Two words in the American political lexicon that mean so many different things to so many different people are ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’.
For example, proud, self-proclaimed conservatives like Republican elder statesman Newt Gingrich staunchly defend classical liberalism. Unapologetic traditional liberals such as political comedian Bill Maher and ex-Clinton advisor James Carville implore that today’s woke culture is the very antithesis of liberalism.
There were heated debates about Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, one side strongly supporting him for being a reliable conservative and the other side vehemently opposing him, insisting he’s not conservative at all.
In fact, many argue that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is no more a liberal than Trump’s a conservative.
Therefore, to introduce this week’s subject, a looming conservative renaissance, it would be helpful if first I explain what I mean by ‘conservative’.
Trump’s presidency is mainly a condemnation of four main concepts:1) wokeness, aka political over-correctness; 2) media malpractice; 3) general exploitations by many nations of the United States’ wealth and generosity (countered by measures such as imposing tariffs and disrupting relations with longstanding allies); and 4) although an example of the third, prevalent enough to deserve its own category: illegal entry and stay.
To Country Club establishmentarian Republicans, none of those four components is conservative, and at least two, the third and fourth, serve to disrupt sustained macroeconomic prosperity. To a great extent, the bottom line of a balance sheet is, to them, the bottom line of life’s purpose.
It’s ironic that Trump, who is wealthier than most of them, would preach unpredictable economic populism, which to the Wall Street crowd is a horror.
In any case, for the purposes of this discussion, all four components of Trumpianism will be considered conservative. After all, the first is wokeness personified, the second and fourth are utterly ignored and even openly supported by both liberals and illiberal woke progressives, and the third, while not necessarily a conservative approach, is one that – with the exception of imposing tariffs – few if any Democrats would espouse.
But conservatism is not limited to these four components. There’s also an emphasis on low taxes – particularly for businesses – and lax commerce regulations, judicial restraint, energy independence, ample gun rights, and strong protection of life in the womb. These are principles Trump shares with more mainstream conservative Republicans, whereas the first four are particularly Trumpian.
These ten, along with others, comprise the platform of a conservative renaissance in America that’s already underway.
In his latest book, Beyond Biden – he’s written an astonishing 41 in total – the ever-brilliant Gingrich presents data about how the overwhelming majority of Americans across party lines favor government-issued IDs in order to vote, strong border security, and fully-funded police departments comprised of crimefighters, not social workers. In other words, the lunacy of the Squad and others in the leftist limelight doesn’t represent the majority of Democrats. But the problem is, because mainstream Democrat leaders, such as President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, do not loudly and consistently denounce such absurdities, their silence is interpreted as either congruence or cowardice; either way, it doesn’t bode well for them.
I still remember the period following 9/11 very vividly. I commuted to Midtown Manhattan from Northern NJ each morning by bus I got on outside a gas station owned by a Muslim. Ever since 9/11, he kept an oversized American flag prominently displayed in his window. That was a strong condemnation of the terrorists with whom he shared a religion in name but not in practice.
Similarly, Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer need to hoist an anti-wokeness flag, because if they don’t, the conservatives will sweep into power next November.
We’re already seeing portents throughout the country: the incumbent Democrat governor in Virginia lost to his Republican challenger, and his counterpart in deep blue New Jersey won by a hair (as of this writing, no recount has been requested).
And though even deeper blue New York City’s new mayor-elect is a Democrat, he’s considerably less to the left than the disastrous incumbent. The ‘defund the police’ measure lost in the city where it was born, Minneapolis, MN.
I’ve long maintained that the United States is a thermostat. When one party gets too out of hand, there’s backlash.
The Republicans lost the faith of many of their voters in 2006. I was one of many who was turned off. Soon thereafter, I joined the Reform Party, because I admired its leaders and candidates more than most in the GOP. I even voted for the Reform Party’s presidential candidate in 2012, because he took a stronger stand against illegal entry and stay than anyone else running. I knew he’d only gain about a hundred thousand votes nationwide, while the Democrat and Republican would amass about 50 million apiece, but I figured at least that issue might gain a little more traction. It did. In the following election, the candidate that won the White House used it as his centerpiece.
But back to 2006; President George W. Bush seemed to place value on loyalty only, and so he retained Cabinet members who should’ve been dismissed once they bungled the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s removal from power. Occupying countries for decades wasn’t what conservative Republicans used to do. ‘Immigration reform’ really became leveraging untapped labor forces for financial gain rather than zero tolerance for translational trespass. Republican lawmakers were caught in scandal after scandal; and it’s not like Democrats weren’t, but it’s Republicans who bragged about being the party of morality.
If they resume power next year, as they’re poised to do, conservatives better realize that invoking Ronald Reagan’s name also means living up to his standards.
When the Framers signed off on the Constitution in 1787, an onlooker asked what type of government we have, to which Benjamin Franklin responded: “a republic, if you can keep it.”
Perhaps next November, if and when the Republicans win, their answer ought to be: “a conservative majority, if you can keep it.”