When Rahm Emanuel told audiences that former President Barack Obama should “never let a serious crisis go to waste,” he was applauded. Emanuel was referring to the Obama Administration’s response to the Great Recession. Clearly, President Obama agreed. Obama ushered in the greatest reorganization of the American socio-economic order under the auspices of resolving the financial crisis (which, of course, Obama never actually did resolve).
Similarly, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China offers President Trump a momentous opportunity to enact his own sweeping agenda—all of which would be far more beneficial to the American people than Obama’s statism. Trump needs to press his advantage with as much vigor and alacrity as Obama pressed his during the financial crisis.
The Disease Is Globalization
The COVID-19 disease is really the disease of globalization. It is also globalization’s inevitable, natural end.
The current pandemic will allow President Trump to do the things his most ardent critics prevented him from doing over the past three years: tighten America’s porous borders (not just along the southwestern United States, but everywhere), end America’s self-destructive trade policies by reclaiming key industrial capacity from abroad, and attack the leftist vision of “socialized” healthcare.
The response to the pandemic is also a chance for the president to advocate some of conservatism’s greatest social policies: a return to a “family-first” national social policy of the sort that defined the United States before the rise of post-World War II liberalism.
Want to finally bring about the death of the Education Department? Are you ready to pop that higher-education bubble before it breaks us? Do you want to encourage policies that will support family formation at earlier ages? Or perhaps simply ensure that those families stick together? How about we finally create programs that ensure homeschooling becomes the norm rather than the exception?
Are any of you interested in rejiggering the economy so that one person can afford to pay for a family of four while a spouse either works part-time or stays at home with the children, as our grandparents did? Maybe you’re a fan of the “go local” movement.
All of these can become a reality, thanks to COVID-19.
A History of Resistance
Without a biological crisis of this magnitude, the “Make America Great Again” agenda would never be enacted the way it should be. Politicians are too lazy and no matter how difficult economic life in this country may have been, people are too comfortable with the familiar.
We’ve already seen how Trump’s policies (other than his participation in more Mideast wars and tax cuts) have been neutered by the democratic-globalist elite who rule us. Three years ago, when Trump declared a travel moratorium upon seven predominantly Muslim countries out of concerns that terrorists were originating from those states, our democratic-globalist elite resisted.
After Trump rightly launched a “trade war” upon the Chinese for their decades-long economic assault through unfair trade practices, “free trade” Republicans chafed. Despite having spent years promising to “build the wall,” Trump found himself dogged by both of the feckless parties in Congress and watched as his every attempt to fulfill that campaign promise was stymied by a corrupt judiciary.
The dynamic has finally changed.
The Paradigm Shift is Here
In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump Administration issued a partial travel ban for those coming into the United States from China (one could still hop a flight to China from nearby Singapore or South Korea and then fly into the United States, unfortunately).
Still, many have acknowledged that the president’s travel ban likely saved lives. Imagine that: travel bans now save lives when just three years ago, they were “racist.” In fact, Trump’s critics started insinuating that he was a racist for insisting upon a travel ban with China when the disease first spread from Wuhan. They’ve since backed off, given the severity of the disease (no, COVID-19 is not merely the flu).
Suddenly, everyone is asking why the heck we’re so reliant on China for our supply chain. Even six months ago, the free traders in the United States were demanding that Trump surrender to China in the “trade war.” In December, Trump made an initial deal with China. Bet we’re all wishing Trump had never made that “phase one” deal with China last Christmas!
By listening to the Wall Street tycoons and K Street influence peddlers (all of whom benefited from “free trade” with China), when China sneezed, the whole world caught a very bad cold—and few had enough paper products to wipe their noses.
Suppose, instead of making a deal to return to normal, Trump had fought for legislation allowing for America to reclaim even a fraction of its industrial capacity from abroad. We certainly would not have the bottlenecks in our supply chain that we’ve been forced to endure today. Personally, I like having toilet paper.
As the disease spreads throughout our country, our already strained medical system (thanks, Obamacare) is at risk of collapsing. Further, this COVID-19 outbreak gives Trump and his allies one more chance to fix one of their greatest legislative failures: overturning the Affordable Care Act once-and-for-all and fix our ailing healthcare system as well as our dying industrial base.
Whatever the real mortality rate with COVID-19 may be, the fact remains that our hospital system cannot take the load. Already hospitals are stretched to capacity in places like New York City. Should the country return to “normal” prematurely, the disease will soon swamp metropolitan and rural hospitals alike, as people resume their normal rate of travel. That’s why we must “flatten the curve.” And in flattening the curve, we can also squash the scourge of socialism.
As for immigration: Mexico’s government desperately wants the wall built, in order to keep sick Americans out of their country. So, in effect, Mexico may yet pay for the wall!
Natural disasters have a way of reshaping events and fundamentally altering paradigms. Or, rather they force leaders to accept a new paradigm. The COVID-19 pandemic presents Trump with just that opportunity.
All National Crises Are Political—and Only One Side Wins
Fact is, Democrats have never stopped behaving as Emanuel urged in 2009. As Rachel Bovard has heroically detailed, the recent stimulus bill meant to provide relief to Americans during this national emergency is full of candy for Democratic Party special interests. Similarly, congressional Republicans have been all to happy to throw some handouts to their “free trade” cronies at taxpayers’ expense.
Perhaps Trump should do the same for his voters.
President Trump should take a page from his opposition’s book and spend the next five weeks pressing his agenda. Trump should shut the country down—including suspending air travel—to truly “flatten the curve.” Using the military, he should enforce social distancing to slow the spread of the disease.
During that time, Trump should also press his agenda through—by “pen-and-phone” if he must—to get this country back to what it was supposed to be, not continuing to help make it what every “democratic socialist” leader since Woodrow Wilson has made it into. For the last century, progressives from both parties have abused crises to refashion America into the socialist dystopia it has become. Now is the time, possibly the last time, for Trump to return the favor on our behalf.
Does Trump have what it takes to fulfill that which he was called to do, as Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan did for their generations? Or, will he surrender to the democratic-globalist oligarchs who control our dying society?
As Trump might say, “We’ll see.”