Can the coronavirus panic spur a reset in conservative values?
People often comment that if JFK were alive today, he would be a Republican, or at least scorned by the Democrats. There is probably some truth to this. The political goalposts have shifted over the decades, with ideology now taking precedence over intergenerational party membership, so the COVID-19 reset might be a good time for conservatives to rediscover their ideological core.
Both political parties focus their criticisms on the fringes of the other party, often ignoring their own fringe elements and the Venn diagram overlap of common ground. Each party has a core set of values to defend, often for political reasons, unaware that its competing values are often the other side of the same coin. Real differences exist, to be sure, some irreconcilable, but conservatives should take the lead by looking in the mirror.
Consider the traditional conservative defense of capitalism. Conservatives understand the importance of market economies for promoting liberty and economic prosperity, but they sometimes forget that capitalism is a means to an end, not an axiom. Conservatives tolerate a certain level of income disparity, with a reluctant nod to the Pareto principle, but often turn a blind eye to obscene levels of corporate corruption and crony capitalism. Is it any wonder that liberals doubt the sincerity of the conservative defense of capitalism?
Oddly, as conservatives continue to bear the brunt of the 1% backlash, CEOs and hedge fund managers continue their shift to the Democrats as liberals kneel before some of the most profitable and least diverse technology companies in America. This peculiar alliance reveals a deeper truth that should inspire a conservative reset: we should never allow the pursuit of profits to unravel the social fabric of America, which is an axiom for conservatives.
Given the liberal propensity to do or say the opposite of what conservatives do or say, liberals have opted to embrace globalism over nationalism, which is music to the ears of the corporate elite. Why build a product in the country that makes the business activity possible if you can make it overseas for a fraction of the cost? Why pay an American worker a "livable wage" in a developed country if you can pay a foreign worker a "livable wage" in a developing country?
To sell this clever ruse to average Americans, the agenda was given an ideological spin that appeals to emotion, not reason: to rectify the injustices of our history (slavery, racism, etc.), we must reject nationalism and embrace globalism. No objection from Democrats, who were willing to sideline the one presidential candidate who dared to voice his support for American workers. No objection from many Republicans, either, who were locked in a narrative of profits over people. For the corporate elite, globalism is a business model, not a philosophy.
Enter Donald Trump. This lunatic dared to suggest that globalism, open borders, and a complex and fragile global supply chain anchored in China might have negative consequences for average Americans. He dared to challenge corporations and trade deals that Democrats themselves raged against for years. However, because Democrats were now in a position to gain political power, they turned a blind eye to their Faustian deal. For the Democratic elite, liberalism is a narrative for taking political power, not a philosophy.
The next phase of this trend should be clear: automating workers out of jobs in exchange for the promise of universal basic income. Technology will indeed save us from the burden of labor! How insightful of corporations to conclude that a large segment of the population would leap at the opportunity to receive pay without work. How naïve of this segment to believe that corporations will not one day lobby their way out of the burden of universal basic income.
As President Trump realized before his 2016 election victory, American workers and their values are the natural allies of conservatives. The capitalism of corporate America is still an important pillar in our quest for liberty and prosperity, but conservatives should take the lead by renouncing corporate abuse and demanding legal action, if necessary. The free market should continue to be the engine of economic growth — we should not throw out the baby with the bath water — but we should prove our mettle with actions, not words.
The fact that Democrats cheer the bought-and-paid-for corporate media's war on President Trump and celebrate the censoring and vilifying of his supporters suggests that they are either drunk with the potential for political power or oblivious to how the corporate and political elites are playing them like fiddles. A powerful formula for election success in 2020 would be President Trump cracking the whip on corporate corruption and keeping American workers first as we recover from the COVID-19 disaster, which the "essential" corporate and political elites seem only too eager to prolong.