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.”)
It is a shame, though, that we have to keep relearning the hard way that top-down, big government solutions don’t work. Young people can almost be excused for flirting with socialism, since they are empty vessels who get filled with whatever their teachers tell them, and we’ve been remiss in allowing leftists to politicize our schools and fill those precious vessels with garbage.
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. 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 GOP 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 have growth of over 4 percent, 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. Does anyone seriously believe it could be even better if we brought back high taxes and regulations?
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.) Americans just need politicians who’ll actually do what they claimed they would do once they arrive in Washington.