden already know the name well. In fact, it’s probably a name that turns their stomachs, but not as much as it vexes the genocidal Communist Party occupying China.
Burra, 29, jokingly refers to himself on Twitter as “Destroyer of Worlds,” though the joke is not without a touch of truth. His approach to politics could be called restorative ruination—like “renaissance,” only far more combative, and there is a great deal at home and abroad to combat.
There remain RINOs who seek to return the GOP from the working class back to the warmongering blue bloods, all keen to celebrate bipartisanship at the expense of the American people. There are radical leftists who despise America, its history, and its living legacy, while seeking to tear it down only to build it up ramshackle into a totalitarian backwater. There are the corporate Democrats who divide with identity politics only as a means of conquering, all the while growing the technocracy that truly pulls their strings. There are rogue intelligence agencies—the same that traduced General Michael Flynn—that spy on Americans and arm our enemies (see: Operation Timber Sycamore), running roughshod over liberty and American potential. And there are foreign foes happy to reap the rewards of all of this inner turmoil. Altogether, these foes present a threat seemingly insurmountable for an ordinary man, which means that it’s a fair fight for an American from Shoalin.
The first stage of the populist revolt—at least the stage Burra has taken these past few years—requires a retaking of those formerly vital institutions that have been hollowed out or crippled by weak men and bad ideas.
In this pursuit, Burra shares something in common with the Alinskyites: take over the corridors, channels, and instruments of power, because without them, there is no winning. (There is a good reason why former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey handed out copies of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to prominent members of the Tea Party.) A major difference, however, between the Alinskyites and Burra is that whereas the former seek to disenchant Americans to ripen them for revolution, the latter seeks to confront the sources of this disenchantment—to liberate Americans from managed decline and nihilistic thinking, and to foster their success. Success will not take place under the heel of Big Tech and the corporatists, but only if the administrative state is dismantled, and the glorious apparatus gifted us by the Founders is properly revealed once more.
It is of strategic importance to pursue Alinsky’s tact with regards to flipping wayward organizations into vehicles for change. Burra noted that it is a Herculean effort to start an organization like Turning Point from scratch. At the very least, it would take a decade and oodles of cash. Conversely—and recognizing that America can be destroyed by corporatists, globalists, and leftist malcontents inside that timeframe—your best bet is to find a reputable organization that has lost its way and to reorient it. Lay to waste what was dysfunctional and counterproductive—that which clogged the institution’s arteries and strained its heart—and then revitalize and inspire what remains. This is precisely what Burra and fellow fire-breather Gavin Wax did to and for the New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC).
Burra turned up at a meeting of the NYYRC in 2017. No shrinking violet, he made an impact early on, seeing and helping to articulate what the club could become. No longer would the NYYRC be a satellite to a dying globalist brand; it would become a hotbed for conservative populist creativity and productivity.
In 2019, the club regained the mantle as the largest Young Republican club in the country, but that’s just the start. Burra’s goal is to turn the club and its orbitals into a conservative cultural hub. Bringing James O’Keefe, Erik Prince, Steven Bannon, and Matt Gaetz to their galas—among other major-hitters—helped put the club back on the map, though once again, its success lay in standing up and standing out. It’s fight night every night, and if you’re not winning, you’re losing.
Partying With the New Party
The best gauge of a conservative populist’s success is the tremolo in the shrill voices of the talking heads on TV and the apoplexy inked in the nation’s yellow-papers-of-record. The Daily Beast and the New York Times are two outfits in particular that were certainly displeased with Burra earlier this month.
The Chinese virus and the authoritarian overreach by Democrats in the state of New York threatened to prevent the NYYRC from holding its annual gala on December 3—a gala that was held at the height of the Spanish Flu, during two World Wars, and through myriad other trials and tribulations. Burra knew full well that to take the knee or hold a virtual ceremony would be tantamount to surrender—not only to the genocidal manufacturers of the virus or to the leftist terrorists who called for the event to be canceled (Antifa and BLM among them), but to cowardice.
Conservative populists can be loud. They can be brazen. They can be a little rough around the edges. There is one thing they cannot be: wimps. Why? Burra knows to be true what Steve Bannon reiterates almost daily on “War Room: Pandemic” (a massively-popular podcast that Vish Burra produced until just recently): conservative populists and the deplorables are one and the same; they are the “little guy” on whose shoulders all stands. If his or her knees buckle, all will fall.
The original venue, the Caldwell Factory, canceled. Anyone remotely entertaining the idea of taking the NYYRC’s business would have to deal with the law and the lawless. A New York City sheriff was rumored to be tasked with shutting down the event were it to occur within his jurisdiction. Radical leftists—having discovered an expired Eventbrite page for the event—greatly embellished the threat of a “super-spreader” get-together and brought it to the attention of New York’s mayor and governor, prompting a castigatory notice from Cuomo’s office indicating that such an event would not take place in New York City. Antifa made clear that they’d attack anyone attending anyway.
Conservative populists don’t buckle. They don’t bend. Like some choice deplorables of old who crossed a river to make a point, Burra, Wax, and the Young Republicans crossed the Hudson. Just outside Cuomo’s reach, in Governor Phil Murphy’s Jersey City, is a lovely venue with a fantastic view of what de Blasio has yet to destroy in Manhattan: the Maritime Parc. Which is where the Young Republicans held their 108th gala unimpeded.
Since Murphy’s COVID-19 protocols permitted political events with up to 150 people in attendance, Burra was able to throw a party that doubled as a bird in the face of all of the haters on the Left. According to Murphy’s rules, so long as food and drink were omnipresent, masks weren’t obligatory. There was food. There was drink. And there were plenty of bare-faced patriots.
Though Sarah Palin (an old populist favorite) had to decline, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz accepted Burra’s invitation. The Floridian brawler flew in to demonstrate with the Young Republicans and one of America’s last true journalists, James O’Keefe, that the party and its country have a bright future.
Engaged conversation. Big ideas. Freedom and fun. The gala had all the makings of a night that’d drive leftists mad—and it did just that.
Sometimes the old can learn from the young. In this case, they will have to or they won’t stand a chance in the battles ahead. Moving forward, the Republican Party doesn’t cancel events because of a virus with a roughly 98 percent survivability rate. It doesn’t cave to pressure from masked and maladjusted college kids out past curfew. It doesn’t fear a nasty segment on CNN or a blade job in theNew York Times. It leans into the fight. It does so because its constituents are Americans, who have “f— you” coded into their DNA.
Vish Burra, a dynamo with a role to play in the life of both the Republican Party and the conservative-populist renaissance now underway, has spent his life leaning into fights and into trouble, and is happy to have finally found the right cause and the right kind of trouble.
The Rise of a Young Star
Burra has always been a hard worker and a contrarian. In politics, these characteristics are a serious boon—particularly to anyone who wants to keep his soul and get something done—but growing up on Staten Island, it’s a different story. If you think and work for yourself and don’t take guff, you make yourself a target, and with that comes trouble.
Burra managed a newspaper route at the age of 12. He went on to make decent dough as a busboy and a waiter at the Excelsior Grand. Then came the data-entry job at a hematologist’s office. That was stable work, but Vish the Destroyer had worlds to conquer. The next up was the world of weed.
Having established a broad social network on the island in which he was well-liked and well-trusted, Burra knew he had an opportunity—but for what and for what product? He hadn’t yet an agenda to push or public policy to sell. He did have a line on some marijuana. So he did what an anti-establishment entrepreneur would do, and moved enough product to create for himself a little fiefdom wherein he could experiment with the political and economic theory he had gleaned in his extracurricular study. Owing to his sense of karmic order and need to maintain honor, his fiefdom was stable . . . until the law knocked down his door and forced Burra to seriously recalibrate.
Though Burra’s misdemeanor kingdom ultimately fell to pieces (the state had done its best to make an example out of him), in building it he had learned a great deal and enjoyed far more stability than he had in a traditional classroom setting.
Though he eventually graduated from Kingsborough College with a liberal arts degree, on his way there he bounced around a great deal from school to school. First, there were a couple of Catholic schools (the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph’s School, Rosebank), and then his dad reluctantly introduced him to the public system. He landed at Brooklyn Technical High School, a magnet school, where he excelled socially and on the football field, but from which he bounced again. He ended up hemmed behind metal detectors and armed guards at Curtis High School. Curtis fed Burra indirectly into Hunter College, though along the way the fixer-in-training had to ace his GED exam, thereby showing that aptitude wasn’t responsible for this decade-long pinball game.
Burra’s degree from Kingsborough complemented his street-bachelor’s degree in wealth generation, managing human capital, business analysis, and politicking. With formal and informal training, he left Brooklyn to work for an IT firm in Maryland. There he got a sense of the depravity and corruption behind the scenes in Washington, D.C.—how the H-1B visa system actually worked; how the migrant workers were mistreated; how Americans were being systematically disenfranchised; and how government contracts were actually doled out.
A promising job lured Burra back to New York. He’d apply what he learned at the IT firm as well as what his resume suggested he’d learned: translating business-speak into tech-speak and vice versa. The money was good. His parents were elated. The prodigal son had returned home and was a big-city success. Burra liked it, but the role lacked the kind of tension he’d grown fond of—it lacked the fight he was accustomed to. While peace and banality threatened Vish’s momentum on the professional front, politics lured him sideways.
Burra voted for Barack Obama in 2012. Today, he readily admits that identity politics was at the root of that decision. He thought it was remarkable that a man with dark skin would be elected in a country that believed itself racist. Despite casting the ballot, Burra had never committed to either party—certainly not the Democrat Party. In fact, he was registered as an independent. As three wars became seven and Obama proved to be cut from the same cloth as Bush, any misplaced hope that the liberal establishment might want anything besides the same old failing status quo was spent. Years of anti-establishment thinking was once more rewarded and apathy set in. In June of 2015, however, the subject of Vish Burra’s ITV-Eddy-Award-winning grade-eight editorial (conferred to him by David Ushery) descended a golden elevator in the Trump Hotel, and the American political dynamic changed forever.
Not immediately sold by Trump’s pitch, Burra’s interest nevertheless was piqued. Here was a man who said the quiet parts out loud, and shouted the loud parts. Trump wanted an end to the endless wars; he wanted real borders, immigration reform, and a host of other radical changes that scared the RINOs and the Dems alike. It all sounded good, but Burra was initially convinced it was little more than bluster, or at the very least, that the swamp would silence Trump before any of it could take. Nevertheless, Burra began to pay close attention to the 2016 primary races.
After witnessing the corporate Democrats (Tim Kaine, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donna Brazile, John Podesta, and the rest of the Clinton machine) rig the primaries against Bernie Sanders, Burra knew that Clinton could not be compensated for her malice. He took to Facebook and made a public post, articulating the need to not vote blue. The backlash was immediate and it was severe. He was greeted with hateful, vitriolic comments; attacks on his intelligence, his race, and on his character; and told that he was allying with the forces of evil. Deplorables don’t buckle. They lean into the fight.
Burra sought out the New York Young Republicans Club in 2017. After all, the deep state had been unable to silence President Trump, and he was already making good on his promises—something politicians aren’t wont to do. The GOP was in a state of flux, and the change needed champions. Burra knew firsthand the hysteria and hate the burgeoning American populist movement was up against. (He had seen what Brexiteers had faced in Britain, and the lengths to which the establishment was willing to go to reverse the trend here at home.) He was on the hunt for fellow fighters.
Leaning Into the Fight
Through the NYYRC, Burra was put onto an event featuring Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe. There, he met film director and producer M. Taylor (the man behind “Riding the Dragon” and “Clinton Cash”). Taylor was immensely supportive, stepping in as a mentor for the young Destroyer of Worlds. In addition to bringing Burra deeper into a world he was still not fully submersed in, Taylor—who had worked closely with Steve Bannon—introduced Burra to the honey badger himself.
Bannon, no longer in the White House advising President Trump, had kicked off a rebel podcast called “War Room: Impeachment” in the fall of 2019. Still, in its early days, the show needed help. Burra’s work for the NYYRC and his tech-savvy, along with Taylor’s commendation, secured for him a position on the show.
It would be a mistake to think that this was just another media gig. It wasn’t a job. It was a test of character. Bannon’s “War Room” is the crucible. There is something deeply Chestertonian about its ethos, recognizing that a dead thing goes with the stream, only a living thing against it—and they are always swimming against the current. The staff and crew work overtime all of the time. They have to. If they don’t, who will? Who will keep the RINOs, the corporate Democrats, the radical Left, and the Chinese Communist Party on blast nonstop? Burra jumped in with both feet, started swimming, and didn’t look back.
Although Bannon and Raheem Kassam have been the primary lightning rods for the majority of the character-assassinations, international smear campaigns, bans, suspensions, and pseudo-legal investigations, Burra has not been left unscathed. Once again he leaned into the fight. This time, the Huffington Post recognized his efforts.
The “War Room” got a copy of the Hunter Biden laptop hard drive. While the mainstream media wholly ignored both the story and the overwhelming evidence of the Bidens’ corrupt dealings both with the genocidal CCP and in Ukraine, the “War Room” pored over the drive. Burra’s tech skills came in handy. He worked in concert with the “War Room” team, the New York Post’s Emma-Jo Morris, and Rudy Giuliani. In the process, he exposed the biggest story the news refused to discuss. In fact, there wasn’t only silence but a hush forced by Big Tech. Twitter and Facebook killed the story on their platform. Morris’ story was blocked. The New York Post’s account was locked. And then priority was given to the Democrat’s clean-up crew.
HuffPo included Burra on its enemies list. They smeared him and his acquaintances, loosely throwing around the accusation of “far-right propagandist” and “white supremacist.” What had he done wrong? He had worked to counter the narrative agreed upon by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Biden team, Big Tech, and Big Media. He had worked with truth-tellers. For that, he and everyone in his vicinity was defamed and libeled. The more vicious the establishment and its acolytes are in their attacks, the more effective Burra and his compatriots know they’ve been. Burra also knows that the Rubicon is now a great distance behind him and that Rome is within reach.
Bannon’s crucible has been better than any graduate degree in political science, and it is with the resultant knowledge and experience—extra to what Burra accumulated beforehand—that he will carry on the fight, though perhaps on the inside rather than on the outside. Burra’s brief run with Joey Salads in New York’s 11th Congressional District showed him that he has what it takes to be a political fixer. Further, he now knows what America needs.
America needs to be tough with the CCP, whose first victims are the Chinese people and whose rogue actions have resulted in the deaths of nearly 300,000 Americans. It needs to reject globalism, embrace nationalism, and prioritize American citizens above all others. It needs to recognize the unifying importance of traditional values, the sanctity of life, and the fact that the family is the bedrock upon which all civilization rests. It needs to protect liberty, particularly free speech and the ability to defend oneself and one’s family. It needs to shed as much of the administrative state it can, and with it, all arbitrary regulation. It needs to shore up alliances with like-minded nations, but hold them to account for their financial obligations. It needs to carry on the work that President Trump has started. Burra knows that to make and keep America great, you need fighters—and that a little bit of restorative ruination will save the Republic, and in turn, the world.
Conservative populism in America is thriving. It is thriving and will continue to thrive because of patriots like Vish Burra. He has gone home for the holidays—New York City is gorgeous this time of year, despite de Blasio’s best efforts—but only to recharge his batteries. After all, there is always a fight to be had, and a great deal of good to fight for. Burra is more than up to the task.