When a lie gets repeated so often that everyone thinks it’s true, it’s called “conventional wisdom” – maybe because it happens so often at political conventions. These days, the conventional wisdom is that Americans are clamoring for European-style, cradle-to-grave Socialism Lite. Don’t buy it.
Throughout the Bush-Obama era, the media kept repeating “failed conservative policies” until even a lot of so-called conservatives believed it. Well, what a difference a few years make. We tried leftist policies. They resulted in a sluggish economy, depressed job growth, rising income inequality, reduced wealth and opportunities for minorities, and abroad, a decline in US prestige and leadership and the advancement and emboldening of our enemies, including a terrorist “JV team” spreading into a worldwide threat.
Polls began to show that most Americans wanted the government to do less and spend less. In France, where an actual Socialist was elected President, his huge tax hikes crashed the economy and made socialism as popular with the French as cheese in a can. The media were shocked when voters turned right in the next election. They should’ve known that nothing turns people off socialism like actually experiencing it. (See “Venezuela.”) The elites responded by doubling down on the arrogance, condescension and name-calling of those who dared to challenge their divine right to rule. The people were forced to make their point even more clearly by shutting down large sections of the country with massive protests, demanding their culture and secure national borders back.
It is a shame that we have to keep relearning the hard way that top-down, big government solutions and leftist utopian fantasies don’t work in reality. Young people can almost be excused for flirting with socialism, since they are empty vessels who get filled with whatever their teachers pour into them, and we’ve been remiss in allowing leftists to politicize our schools and fill those precious vessels with mental pollution.
But Republicans who promised small government and fiscal responsibility should know better. Instead, too many let deficits skyrocket, stuffed budgets with pork, and became cheerleaders for big government and disdainful toward the very Americans who put them in office. These so-called “conservatives” slammed me in 2007 for not being a “real conservative” because I pointed out problems in the economy that were hurting working people and criticized the lack of oversight of Wall Street’s excesses. Two years later, they wanted to spend $700 billion of our grandkids’ money to save Wall Street from its excesses. They abandoned government’s rightful role as a tough-but-impartial referee and wanted to use its power to pick winners and losers in the market. Is that “real conservatism?”
The truth is that voters didn’t turn their backs on conservatism, Republican politicians did. Democrats didn’t sweep to power in 2008 by claiming to be government-bloating tax-and-spenders, but by swearing they’d changed and were now fiscally responsible. Of course, once they gave Obama, Pelosi and Reid unlimited power, voters quickly realized their terrible mistake and gave the House back to the GOP. But too many Republicans had already squandered their credibility, so when Democrats ballooned the deficit, they could deflect criticism by simply pointing at their opponents’ own record.
From Jefferson’s belief that government closest to the people governs best to Reagan’s faith in free markets, from low taxes to fiscal restraint, conservative ideas work whenever they’re tried. We’re now seeing the results with Trump’s tax cut and deregulation agenda. Obama mocked Trump for saying we could bring back manufacturing jobs and strong GDP growth, saying that Trump didn’t have a “magic wand.”
But the only magic needed was a simple disappearing act: getting government out of the way! We now have record low unemployment and strong growth and job creation. Last month, the Dow rose by 7.2% and the S&P 500 by 6.9%. That’s the best June for the S&P 500 since 1955, and the best for the Dow since 1938 (the best in 81 years!) The Democrats running for President might whine that’s only helping “the rich,” but many Americans have investment and retirement accounts with stocks, and that strong growth helps everyone who wants a job or a raise. Does anyone seriously believe the economy would be improved now if we brought back the high taxes and regulations that Trump cut?
Gandhi once said, "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today." I think if all politicians really followed the principles they espouse to get elected, all of America would be conservative today. Much of it already is. Look at the 2016 county-by-county voting map (a sea of red dotted by small islands of blue.) Even among Democratic Party voters, only 19% identify themselves as “very liberal.” Our biggest problem isn’t that most Americans “are socialists now.” It’s that party leaders and the media are wildly out of touch with most Americans.
What Americans need is fewer politicians who think they can tell us what to do and more who actually do what we sent them to Washington to do once they arrive there.