Quisling Conservatives

At a time when the Left has “progressed” from calling for socialism in the face of an economic boom to calling for the defunding of police in the face of mob violence, anyone not knee-deep in the fever swamp of radicalism should be rallying together to defend civilization against the barbarians. Yet, a number of prominent politicians whose egos blot out the sun are working instead to spread chaos under a false flag of “conservatism” in order to avenge petty slights and advance narrow personal ambitions. They are striking the ancient pose of fiddling while Rome burns.

One such group has formed a political action committee to elect Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. They dare to call their creation the Right Side PAC, a name that cannot pass any truth in advertising test. A Biden administration would throw open the door to the left at its peak of revolutionary zeal and destructive policy proposals.  Prominent among this group of nominally Republican operatives from the camps of the late John McCain and the Bush family is Anthony Scaramucci, who served all of ten days as communications director before President Donald Trump fired him. Scaramucci’s vision of the world does not extend beyond his mirror. His years as a hedge-fund manager on Wall Street do not sit well with Main Street, but he never-the-less claims to be “very confident that we can convince a large group of Republican voters that Biden is the right person to vote for if they want to stay true to their principles and to the legacy of the Republican Party.” A legacy is a term usually associated with the dead and Scaramucci and his ilk represent a shallow wing of the GOP that is breathing its last in terms of abusing public trust to advance private gain.

While it is easy to dismiss this group as small-minded malcontents, there is more than personal pique at work here. This can be seen in the main policy disagreement with President Trump that leads them to Biden. That is “Free Trade” in general and economic ties to China in particular. Scaramucci has criticized President Trump’s “trade war” with Beijing, askingWhat would be nonsensical for the United States? To create a Cold War with China. We have a strong bilateral relationship with China.” He is the voice of transnational businesses that plunged heavily into China looking for profits on the advice of liberal intellectuals and libertarian economists who claimed such ventures would foster world peace through interdependence; a “ChinAmerica” globalism. The Chamber of Commerce has been the head cheerleader for this notion with a certain brand of country club Republicans happy to chant along.

The Chamber still says its “policy and advocacy efforts are guided by the belief that commercial engagement and the expansion of trade and investment ties between the United States and China benefit both countries and their business communities.” The Covid-19 pandemic has postponed the Chamber’s 11th China Business Conference, but it still held a virtual “U.S.-China CEO Dialogue” on June 18.  After paying lip service to Beijing’s unfair trade practices and its growing geostrategic threat, the Chamber rejected the use of tariffs that would disrupt the supply chains that have made so many major domestic industries dependent on state-run Chinese partners. It then concluded, “Despite recent tensions and the clear challenges of working with China, a functional relationship between the United States and China is in the fundamental interests of Americans, and of peace and stability in the world.”

Mitt Romney also falls into this category. Though the Utah Senator has not gone all the way to endorse Biden, he has declared he will not vote to re-elect President Trump. He did vote for one of the articles of impeachment against the president, the only Republican to do so. It should be remembered that the last time the left was on a rampage of today’s scale was fifty years ago when a GOP President was impeached and resigned. The result was the chaos of the 1970s, one of the worst decades in our history, marked by defeat overseas (which led to the slaughter of millions across Southeast Asia) and stagflation at home(which ruined the lives of millions). And there were some foolish Republicans then, as well, who aided and abetted the catastrophe.

Mitt Romney marching in a Black Lives Matter demonstration (YouTube screen grab, cropped)

Romney is miffed that after running for president for six years he lost a race he could have won. It would be easy to dismiss Romney’s chagrin over Donald Trump’s success, but there is more to it. Romney made a fortune at Bain Capital, which prides itself on directing Western money into Chinese development. Its Beijing office was “Inspired by the vast potential of the Chinese nation and its people, Bain was the first foreign strategy firm to plant roots in Beijing. For more than 25 years, our team has partnered with change-oriented clients.” Bain Greater China also has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong. But then Bain operates all over the world; a true transnational firm with no allegiance except to itself. Romney fit right in.

Romney has been inconsistent in recent statements about China, but in a familiar pattern. He has warned of the growing Chinese threat yet has opposed actions to meet the threat. When President Trump imposed tariffs on a broad array of Chinese goods in 2018 based on national security concerns, Romney proclaimed, “I’m not a fan of trade wars. I hope the tariffs… can soon be removed and replaced by a mutually agreeable trade agreement.” In other words, continuing business when the strategic situation requires a decoupling of the U.S. economy from Chinese influence and the rebuilding of hollowed out domestic industry.

Joe Biden’s record looks like an attractive alternative to President Trump’s confrontational approach to China for those who do not want to see commerce and investment affected in a world returning to Great Power competition. After leaving the vice-presidency, Biden set up the Penn Biden Center in association with the larger Penn Global network, which has deep ties to Chinese institutions. At the Penn Biden Center website, China gets mentioned in a section titled "Advancing the Dialogue of Globalism." The section opens with a photo of Vice President Biden meeting with then-Vice President Xi Jinping as they tour an irrigation project in China. This image presents the key theme of "partnership." It is claimed that "Populism and nationalism may slow the tide of globalism, but they cannot stop it." These are golden words to the Scaramucci-Romney set whose opposition to President Trump is rooted in their distaste for the nationalism he expounds.

Biden acknowledges "China is playing the long game by extending its global reach, promoting its own political model, and investing in the technologies of the future" and that "the United States does need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the United States and American companies of their technology and intellectual property. It will also keep using subsidies to give its state-owned enterprises an unfair advantage -- and a leg up on dominating the technologies and industries of the future." While this sounds like President Trump, Biden rejects the policy implications. He still wants to “cooperate with Beijing on issues where our interests converge, such as climate change, nonproliferation, and global health security." Yet, there is no sign that Beijing believes our interests do converge on these issues. And Biden is calling for massive defense spending cuts in the face of Beijing’s military buildup (a result of the massive transfer of capital and technology from the West) which is rising tensions across the entire Indo-Pacific region.

Rogue Republicans who think that by electing Biden they can turn the GOP back to a pre-Trump orientation are exhibiting a blindness to how the world is evolving both at home and abroad. President Trump tapped into trends that developed independently of his candidacy and will continue to grow beyond the 2020 election. The Left’s virulent campaign against President Trump stems from the fact that he represents an approach different from the standard Republicanism that the left has grown confident in beating. President Trump’s stress on national unity and the common good strikes directly at the left’s class warfare model (with its dangerous tactic of provoking racial discord) that rejects the very concept of America. The left prefers opponents who accept their assigned role in the class warfare narrative as selfish bastards with no social conscious or higher loyalty.

In contrast, a leader who elevates his vision to providing “sovereignty, prosperity and security” to the American people as a whole, a people who are united because they all have the “same red blood” regardless of class or race (as President Trump has stated time and again) poses a challenge the Left cannot handle. If their response to “Make America Great” is that America does not deserve to be great, the left will lose. It is the positive, national message that must become the core conservative principle if anything is to be conserved worth the effort. Those who do not understand and embrace it can no longer claim to be part of the movement; they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

William R. Hawkins is a consultant specializing in international economic and national security issues. He is a former economics professor who has served on the staff of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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