It seems lately like everywhere, on both the Right and the Left, we are hearing a chorus of voices tell us America is hopelessly divided and on the brink of a second civil war.
The level of rancor and incivility characterizing much of our contemporary political dialogue appears to confirm as much on a daily basis. It appears Left and Right have arrived at irreconcilable worldviews, disagreeing on first principles, core convictions, specific policy choices and ultimate ends. Increasingly, they seem unable to see eye to eye even when it comes to pure matters of fact.
It would be an understatement to say that former President Donald Trump changed the Republican Party. Whatever one’s view of Trump, most observers can agree that Trump forced a break-up between the GOP and big business. Within conservative circles, debate persists over whether this is a good thing. On one side, writers like Oren Cass urge conservatives to embrace an essentially anti-free market approach. Even some Republican politicians, like Senator Josh Hawley, have expressed support for this path. On the other side, publications like the Washington Times and The Federalist call for conservatives to continue to support the free market. Others view the GOP as only selectively anti-big business, or using the idea for rhetorical purposes only.
Populism, Conservatism, and Trump
It is important to reflect on what has fueled this “anti-business” view in some conservative circles. To sum it up in one word: populism. It’s no secret that Trump’s political identity is centered around populism – but does populism always mean being anti-free market? Trump’s conservatism has been about more than just pro-tariff and anti-immigration policies. Under Trump, both inside and outside his administration, conservatives have pursued further privatizing education. The Trump administration made it easier for big business to classify workers as independent contractors, and conservative blogs attacked California for passing a law that did the opposite. The Trump administration pursued several policies that sought to reign in the Affordable Care Act.
More evidence to confirm what many Republican lawmakers and free-market advocates such as Americans for Limited Government were saying from the start of the Covid pandemic, lockdowns would be one of the most tragic mistakes in American history.
The Rand Corporation and economists from the University of Southern California have released a new study examining the effectiveness of pandemic lockdowns, using data from 43 countries and all 50 US states.
“We fail to find that shelter-in-place policies saved lives,” the authors report. In the weeks following the implementation of these policies, excess mortality actually increases—even though it had typically been declining before the orders took effect.
And across all countries, the study finds that a one-week increase in the length of stay-at-home policies corresponds with 2.7 more excess deaths per 100,000 people.
Thucydides recalls a scene from the Peloponnesian War when the Athenians, fleeing before their enemies, come to the Assinarus River. They stop to drink from its flowing waters even as their foes bear down on them.
The Syracusans, Thucydides writes, “showered missiles down upon the Athenians, most of them drinking greedily and heaped together in disorder in the hollow of the river.” Then the Peloponnesians “came down and butchered them, especially those in the water which was thus immediately spoiled, but which they went on drinking just the same, mud and all, bloody as it was, most even fighting to have it.”
by Jeffery Rendall Wake up any particular morning and glance out the window. Do you notice anything different from the day before? Changes in weather or the seasons don’t count. Chances are you’ll see things appear pretty much the same – and if you’ve lived in one place long…
by Rachel Greszler An economic crisis has engulfed Puerto Rico. The Financial Oversight Management Board, a federally-mandated advisory group, has worked to help Puerto Rico deal with its financial crisis and establish policies that will lead to long-run growth. The board says Puerto Rico must reform its labor market to…