Wednesday, July 31, 2019

‘National Conservatives’ Set Out to Define Future of Politics on Right

What is the future of conservatism in America? That was the subject of consideration last week as scholars, thinkers, and attendees gathered at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C. Speakers gave special focus to the future of America and conservatism in the age of Trump.

The conference featured an eclectic group of speakers, from TV personality Tucker Carlson to tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, to Sen. Josh Hawley, the freshman Republican from Missouri.

Though speakers differed in their definitions of “nationalism” and what policies are needed for the future, they agreed on several big themes: National sovereignty is a huge issue of growing importance around the world, identity politics erodes national unity, and cultural issues are ascendant.

Perhaps most importantly, the conference highlighted how both major parties failed to address the concerns of a huge swath of voters, which led to the election of Donald Trump.

How We Got Here

Salena Zito, a Washington Examiner columnist and co-author of “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics,” said the most important thing that she’s learned through her reporting is that “what happened in 2016, Donald Trump did not cause. He is the result of it.”

Party leaders, the media, and America’s elite entirely missed the warning signs that a huge electoral shakeup was coming.

Zito said she realized something was changing in America back in 2006 when Democrats swept the midterm elections during the presidency of George W. Bush. Social conservatives who felt disconnected from the Republican Party over the Iraq War and the party’s economic policies turned out for the Democratic Party to send a message.

Yet these voters were soon disappointed by the Democrats who went on to spend an enormous amount on programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP), “Cash for Clunkers,” various bailouts, the economic stimulus, and Obamacare. These voters threw out the Democrats in 2010 in another wave election.

These signs should have been a warning, Zito said, that a huge electoral shakeup was coming for a presidential candidate who could tap into this populist energy. Ultimately, it was Trump who filled that void.

This populist angst wasn’t new to America, Zito said. In the 1890s, America went through a similar set of convulsive wave elections as the country dealt with the economic changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution, and voters sought answers from their leaders.

Many voters today face a similar economic anxiety as the technological revolution reshapes the economy. American society has also been rocked by cultural dissolution, such as the erosion of families and the opioid epidemic.

While the dominant narrative is that these voters are “angry,” this isn’t really the case, Zito said. Many of Trump’s voters were doing fine economically and socially and were personally content.

What these voters were looking for was leaders who affirmed “the dignity of work” and emphasized the community, Zito said. These voters looked around and saw their communities disintegrating.

The populist-conservative coalition that brought Trump to the presidency in 2016 is here to stay, she said.

“It is ripe with opportunity for conservatives from the old guard to bring them together with the ideas and ideals that are important to you, but it is also ripe with opportunities for them to show you what life has been like outside of the major urban centers,” Zito said.

National Unity vs. Identitarian Division

As many speakers at the conference noted, a major source of national disintegration and anxiety is the rise of identity politics, which threatens the idea of “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one.”

The left has maligned the concept of the “nation,” an idea that has been a source for much good, several speakers noted. The nation has not only enabled human flourishing, but has often placed an important check on to tribalism.

Critics of nationalism, noted Mary Eberstadt, a writer and fellow at the Hoover Institution, have offered no real alternative as a way to organize society. Eberstadt asked in her remarks, “What, after all, is an alternative to nationalism?”

“Anti-nationalism? Antipathy to one’s fellow citizens because they are one’s fellow citizens? Pathological aversion to one’s own country? A narcissistic flight to group identities that treat everyone outside those identities as somehow un-American? The questions answer themselves,” Eberstadt said.

The rise of modern identity politics is highly corrosive to the country, said David Azerrad, director of The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. It teaches nothing but grievance for those deemed to be oppressed, and self-flagellation for those deemed to be oppressors.

“The net effect of this relentless identitarian propaganda is to encourage passive resignation in the American people,” Azerrad said. “The goal is to get us to believe that identity politics is the engine that drives history with a capital ‘H,’ and that we must all submit to it.”

“To put it simply, identity politics is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of a nation,” Azerrad said.

The end result of it will be disunity and tribalism, he added. The only way to counteract this inevitability is to “accentuate our common ties as Americans.”

To counter the advance of identity politics, Azerrad suggested taking cues from Trump: We should boldly confront “identitarian fanaticism” and give a “spirited defense of civic nationalism.”

Competing Views of Nationalism

The conference, in part, focused on setting national conservatism apart from other kinds of “conservatism,” especially libertarianism. Many of the speakers advocated government intervention to address certain societal problems in a way that libertarians tend to reject.

Speakers such as “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance and Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson blasted what they considered the libertarian bent of conservative politics in recent decades.

“I believe that conservatives have outsourced our economic and domestic policy thinking to libertarians,” Vance said. “… What I’m going after in my talk is this view that so long as public outcomes and social goods are produced by free individual choices, we shouldn’t be too concerned about what those goods ultimately produce.”

In his remarks, Carlson said: “The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government anymore, but it comes from the private sector.”

There was also some clear disagreement among the panelists about how to define “national conservatism.”

Yoram Hazony, author of “The Virtue of Nationalism,” explained why he believes it is necessary to restore nationalism as a vital, positive concept and expressed skepticism toward abstract or universal ideas as the basis for politics.

Hazony defined “national conservatives” as people who are “united in rejecting the idea of universal liberal empire,” and who reject the lens that views the world in terms of an economics of individualism, where political problems are reduced to economic theory.

The real political world, according to Hazony, is not simply comprised of atomized “free-choosing individuals.”

“The real political world is one of competing tribes and nations, it’s the real existence of tribes and nations that generates political phenomena such as national borders, independent national governments, national traditions, national cohesion, and national dissolution,” Hazony said.

Not everyone shared this exact account of “nationalism,” though.

Charles Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont-McKenna College in California, said that defining nationalism or national conservatism involves some paradoxes and gave some critiques of Hazony’s perspective.

Kesler argued that national tradition is simply not enough to carry the nation forward, that ideas still matter in how we define a positive kind of nationalism.

When nationalism is turned into an “ism,” Kesler said, “you are tending to diminish the distinctiveness of each nation.”

America, for instance, has a distinct history and creedal elements that set it apart from Europe, Kesler said. He argued that it’s impossible to separate America’s national self from its creedal nature, and it would be unwise to do so.

Kesler set himself apart from those who would define America purely on the basis of an idea or on a culture.

After all, Kesler said, the American founding rejected certain Anglo-Protestant cultural traditions—it did away with kings, lords, and an established national church—even though some cultural norms, like the English language, were preserved.

The American creed developed organically from within, but also against the predominant Anglo-American culture.

“The Revolution justified itself ultimately by an appeal to human nature, not to culture,” Kesler said. “And in the name of human nature and the American people, and God as supreme creator and lawgiver, judge, and executive, the revolutionaries set out to form an American union with its own culture.”

The cultural approach to natural identity, Kesler said, ultimately runs into problems if one doesn’t make distinctions between cultures.

Today, liberalism has set itself against America’s founding ideas. Progressives have jettisoned the timeless creed of the founding and adopted an evolving doctrine of progress.

To defeat this progressivism, America needs not just a tribal or national identity, but a cultural one.

“The American creed is the capstone of American identity, but it requires a culture to sustain it,” Kesler concluded. “And our task as national conservatives—nationalist conservatives—is to recognize the indispensability of the creed but also the absolute necessity of a hospitable culture, which combined with political wisdom can help shape a people to live up to its own principles.”



After race hustler Sharpton calls out Donald Trump’s racism, Trump calls him a ‘troublemaker’

​President Trump laid into the Reverend Al Sharpton on Monday, calling him a “conman, a troublemaker” after the civil rights activist announced he would hold ​a ​news conference to talk about the president’s comments about Baltimore.

​”I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He ​​loved Trump! ​’ He would ask me for favours often​,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter about the founder of the National Action Network, the New York Post reported. “Al is a conman, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops! ​”

Mr Sharpton announced on his Twitter account late Sunday that he and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who was also a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, would “address Mr Trump’s remarks & Bi-Partisan [sic] outrage in the black community.”

He responded via Twitter.  Reverend Al Sharpton:

“Trump says I’m a troublemaker & conman. I do make trouble for bigots. If he really thought I was a conman he would want me in his cabinet,” Mr Sharpton posted.

The president, in his string of tweets on Monday, continued to take aim at politician Elijah Cummings after describing his Maryland congressional district as a “rat and rodent infested mess” over the weekend.

“Baltimore, under the leadership of Elijah Cummings, has the worst Crime Statistics in the Nation. 25 years of all talk, no action! So tired of listening to the same old Bull … Next, Reverend Al will show up to complain & protest,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Nothing will get done for the people in need. Sad!”



Congress should learn from EU failed sugar experiment and reciprocally end subsides globally

By Rick Manning

The European Union succumbed to pressure from its candy industry and foreign sugar exporters to unilaterally end sugar subsidies in 2006 with the promise that consumers would be the big winners, an argument that is all too frequently heard in the halls of Congress.  Now, with the benefit of hindsight, the EU experiment can be put to rest as an abject failure.

A series of studies by Patrick Chatenay, the President of ProSunergy (UK) Ltd, conducted over the past thirteen years have shown that while initially prices did go down as foreign subsidized sugar flooded the market, as the European sugar producers were wiped out, prices climbed by 2012 to, “10% above what they were before the reform.  As any business manager will tell you, additional risk entails additional costs.  Since the end of 2010, the EU sugar market has been characterized by high and volatile prices, and a shortage of supplies – thus mirroring world market gyrations.  The sugar users who lobbied hard for the reform – companies such as Nestle, Coca-Cola and Kraft – are complaining just as loudly as before.”

The job costs in the first six years of the disastrous experiment totaled 120,000, as the unilateral action caused 83 sugar mills to close across the continent.

Because Newton’s Third Law of Physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, seems to apply to political swings, the European Union’s reaction to the job losses and the new dependency upon foreign sugar exporters was equally catastrophic as the EU put sugar subsidies back in place to the tune of $665 million a year in 2015.

To make matters even worse, Chatenay reports in a newly released report titled, “The European Union Sugar Industry at World Market Prices” that the remaining, weakened European sugar producers are continually pressured by an approximately 20 percent drop in prices which Chatenay predicts will lead to an additional “10 to 20 sugar (EU) factories closing within 5 years…”

Shockingly, or perhaps not, while the sugar producers are getting crushed in the system wrought by the initial unilateral ending of sugar subsidies, Chatenay identifies the large industrial sugar buyers as huge winners having gaining $3.4 billion, “with no discernable advantage” to the consumer.

Pretty sweet deal for Nestle and others, but for European taxpayers and the actual people who grow and process European sugar, it has been a nightmare with the consumer seeing little to no benefit.

While this outcome probably doesn’t surprise anyone who pays attention to corporate cronyism in America, there is a better, smarter path to ending sugar and other agricultural subsidies using the basic trade rule of seeking international reciprocity rather than engaging in the unilateral dropping of government subsidies.

Representative Ted Yoho, (R-Fla.) has legislation known as Zero for Zero, through which the U.S. government would end sugar subsidies upon the President certifying that other countries had done the same.  By providing up front Congressional action, U.S. government representatives will have a powerful negotiating tool to gain reciprocal actions from other sugar exporting nations.

It is time for conservatives to rally behind the Zero for Zero plan as it provides a rational road toward ending subsidies without destroying U.S. sugar producers due to unfair trade practices.

And President Trump with his emphasis on establishing fair, reciprocal trade agreements with economic partners around the globe is the right person to end sugar and many other agricultural subsidies if Congress will just take the bold step of giving him the cudgel of already approved sugar subsidy elimination contingent upon our trading partners doing the same.

Europe tried the unilateral approach and the only beneficiaries were heavily subsidized foreign sugar producers like Brazil and industrial sugar buyers who raked in billions at the expense of farmers and more than 100,000 jobs, while the consumer saw little to no benefit.

It is time for Congress to get smart, learn from the mistakes of the EU, and adopt the Yoho bill. Let’s give President Trump the tool he needs to end sugar subsidies, while keeping America’s farmers strong and competitive.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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