American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Identity Politics • Post

‘Reasonable’ Conservatives

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A few weeks ago, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat urged Republicans to give up their push for stricter voter ID laws.

In making this argument Douthat cites a study suggesting that while stricter voter ID laws have no effect on voter turnout, let alone disproportionate effects on certain racial groups as Democrats have often suggested, they also had no effect on fraud or the perception of election integrity. In view of this, Douthat argues, Republicans should stand down on stricter laws so as to make it easier to make inroads with minority groups convinced that voter ID laws are about curtailing their franchise.

Because nothing screams “not racist” like catering to the soft bigotry of low expectations after your social science study indicates voter ID laws have no racially disproportionate effects.

When it comes to voter fraud, the study itself goes to great lengths to point out potential pitfalls in its conclusions. It notes that measuring voter fraud is difficult because different federal and state agencies “vary in the extent they collect and share information on it” and that the study uses databases that are non-exhaustive. It also notes that changes in crime statistics “can reflect changes in both the number of committed and reported crimes,” suggesting that an increase in reported voter fraud might be the result of greater reporting rather than increased occurance.

These caveats are not particularly comforting for conservatives who are already skeptical of social science methodology and the privileging of linear regressions to common sense.

And then there is another problem that the study doesn’t mention: absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence. And even the smartest and most well intentioned researchers would have difficulty conclusively showing that there is a lack of voter fraud.

Simply put, there are many reasons to be wary of this study—and social science studies more broadly—and to pay close attention to the caveats and potential pitfalls that the researchers themselves point to, especially when the conclusions are surprising and unexpected.

But let’s imagine, caveats aside, that the study is correct that stricter voter ID laws do not lower voter fraud. And let’s also imagine that the study is correct that these laws do not boost overall confidence in electoral integrity among Americans—one third of whom believe that electoral fraud is “widespread.”

Anecdotally, we have met many conservatives who do believe that stricter voter ID laws will help ensure electoral integrity. These tend to be the same conservatives who, against the protestations of social scientists, believe that building a wall will deter illegal immigration. Shouldn’t conservative leaders be representing these people and their concerns?

Douthat’s argument perfectly illustrates everything wrong with the so-called “reasonable” conservatives. Their mission appears to be constantly looking for ways to cede ground to their opponents, supposedly on the faulty assumption that if they are reasonable enough, the other side will respect the good-faith effort and meet them halfway.  

The insanity of abandoning the push for strict voter ID laws to appease a party routinely speculating about the efficacy of $100,000 worth of Russian Facebook ads in flipping a $5 billion election cannot be overstated. It is silly to think that voting should require less verification of citizens than buying cold medicine. And it is both disingenuous and cowardly to stand down in the face of accusations that common-sense voter integrity measures are racist.

And what exactly does Douthat think will happen if Republicans stopped pushing for voter integrity? Does he really believe that Democrats would suddenly stop calling them racist? Will Democrats kindly reciprocate and drop one of the issues important to their base? Does he really believe that they would actually start trusting Republicans more?

If Douthat thinks that, he should also urge for the complete legalization of all drugs— he’s clearly smoking something pretty strong.

No. Give up the push for common-sense voter ID and Democrats immediately would claim victory and then continue using the issue as a cudgel. They would use the Republicans’ concession as proof that strict voter ID laws were so racist that even the racists in the Republican Party had to abandon the issue. And then they would target anyone who ever supported those laws and smear them as racist because they used to support a policy so racist that even the . . . well, you get the picture.

By ceding ground, Republicans would lose leverage in all future negotiations. Showing weakness would only spur Democrats to redouble their efforts, and cause the Republican base, once again, to judge them weak and spineless and not worth the bother of having to turn up on election day.

But given that Douthat is a smart man who probably isn’t mainlining heroin, why would he propose such a thing?

Many “reasonable” conservatives are terrified of their side seeming . . . well, unreasonable. They would rather lose with grace than win at the cost of seeming uncouth. And they can afford the luxury of arguing so as to preserve their reputations—for now. “Reasonable” conservatives tend to be well connected and well educated “intellectuals” who serve as self-appointed generals for the conservative movement, but stand to lose very little if an establishment Democrat wins elections.

They don’t care if they lose leverage for future negotiations. It won’t affect them personally. They don’t care if the Democrats win and redouble their efforts. It feeds their victimhood complex. And they don’t care if the Republican base abandons them—most of those people don’t read the New York Times, anyway. And who needs the support of  people deemed “racists” or uncouth?

They will keep trying for style points from the non-existent judges as their carefully lined up tin soldiers are ravished in guerilla warfare. We should expect nothing less.

Remember, these are the same people who would spend years agonizing over just-war theory after terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 civilians by smashing planes into buildings and while a costly and a bloody war dragged on for nearly two decades. Losing a political election is a trifle compared to the deaths of thousands—and if the latter didn’t galvanize them, the former sure as hell won’t either.

These “reasonable” conservatives are smart enough to understand the perils of socialism and that they are witnessing the ongoing decay of Western civilization. But they don’t have enough skin in the game for visceral concern. They care more about the approval of their liberal communities. Given that they are already viewed with suspicion, they pounce on every opportunity to differentiate themselves from those their friends stereotype as unenlightened and uneducated conservatives. They never want to be mistaken for having sympathy with those people.

But the soldiers on the front lines increasingly are disenchanted by their generals. They want generals who will fight for them. Ross Douthat and the rest of the “reasonable” conservatives showed their true colors a long time ago. They would abandon every policy that conservative Americans wanted if it meant that the Left would promise to say that they weren’t racist and ignorant.

The real shame is that the people with the biggest opportunities and responsibilities to stand up to the establishment have become so weak that they are kept in check by the worry of what their friends in their urban liberal enclaves will say.

Here’s hoping Douthat and the rest of the “reasonable” conservatives wake up and realize that their timid reasonability is little more than rationalized cowardice.

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American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Economy • Post • Technology • The Left

Would New York Really Benefit from Amazon?

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Quite a few “I-told-you-so” articles have appeared in the conservative and business press piling on Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who opposed Amazon’s planned relocation of its second headquarters to Long Island City in Queens. The deal was controversial because it entailed extensive subsidies that have long raised the ire of the libertarian Right and the pro-union Left. After Amazon decided to pull out, the Job Creators Network, a free-market activist group, even got a billboard in Times Square, saying, “Thanks for nothing, AOC!

Ouch.

New York Does Not Lack High Wage Jobs
The pro-Amazon factions talk as if New York is a moribund place in desperate need of jobs, a city little different from Gary, Indiana or Flint, Michigan. It is, in fact, a city of 10 million people, the wealthiest city in the United States, a world financial center, and a very crowded and expensive place to live. The city had a 4 percent unemployment rate in December 2018. Wages there are the highest of anywhere in the country. Companies and high talent people from all over the globe move there because it is a unique and dynamic place.

At the same time, many of the people already living there are leaving and do not find it supportive of a normal life, complete with home ownership, a family, savings, and leisure time—that is, the stuff of which a community is made.

While the city’s average wages are extraordinary, the lower-wage service workers increasingly have been crowded out of the city altogether. In Long Island City itself—hardly the toniest neighborhood—studio apartments rent for $3,000 a month. The addition of more high-wage workers would simply make life more difficult for the less well-heeled people already living there.

As one local woman put it, “Where will we park?”

The Economy Is Means to an End
There is no doubt the “economy”—that is, the collection of numbers that measure economic growth, average wages, tax revenues, and the like—would probably rise from the Amazon deal, even with the generous subsidy.

But life is more than an economy. An economy—like the government, a job, a car, or the legal system—is a means to an end. It is supposed to provide for needs and create some excess for wants, so people can pursue their own happiness.

Likewise, a city is supposed to serve its citizens and permit their flourishing. But economic growth that increases congestion, makes housing unaffordable, and gives a city all the charm of an international airport lounge is not the same as happiness.

An excessive concern for the economy also conceals the identities of those who actually benefit from economic growth. A country is a combination of a people and a place. The government is supposed to serve the interests of the people in that place; however, the economy and large global corporations like Amazon are indifferent both to people and places. The economy benefits whether a new job at Amazon goes to an American, a New Yorker, or an H1B visa holder imported from overseas. The economy benefits when China’s wealth increases, even if America’s stays flat, and even if that rival country converts its wealth into military and strategic power.

The same is true locally. New York may be a wealthy and dynamic place, but the old New York is gone. Its people, including almost all of my family, have left for more congenial places, whether in the ring of suburbs around New York City, or other states entirely. This kind of dynamism may be appropriate for a few cosmopolitan cities, like New York, but even New York would have found Amazon’s promised economic benefits far from certain. Like itinerant sports teams complaining of obsolete stadiums, what will New York (and now Arlington, Virginia) do when Amazon threatens to leave if the subsidy is not doubled? And what happens if this myopic focus on the economy that excludes other important parts of life is applied to a whole country?

A nation’s policies are supposed to increase the collective wealth, security, and happiness of the people living there. This is what the preamble of the Constitution means when it sets forth its purpose to “provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . .” Our founding documents sensibly recognize both the existence of a common good and that it is supposed to accrue for a particular people, i.e., “posterity.”

Social Stability Is Important, Too
The association of conservatism with doctrinaire free-market views is something of an anomaly. It grew out of the extreme threat of Soviet Communism, which contrasted so sharply with the American free-market system, as well as fear of the growing welfare state. The strong free-market views of American conservatives also expressed the interests of the old America, with its bedrock of small businesses, family farms, traditions of upward mobility, and culture of rugged individualism.

Yet the conflation of conservatism with capitalism ignores that Americans have always been a little skeptical of large corporations, particularly when they are not embedded in and loyal to a particular community. Outsourcing of jobs, hiring of foreigners, and the destruction of social capital have been criticized by conservatives since the time of the National Grange and Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting campaign.

Amazon is a large, quasi-monopoly, and its owner, Jeff Bezos, is literally the richest man in the world. I frequently use Amazon and find it convenient, just like everyone else. But one of the purposes of public policy is to restrain what is individually beneficial but socially harmful, such as economic activity that harms the long-term viability of a community.

New York City will not be a city that anyone would actually want to live in if homes are unaffordable, nothing ties its people together, and congestion makes it unlivable for the middle- and working class.

As a conservative, I favor a light touch in addressing these things; after all, solutions may be worse than the problems they aim to fix. But I apply that same skepticism to the mania for artificial, government-subsidized growth that concentrates benefits in the hands of particular companies, while dispersing the costs on the community as a whole.

In a similar way, our immigration and trade policies add more foreign workers and increase corporate profits, while imposing various burdens on the country as a whole. None of this conserves or enhances our people, even if it is “good for the economy.”

Conservatives’ knee-jerk attacks on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her criticism of the Amazon deal are tone-deaf and predictable. Her solutions may be demented and poorly reasoned, but her rise, along with the similar appeal of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and even of Donald Trump, are signs that the system as a whole is not working for many people.

The Left’s economic radicalism is mostly a symptom of these problems, not its cause. Young people faced persistent economic obstacles after the 2008 recession, and now face headwinds from the costs imposed by our artificially diverse and artificially expanded population and the low levels of trust and social cohesion that flow from that diversity. These problems are not caused by socialism, but by globalism and neoliberalism, which make a cult object of the economy and substitute its growth for the good of a people.

In short, whether or not New York City’s subsidies for Amazon eventually would have paid for themselves, those on the Right should be skeptical of the mantra of economic growth as the chief purpose of life and government. Just as money does not buy happiness, there is more to a community’s welfare than economic growth. Government-subsidized growth is destructive when it comes at the expense of the very people whose “general welfare” the government is supposed to look after.

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Photo Credit: Job Creators Network

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American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Economy • Identity Politics • Post • The Culture

The Myth of Millennial Socialism

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My old man tells me he left college in the 1970s and walked into a job for life. He tells me his first home cost twice the average salary. Then he tells me, without a soupçon of jest, “things were still pretty tough back then.”

His brow—unapologetically smooth for its 65 years, cheeks plumped fat and youthfully blooded from unbroken stretches of Boomer ease—fails to crumple with measured faux sympathy.

“They have it too easy,” he says, thumbing the newsprint importantly. “We didn’t have iPhones when I was 30.” Tough crowd.

What kills me about my reluctant status of being a Millennial nestles between the thickets of Boomer philosophy. My old man, a cosmic improvement on the genetic one, tells me how easy everything was back in his day, and how, conversely, such ease built indomitable “character.” My old man is Schrödinger’s Boomer.

Of course, there’s always a medicine cabinet teeming with nerve-smoothing cures for Millennial woes. We need to save more. We should stop buying avocado toast. We just need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We need to carve our own slice of the world that Boomers built and broke and bestowed upon us.

Which is why research from a British bank metaphorically vomited on my smashed avocado and ethically sourced quail-egg brunch.

If we just tightened our purse strings, went the research from Barclays, we’d have $4,000 per year to squirrel away for a home deposit. Go without, for 10 years, anything enjoyable to salve this pointless realm, and: we’d have enough to start thinking about buying a home of our own. The average home now settles at eight times the average salary.

Perhaps the old man is right. We Millennials are coddled. But it shouldn’t be too taxing an exercise to see why we don’t think much of the current state of play.

The death-list of things we’ve killed burgeons gracefully by the day. We’ve derailed cabs, sunk tuna. Smoked smoking. We’ve Uberized and filtered and unliked, unmatched and swiped left.

What galls Boomers most is our apparent gravitation toward socialism. Indeed, a raft of polls suggests Millennials are watching the clock—ready to smash capitalism, erect gulags, and imprison the corporate kulaks without trial. Not quite.

Perhaps the seeds of Millennial angst germinated during the 2007 financial crisis that plunged the world into wanton chaos, and foreclosed millions of American Dreams—most of them still unrecovered.

Like the cognitive imprint the Great Depression left upon the Greatest Generation, the Great Crash tattooed an indelible mark upon Millennials.

The fallout lingers. We are less well-off than other generations at the same age. We earn less, have fewer assets, more debt, and less wealth. Barely half of Millennials earn what our parents did at 30.

Which is why so many of my generation gravitate toward Bernie Sanders. And struggle to sympathize with shopworn “conservative” defenses of broken markets, monopolies, and the cowboy capitalism schlocked as laudanum for our pains.

Bernie’s prescription may lack. And, yeah, he dances with commies, but his diagnosis fits—offering a critique extending beyond that of the think-tank chant of: “That’s the market.”

And he doesn’t sound too dissimilar from President Trump. At least on the major issues of trade, (at one-time) immigration, and of a global rigged system devouring those that make it hum.

Which is why all is not lost. Millennials aren’t really socialist. Dig into the numbers. Though 51 percent said they did not support capitalism, just 33 percent said they favored socialism.

That number frittered when researchers asked what socialism actually was. The same Harvard study found just 27 percent thought the government should play an outsized role in regulating the economy. Just 26 percent said government spending helped increase economic growth. Less than a third thought government should take the helm in fighting income inequality.

This is hardly blood-red Communism. More a mindful rejection of a system President Trump was elected to destroy. What a conservative like Tucker Carlson or J.D. Vance could gallop en route to a new American majority.

Someone needs to. Millennials are swelling to the largest voting bloc. And we are fickle.

Denouncing paid family leave as “Communism” to people with no memory of Communism isn’t the sharpest of tactics. Neither is blathering about “free markets,” when that market is so obviously unfree and rigged in favor of vanishingly few.

But some on the Right get it. A recent First Things essay by Daniel McCarthy illuminated a path worth cutting—economic nationalism, commonsensical immigration reforms—a steadfast rejection of what global elites insist is “inevitable.”

In the twentieth century, the American dream became a thing to which every salaryman could aspire: a good job; enough money to buy a house, start a family, and retire; and the chance to watch one’s children rise to a higher station. In the twenty-first century, that dream has given way to delirium—feverish uncertainty about whether in midlife one will have to become an Amazon delivery man or a Walmart greeter, and anxiety about whether one’s children will be tech-company winners or endlessly indebted gig workers.

That is what most Millennials call “socialism.” And what Boomers like my old man used to call America.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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2016 Election • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Michael Anton • political philosophy • Post

What We Still Have to Lose

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In September 2016, the Claremont Review of Books published Michael Anton’s essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” which became one of the most controversial and discussed essays of that most extraordinary election year. This month, Encounter Books published After the Flight 93 Election: The Vote that Saved America and What We Still Have to Lose. The book is a reconsideration of that argument and a look at where we go from here.

American Greatness is happy to publish, with kind permission of Encounter, an excerpt of this important book.

This volume contains two previously published essays, preceded by one new one. The central piece—“The Flight 93 Election”—is, so to speak, the reason we’re here. It was written in two days in August 2016 and published online by the Claremont Review of Books on September 5, 2016—Labor Day. At first, it received little notice, in line with my expectations. It was (somewhat infamously) published pseudonymously. I assumed—and still believe—that half the reason anyone reads anything is because of who wrote it. Conceal an author’s identity, lose half your potential readers. Second, those few who recognized my pseudonym (“Publius Decius Mus”) would have been readers of a by-then defunct blog, the Journal of American Greatness, to which I contributed under the nom de net “Decius.” Such readers, I further assumed, would consider (as I did) the new piece to be little more than a rehash of my old JAG posts.

Two days went by without a peep. Then on September 7, Rush Limbaugh read “The Flight 93 Election” in its entirety on the air. The CRB’s website instantly crashed—as did that of American Greatness (a successor of sorts to JAG), which published the piece concurrently with the CRB.

My intent in writing “The Flight 93 Election” was to impress upon those who consider themselves principled conservatives the urgency of the moment and the stakes of the 2016 election, not just for conservatism but for the country. I cannot say to what extent I succeeded, except to note that numerous people have contacted me in the intervening two years to tell me that the piece changed their vote or steeled their resolve. Many others have told me that it “woke them up” to the dangers that militant leftism poses to our country and our civilization. To all those who have thanked me for writing it and wished me well, I here return your thanks.

Of course, “The Flight 93 Election” was (and still is) attacked far more than praised. The substance of those attacks crystallized immediately as the piece gained fame, and I responded to them in a follow-up, entitled “Restatement on Flight 93,” published on the CRB website on September 13, 2016 (and here republished as the final part of this volume). While the criticism keeps coming, very little is beyond the scope of that initial response. Most of it echoes charges already made during the hectic first few days of the original essay’s viral notoriety.

Most, but not all. Over time, a deeper criticism (friendly and otherwise) has emerged. “The Flight 93 Election” is accused of being bereft of any positive vision—a vivid jeremiad, perhaps, but all nightmare, no dream.

In fact, “The Flight 93 Election” was inspired and informed by exactly such a positive vision—or, more precisely, by an account of America, how and why it is good, whence that goodness derives, and why it deserves to be conserved. I feared that this account—and a fortiori the underlying principles and institutions of which it gives account—were at grave risk from the relentless malevolence of their enemies and the fecklessness and errors of their supposed defenders. That fear has abated but little.

Defending America and the West is thought to be the province of “conservatism.” Yet the behavior of conservatism’s leading spokesmen in 2016 and beyond has cast significant doubt on whether it or they are capable of fulfilling that mission. Certainly, one must wonder what understanding of conservatism would make its adherents so willing to hand our country over to conservatism’s, and to America’s (at least as we have known her), avowed enemies.

In my view, the urgent task in September 2016 was to demonstrate the folly of that position and shine a spotlight on what we needed to prevent. Going forward, we will also need a clearer statement of what we are for—and a better awareness of the specific ways it is threatened. In this spirit of positivity, I here offer a “Pre-Statement on Flight 93.” This new essay is placed first for what Aristotle might call its “ontological priority.” Though written last (in August 2018, substantially revised in October), it comes first in the logical order of the argument.

Its first two-thirds say nothing I have not believed for at least two decades. But the last third reflects a growing alarm at the Left’s intensifying radicalization. I wrote the first draft after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court but before the Democrats and the Left launched their disgraceful calumnies against him, aiming not merely to sink his nomination but to destroy his good name. I always expect the Left to behave badly—very badly—but their treatment of this fine man shocked even me. “The Flight 93 Election” was and continues to be widely ridiculed for its alleged apocalypticism. The following passage struck many as particularly overwrought:

A Hillary presidency will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire progressive-Left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled with a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most “advanced” Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England. We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the social justice warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.

It’s absurd to assume that any of this would stop or slow—would do anything other than massively intensify— in a Hillary administration. It’s even more ridiculous to expect that hitherto useless conservative opposition would suddenly become effective. For two generations at least, the Left has been calling everyone to their right Nazis. This trend has accelerated exponentially in the last few years, helped along by some on the right who really do seem to merit—and even relish—the label. There is nothing the modern conservative fears more than being called “racist,” so alt-right pocket Nazis are manna from heaven for the Left. But also wholly unnecessary: sauce for the goose. The Left was calling us Nazis long before any pro-Trumpers tweeted Holocaust denial memes. And how does one deal with a Nazi—that is, with an enemy one is convinced intends your destruction? You don’t compromise with him or leave him alone. You crush him.

Given what the Left has done—and pledges to continue to do—to Justice Kavanaugh, and indeed to anyone who stands in the way of their lust for unchecked power, can anyone seriously argue that this assessment was wrong? To answer a different question that I’m still occasionally asked: no, I don’t regret a word.

These are dangerous times. The Left has made them so and insists on increasing the danger. Leftists hold virtually every commanding height in our society—financial, intellectual, educational, cultural, administrative—and yet they affect the posture of an oppressed and besieged “resistance.”

Nonsense. The real resistance is led by President Trump. It is resistance to the Left’s all-consuming drive for absolute power, its hostility to all American and Western norms—constitutional, moral, prudential—and its boundless destructive enmity. If I have been persuaded by any criticism of “The Flight 93 Election,” it is that I was ungenerous to Trump. The president stands clearly and firmly against these virulent attacks on America and firmly for the protection of life and liberty, and the promotion of the good life for the American people. Those are the core responsibilities of any American president. May President Trump continue to fulfill them until the end of his constitutionally won second term.

What the Kavanaugh affair has made clearer to me than ever is that the Left will not stop until all opposition is totally destroyed. The harm they do to people, institutions, mores, and traditions is, in their view, not regrettable though unavoidable collateral damage; it is rather an essential element of the project. It’s a bit rich to be accused by nihilists of lacking a positive vision. But such is life in 2018. To stand up for truth, morality, the good, the West, America, constitutionalism, and decency is to summon the furies.

America cannot long go on like this. Something’s gotta give, and something will. What that “something” will be depends in no small part on the actions of men and women of good character, good judgment, and goodwill. Among the most heartening things I’ve seen in my lifetime was the way the president, the Republican establishment, and most of the conservative movement stood together in the face of what a few took to calling “the Flight 93 Confirmation.” In that instance, justice was done. Many more tests are coming. Victory will require not just spirit and spine but the right arguments that explicate the right principles.

For all that lies ahead, let us fortify ourselves with a keener awareness of what we still have left to lose. Which is exactly what inspired me to write “The Flight 93 Election” in the first place.

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American Conservatism • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Elections • Greatness Agenda • Post • Republicans

Why a Primary Challenge to Trump Would Be a Good Thing

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Serious primary challenges to a sitting president are usually a harbinger of electoral doom in the general election. Senator Eugene McCarthy’s challenge to President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 resulted in the Johnson choosing not to seek a second term. Senator Edward Kennedy’s challenge of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 was a long, fractious affair that resulted in Carter’s landslide defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan that November. Pat Buchanan’s populist challenge to President George H. W. Bush in 1992, never posed a real threat to denying Bush the nomination, but reflected growing unhappiness with Bush—even among his base—and paved the way for Bill Clinton’s general election victory in a raucous three-way race that included populist Ross Perot.

Given the history, it is not surprising that the rabidly anti-Trump media have stoked the embers of each and every possible GOP challenger, no matter how long the challenger’s odds might be against Trump in the 2020 primary.

From Jeff Flake to John Kasich to Mitt Romney to Larry Hogan to Mark Cuban to Bill Weld, the list of imaginary Trump challengers heralded by the media is almost endless. Past experience notwithstanding, the truth is the Trump-hating media should be careful what they wish for. In these times a primary challenge to President Trump could be good for Trump, good for the party, and good for the America First movement.

First and foremost, a primary challenge to Trump would prove to be a boost for Trump’s 2020 general election prospects. If Trump proved anything in 2016, it’s that you can throw historical precedent, conventional wisdom, and broadly accepted rules out the window. Trump turned the political world on its head in 2016, en route to his shocking win of the GOP nomination and his stunning upset of heavily favored Hillary Clinton in the general election.

A primary challenge to Trump would get the president out of Washington and back on the campaign trail. It is clear that Trump thrives on the energy of his rallies and, let’s face it, he is much better in the raucous unscripted rallies than he is in tightly scripted Oval Office speeches. Letting Trump be Trump has always been a recipe for success.

A primary challenge would also give Trump a definable foil. The media and NeverTrumpers harp on what they dislike about Trump—his Twitter feed, his disdain for tradition and protocol, his unpredictability, and his penchant for punching back hard. A primary challenger would remind voters that while they may not like everything about how Trump “behaves,” the alternative would be a return to the corrupt and disastrous D.C. insider policies that gave us endless unwinnable wars, porous borders, a hollowed-out middle class, and an economy that works only for a sliver of Americans.

A primary challenge would also give Trump an opportunity to get some of his swagger back and flex some political muscle. While Trump has been stuck in the 40 percent approval range, and as a result has been unable to leverage political power effectively in Washington, he still remains overwhelmingly popular among the Republican electorate.

A recent NBC/PBS Newshour/Marist poll finds Republicans approve of Trump by a margin of 83 percent to 10 percent, which is actually down from a previous poll that showed him at 90 percent approval with only 7 percent disapproval. What’s more, 97 percent of Republicans approved of his recent State of the Union address (that’s among 76 percent of Americans approving overall). A string of overwhelming primary victories for Trump would remind Republican politicians who is in charge of this new GOP.

Which speaks to another reality: a primary challenge to Trump would be good for the GOP.

In 2018, the Democrats rode intense voter motivation among their base to juice turnout on Election Day that resulted in Democrats retaking the House and making significant gains at the state and local level all across the country. For Republicans to be successful in 2020, they need to recreate the energy and enthusiasm among Trump’s populist base from 2016 that crashed through the Democrats so-called blue wall in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. A primary challenger from the establishment wing of the GOP would once again give rank-and-file Republicans disgusted with decades of failed Republican leadership a chance to rally around Trump. Nothing would do more to help recreate the 2016 Trump coalition like a primary challenge that pits Trump, the anti-establishment populist, against an establishment globalist.

Finally, a primary challenge not only would be good for Trump and the Republican Party, but it would also be good for the long-term continued success of the America First movement. In roughly two years, Trump has completely remade the Republican Party. He bucked party orthodoxy on foreign policy, immigration, gay rights, trade, and a wide array of other issues.

There is no guarantee, however, that Trump’s dramatic overhaul of the GOP will be permanent. Indeed, that is exactly what the NeverTrump wing is banking on. They believe that this move away from the establishment’s failed globalism and toward a populist America First ideology is more about a cult of personality around Trump and less about long term trends among the Republican base.

A primary challenge to Trump would serve as a referendum on the direction of the party and do much to begin to shape what the party will look like after Trump.

It is clear that the anti-Trump press and NeverTrumpers are convinced that a primary challenge to President Trump would be the first domino leading not only to his defeat but also to a return to the way things used to be.  They shouldn’t be so certain. If anyone can buck conventional political wisdom, its Donald J. Trump.

Photo credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • feminists • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Post • Pro-Life • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

The Art of the SOTU

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Do you remember Hillary Clinton?

I know, I know.

Now, do you remember her campaign slogan? It was “I’m with her!”

Incredibly, I still see the peculiar blue-on-white bumper sticker with an “H” on the odd Prius or Volvo in Washington, D.C. It always reminds me of the international symbol for “Hospital.” Appropriate, no?

Now, let me ask you a harder question.

Do you remember what candidate Trump did to that slogan? How he took it, twisted it, and deployed it as a truly deadly rhetorical H-bomb against Hillary?

It was June 22, 2016, and the future president was speaking in New York City, where he said: “She thinks it’s all about her. Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her.’ You know what my response to that is? I’m with you, the American people!”

For those who study strategic communications, those 30 little words were a political “kill-shot.” In just four sentences, Donald Trump had perfectly encapsulated everything that was so wrong about Hillary Clinton: her arrogance, her sense of entitlement, her disregard for any other human being, and her naked and destructive ambition.

At the same time, he was able to tell Americans with utmost succinctness why they should vote for him: he had it all and didn’t need the job; he was there to fix a broken system; to serve Americans, not himself. And it was that message that took him to the White House.

Having worked for Donald Trump before January 20, 2017, and for President Trump as his White House strategist after the inauguration, I never thought I would see him out-do that ultimate exemplar of political communication. I always enjoyed seeing him leave the White House and hit the road to give stump speeches as opposed to formal, teleprompter-driven addresses, where the instinctual, non-politician I knew could be unleashed, but I never thought he could do better than that day in New York. I was wrong. And I am very happy to admit it.

Tuesday night’s State of the Union was the best speech Donald J. Trump has ever given, before or after becoming our 45th commander-in-chief. This is for two reasons. First, in terms of substance. Pick any issue that elevated Donald Trump into the White House—or any issue that has since then become centrally important, such as the abortion-to-infanticide horror—and he didn’t back down on any of them. Not the wall, not ObamaCare. Not deregulation, not infrastructure. Not lowering the outrageous cost of prescription drugs, not withdrawing from Obama’s disastrous Iran deal. None of it. There was no watering-down. No dilution to please the Republican RINO Coward Caucus, or the intransigent and increasingly radical Democratic Party. He held the line.

But more than that, President Trump took Tuesday’s speech to America and the World to send as clear a message as possible on other issues that were not part of his original MAGA agenda. He picked up the gauntlet again and again. There was no backing down, no attempt to just move past issues or to ignore issues that have taken center stage since he was elected.

Nor was anything so powerful as his statement that, as president, he is proposing the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” given the shocking moves by Democrats in New York State and Virginia to legalize not only third-trimester abortion but also post-birth murder. Not only did the president not avoid the issue, he charged at it head-on, as his choice of words for the bill’s title signals, he is calling out all the Democrats who subscribe to Margaret Sanger’s culture of death. The title doesn’t skirt what we are talking about. It doesn’t talk about “embryos,” it calls the most vulnerable life in the womb what it is: a child. Bravo, Mr. President.

But it is outside the issue of direct content of the State of the Union that the president truly outdid himself. In New York, with those 30 words, he revealed the ugly truth of one greedy, dangerous and un-American woman. Last night, he did the same to the whole Democratic Party.

Donald Trump managed to trigger the whole room into singing “Happy Birthday” to one of the Jewish survivors of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Holocaust survivor Judah Samet, and he playfully conducted them through their celebration. Then in an incredibly moving double tribute to the victims of the Shoah and our military veterans he recognized Sergeant Herman Zeitchik who had liberated the Dachau death camp and one of its prisoners, Joshua Kaufman, the man sitting next to him in the chamber. That was a direct broadside over the hull of the DNC, which, with the evaluation of representatives like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, has embraced institutionalized Anti-Semitism within in its ranks.

But most skillful of all, was how President Trump managed to get the Democrats—especially the “Mean Girl Caucus” dressed in white—to reveal themselves for who they truly are.

The party that has built its image as the party for the oppressed, for minorities, for the working class, sat scowling as the president regaled everyone else with the news of how his policies have brought employment, security, and prosperity to our nation, the likes of which the world has never seen, and especially to exactly those groups. Freshman diva Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) couldn’t even bring herself to applaud the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent President Trump recognized for rescuing more than 300 girls and women from human-traffickers. Ah, yes, the “party of women.”

But the masterstroke was the president’s decision to celebrate women—even those scowling women.  He celebrated especially the historic number of women gainfully employed, including within the halls of Congress. Suddenly at that mention, the self-declared suffragettes looked at each other, decided to stand up, high-five the air and cheer. For themselves. And they had no idea what he had just done.

This was rhetorical jujitsu the likes of which I thought I would never see again since Trump’s “I’m with you!” moment in New York. In one deft joyous flourish of heartfelt celebration for the fairer sex, Donald Trump the master orator showed the “New Wave” Democrats for who they truly are: a selfish, mean-spirited, parochial, clique that only care for themselves and not for real Americans. No number of policy papers or campaign ads could do that. Pure genius.

Oh, and just remember, Hillary could have been giving Tuesday’s State of the Union.

God is good.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

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2016 Election • Administrative State • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • GOPe • Post • Republicans

‘Small Government’ Is Dead, Long Live Limited Government!

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In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton announced a political course correction, declaring “the era of big government is over.” It was welcome news, especially from a Democrat. Indiscriminately large governments are unaccountable and very expensive; they quash liberty and hinder self-government.

The shift, however, had the unfortunate side effect of validating the impulses and priorities of a small but influential cabal within the Republican Party: libertarians masquerading as conservatives, i.e., free-market obsessives who fetishize “small government”—and Taco Bell, of all things.

President Trump, often the bull in a china shop of stale platitudes, has a way of smashing rotten political thinking and practice by being unafraid to question it. Just think of how he’s been willing to question the ideology spawned by “free market fundamentalism”: an unshakeable belief in capitalism’s unerring goodness. He has something to teach the Republican Party establishment’s political and intellectual elites about the proper purpose and scope of government action, if only they’d listen.

Too many of the Right’s so-called luminaries believe that hollowed-out and opioid-devastated rural communities “deserve to die.” They lamely insist that public policy only minimally influence incentive structures and then throw their hands up, exclaiming that “there are some wounds public policy can’t heal.” Some utterly fail to see how the devastating “creative destruction” of a rigged market economy contributes, either directly or indirectly, to various social pathologies; instead, they see everything through the blinkered view of “personal choice”—as though man is not an imitative animal, embedded in a social context that constrains and directs his thoughts and actions.

Such arguments ignore that government policy caused a great number of our current problems. How, then, do some conservatives believe government has no role to play in reversing those problems. For example, day after day, ostensibly conservative legislators fail to secure our southern border, and the consequences of that failure undoubtedly have helped to generate a “humanitarian and security crisisbut also an economic crisis.

The pre-2016 Republican Party—the party obsessed with shrinking government so small that it could be “drowned in a bathtub”—is by turns self-immolating on the altar of Trump Derangement Syndrome and allowing itself to be torn to shreds by the progressive, “social justice” Left. Good riddance.

If the GOP wants to remain politically relevant, it won’t resist this metamorphosis. The roughly three bona fide libertarians who sometimes vote red simply aren’t worth courting; all they care about is casual sex and legal weed, anyway—neither of which, thankfully, are political winners with the base.

The Cato Institute drank its own anemic government kool-aid and thought everyone else had joined them.

Historically-speaking, as Henry Olsen has astutely pointed out, the politically savvy move is to aim not for small but limited government:

Americans have supported limited but effective government intervention in the economy for at least the past 160 years. They supported the protective tariff, the Homestead Act, and the Land Grant College Act that the first Republican-controlled Congress passed and which helped average people improve their lives. They supported antitrust acts, workman’s compensation laws, and workplace safety laws to prevent monopolies and oligopolies from forcing Americans to work for less or in less safe conditions than they deserved. They supported FDR’s New Deal, which for all of its many faults contained many provisions that even today ensure a depression will never again cause social upheaval and penury. And they continue to support reasonable and targeted interventions when a sector of society can persuade the majority that they have been unfairly treated.

Simply put, “small government” is a fool’s errand, a politically unpopular pipe dream that misunderstood the nature and purpose of American government, in any event. It’s disappointing that conservative pundits and elected officials are gung-ho for what was always a straw man distortion of the conservative position on the proper purpose and scope of government.

What voters want, and what the American Founders wanted, is limited government: one that secures the “safety and happiness” of the people and protects their natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Americans want a government that serves their interests first; whether or not such a government turns out to be “small” is largely irrelevant.

No less a statesman than Lincoln agreed. “The legitimate object of government,” he wrote, “is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere” (emphasis in original).

The abstract commitment to the small government “ideal” falls short of what people actually expect and are justified in expecting from their government: protection from various sorts from corrosive forces that threaten their ability to lead meaningful, productive lives and often destroy what they hold dear: family, community, safe living conditions, etc. In other words, things that are necessary to preserve liberty.

Crony capitalism, cultural Marxism, terrorism, and all the dysfunction and danger that flow through our porous southern border—all of these and more must be resisted and managed by a government that puts Americans first. It is possible there is a much bigger role for government than many conservatives who came of age in the post-World War II movement may be comfortable accepting in the abstract. But politics, of course, does not happen in the abstract. Just as the post-war years were shaped by the realities of the time, so too, must our our politics take into account the facts of here and now.

What we must not do, however, is take the preferred policy prescriptions of a different era, rooted in a peculiar historical moment, as normative or dispositive in all times and places; conservatism’s basic orientation ought to be one of prudential preservation of the permanent things, not rigid adherence to once-upon-a-time-useful contingent arrangements.

To think that markets can do no wrong and that it’s heretical to interfere with them at all is to ignore reality. No doubt markets are engines of prosperity, but they also foment dislocation, atomization, and vice. Economics is rightly subordinated to politics—human flourishing and the common good—which is something the Right must relearn.

Government isn’t inherently evil. It’s actually necessary to secure justice and the common good; that’s why it exists, and the Right need not be afraid of an energetic, active government—within reason and where appropriate.

Of all President Trump’s achievements, perhaps his most overlooked is draining the “small government” fever swamp.

It’s also one of his best.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Donald Trump • GOPe • Political Parties • Post • Republicans

Join the NormCons or Die

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The political Right has always tolerated more intellectual variety than the Left ever will. It is one of our greatest strategic strengths but it’s also a tactical weakness. Unlike the Left—which will compromise principles and even reality to come together and win a fight—we actually adhere to our beliefs and refuse to compromise them for political expediency. This has become painfully and dangerously apparent in “the Age of Trump.”

Trump may be understood as simply an indicator of the schism and a representation of the quickening of a revolt that has been brewing for more than a decade. It’s the establishment versus the base. The self-anointed elites who make up and support the establishment have been perfectly willing to pander to the proles when campaigning and then return to their “go along, get along” ways once in power.

That was the plan in 2016 until The Donald showed up and called them out on their game. They never delivered on any of the things that mattered to the regular folks, normal conservative Americans, NormCons. Trump stood athwart the rubble of the establishment’s broken promises and yelled, “Screw these guys!”

The first Trump supporter I met was my wife’s Mom and she said the one thing that made her back him was “He Fights.” I told her sure, but there was zero chance he could get elected. She said he could and he would stand up against the weak-kneed establishment that talked a good game but always caved to the Democrats and the Left.

The NeverTrump wing decided their principles, which they have never managed to actually put into practice, could not withstand the touch of a vulgarian like Trump. So they abandoned ship. They were perfectly willing to let Hillary Clinton appoint three or more Supreme Court justices. They had no problem allowing Clinton to cement and build upon eight years of Barack Obama’s destructive leadership.

David French of National Review was a bannerman of the Never Trump faction who even flirted with running against Trump in the 2016 election. He maintains that the principles of the establishment are vital, even though they can never seem to find someone to fight and get them implemented.

In an interview with Vox (which should tell you something significant about French’s judgment), he rationalizes the NeverTrump mentality this way:

The truth is that Republicans failed. At every stage it was, “Somebody’s going to do this for us,” and at no stage was it, “We’re going to circle the wagons around principles, stand up for what we’ve been telling Republicans we believe in for the last quarter century-plus, and defend these Republican principles because they’re right and because they’re true.”

The establishment’s answer was to undermine the guy they agreed with on 80 percent of policy to maintain their perfect losing record of delivering on none of their promises. And the base remembers every single one. Even with a Republican president and control of both houses of Congress, the establishment still dragged its feet and failed to come through.

Repeal ObamaCare? Nope.

Border security? Nope.

Stop federal funding for abortions? Nope.

The one big thing they did manage was tax cuts, but notice the main push for overhauling the tax code came from big business and establishment donors, not the base. Don’t think NormCons didn’t notice that, either. Trump on the other hand was busy delivering for voters usually over the squealing objections of the elites.

Kill ISIS? Yep.

Kill the Iran deal? Yep.

Leave the Paris climate accords? Yep.

Move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Yep.

Shut down government to build the wall? You’re damn right.

Trump did enough that at the end of his first year, David French’s boss at National Review, Rich Lowry, even penned a piece saying “Give Trump credit where it’s due.”

But what of the folks who propelled Trump? Are they principled? When I suggested they represent principled populism, here is how Tom Nichols, a NeverTrumper and author of The Death of Expertise, chose to respond:

That is about as uncharitable a definition as you could offer. It’s purposely insulting to people who rightly believe, as the definition of populism states, they represent “a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”

Now one of these self-appointed elites feels entitled to claim a large cohort of Americans fail to have principles at all and act purely on emotion. But that’s the opposite of the truth. We NormCons have a deeply rooted set of principles that we have seen abandoned by the elite in their pursuit and maintenance of personal power. They are the founding principles of this county and the “FredoCons,” as my friend and Militant NormCon commander Kurt Schlichter named them, refuse actually to fight to defend them.

So we broke away.

Now our supposed moral and intellectual betters align themselves with the Left to lecture us that standing up for basic truths in true conservative fashion makes us racists, xenophobes, and dangerous to the republic. Nonsense. But we are dangerous to the establishment. We’ve shown that if all you have is Democrat lite, you do not and will not represent us.

Truth is, we support the same things the establishment claims to support, but we’re not willing to kowtow to the Left when they start smearing. And the NeverTrump and anti-Trump factions have decided that makes us unworthy to wear the mantle of “conservatism.” The problem is they are fixated on Trump and unable to see the true battle.

The Left is united in their mission fundamentally to transform this country and we either fight them and win, or follow the FredoCons and simply try, and fail, to slow the decline. Right now, Trump has the banner. By any reasonable standard, putting two solid constitutionalists on to the Supreme Court justifies the votes of all of us who supported him.

But this isn’t about Trump. It’s about who will stand up for Normal America. And that doesn’t mean exclusively White America or Christian America; it means being blind to color, sex, or religion. It means all men and women are created equal and should be free to pursue happiness without state control. There is no barrier to entry except refusal to adhere to the belief that you are free to achieve all you can, are personally responsible for your success or failure, and believe the state has no business telling you how to think or act.

The failure of the establishment to deliver any principled protection of those things caused the revolt of the NormCons. Now the NeverTrump crowd is virtually indistinguishable from #TheResistance. The failed Weekly Standard, rebranded as The Bulwark, is now funded by a left-wing billionaire and chartered to attack the NormCons.

The question is how do we reconcile this to get back to fighting the Left for the soul of the country. The answer is not going to be a compromise from this side on actually fighting. We trusted the establishment and the legacy conservative media before and they caved at every opportunity. It’s going to take an end to the Ivory Tower smarty pants types hearing someone say “The peasants are revolting” and replying “They certainly are.”

The Left has gone fully certifiable over Trump. They want blood, and not just his. We on the Right have to figure out how to coexist or we will get picked off one by one, and the establishment types will simply be the crocodile’s last snacks. They need to accept the NormCons as a principled force to be reckoned with that will show up to vote.

It’s join-or-die time and we all better be prepared to fight.

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America • American Conservatism • Economy • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • Republicans

How the GOP Can Become the Party of Labor

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In many ways, politics is about scoring points and, right now, there are a lot of points on the table up for grabs. While Republicans and Democrats quibble about minutiae—does Trump have the power to declare a national emergency? Is the president responsible for the shutdown or does the blame fall on Democrats in Congress? Do voters really support the wall?

President Trump, if he had the political will, could begin the process of triggering the biggest political transformation in modern American history. No, this would not be a Nixon “Southern Strategy,” nor would it be a Bush-style Hispanic strategy. Instead, it would be a pro-worker labor strategy.

Labor unions get a bad rap in conservative circles—and, to some degree, for good reason. Economists, especially libertarians and conservatives, often derisively refer to unions as labor cartels. Labor unions function in the same way other economic cartels do: they restrict the supply of a thing (in this case, labor) in order to elevate its cost (in this case, wages) above what it would be in an otherwise competitive marketplace. While this is good for union members, it can harm non-members who are pushed out of the labor market due to union interference. Most modern Republicans, like former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, take pride in kneecapping unions.

Changing Dynamics, New Thinking
Republicans can no longer afford to oppose unions, at least not the private-sector kind. Why? Demographics.

As much as many in the conservative establishment wish to bury their heads in the sand and ignore reality, the fact is, demographics are not on our side. Since at least the 1930s, African-Americans have been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats. Hispanics have been voting for the Democrats for as long as we have been maintaining such data, and Asians have been voting Democratic since at least the 1990s.

This wouldn’t be a problem for conservatives, of course, if these groups were small minorities. But these groups are in fact growing as a percentage of the population—and fast. According to the Brookings Institution, U.S. Census data suggests whites are slated to become a minority in this country by 2045. Pew Research puts the date at 2055. The exact date when whites become an absolute minority is irrelevant; what matters is that it’s coming.

Many people do not care about demographic trends; they do not think it will affect them. Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, for example, says: “Color doesn’t matter. Ideology does.” That’s the problem, though. Nonwhites hold significantly more liberal political views than the average white American. Over 70 percent of Hispanics, almost 60 percent of African Americans and 55 percent of Asians want bigger government. White Americans, by contrast, want smaller government by a margin of 62 percent to 27 percent. Whites are the only racial group that favors gun rights over gun control, while minority groups are much more likely than whites to favor restricting what they perceive to be hate speech.

This is not the only reason minorities vote for leftist policies or liberal candidates, however. As enthusiastic as Candace Owens is for mobilizing what she calls a #Blexit (i.e., an exodus of black voters from the Democratic Party) both self-described moderate and conservative African Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Even if we somehow convinced every minority of the merits of broadly conservative policies, it seems as though they would still be reluctant to back Republicans.

Immigration Is Key
With these facts in mind, President Trump can, and should, leverage the current fight over immigration in order to make the Republicans a worker’s party. As much as the phrase “worker’s party” might make conservatives cringe, it may be the only path forward if the GOP wants to win elections.

Securing the labor vote would put many states into play. States like New York (with 23 percent labor union participation), Washington, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, and even California would become more competitive. True, California would not likely flip red even with a labor strategy—at least not in presidential years. However, getting union support could, at least in theory, give Republicans a fighting chance in many local, state, and House races. It would also strengthen Trump’s—and the GOP’s—influence in the Rust Belt, which was vital to the Republican electoral victory in 2016.

Conservatives may wonder: How does this happen without reneging on core principles?

For starters, unions used to be extreme immigration hawks. Leveraging the sentiment means unions can help accomplish an important policy goal: a strong immigration reform. This historical sentiment has changed somewhat in recent years. Indeed, many contemporary unions toe the Democratic Party line and are de facto supporters of illegal immigration, even though it undermines workers’ interests and wages. Unions work by restricting the supply of labor. But mass migration, according to 18 out of 22 studies reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences, depresses wages by inflating the size of the labor force. The reason unions support immigration despite the costs it inflicts upon workers is simple: the only allies they can find in the political sphere are in the Democratic Party, so they go along with Democratic activism that is steeped in identity politics and historical grievance mongering. For that reason alone, Republicans should seize opportunity to appeal to regular working-class voters whose paychecks shouldn’t be decided by the whims and caprices of the latest twist in intersectional politics.

Rethink the Minimum Wage, Too
Republicans would not have to equivocate on too many other political issues, either, in order to win union members’ support. Republicans could start by supporting a modest minimum wage hike—to maybe $9 or $10. Most of the Republican base actually supports this and the empirical evidence no longer supports the vociferous opposition from the Chamber of Commerce that minimum wage hikes “kill jobs.” It depends on the hike. Fact is, employment effects for small minimum wage hikes are negligible. Economist Lyman Stone, writing for the center-right Manhattan Institute, argues “[t]here simply isn’t any empirically-based academic support anymore, even among free market economists, that modest minimum wage hikes create measurable net losses to the economy.”

Apart from that, research shows moderate wage hikes reduce income inequality, improve infant health, and reduce the incidence of miscarriage. A minimum wage increase, by boosting wages at the low end of the wage distribution, may also reduce the use of government funded social services, saving billions. Not a bad trade.

Build on Trump’s Trade Policies
Speaking of trade, Republicans can support policies to help American workers harmed by unfair trade deals. President Trump has taken up this mantle with gusto; the Republican establishment lags significantly behind and needs to catch up. Much to the chagrin of neoconservatives, the president’s tariffs are working. Trump and the GOP might consider pushing to improve labor standards and perhaps even expand the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Further, the decline of voluntary private sector unions and the rise of mandatory public sector unions has been a persistent problem for the American middle class. Unions significantly reduce male wage inequality, and increasing voluntary union membership could be an important part in reversing the decline of marriage in our country. When union membership was at its peak in the 1940s, private union membership was around 33.9 percent, whereas public union membership was closer to 10 percent. Today, these numbers have reversed, with public-employee union membership becoming more common than private union membership.

This trend, in large part, is due to the globalization our unfair trade deals have wrought. Collective bargaining may be good for workers’ standard of living, but it puts unionized firms at a disadvantage compared to non-unionized firms who would more easily be able to compete with low-wage foreign labor. In a globalized world, unionized firms in the long-run face strong economic headwinds, which is bad news for the workers who benefit from the high wages and labor standards unions provide to their members.

A Major Caveat
Public-employee unions on the other hand, have not faced such pressures, as they represent the interests of government workers, and have thrived rather than withered thanks to a symbiotic relationship with the elected officials who negotiate their contracts and benefits.

Government-supported public unions have no vested interest in the broader health of a middle class that has been left behind by today’s economy. Their interest is in ever-expanding government, and would likely remain well ensconced in and among the Left. Public unions will always benefit from a larger, more inefficient government. A Republican labor strategy should focus on the wooing and expanding private sector unions, not public ones.

Many market-oriented conservatives and libertarians inevitably will reject such a pivot by the GOP. But what other options does the Republican Party have? Big business is not our friend, if it ever was. “Woke” corporations such as Nike, Gillette, and Dick’s Sporting Goods pour millions of dollars into left-wing causes. Big tech firms such as Google and Facebook use powerful algorithms to tailor what users see and don’t see. Who will speak for the little guy? With the conservative voter base demographically disappearing, the labor strategy would be an efficient and effective way to win more votes.

A pro-labor GOP also would be more loyal to what conservatism traditionally stands for: protecting the cultural traditions that keep us together and no longer catering to the interests of the financial elite. Tucker Carlson’s recent monologue captured what many of us have thought to ourselves for a long time: conservatism is not, and never has been, about a religious devotion to the free market. Conservatives have always respected free markets and should continue to do so, but we mustn’t be slaves to it. First and foremost, our focus must be on maintaining and strengthening the social bonds that keep Edmund Burke’s little platoons—community organizations, families, and the nation state—alive and well. Unions, for all of their flaws, promote all of those things. It is time conservatives recognized this and stood up for the American worker.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Education • First Amendment • Free Speech • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Post • The Culture • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

What the Covington High Schoolers Taught America

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What is the real lesson of the Covington Catholic School incident last week at the Lincoln Memorial?

Decent Americans are rightly appalled at the deliberate lies propagated by the “mainstream” media, the knee-jerk surrender to Leftist narratives by allegedly “conservative” commentators, and the resultant abuse and death threats hurled at children and their families since the edited video originally went viral and was re-reported by an agenda-driven propaganda press.

But this isn’t simply yet another instance of the #FakeNews Industrial Complex doing what it has been doing for so long. This isn’t just another tactical engagement on the battlefield of the political war our nation has been living in since the inauguration of President Trump two years and two days ago. This one-hour event that anyone can now watch in its fullest is, in fact, a strategic engagement that has truly strategic consequences for two specifics groups: NeverTrumpers and true conservative patriots.

First to those who call themselves conservatives, but who have betrayed their true political colors through their actions. The list of those who piled on with the slanderous attacks against the high-schoolers in support of the Left’s narrative is disturbing long, but let us take S.E. Cupp as a typical example.

Cupp surrendered immediately to the narrative of an atavistic “MAGA-hatted mob surrounding a Native American” and peddled it on her CNN platform. Only once the full one-long video was posted did she take the time to find the facts for herself and offer a limp apology on Twitter. But by this time the damage was done. There is nothing Cupp can do to unring the bell of hatred, to retract her support retroactively for those that attacked the teenagers and their families based upon her reporting, so contributing to an environment in which death threats were made against minors.

This is the price the NeverTrump faction pays every time it stands side-by-side with those on the Left who have one mission: the undo the presidential election of 2016. After shamelessly and willingly joining in the real mob attacking Christian high-schoolers, the pretense is over. They have no right to call themselves conservative in any sense of the word. From now on, they are just members of the radical Left and should be treated as such.

But there is good news among all this disturbing behavior.

Here are the important sentences from Covington Catholic Junior Nicholas Sandmann’s statement on the event that made him the center of political life in America:

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.”

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

Regarding the so-called Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips who appeared in the original viral video:

He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protester’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.”

And most important of all, on his response and the consequences for his family and friends:

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name. My parents were not on the trip, and I strive to represent my family in a respectful way in all public settings.

I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.

After you finish reading this article please go directly to the statement from the young man who became the main target of the Left’s lies and the hatred of the NeverTrumpers.

Read it once. Read it twice. Let it sink in. This one heartfelt expression of values and personal philosophy for an America who is still too young to vote should give all patriots strength. And it makes his own school, Covington Catholic and the Covington Diocese look all the more like the craven cowards they are for the letter of reprimand they jointly issued before the facts were in.

Nicholas Sandmann is an inspiration. As long as we have President Donald Trump in the White House, the Left will continue to sabotage his MAGA agenda and phony conservatives like S.E. Cupp will subversively abet those who wish to undermine the will of the America people.

But true conservatives must never give up or give in.

If we do, we are lesser Americans than one high-school junior from Covington, Kentucky.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Post • Republicans

Call-Out Conservatives Join the Left’s Lynch Mob

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When I first started writing for National Review in 2015, Nick Frankovich was my editor. He always was kind and professional, offering advice on how I could develop my nascent writing style. Although we never met in person, he appeared to be cautious and reserved. I know he is a man of deep faith and very devoted to the magazine William F. Buckley, Jr. founded in 1955.

So it seemed way out of character for Frankovich to author an angry post about the Covington Catholic High School incident just as the details were emerging. His article—”The Covington Students Might As Well Have Just Spit on the Cross”—went online in the middle of the night on National Review’s portal for short posts by contributors. Frankovich harshly condemned the students, referred to their actions as evil and sadistic, and questioned their Christianity.

“They mock a serious, frail-looking older man and gloat in their momentary role as Roman soldiers to his Christ. Bullying is a worn-out word and doesn’t convey the full extent of the evil on display here,” the deputy online editor wrote. He included accusations that had not yet been confirmed.

On Sunday afternoon, as the media’s narrative fell apart and the reality of the situation came into view, National Review quietly removed Frankovich’s article from its website. Rich Lowry, the outlet’s editor, explained in a very brief post that he and Frankovich had been duped by a “hoax” and that Frankovich’s “strongly worded post” had been taken down. Lowry also deleted a few of his own tweets that inaccurately portrayed the incident.

That was it. Rather than acknowledge that the editor and deputy editor for a once reliable and thoughtful conservative magazine were complicit in mob-shaming teenage boys attending a pro-life rally, they quickly excused their behavior as nothing more than gullibility. There was no apology, save for this quasi mea culpa. There was no “calling out” other conservatives who also had participated in the viral assault on innocent young boys.

Two NRO articles addressed the the media’s malfeasance in the matter. In particular, “Nathan Phillips Lied, The Media Bought It,” wrote Kyle Smith.

But the fact that editors for National Review also bought into the various lies escaped mention. This also included senior editor Jay Nordlinger, who deleted a January 19 tweet that read, “the images of those red-hat kids surrounding and mocking that old Indian are unbearable. Absolutely unbearable. An American disgrace.” Jonah Goldberg hand-waved away Frankovich’s vicious post as just “different people reaching different conclusions or having different opinions.”

So, what motivated a seemingly measured man like Frankovich to pen a midnight hit piece on teenagers? What compelled Lowry and Nordlinger to join the outrage mob, and Goldberg to defend their choice? Why do NeverTrump (or even SometimesTrump) “conservatives” like Lowry more often than not side with the Left’s mercenaries in the media who are hellbent on destroying this presidency and the people who support it? After all, these are the same folks who warn us on a daily basis that the president cannot be trusted, that he’s a dishonest purveyor of the truth, and that his cult-like followers have no ability to distinguish fact from fiction.

The easy explanation for their bad behavior this weekend would be confirmation bias, the propensity to select or ignore evidence to support a specific viewpoint. Anti-Trump “conservatives” long ago decided that Donald Trump not only is unfit for office, but that his supporters are ignorant rubes with racist tendencies. (NR’s David French wrote recently that Trump is the reason for a supposed—but actually imaginary—rise in white supremacy.)

In an interview Monday night, Goldberg again defended his side’s confirmation bias by invoking another tactic—false equivalence. “The confirmation bias that says, ah ha, this proves that the people I disagree with aren’t just wrong, they’re evil, which is rampant on both sides of the aisle these days.” Contrary to how Goldberg tries to sell it, it’s pernicious on one side: His.

But this time they crossed a line. It wasn’t their usual hyperventilating about Trump-Russia conspiracies or “shithole countries” comments or exit strategies for our troops in the Middle East. No, this time they exploited innocent high school students for their own political gratification. They abandoned not just their professional duty but their self-proclaimed conservative principles and any sense of decency—all in order to Get Trump.

It’s hard to see how they can stoop any lower.

And these weren’t just any group of random high schoolers. These are boys who were attending an event to support a cause that conservatives have championed—despite immense cultural opposition—for the past four decades. Young boys who attend a religious school and presumably are from faithful families trying to instill traditional values in their children despite the Left’s continued assault on those values. Young boys who probably represent everything that the modern-day conservative movement has claimed to promote since its inception. Young boys who probably view their MAGA hats as a sign of patriotism and respect for the president, not a symbol of Racist Rube Nation. Young boys who we now know acted in a polite and deferential manner even while they were under attack by grown men taunting them and hurling hateful epithets at them.

But what did Trump-hating “conservatives” do? They betrayed boys who, by all appearances, are the progeny of conservatism. They aided the Left in the virtual thrashing that prompted death threats against the children and their families. They acted in the same way—worse!—they accuse the president of behaving. They sided with the enemy.

And when confronted with evidence, there is no real apology or soul-searching. The public and the maligned families are just supposed to accept their vague, “oops, my bad” tweets and move on.

Further, the same crowd of call-out conservatives, the nags who constantly are telling us which Republican lawmaker or presidential aide or Fox News anchor must be reprimanded for one imagined offense or another, have been silent on calling out their own tribe for joining the Covington High School outrage mob. Where is David French “calling out” his pal, Bill Kristol, for his two (deleted) tweets about the kids, including calling them “MAGA brats”? Where are the Referees of the Right demanding that Ana Navarro or Ben Howe or Jennifer Rubin apologize for vilifying innocent kids? Where are the conspiracy trackers like Jim Swift condemning Jim Swift for peddling this fiction? And why isn’t one conservative demanding that S.E. Cupp be fired from CNN for slandering these kids on her program? (She unconvincingly apologized on Twitter on Monday.)

When the Trump era is over, there will be a long list of journalists, opinion outlets, and commentators who have irretrievably lost their credibility. That list will include many “conservative” influencers who betrayed pro-life religious teenagers at the behest of the Left’s ongoing lynch mob. Shameful.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • American Conservatism • Cultural Marxism • Free Speech • Post • Pro-Life • The Culture

What Young Men of Courage Teach Us about Ourselves

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You might have seen a headline or two about how “Students in Trump Hats Mock Native American.” The story is a carefully crafted piece of propaganda, with a deceptive image and edited video at its core. As Daniel McCarthy points out, “it was a tale perfectly tailored to liberal biases: white Catholic teenagers in MAGA hats had harassed an old and frail Indian veteran during the March for Life, which was also the date of an Indigenous People’s March.”

The opposite appears to be true: a left-wing activist harassed a bunch of young men waiting for their bus after attending the March for Life. Instead of taunting, the young men were taunted. Instead of causing a situation, the young men were restrained and avoided a worse situation. And the supposed smirk of an insolent child harassing a poor old man was more likely a friendly smile turned grimace of a young man of faith standing his ground in the face of unprovoked leftist harassment.

The actual story of what happened and the story of how many of us reacted to the fake news can teach us all a bit about ourselves. It shows us that we have not grasped what is really happening around us. It is instructive about the people we consider independent thinkers and courageous leaders. And it is telling about how far many of us have fallen to the Leftist world view about manliness and men.

The fact that it was propaganda should have been clear from the start. The story focused on a still image of a fluid situation, with an emphasis on a single facial expression. This is the media’s modus operandi in the age of clickbait headlines and fake news, since people hardly read past the headline anymore.

Likewise, the story included only one video, despite the fact that one can see several phones out filming. Vital context was missing. Then there was the language used to describe the two sides: on the one side was a white, Christian guy wearing a MAGA hat, on the other was a Vietnam vet and “elder” (as if the Left cares about vets or respecting elders).

Add to that the obvious fact that the man beating the drum was a leftist activist. He was there for the neo-Marxist Indigenous People’s Day, for one. For another, his tearful account of events read like a handbook of leftist talking points. Everything about the story reeked of incompleteness and bias, and the story was clearly being used for political messaging. It had all of the markers of propaganda.

Our Conservative Journalists Failed
Given all of this, why did anyone on the right accept it? It was clearly meant to create a first impression based on selected information. It was clearly an incomplete story with plenty of warning signs that it was a setup. It was obviously fake news. And many (
not all) of us ate it up. Why? The first lesson of this story is how fake the news is, and how much we still don’t get it.

The story is also instructive about how pathetic our blue-checked conservativeelites,” right-leaning media, and conservative outlets are. They accepted the story from the liberal media without question and were quick to jump on the bandwagon of condemning the students. For many of them, their first instinct was to interpret events as if MAGA-hat wearing, Christian men are naturally deplorable while drum-beating, leftist activists are innocent. They seem willing to trust a man attending the Indigenous People’s Day more than men attending the March for Life. Almost none of them picked up on the fact that it was clearly propaganda.

It is as though conservative journalists don’t do any actual journalism.

I follow leftist blogs and groups to stay aware of what is happening, and it was immediately clear who and what the supposed victim of the event is: a leftist activist with a history of this exact same storyline. The Left was simultaneously celebrating him for his activism while also presenting him as a poor victim. Supposed thinkers and media on the Right didn’t notice. What does it say about us that we still listen to these people?

A Greater Failure of Nerve
But by far the most telling, and concerning, element of the story is just how many of us on the Right have been emasculated. Do we have any spine or manliness left? Will we not stand for each other?

As far as I can tell from watching the many videos of the event, reading the various accounts of events, evaluating the credibility of the sources, and considering how I would react, the young man, Nick Sandmann, whose face is now famous was not smirking. He was smiling, then grimacing.

The young men didn’t pick up on what was happening quickly enough, but if you look closely, you can almost see the moment they figure it out. At first Sandmann is smiling, being friendly. Then he sees what is happening, and at that moment, resolve flashes across his eyes. The smile doesn’t fade, but the tone of it changes to something less friendly. There is a drum beating in his ear, so the smile serves as a good cover for a grimace. And if you think you wouldn’t grimace when someone is banging a drum in your ear and staring you in the face, you are kidding yourself. You can almost see the gears turning as he considers what to do. But then his instincts kick in. He doesn’t look to his friends for support. He stares down his opponent. He doesn’t fight back, but he doesn’t back down either.

If my son had traveled to Washington D.C. with his male classmates to attend the “March for Life,” I would be glad. If he had the gumption to wear a MAGA hat in D.C., I would be impressed. If he showed half of the positive attitude and comradery with his fellow young men as the men did on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while waiting for their bus, I would be pleased. If my son was friendly enough to smile and welcome others beating drums, as the video clearly shows the young men doing, I would smile. And if, after it became clear that the drum-beating men were not friends but instead there do disrupt, my son stood his ground without flinching, I would be damn proud. Because that’s what good men do—they don’t let themselves be pushed around by bullies and haters.

Instead of celebrating this, conservatives seem more inclined to believe the fake world of Gillette and the Left. Some, after seeing the full story and realizing the men didn’t do what others said, still think the young men are at fault because they didn’t run away or because they dared to wear MAGA hats. What kind of manliness is that?

When Indignation Is Righteous
The young men were there first and they had every right to be there. Why should they leave? Would conservatives have been more pleased if the young men had run crying to their mothers and chaperones? How can we say we want our sons to become men while telling them men are never supposed to stand up for anything because it is “bad manners”? When do our conservative betters think we should stand our ground?

Many of us seem to have forgotten, but being a conservative man didn’t always mean running away. I think of young men at West Point singing “men of freedom, stand ye steady, those who hate are ever ready…free men never yield.” I think of John Stuart Mill’s line that “A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Conservatives used to understand that a gentleman is one whose indignation is roused at appropriate times, not that it is never roused at all. Conservatives used to honor young men who stood their ground. They used to stand by them.

Watching the courageous young men is instructive. It tells us how we must be watchful about fake news. It shows us how we have to think for ourselves, since our “influencers” clearly don’t. And it teaches most of us a lesson about manliness.

The young men in the video, whatever their youthful exuberance and lack of awareness, did well in the moment of trial. A man doesn’t always know what is coming, but when trouble finds him and he is surprised, he should display the same instinctual resolve of the young man from Covington Catholic High School: stare evildoers in the face and stand your ground.

Photo credit: YouTube

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America • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Greatness Agenda • Post • Pro-Life • The Courts • The Culture

MAGA and the Pro-Life Movement Need Each Other

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Many MAGA adherents may think pro-lifers are whiny or too focused only on abortion. But without the right to life, the reinvigoration of a recognition of the people’s sovereignty that the MAGA-types yearn for is but a wistful dream and useless to boot; for the right to life precedes all other rights. And while pro-lifers might find MAGA-ites distasteful, yoked to a man they find morally subpar, the surest path to attain their ultimate victory over the culture of death is to recognize that MAGA articulates ideas and embodies a political posture essential to that victory.

America will rise or fall on the strength of the bond between MAGA and the pro-life movement, their ability to work together and learn from one another to “secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity.”

On Friday, I was privileged to join hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers who descended upon Washington, D.C. for the 46th annual March for Life. These marchers added themselves to the ranks of the millions of marchers from years past who bore witness to the truth that the legalized slaughter of tens of millions of our tiniest brothers and sisters is a horrendous moral atrocity. Our country’s abortion regime threatens us all because it attacks the inalienable right to life at its root. For decades, we have gathered to protest the mass destruction of an unfathomable number of the most defenseless and innocent among us—and we will continue to do so until abortion is recognized as the horrific crime it is.

And yet abortion remains as legal as it was when Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. But the pro-life movement can do more to hasten the long-awaited termination of the most immoral system of dehumanization since chattel slavery; it can learn from the original expositor of “MAGA”: Abraham Lincoln. How?

By drawing more explicitly and fervently upon the fruits of his statesmanship and moral-intellectual worldview.

Christians believe that Christ’s Passion, death, and resurrection secured the ultimate and definitive victory over sin and death; in other words, the eschatological battle has already been won, but each of us must draw upon its salvific power in our daily lives to defeat the evil that has not already been made His footstool in the here and now.

In much the same way, Lincoln’s political defeat of slavery is the paradigmatic victory over those who would deny the Declaration’s principle of moral equality. From this foundational, “self-evident” truth—“that all men are created equal”—we discern our sovereign right to self-government. We can draw upon the lessons of Lincoln’s careful, mid-nineteenth century victory to defeat a remaining, tyrannical force—the pro-choice faction—who dehumanize and destroy those who stand in their way to power, prestige, and pleasure.

Lincoln knew that slavery was a grievous affront to our rights as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. Because of fatal compromises at the founding, however, the truths of the Declaration at the level of principle could be ignored in practice by a slave power—one that eventually would become the Confederacy—built on the backs of subjugated and brutalized African Americans and legitimized by our compromised Constitution.

To rectify this grave injustice and preserve the Union, Lincoln successfully prosecuted the Civil War and reified a correct reading of the Constitution in light of Declaration principles, which later were solidified in the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

His prudent statesmanship and moral courage brought an end to the slave power, and because of his actions, rhetoric, and the legal change precipitated and effected by both, we now possess the intellectual, legal, cultural, and moral resources to effect a similar—but, we hope, bloodless—devastation upon the abortion power.

Lincoln forged an anti-slavery, pro-equality constitutional consensus in the bloody crucible of civil war; it is a consensus that we are now in danger of squandering. While that consensus has its own momentum and inner logic, it, and the principles of the Declaration that animate it, are not self-executing. “Self-evident” does not mean “obvious,” so there must be a political movement in support of these principles at all times. No political movement is viable that does not include adherents who are, when challenged, willing to fight, as Lincoln was willing to fight against slavery.


Fighting on behalf of such fundamental principles needn’t always be violent, even as its adherents must be willing to be. Thus, while we don’t now march upon Gettysburg, we can instead march peacefully upon the Supreme Court, a body ultimately responsible to “We the People,” and demand respect for the principles that Lincoln already showed us undergird our liberty. But peace, though precious, is hard to maintain when a consensus for the principles of liberty is not also maintained.

The pro-life movement needs to become more steeped in the political ramifications of its heritage; otherwise, we will never stamp out abortion. Abortion is perhaps the most radical denial possible of the principle that all human beings are created equal and cannot be ruled without their consent.


Those who would deny us our right to life certainly would deny us our sovereign right to govern ourselves, and those who would deny our sovereignty eventually will deny us our right to life.

It is therefore not surprising that we see the progressive Left—which increasingly militates against the principles of the Declaration as well as the Constitution itself—is opposed to both rights: our right to self-government and our right to life.

Pro-lifers need an iron will like Lincoln’s to fight pro-choice, anti-equality zealots, and they need also to study and emulate his political savvy; and MAGA needs something important enough to fight for. Unless they work together, our divided house—which admirably weathered the struggle over slavery—will collapse under the weight of 60 million tiny corpses.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Conservatives • Political Parties • political philosophy • Post • Republicans

Populism, Elitism, and the Principle of Human Equality

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We can’t seem to get away from populism in today’s political discussions. People disagree about what the term means, but R.R. Reno put it concisely: “populism . . . is by definition anti-elite.”

The problem is there are two ways to see populism. One can be anti-elite in the sense that one thinks the elites who rule now are bad and need to be replaced either by new elites or non-elites. This view presupposes there are, in fact, elite and non-elite people in politics. On the other hand, one can be anti-elite in the sense that one thinks in politics no one should be considered elite, no matter how smart or successful that person is. Most of us, especially those who presume to be elites, tend to think of populism in the first sense. But some, especially those of us who know we are not elite, are populist in the second sense.

Understanding populism in the first sense should be expected. Almost everyone today accepts that there are elites and all societies essentially have three political layers. This is the dominant view in academia and government as far as I can tell. Some call them the “uninformed public,” the “informed public,” and the “effective public.” Others call them “parochials,” “subjects,” and “participants.” To most educated people, there are those who should rule and those who should not.

The view that men are not actually equal in politics is not new. Politics long has been understood to have something that has to do with divisions between horizontal layers of people. From the ancient Greeks to Machiavelli to Marx, people have argued people come in groups, be they the one, the few, and the many; the common and the great; or the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Today’s progressives believe there are class distinctions based on expertise, race, or gender. Conservatives believe men are divided by merit or virtue. Whether the separations are based on merit, expertise, or virtue is unimportant; the result is the same.

Distinctions With a Difference
Today’s ruling class, both Left and Right, believe there is an “us” and a “them,” the two always struggle over who will rule, and the political elites should rule. This might sound aristocratic or Marxist for conservatives, but replace economic class, wealth, race, or gender with virtue and they will accept it. Dressing up political inequality in the clothes of merit or virtue makes it all seem so noble.

Conservative members of the ruling class think of themselves as the “natural aristoi,” and because they think they are virtuous, they think their rule is just and the status quo is good (you might notice that many conservative elites make the case that things really weren’t so bad before Trump, and anyway, if it was bad it is because people lacked virtue). It follows that they see any challenge to their rule as ugly, vicious, anti-elitist populism and any disagreement about policy as a crime.

But some of us don’t think there are any political elites at all, and thus anyone claiming to be one is a fraud.

For all of the elite’s credentials, merit, and supposed virtue, Trump says regular Americans are their equals and have equal claim to the title of elite. In one of his greatest moments, he called the elites “stone cold losers,” and he said of himself  “I hate it, I meet these people, they call it the elite, we got more money, we got more brains, we got better houses and apartments, we got nicer boats, we’re smarter than they are and they say they’re the elite. You’re the elite, we’re the elite!” And have you heard Trump talk about experts?

Populists like Trump and Tucker Carlson believe the wisdom of the people, the whole people, the young, the old, the highly educated, and “the poorly educated,” should replace the fraudulent rule of supposed elites. This was Trump’s entire argument for America. He argues against those who presume to be elite, but his fundamental claim is that only government of the people, by the people, and for the people is just.

The Primacy of Consent
This type of populism—that there are no elites in politics—is not distinctly American, but it is has been most honored here. The principle of equality is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: all men are equal in that no man has a right to rule another without consent. It might seem strange to us in our modern meritocracy, but authors of the Declaration actually believed this. As Thomas Jefferson boldly stated, there is a “palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.”

The genius of the American Founders is that they understood politics has less to do with political classes and more to do with economic interests. All men being politically equal and economically diverse, the purpose of government was to protect political equality under the rule of law and economic opportunity and diversity. The latter could be used in the new science of politics to protect the former. The founders denied a ruling class existed, be they democrats, aristocrats, oligarchs or a monarch, and our government was designed to keep it that way.

Here “the people govern.” We have no titles of nobility or other claims to rule other than consent. We are not a mixed regime, but a democratic republic. None of our branches of government are democratic or aristocratic in that they come from one class of people or another, though each branch is designed to have a different character. We want virtuous people in government, but virtue isn’t required; consent of the governed is. Every branch is republican, coming from and responsible to the whole, undivided people.

Equality Properly Understood
Perhaps some conservatives will read this and think of the dangers of radical egalitarianism. But not every revolution meant to bring forth “a nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” is following the philosophy of the French Revolution. As Tocqueville observed in the 19th century, America actually can be and (until recently) was for all political intents and purposes a classless society.

Likewise, to deny that there are political elites is not to say that some men are not more virtuous than others. Nor is it to reject the hope that virtuous people might rule some of the time. Some men are obviously more virtuous than others. But just as obviously, many who presume to be the natural aristoi are really aristocratic in the worst sense of the word—ignoble, presumptuous, and stupid.  As Jefferson said, and those who quote his use of “natural aristoi often forget, “the artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendancy.”

If you claim, as many conservatives do, to believe that all men are created equal, and therefore governments derive their just powers by the consent of the governed, then any claim that the elite must rule is unjust. Even to claim there is a political elite is unjust. We are all the elite here. The only legitimate claim to rule is the consent of the governed. It is likely that we have all forgotten this to some degree, but our supposed elites have forgotten it more than most.

In another time, people might have noted that the constant use of populism as an insult smacks of an aristocratic elitism, and people used to think a belief in aristocracy was a contemptible rejection of the American principle of human equality. Thankfully, some today are reminding men everywhere that the supposed elites are frauds, and government should be founded on the principle that all men are created equal.

Photo credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

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America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Declaration of Independence • Harry Jaffa • Leo Strauss • political philosophy • Post

The Causes of Steve King’s Moral Relativism

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In the course of their public responsibilities and acting on concrete political problems, Congressmen should know better than to ask abstract questions—particularly when in the company of New York Times reporters with no inclination to give them the benefit of the doubt. At best, this from Steve King, seemed another provocation: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” Steve King, once again, just could not help himself.

The jumbling together of white nationalism and Western civilization seemed appropriate for many a leftist critic of Western civilization, but not a purported defender of it, as King is. (While I don’t know King, I do know some of his former staffers, all of whom display both intelligence and good character.) Thus, a similar utterance from a Democratic member of Congress might well have gone unnoticed or even produced solicitation for an op-ed for the leading establishment press.

But why, it must be asked, would anyone throw together three such unrelated terms in defense of Western civilization? This is the form some intelligence tests take—which of the following items doesn’t belong? King’s defense has been that he meant to disassociate the first two terms from the last and the Times erred in its punctuation of his quote. The bipartisan answer to his explanation has been to disregard it and proclaim that Steve King doesn’t belong in Congress.

But the more revealing fact about the reaction to King’s statement, reported without any context, was how it displays the creeping moral relativism that infects all our political discourse—on both the right and left.

Fortunately, a just-published book correctly diagnoses this modern disease—Harry V. Jaffa’s, The Rediscovery of America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). The 10 chapters—including long sections which have never been published—come from the writings of the late professor from the Claremont Colleges. Written between the late 1980s and 2010, the essays are striking for their insight into our times and current crises, because Jaffa had his eye on eternity and how the present might be illuminated by it.

Because of modern skepticism’s “passionate rejection of all ‘absolutes’” the educated, especially, are prone to make passionate instead of rational judgments about alternatives—turning the university into a “seminary of intolerance” rather than a place to grapple with the eternal questions.

The Left might rely on racial or “gender”-inspired passions, the Right—as apparently it did in King’s case—on the emotive catchwords of the day that they fear will blow back and taint them. Thus, moral relativism produces moral fanaticism, because reason, especially among the young or immature of any age, has little power. Jaffa illuminated this well in his essay provocatively titled “The Reichstag is Still Burning,” which takes on the student radicals and weak administrators of his day and recently has been the subject of a forum over at the Claremont Institute’s The American Mind.

Whatever his immediate subject, Jaffa’s “rediscovery of America” calls for the “sophisticated” to return to their citizen roots. But is it too late for such sentiments to move Americans who have become the kind of self-centered beings our universities seek to produce? Jaffa’s patriotism, indeed his nationalism, is based on the Declaration of Independence’s appeal to reason. Significantly, we Americans celebrate not the political act of our independence (which took place on July 2, 1776) but rather the declaring of that independence. In other words, we celebrate the reasoned argument for it.

Jaffa’s chapter “The End of History Means the End of Freedom” in The Rediscovery of America demonstrates how he proceeds against the relativists and nihilists, with an emphasis on those on the political right. (Earlier in his career he had emphasized his difference with scholars and politicians of the left.) Jaffa’s sobering point is that both the left and the right share in the moral relativism that many Americans sense and dread. The elites do not respect the most profound voices of the American political tradition, preferring instead the intellectuals who flatter each other.

As he does in his review of Allan Bloom’s best-selling The Closing of the American Mind, Jaffa argues that American political documents, in particular, the Declaration of Independence and Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, provide the philosophic grounding and moral teaching to guide Americans today. Francis Fukuyama, his teacher Bloom, Irving Kristol, and virtually all the heads of our universities could never agree with Jaffa on this point and offered only more versions of the same relativism.

In this way, Jaffa takes on one of the most commonly cited works of political science in the last 30 years, Fukuyama’s “end of history” argument, whose jarring 1989 article was expanded into a book. By “the end of history,” the now-Stanford professor and former member of the George H.W. Bush State Department, means not that events cease to happen but that the fundamental human choices have been made—liberal democracy and capitalism have won—and that all subsequent choices will be subsets of those. Perhaps a great man or political movement (like Islam?) might upset this consensus.

Jaffa poses this objection: “If, as Fukuyama … contends, philosophy ends with the ending of history then politics also ends. Politics can subsist only so long as it is thought reasonable for men to differ as to what they ought to pursue.” But if the quest for wisdom ends in the Wisdom of History, then philosophy as skeptical inquiry is no longer honorable or necessary.

And the same holds for faith in God. For those who seek to live by “an eternal and unchangeable order . . . recognize that democratic politics, philosophy, and religion all stand or fall together.” To believe in the end of history is to renounce all three and thereby pull down the heights of Western civilization and yoke them to one’s will. Once again relativism (historically conditioned knowledge) produces a dogmatism (the end of history) that justifies extremism (the claim of Wisdom and thereby tyranny).

All this is a mere warm-up for the most intriguing chapter of the book, an exchange of about 120 pages involving the distinguished Harvard political theorist and conservative, Harvey Mansfield, Jr., titled “The Decline and Fall of the American Idea: Reflections on the Failure of American Conservatism.” The Rediscovery of America signals the rediscovery both of philosophy and politics and thereby the refutation of relativism and its evil brother, fanaticism. At the heart of this endeavor is a recovery of the spiritedness essential for both love of country and love of wisdom.

This absence of this kind of spiritedness among so-called “conservative” intellectuals is what explains their horror at attempts to reinvigorate our politics. They should recall that without such politics, philosophy, and morality will suffer a similar decline.

Photo credit:  Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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American Conservatism • Big Media • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Obama • Post • Republicans • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Boy George: NeverTrump Columnist Becomes an Obama Groupie

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No European nation,” writes George Will in a recent column, “was as enchanted as Germany was by Barack Obama’s studied elegance and none is more repelled by Donald Trump’s visceral vulgarity.” Just so Millennials know, the Washington Journalism Review once proclaimed Will the “best writer, any subject” and in 2017 Andrew Ferguson hailed him as the “dean of conservative journalists” in a Weekly Standard piece headlined “The Greatness of George Will.” The great one has always had a problem with Donald Trump.

“If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,” ran the headline on Will’s April 29, 2016 column, in which he decried “Republican quislings” who were “slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history.” The quislings would “render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.”

Two months later, Will announced a change in his voter registration to “unaffiliated,” citing Trump’s complaint about a “Mexican” judge. Will said he joined the Republican Party “because I was a conservative, and I leave it for the same reason: I’m a conservative.”

In late June 2016, Dan McLaughlin of National Review wrote that Will’s column “has kicked up a stir by arguing that voters of all ideological stripes should hand majority control of the Senate and House to the Democrats in November. This is a profoundly bad idea, and Will makes nearly no effort to consider its actual consequences.”

On November 2, 2016, Jonathan Chait noted Will’s ideological fervor but six months later, “none of his expectations has remotely come to pass.” Will’s April 2016 column “currently has less resemblance to the pronouncement of a conservative pope than to Will Ferrell in ‘Old School,’ proclaiming that everybody is going streaking.”

Last May in New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore described Will as “one of the few #NeverTrump figures on the right who has neither wavered nor flagged in his disdain for the 45th president.” In January 2019, nearly three years after he urged the GOP to keep Trump out of White House, and with Democrats panting for impeachment, Will writes of the president’s “visceral vulgarity.”

On the other hand, Will hails “Barack Obama’s studied elegance,” a strange statement for a conservative hardliner on Communism, if he ever studied the record.

In 2009, Obama canceled missile defense for U.S. allies Poland and the Czech Republic, both victims of Soviet occupation. That same year, “soldier of Allah” Nidal Hasan gunned down 13 unarmed American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, and wounded more than 30 others. President Obama called this “workplace violence,” not even “gun violence.”

Conservatives tend to favor smaller government but in a deep recession Obama bulked up an already bloated federal government and he told Americans if they liked their health plan they could keep it, one of his many lies.

Conservatives favor free speech but president Obama harassed journalists such as Sharyl Attkisson and James Rosen and deployed the IRS against conservative groups.

Conservatives favor free and fair elections but Obama deployed powerful forces in the FBI and the Justice Department to clear his chosen successor Hillary Clinton and frame Donald Trump. Even so, Trump won the election and went on to take down ISIS, call out Islamic terrorism, put Kim Jong-un in his place, cut taxes, and usher in an economic boom with economic growth in the 4 percent range. That counts for nothing with George Will and the NeverTrumpers on the Right.

In this crowd, to be conservative is to be famous and well regarded, have a lot of money, and hang out with powerful people in the Washington establishment. It is also important to win awards and regularly appear on establishment media shows wearing a bow tie. This pose is coupled with utter disdain for actual working people.

Say what you will about President Trump, he understands American workers and doesn’t want illegal foreign nationals to take their jobs. On Trump’s watch, the Republican party is becoming the party of the workers and the Democrats the party of politically correct elites.

Trump made good on his promise to “bomb the shit out of ISIS” and the president never hesitates to throw down with the Left. NeverTrump conservatives, on the other hand, see government as a kind of debating society. When it comes to frontline political combat with the Left, they cry “run away!” like Graham Chapman’s King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

In that film, Michael Palin tells Arthur that supreme executive power comes from a mandate from the masses. In 2016 Donald Trump got a mandate from the masses, and like the Left, the Never Trump establishment conservatives still can’t deal with it.

Meanwhile, in the 2017 Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, biographer David Garrow called Dreams from My Father, Obama’s founding narrative, a work of “historical fiction,” and the author a “composite character.” Garrow also noted the “Communist background” of Obama’s beloved “Frank,” the African American Frank Marshall Davis, who spent his life defending all-white Soviet dictatorships.

Conservatives are normally sticklers for historical accuracy but Rising Star did not prompt George Will to conduct an investigation. Two years later the “dean of conservative journalists” is still trashing Trump and hailing “the studied elegance of Barack Obama.”

Photo credit: Kasha Broussalian/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

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Administrative State • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • Economy • Libertarians • Post • The Culture

Market Fundamentalism or Love of Country?

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Tucker Carlson’s much-discussed monologue last week leaves much to be desired. But factual errors or rhetorical excesses are not why it attracted vociferous criticism on the American Right. What really set the critics off is Tucker’s underlying moral premise: American republicanism sometimes requires public restraint of private vice, even in the sphere of economics.

The fact that this is even a debatable premise speaks volumes as to why American conservatism has struggled to become a majority for nearly 90 years. And the fact that this is the bottom line of President Trump’s approach to economics speaks more volumes as to why he swept the Republican field and won the White House.

Carlson and Trump agree that American business owners have long since stopped thinking they owe anything to American workers or communities because they are American. They contend too many American executives, responsible only to shareholders who in turn value only the highest monetary return possible, are unconcerned about whom they contract with so long as the contracts are upheld. Nearly everyone concedes this is how business operates today; the question is whether correcting or influencing this is a proper matter for public action.

Conservative dogma has said “no” for about 25 years. Treating economic action as a solely private preserve, any attempt to regulate or interfere in the terms of trade or the allocation of capital has been attacked by intellectual conservatism and its increasingly powerful libertarian allies. The fact that this has made ever more and more of industrial America a wasteland littered with closed factories, abandoned houses, and dollar stores doesn’t matter to these market fundamentalists.

Fallacies to the Right
Any attempt to counter their catechism is too often met with what I call reductio ad socialism. Propose a subsidy or a market intervention and they cry “socialism” or “Venezuela”—which if true means America was a very socialist country indeed for the roughly 75 years when the protective tariff was the law of the land.

Ben Shapiro’s negative reaction to Carlson’s monologue adopts this reasoning. Shapiro claims Carlson’s statement that “we do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite” means he “sounds far more like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than Ronald Reagan or Milton Friedman.” But that’s laughable. Reagan himself can be quoted frequently in favor of targeted market interventions, including the many, many times he imposed tariffs during his presidency to protect American producers from Japanese competition.

Trump understood what no other Republican competitor did, that even Republican voters were tired of an economic system that pushed normal citizens into economic competitions that they could not win and that it was time for a change. Carlson’s monologue simply makes Trump’s underlying assumption clear—Americans owe obligations to other Americans that go beyond simple market arrangements. We can and should debate what those are and the extent to which public intervention is warranted. But to dismiss it out of hand, as Shapiro and others on the Right do, replaces America’s public philosophy with abstract ideology. Which, as it turns out, Ronald Reagan warned against in his 1977 speech to CPAC.

Blame Misdirected
Market fundamentalists can’t deny that many communities have been hollowed out and that these places tend to foster social pathologies that once appeared to be the province of inner cities. But if private economic decisions can’t be criticized as a contributing factor, they have to come up with another explanation. And so they blame the people themselves for their plight.

Kevin Williamson’s notorious essay on white working-class dysfunction is the most famous in this genre, but it is far from alone. Both Shapiro and David French argue in response to Carlson that working-class problems like the opioid addiction, increased use of marijuana, dramatic rises in out of wedlock births are simply due to people making bad choices. “There are wounds that public policy can’t heal,” French writes. True in the abstract, but there are also things public policy can heal or at least ameliorate. To throw up one’s hands in the face of this is worse than folly; it is politically destructive.

Conservatives have tried this tack before. In 1932, Herbert Hoover argued that there was only so much he could do to combat the ravages of the Great Depression without destroying American liberty. While even Hoover admitted that nearly a quarter of Americans were out of work, he steadfastly refused to countenance increasing public spending to alleviate the suffering. Indeed, he criticized Roosevelt’s proposal to provide temporary work for the “10,000,000 unemployed” not only as infeasible, but because even “if it were possible to give this employment to 10,000,000 people by the Government, it would cost upwards of $9,000,000,000 a year. . . .”

In the midst of crisis, Hoover showed he cared more about money and form than people’s lives and substance. That image has plagued Republicans and conservatives ever since.

“But Reagan”? Indeed!
Americans rejected this call for fidelity to abstract ideals and a balanced budget over the need to help decent people live decently. They elected Franklin Roosevelt, and he and the Democratic Party remade America so thoroughly that it is unthinkable for all but the most doctrinaire libertarians to speak of returning to the system of “ordered liberty” that existed in Hoover’s time, a liberty that included no Social Security, no public unemployment insurance, and no protection for organized labor. To this day we live in Roosevelt’s garden, trying to replant a tree of liberty that can gain nutrients from this soil rather than raze and replant it.

Shapiro and others will cry “but Reagan!” “But Reagan” indeed. As I showed in my biography of the 40th president, Reagan never abandoned his youthful support of FDR. His conservatism was always an interpretation, not a rejection of FDR’s New Deal. That’s why Reagan could both lower and raise taxes, call for free trade and impose tariffs, call for dramatic spending cuts and for an expansion of Medicare, during his time in office. And it was why Reagan’s eight years in office were the only time since the Great Depression that Republican partisan identification rose dramatically, nearly closing the Democratic advantage that had existed for more than 40 years and that has existed in the 30 years since he left office.

Americans have supported limited but effective government intervention in the economy for at least the past 160 years. They supported the protective tariff, the Homestead Act, and the Land Grant College Act that the first Republican-controlled Congress passed and which helped average people improve their lives. They supported antitrust acts, workman’s compensation laws, and workplace safety laws to prevent monopolies and oligopolies from forcing Americans to work for less or in less safe conditions than they deserved. They supported FDR’s New Deal, which for all of its many faults contained many provisions that even today ensure a depression will never again cause social upheaval and penury. And they continue to support reasonable and targeted interventions when a sector of society can persuade the majority that they have been unfairly treated.

Carlson’s monologue and Trump’s presidency promise to continue that American tradition. They contend that an American prosperity that leaves millions behind is politically unstable. They contend that an American economic system that worries more about the reactions of foreigners than it does the feelings of citizens is unjust. They contend that an American government that enriches those who know how to pull its’ levers and treats election results as mere Kabuki theater is profoundly immoral and un-American. And they are right.

Americans may call themselves conservative, but they do not want ideological conservatism. Americans may call themselves liberals or progressives, but they do not want doctrinaire leftism. Americans want what they have always wanted and what their birthright, the Declaration and the Constitution, promise them: a government that, through its actions, will secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to ourselves and our posterity.

Hoover’s ignorance of circumstance and human nature made Roosevelt possible. Indulging the economic fundamentalist streak in American conservatism as too many in conservatism’s ivory towers want will be the best gift Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk can get.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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American Conservatism • Congress • Conservatives • Democrats • Elections • Post • Republicans

From Tea Party Insurgent to Last Man Standing

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There is an irony in the fact that Ron Johnson is the guy who will carry the mantle forward for the Republican Party in Wisconsin. Even he admits that.

“I kind of sprang out of the tea party movement and was sort of a grassroots guy,” says Sen. Johnson about his entry into politics a decade ago. “First public speech I’d ever given was in October 2009. And people came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Hey, I liked your speech. Why don’t you run for office?’ My reply was always pretty consistent. I said, ‘Because I’m not crazy.’ Then, they passed Obamacare, and I started thinking about it.”

In short order, he entered the Senate race, picked up endorsements from the grassroots and establishment alike, and easily carried the nomination.

Six months later, he was part of a percolating populist conservative movement that swept the Democrats out of power in the formerly blue state. Johnson unseated Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, and Republican Scott Walker took the governorship from the Democrats, while Republicans took control of both the state assembly and senate, held the state attorney general’s office, swung the state treasurer’s office and took two congressional seats long held by Democrats.

Not long after, Janesville Rep. Paul Ryan would be named chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and then become the vice presidential nominee. Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus would become chairman of the national Republican Party.

Following the 2010 election, Wisconsin’s GOP was the beating heart of the national GOP.

Now almost 10 years later, Walker lost his bid for a third term in November; Ryan, who rose to speaker of the House, has left Congress; and Priebus has been chased out of Trump’s White House.

That leaves one guy standing to steer the Midwest conservative movement back into power—or at least be the face of it. That is Johnson.

He says of the 2018 midterms: “I went to bed on election night. . . . Scott Walker was pulling ahead and just had the out counties, which we normally win. So, I was pretty confident he was going to win, kind of breathed a sigh of relief, never went to sleep. But I got a text. It was called . . . for his opponent. One of my first thoughts was, other than the expletive, was ‘I am last man standing.’ And I have a unique responsibility, which I take seriously.”

Johnson says he has Priebus giving him advice on how to reassess the way forward, but he is adamant that returning does not begin or end at the top.

He explained: “The postmortem is that I’m making calls all the time, and we have a pretty robust effort right now. But the feedback is pretty consistent. The campaigns were very top-down, and they weren’t listening to people. Long-term volunteers that had worked their tail off for me kind of gave up and said, ‘Yeah, it’s not worth it.'”

His plan to re-energize the grassroots effort began with him personally calling the county chairmen in the state just before Christmas. “It is important to engage them early and often during this process,” he says. “The input is so consistent from what we need to do. I keep referring to it as trickle-up elections. Rather than top-down, all senators talk about one person. I mean, we need to return to the Republican Party of Wisconsin and a party that supports all Republican candidates and helps recruit candidates but supports them in all levels, local, county.”

Johnson says in leading the rebuilding, he is going to do what Wisconsin conservatives do well: work together. In short, this state has always been the robust epicenter of the modern populist conservative movement because the establishment, the tea party, and talk radio have always avoided the GOP civil wars that have plagued the national scene. Johnson not only gets that; he is banking on that.

His critical test will be the state Supreme Court race in April 2020. “It will occur during the presidential primary, and if we got a nominee and they don’t, it’s really going to be difficult to win that, and that could flip the court,” he says.

Seven months after that first test comes the presidential election. Johnson strikes you as the guy who doesn’t want to be the accidental leader of a movement who loses the big game.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

Photo credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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2016 Election • American Conservatism • Donald Trump • GOPe • Post • Republicans

The Era of Conservative Torpor Is Over

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Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign is remembered for several things—none of them good. The highlights include failing to campaign in the “Blue Wall” states of the upper Midwest, commissioning fictional opposition research from FusionGPS that failed to move the needle with voters but forms the basis of Robert Mueller’s anti-Trump crusade, and describing Trump supporters as deplorable and irredeemable. It’s part of what Charles Kesler calls “the Left’s growing alienation from middle America.” But that self-alienation isn’t the exclusive province of the political and cultural Left.

Elite opinion makers on the Right are often no better, and sometimes worse. Witness the descent into Lear-like madness of Bill Kristol, founder and former editor of the recently deceased neoconservative journal The Weekly Standard. His peculiar obsession with the person of Donald Trump destroyed the magazine he founded and possibly the careers of the people led astray by his siren song. It also exposed the fact that while Kristol has occasionally had policy goals in common with conservatives, he never shared our devotion to the principles and institutions of the American founding that made possible more than two centuries of peace and prosperity. And to add insult to injury, it was discovered in 2018 that he’s taking money from Left wing billionaires to finance his jihad.

Read the rest in The American Mind.

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American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Conservatives • Democrats • Donald Trump • Elections • Government Reform • Post • Republicans

The Conservative Coward Caucus

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It’s a truism that whenever Republicans are in the minority in Congress, they act like it but whenever the GOP has the majority, they still behave as though they are in the minority. Power seems to embarrass them.

When I worked on Capitol Hill, I was amazed at how many various caucuses there were, particularly in the Republican Party. There was a caucus for almost everything. And to what end? All that these little cliques ended up doing was dividing the Republican Party against itself.

Because I am a Millennial, most of my friends on the Hill were Democrats. We would go out to local watering holes and shoot the breeze about whatever was afflicting Congress that particular day. Without fail, these Democrats would start mocking and belittling the feckless Republican leadership. At the time, we had just retaken the Senate and were holding strong in the House. Yet the Republican leadership in the House did not act like it was in charge. Instead, the GOP establishment made a priority of marginalizing the Tea Party representatives—the very elected officials who consolidated the Republican majority!  

And so it was no wonder my Democrat colleagues would marvel at how much mischief the Republicans let the minority get away with.

Recently, Sebastian Gorka interviewed U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on his new nationally syndicated radio program, “America First.” Gohmert shared a story about a meeting he had in 2014 with then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in which Boehner chided members of the House Freedom Caucus for being too confrontational. As Gohmert tells it, Boehner believed all the GOP had to do was to sit back and keep quiet, giving Democrats enough rope to hang themselves in the eyes of the voters. That didn’t happen. Quipped Gohmert: after a year of Boehner’s “strategy,” the Democrats had used that rope to “string up” the Republicans.

Republican leaders were very good at constructing a litany of excuses for why they could never win—despite having control over the levers of power. By the time Donald Trump won, the Republican elite was caught unawares. They had convinced themselves that nothing could stop Hillary Clinton and they all made arrangements simply to acquiesce in the wiles of the Clinton machine and the Democrats; to save their own hides while in Washington and abandon the voters who put them in office.

Trump’s election ended those plans and forced their hand. But instead of using it, the Republicans constantly complained about “that man” in the White House while at the same time pretending as though they were really doing what the voters had put them in office to do (which, of course, they weren’t).

I used to joke that the GOP should form a congressional “coward caucus.” It would be brimming with members who could concoct intricate reasons why opposing the Left was imprudent and how the right-wing was little different from the Taliban. With the election of Donald Trump, I hoped that maybe the GOP in Congress would grow a backbone at last. But, of course, they didn’t. The NeverTrump wing of the GOP in Congress did more to stymie Trump’s agenda than any Democrat could have done.

What has Republican congressional “leadership” given us since 2016? A repeal of the Affordable Care Act? A reduction in government spending? A reduction in the endless wars the country was fighting? No. They allowed for the endless Russian collusion delusion to go forward. They aided and abetted the Left in its administrative coup against the duly elected president of the United States simply because Trump wasn’t part of their club of Beautiful Losers.

With the predictable return of Democratic Party control over the House, the Republicans have resumed their preferred form of supplication at the altar of democratic socialism. The Republican House members voted the noted Paul Ryan flunkie, Californian Kevin McCarthy, as the new GOP minority leader rather than the Ohio pugilist, Jim Jordan.

At the outset of his reign as the Left’s new lovable loser, McCarthy told the press he would end the House investigations into Hillary Clinton’s malfeasance—though the investigations are far from finished. McCarthy also publicly begged Trump to end the government shutdown and to give up on the wall.

Then, the newly-elected Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) wrote a scathing op-ed excoriating Trump’s “lack of character,” arguing Trump was not fit to be president (well, Mitt, Trump did in one sitting what you couldn’t accomplish in two elections: he won).

To close out the week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that Trump could expect no assistance from the Senate in overcoming the deadlock over the funding of the wall and reopening the government. There were also some ruminations in the press about McConnell being unable to guarantee that Trump’s nominees will get confirmed—despite the GOP having even greater control over the Senate than it previously held.

During the French Revolution, Georges Danton urged his countrymen, “l’audace! L’audace! Toujours l’audace!” in the face of monarchical oppression. Danton understood that his revolutionary objectives could only be achieved by audacity, not cowardice. Similarly, the Republican Party is fighting a great ideological conflict. Most elected Republicans have chosen to cower in the face of Democratic Party aggression. Without a hearty dose of audacity, all will be lost.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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