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, rising class and racial divisions, and abroad, a decline in US prestige and leadership and the advancement and emboldening of our enemies, including a terrorist “JV team” metastasizing 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 of 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, and 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 believing in socialism for the same reason they believe in the Tooth Fairy: they are empty vessels who get filled with whatever adults pour into them. We’ve been dangerously remiss in allowing leftists to take over 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 in the next election. 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 letting markets instead of government make business decisions, conservative ideas work whenever they’re tried. Before China kneecapped our economy by allowing a pandemic to spread worldwide, we were all enjoying the fruits of Trump’s agenda, which mostly consisted of doing the opposite of whatever Obama did.
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! Before the pandemic, we had record low unemployment in every demographic, very strong job creation and regularly set new stock market records. And despite the gloom and doomers claiming that the pandemic would launch us into a new Depression that would last years, the economy began rebounding as soon as the heavy foot of government started being lifted and people were allowed to go back to work.
I expected this because the underlying economy was and is very strong. It took a massive effort and unjustified draconian lockdowns mostly in blue states to throttle it and keep it from roaring back. This is why I can’t quite believe polls showing that Americans are eager to replace Trump with Joe Biden, the “Walking Dead” remnant of the slow-growth Obama years, who has surrounded himself with people who can’t wait to bloat government, raise taxes, spend like drunken sailors, regulate everything that moves, and turn the whole country into a coast-to-coast version of one of the failing cities they’ve run for decades
Then again, you never know: New Yorkers lived through the nightmare of the Dinkins years, elected Rudy Giuliani, who miraculously saved the city (ignoring Democrats who routinely called him a Nazi and a fascist) and Bloomberg, who continued Rudy’s policies and kept it going – then for some unfathomable reason, decided they were tired of a well-run, successful city that wasn’t knee-deep in garbage, plagued with crime and stinking of urine. So they elected Dinkins’ protégé, Bill DeBlasio. Those cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it, but unfortunately, they keep voting to force everyone else to repeat the same mistakes with them.
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, with people streaming from the blue to red areas in U-Hauls every day.) 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, and they are the ones with the 24-hour PR apparatus known as the news media and social media. It amplifies the liberal side and suppresses the conservative side so much that not only is the tail wagging the dog, but it’s like a Chihuahua’s tail wagging a St. Bernard.
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.